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Turkey – Work Permits and Working Legally

Working Legally in Turkey: The Need for a Work Permit

For expats looking to live and work in Turkey, understanding the requirements for obtaining a work permit is crucial. Working legally in a foreign country is not only important for compliance with local laws but also ensures a smoother and more secure experience during your stay. In this article, we will explore the necessity of obtaining a work permit in Turkey, who must make the application, exemptions, types of work permits available, eligibility criteria, application procedures, required documents, associated costs, and sources of reliable information for expats.

Necessity of a Work Permit in Turkey

Expats must obtain a work permit to work legally in Turkey. The Turkish Labor Law (Law No. 4857) mandates that foreign nationals wishing to engage in gainful employment within the country must hold a valid work permit. This requirement applies to both employees and self-employed individuals.

It is important to note that working without a work permit in Turkey is illegal and can result in fines, deportation, and potential legal consequences. Therefore, it is essential for expats to ensure they have the necessary work authorization before starting any form of employment in the country.

Who Applys for a Work Permit in Turkey

The responsibility of applying for a work permit in Turkey primarily falls on the employer. In most cases, it is the employer who initiates the work permit application process on behalf of the expat they intend to hire. Employers are required to submit the application to the Turkish Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) on behalf of the foreign employee.

However, this does not mean that expats have no role to play in the process. They must provide the necessary documents and information to their employer to facilitate the application. Additionally, some categories of foreign workers, such as freelancers or self-employed individuals, will need to apply for their work permits independently.

Exemptions from Work Permit Requirements

While work permits are generally required for foreign nationals working in Turkey, there are some exemptions to this rule. Some of the key exemptions include:


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  • Foreign nationals who will be employed by foreign companies but are temporarily in Turkey for business purposes, such as attending meetings or conferences, may not require a work permit.
  • Foreign experts and technicians providing technical assistance and training in specific fields may be exempt from work permit requirements, subject to certain conditions.
  • Students with a valid student residence permit may work part-time during their studies without obtaining a separate work permit.

It’s important to note that these exemptions may vary, and the specific eligibility criteria can change over time. expats should always check with the relevant authorities or legal experts to confirm their status and requirements.

Types of Work Permits for Expats in Turkey

There are several types of work permits available for expats in Turkey, each designed to cater to different categories of foreign workers. The type of work permit you need will depend on your specific situation and job role. Some of the common types of work permits include:

  • Ordinary Work Permit: This is the most common type of work permit and is issued to foreign nationals who will be employed by a Turkish company.
  • Independent Work Permit: This is for self-employed individuals who wish to work independently in Turkey.
  • Turquoise Card: Designed for highly skilled professionals and investors, the Turquoise Card provides long-term residence and work privileges in Turkey.
  • Seasonal Work Permit: Issued to foreign workers who will be employed in seasonal agricultural or tourism-related jobs.

Each type of work permit has its own eligibility criteria and requirements. expats should carefully assess their situation and consult with their potential employer or legal experts to determine the most suitable type of work permit for their needs.

Eligibility for Work Permits in Turkey

The eligibility criteria for obtaining a work permit in Turkey may vary depending on the type of permit applied for. However, some common requirements and conditions include:

  • Having a valid employment contract with a Turkish employer for ordinary work permits.
  • Meeting specific professional qualifications and experience requirements for certain job roles.
  • Providing proof of no Turkish national available for the job position.
  • Complying with any industry-specific regulations or requirements.
  • Demonstrating financial stability and having adequate financial resources.

It’s essential to thoroughly review the specific eligibility criteria for the type of work permit you are applying for to ensure you meet all the necessary requirements.

Procedure to Apply for a Work Permit in Turkey

The process of applying for a work permit in Turkey typically involves several steps, including:

  1. Employer initiates the application: If you are an expat seeking employment in Turkey, your prospective employer must initiate the work permit application process on your behalf.
  2. Submission of required documents: Both the employer and the employee must provide the necessary documents and information to support the application.
  3. Application to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS): The employer submits the completed application to the MLSS.
  4. Application review: The MLSS reviews the application and may request additional information or documentation.
  5. Decision and issuance: Once approved, the work permit is issued, and the employee can legally work in Turkey.

The processing time for work permit applications can vary, and it may take several weeks to receive a decision. It is advisable to start the application process well in advance of the intended employment start date to avoid any delays.

Documents Required for a Work Permit in Turkey

When applying for a work permit in Turkey, expats and their employers need to prepare a set of essential documents. While the specific documents may vary depending on the type of work permit and individual circumstances, here is a list of some commonly required documents:

  • A valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining.
  • A formal employment contract between the expat and the Turkish employer.
  • Evidence of qualifications, certifications, or professional experience relevant to the job role.
  • A detailed job description and justification for hiring a foreign national.
  • Health insurance coverage for the duration of the work permit.
  • Proof of no criminal record or legal issues in Turkey or the expat’s home country.

It is essential to check with the MLSS or consult with legal experts to ensure that all required documents are prepared correctly and submitted as part of the work permit application.

Costs Involved in Applying for a Work Permit in Turkey

Obtaining a work permit in Turkey may involve certain costs that applicants need to consider. These costs may include:

  • Work permit application fees, which can vary depending on the type of permit and the duration.
  • Legal and administrative fees associated with document processing and application submission.
  • Health insurance premiums for the duration of the work permit.
  • Costs associated with obtaining the necessary documents, such as translations and notarization.

The specific costs can vary over time, so it is advisable to check with the MLSS or relevant authorities for the most up-to-date fee information. Additionally, employers and expats should budget for these expenses when planning to apply for a work permit.

Where to Find Reliable Information on Working Legally in Turkey

For expats seeking reliable information on working legally in Turkey, there are several sources they can turn to:

  1. Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS): The official website of the MLSS provides comprehensive information on work permits, application procedures, and relevant regulations.
  2. Republic of Turkey Official Gateway: The government’s official website offers valuable resources and links to various government agencies, making it a useful source for legal information.
  3. General Directorate of Migration Management: This agency provides information on residence permits, visa regulations, and other related topics that expats may find helpful.
  4. Legal experts and immigration consultants: Consulting with experienced professionals in immigration law can provide personalized guidance and assistance throughout the work permit application process.

It’s essential for expats to rely on reputable and official sources of information when navigating the complexities of working legally in Turkey. Staying informed and following the correct procedures is key to a successful and legally compliant experience in the country.

In conclusion, expats seeking to work legally in Turkey must obtain a work permit, which is typically applied for by their employer. While there are exemptions and various types of work permits available, understanding the eligibility criteria and following the correct application procedures is crucial. Adequate preparation, including the submission of required documents and budgeting for associated costs, is essential for a smooth application process. expats can access reliable information on working legally in Turkey through official government websites and consultation with legal experts. By adhering to the legal requirements, expats can enjoy a fulfilling and legally compliant work experience in this beautiful country.


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