How To Move To Turkey - The Definitive Guide
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Apply For A Visa[back to top]
You are required to have a valid passport when visiting Turkey. The passport should have more than 90 days’ validity. It is advisable to renew your passport before the move or trip if your passport is within 6 months of its expiration date.
The length and reasons for your trip determine whether you need a Turkish visa. This is also determined by your country of origin because some have signed visa exemption agreements that allow their citizens to visit Turkey without a visa for up to 3 months. However, other nationalities have to obtain visas at a fee at their entry points into Turkey. All this information can be obtained at the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs.
The Turkish Immigration Process
It is important to know all the required documentation before traveling to Turkey. Specific permits are required for different reasons such as work and school. They include:
• Visa - Visit the Turkish embassy or consulate in your home country to apply. It is recommended to do this early because it may take a while for the visa to be processed.
• Work and residence permits - this is for those who intend to work in Turkey. These permits can be applied for at the Turkish Embassy or consulate in one’s home country.
• Additional information - proof that you can pay for a return ticket to your country may be required.
Applying for a visa that allows multiple re-entries is advisable for those planning to leave and return to Turkey for vacations or business. Verify that you have all the requirements before submitting your application. Ask as many questions as possible to relevant authorities if you are unsure about certain things, instead of making mistakes on your application.
Visa types and application requirements
You will be required to apply for a visa if you intend to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days. The visas are either single entry or multiple entry. Visas obtained at Turkey’s entry points are single entry. Student and work visas mostly cover multiple entries. Visas cover specific activities and one has to apply at the Turkish embassy in their home country. Common materials required during application include:
• A passport that is valid for more than 90 days after the required visa
• 2 passport size photos
• An invitation or employment letter
• A return ticket or proof of financial capability to purchase one
• Proof of financial capability to support yourself for your entire stay
• A visa processing fee that depends on the visa type and one’s nationality
These are single entry visas that are valid for up to 90 days. They are issued to travellers who are not eligible for visas at the entry points. Obtaining a visa at the border does not allow you to leave and re-enter Turkey. These visas may be applied for at the Turkish Embassy or consulate of one’s home country.
These visas are very similar to the tourist visa. They are issued for up to 90 days and are valid for single entry. They are issued to travelers visiting Turkey temporarily for business meetings, conferences, and lectures. You will be required to provide proof that you actually own or operate a business when applying for this visa, such as a letter or document from your employer.
This type of visa is applied for by students after they enroll in a Turkish university, school, or language class recognized by the Turkish Ministry of Education. A letter from the school proving admission is required for you to be issued with this type of visa.
Upon arrival, students are required to register with the local police department to be issued a residence permit. This should be done within 30 days. These visas and permits allow for multiple exits and entries from Turkey. Student visas are valid for up to a year and should be renewed before they expire.
You can apply for this type of visa if you intend to stay in Turkey for a significant period. It is advisable to apply for this type of visa at least two months before the intended date of departure. This visa does not allow the holder to work in Turkey. Therefore, you will be required to provide proof that you can support yourself for your entire stay.
Apply for a work visa at least 2 months before your intended date of departure. Your employer should also send some documents to the Turkish Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS). Submission of these documents starts one’s application for both the visa and the work permit. You will be required to pay visa-processing fees. In addition, students are required to apply for a residence permit before they can start working in Turkey.
This is the type of visa for people who intend to conduct various studies in Turkey. Applicants are required to submit the required documents as well as visa processing fees. You only require a letter from a recognized Turkish institution or museum and the standard application materials to apply for a research visa.
Filming a commercial or documentary in Turkey requires approval from the culture and tourism ministry. This visa cannot be obtained from the consulate. Shooting for personal and non-commercial videos does not require visas.
Applying for a residence permit
This is for people who intend to stay for more than 90 days in Turkey. There are many types of residence permits, each with their own eligibility requirements.
Renewing your residence permit
This should be done at least 60 days before the expiry date. You will be issued with a document as proof of pending application for renewal. This document will allow you to stay in the country even when your permit has expired. Do not deceive the authorities to prolong your permit as it may lead to deportation or prison terms.
Applying for another residence permit
You may be required to apply for another residence permit in some cases. Expats who have lived in Turkey for more than three years can apply for a residence permit.
Long-term residence permit
The following requirements have to be fulfilled for you to be issued with a long-term residence permit:
• 8 years of continuous residency in Turkey
• Proof that you can finance your entire stay in Turkey
• Valid health insurance (for applicants under 65)
Find A Job[back to top]
Turkey does not have many employment opportunities for foreigners. The country does not allow foreigners to hold jobs in the medical and legal fields. In addition, many available employment opportunities for foreigners offer poor pay.
Turkey has strict laws that bar foreigners from working in medicine or law. The laws also determine the type of products that expat businesspeople are allowed to sell. This is because most products, such as fixed telephone lines, are monopoly products sold by the Turkish government. However, some of the monopoly products are presently being de-regulated.
Expats who are married to Turkish citizens are not affected by the country’s labor laws. Foreigners who are married to Turkish citizens or those who have obtained Turkish citizenship and cannot speak fluent Turkish have limited options as far as employment is concerned.
Many foreigners come to Turkey each year to work. Some foreigners come to Turkey to work as a result of transfers by foreign firms, NGOs, and embassies with a presence in Turkey. People who move to Turkey without secured jobs might face challenges earning a living in the country.
There are two major sectors that normally absorb foreigners in Turkey: tourism and teaching. Teaching languages in Turkish schools is one of the most popular jobs for foreigners in Turkey. Although the vocation does not pay well, foreigners can at least make decent enough money to survive.
Foreigners who are fluent English speakers can provide private English lessons and make around 30 Turkish lira per hour. While it is true most Turkish employers are looking for English speakers, most of them will not offer decent enough pay to sustain a living.
Foreigners can find good jobs in the hospitality industry in hotels and resorts. Consider starting up your own tour agency if you have adequate financing. However, this does not necessarily mean the venture is easy. Operating a business in the hospitality industry requires patience and persistence. Some expats opt to be nannies or journalists while in Turkey. Getting a job in the journalism field is not easy, however, because the profession is not popular in the country. Being a nanny is a tiring and hectic job for foreigners in Turkey because it is very demanding.
Speaking fluent Turkish is a major asset for any foreigner looking for employment in Turkey.
How to find a job in Turkey
Getting a job in Turkey will depend on the location you want to work and the type of work you are looking for. The best place to start your search is on the internet since most jobs are posted online, especially part-time tourism jobs.
Expat teachers may have to visit different schools in person to look for teaching jobs. It is always advisable to find a job before traveling to Turkey. This will not only give you peace of mind but it will also give you ample time to obtain proper permits, a visa, and other travel documents. English teachers looking to find employment in Turkey can check out online portals like Dave’s ESL Café and TEFL, which offer a wide range of up-to-date job listings.
Expats can find information about job vacancies in Turkey by reading the classifieds sections of magazines and international newspapers. Prepare yourself for an arduous job hunt if you arrive in Turkey before securing a job.
Foreigners who want to work in the tourism sector will find readily available jobs throughout the country. Most jobs in the tourism industry are offered in March and April. Therefore, consider starting your job search during this time. Do not be afraid to visit restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels to look for vacancies. They are the best places to land part-time tourism jobs.
These types of jobs are good for young people who are not looking to save since they do not pay well. For instance, foreigners who work in a bar may be paid enough for rent only. It is important to know that most part-time jobs are paid in cash. Another downside about part-time jobs is that the employer may not sponsor your work visa.
Teaching English in Turkey
You will have to visit Turkish schools in person and ask for openings if you get to Turkey before securing a teaching job. You will require a teaching certification and a formal degree to secure a good position. There are other positions available to applicants with fewer qualifications. Private schools also offer numerous vacancies for English teachers. Any foreigner looking for an English teaching job should ensure that they have a passport, a teaching certificate, a copy of a degree certificate, a resume, and a passport size photo.
Formal job applications in Turkey
The job application process in Turkey is similar to job application processes in other countries. You will be required to have your curriculum vitae ready. Your CV should be easy to read and well organized. Ensure that all details like your name and contact information are listed in the CV, along with your education and experience in chronological order.
Turkish employment contracts
In Turkey, employment contracts are referred to as “service contracts”. Ensure that your contract is in writing if you are planning to be in employment for more than a year. According to the Turkish Labor Code, an employer should give his employee a 2-month probation period before presenting them with a written contract.
Employees are free to ditch employment without penalty or prior notice during the 2-month probation period. A contract should reflect your salary, vacation time, working hours, and benefits.
Marmaris International Recruitment
Marmaris International Recruitment Ltd works with a host of companies and employers in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, and Europe. It is one of the leading recruitment agencies in Turkey.
Skype: Marmaris Recruitment
Nicholson International is an international HR consulting firm that deals with HR advisory services and executive searches. The firm was founded in Istanbul in 1991 and has worked with some of the worlds leading multinational companies and Turkeys leading companies.
Telephone: +90 (0) 212 347 7107
Fax: +90 (0) 212 347 7108
Rent Property[back to top]
Foreign investors have recently been streaming into Turkey’s property market. This has resulted in the creation of various facilities such as golf courses and resorts. For an investor to buy property in Turkey, the government requires that the investor’s home government allow Turkish citizens to legally be able to buy property there. This law is simple for investors to comply with compared with the stringent rules governing property ownership in other countries.
A propertys costs in Turkey is determined by the property’s location and the quality of construction.
Foreigners purchase property according to their interests. For instance, some expats buy properties in Istanbul because it is a business center and a cultural hub. On the other hand, many expats purchase properties on the southern, western and coastal regions of Turkey because of their scenic surroundings.
This is one of the biggest cities in Europe, with a population of 12.6 million people. The city is a good spot for business, culture, and nightlife. Finding property for sale in the city is not difficult. However, finding a well-maintained property at a good price too is not easy. In addition, some communities are a bit distant from the cities, hence unsuitable for expats.
In the cities, people price property differently. Therefore, you should do thorough research when looking for a property.
Southern Mediterranean Coast
There are many flats and villas available for sale in this part of Turkey. Small houses are also available for sale. Beware of properties owned by co-operatives. In co-operatives, several people team up to build properties. The problem with properties associated with co-operatives is that they are often poorly built or maintained. In addition, when you buy these properties, you will end up having temporary rights just like a tenant, since no one owns these homes individually.
Expats can find affordable properties for sale in lesser-known towns and villages in Turkey. The advantages of such properties is that they are often cheaper. However, it is important to research thoroughly before purchasing one.
Property prices in Turkey
Properties for sale in Turkey have different price ranges, hence it is difficult to state an exact price. It may be expensive to buy property in areas that expats prefer because sellers sell these properties at a higher rate. Research property prices in various neighborhoods before making a purchase decision.
Challenges of property ownership
Some tips to circumvent potential issues include:
• Ensure you can read the contract before signing it. Get a translation if necessary. In addition, get a copy of the seller and the real estate agent’s ID.
• Hire a qualified property advocate. They will help you to search for the property you need. Hire a lawyer who can speak your language to act as your advisor. This may help you save significant amounts of money.
• Let the lawyer look at your documents and contracts before making payments.
• Use an independent property agent to value your desired property. Their expertise and insights can help you bargain and protect you from fraudsters.
How do you find your dream property in Turkey?
Walk around in the location you want to buy property. Check for signs stuck on the window stating that the house is on sale. Walking through the area will help you get a better idea of the neighborhood. It will also help you negotiate a better deal with the owner.
Turkish Real Estate Agents You can either buy a house through the owner or through a real estate agent. Both the buyer and seller pay the agent on commission. Negotiate at least a 3 percent commission of the value of your property. Ensure that the agent has permission to sell the house to you.
Avoid working with agents who do not have details of the property you wish to buy. Agents who lack detailed information about the property are only interested in getting a commission.
The buying process
Buying a house in Turkey is easy. You will acquire a deed document from the District Land Registry that establishes you as the property’s owner. Work with your lawyer to develop a sales contract.
Three contracts are usually involved in a property purchase:
• Contract of reservation
• Preliminary contract
• Full contract
As the name suggests, a reservation contract reserves a property for a certain buyer. A preliminary contract is designed to determine the price of the property. A full contract states all the details of the property transaction, including the buyer and the agreed purchase price, among others.
Your property lawyer should help you come up with the contract. Ensure that the contract is legal before signing it. In addition, make copies of the contract as well as other relevant documents.
You cannot receive a deed without permission from the military. The seller should get this permit for you before you agree on the payment mode. When making applications for this permit, the officer involved checks your criminal record and the property’s location. It takes 2-4 months to receive military permission.
Obtain a Tapu A deed becomes valid once you obtain a tapu. You should have the previous owner’s deed, electricity, gas, telephone, and water registration papers to receive the deed fully. Include four passport photos. After acquiring the tapu, you can sell the property like any other property owner in Turkey.
Additional property costs
You will have to pay any tax debts on the property you intend to purchase. Ensure that the seller has receipts for past payments. In addition, you can draft a clause in the contract to protect you from paying the previous owner’s balances. Tax rates for both residents and foreigners are equal.
Anyone who owns land must pay property tax. The higher the value of the property, the more property tax you will pay and vice versa. In addition, you will be required to pay VAT and capital gains tax when selling the property.
If you own property, you will have to pay property tax once per year. The belediye (town hall) collects the property tax. Your municipality determines how much you will pay (known as ‘nominal value’). This tax does not go beyond 0.3% of the property value.
This can be either compulsory or optional. Compulsory insurance helps to protect you from loss in case your property is damaged by an earthquake. Non-compulsory insurance, including fire and theft insurance, covers other aspects of your property.
Buy Property[back to top]
The rules for buying property in Turkey as a foreigner are relatively relaxed compared to other countries globally. This explains the annual influx of foreign investors rushing to buy land or residential units in Turkey. Statistically, foreign-owned property rose by 66% in 2013, and the numbers are still rising. As an expat, there are a number of factors to consider when buying property in Turkey.
Fortunately, the Turkish government has few regulations on property ownership as a foreigner. You can buy studio apartments and luxurious condominiums in some of Turkey’s posh suburbs. However, it is important that you present all the required documents and register with respective authorities for full transfer of ownership. In addition, always remember that Turkish property laws favor the locals more than they do expats.
Long-term vs. short-term property ownership
Purchasing property in Turkey can be done either on a short-term or long-term agreement. For the expat who is a permanent resident in Turkey, long-term ownership is a preferable option. Many long-term foreign property owners either work or do business in Turkey.
On the other hand, short-term property ownership may apply to the expat running a real estate business from their country of origin. These are commonly the foreigners who run vacation rentals or resorts in Turkey. Compared to other property owners, they have fewer responsibilities to worry about because their business is seasonal.
Which are the best Turkish towns to buy property in?
Price is a major determinant of the type of properties that expats invest in. Geographical location affects the pricing of a Turkish home. A two-bedroom house in a busy commercial town can cost twice as much as a similar property in a quiet rustic town. Turkey has several towns where buying property for rental or ownership can be quite profitable.
Istanbul is the largest and the busiest Turkish city. Several global organizations and franchises have branches in the city, which explains why many expats find it favorable to live in. Residential units in Istanbul are close to the city’s amenities including art centers, shopping malls, hotels, and nightclubs.
Didim is a Turkish town that is the complete contrast of Istanbul. It is smaller and quieter, but surprisingly attracts a good number of expats. Didim is an ideal town to buy property in if you are starting out in the Turkish real estate market. Housing prices here are quite low and, in fact, the cheapest compared to other towns. Didims infrastructure may not be like that of Istanbul but it is reasonably developed. Because the town is still developing, there is plenty of land to buy and either lease or build property on.
Bodrum comes second to Istanbul in terms of ethnic diversity. It is a hub for many Polish Turks and other expats who either move here to work or start a new life. Bodrum has its own airport and is lined with luxurious villas, condominiums, and luxury apartments for holiday vacation.
Towns like Fethiye and Antalya are also tourist towns with lots of vacation houses and villas. Antalya has its own airport and the largest golf courses in Turkey. Fethiye is robust with traditional village life and is known to house a major attraction known as the Blue Lagoon.
The process of buying property in Turkey
It is important to have all the required documents before making a purchase decision. Both Turkish people and expats are allowed to buy and own property in Turkey. However, the rules are slightly different for foreigners.
As a non-Turkish property investor, you can only acquire a maximum of 30 hectares of land. If you are buying residential units, then you cannot purchase any property located around military zones; the same applies to land. Thirdly, expats can only own properties in areas with less than 10 percent foreign property ownership.
Once you meet all the requirements, you can proceed to acquire a title deed, or Tapu. If possible, be present to witness the signing of your title deed and checking of all necessary documents. You can also hire a property management company to oversee the whole title deed application process on your behalf if you will be away from Turkey.
Every non-Turkish property owner must present a Dask insurance certificate during the processing of their title deed. The Dask insurance is a mandatory property cover against natural calamities like earthquakes. This cover is renewed annually by the landowner or through the property management office representing them.
If you are relocating to Turkey permanently, it is okay to handle the property buying process on your own. However, there are various advantages of hiring an agent to manage your property.
Property agents will go through the title deed application process on your behalf. They also help manage the land or housing units bought while you are away. In addition, agents help in property searches, which can be quite difficult for expats due to language barriers.
Property agents in Turkey request a 3 percent standard fee of the value of your property. This rate is capped by the Turkish government so you should never pay anything higher than 3 percent. However, agency fees can vary depending on the rental agents you work with.
Expats are required to pay a property tax duty of 4.4 percent of the total asset value. This duty should be cleared while applying for a title deed. Real estate attorneys will charge around $1200 for legal consultation or handling of any property related document. However, some real estate lawyers may charge higher consultation fees depending on the complexity of the transaction.
There are other miscellaneous fees involved in a property purchase in Turkey, including retainers for booking the property on sale. Nevertheless, you will never spend above $500 on additional charges. Properties for sale in Turkey are some of the most affordable in Europe.
Register For Healthcare[back to top]
QUICK LINK: Turkey health insurance
The health service in Turkey is provided to all Turkish citizens. However, the quality of healthcare is not always the best despite the reforms made by the Turkish government. Here is what you need to know as a foreigner seeking medical attention in Turkey.
The Turkish healthcare system was previously divided into three departments:
• The SSK
• Emekli Sandik
The SSK department was responsible for handling employee healthcare. Bag-kur handled healthcare for the self-employed. Lastly, Emekli Sandik managed healthcare services and records for retirees. This devolution system was meant to simplify the Turkish healthcare service. On the contrary, the system was a major flop and was riddled with incompetence and poor services.
The Turkish government decided to repeal the entire healthcare system into one agency that will handle healthcare for all Turkish citizens. This agency is tasked with providing medical cover to all legally employed Turkish citizens and their families. It also ensures hospitals issue out subsidized medication, which is paid either with money or a social security card. In addition, children below the age of 18 are to receive free medical care.
The Yesil card also remained intact in this new medical care system. The Yesil card is a green card issued to the homeless and poor who cannot afford public health services. In Turkey, the poor are defined as those without a salary, permanent residence, or a car. Foreigners can qualify for the Yesil card as well, but it is unlikely to see a poor expat in Turkey because you have to provide proof of financial stability before you can be allowed into the country.
Private hospitals in Turkey provide quality services. Many expats go to private healthcare facilities because the staff are well trained and the medical equipment is updated and well-maintained. The Turkish government has tried to improve public medical care to make EU citizens feel more at home. However, the quality of public medical care does not match what most EU citizens experience in their home country.
Istanbul has one of the largest private hospitals, known as The American Hospital. It is managed by the Vehbi Koc foundation and the quality of healthcare matches North American standards. The American Hospital also collaborates with international organizations like the Columbia Medical Faculty, Texas Childrens Hospital, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. These partnerships help to provide quality medical services to both inpatients and outpatients.
All Turkish public hospitals have well trained and qualified doctors to tend to the patients. However, public hospitals have a number of shortcomings, which is why many expats avoid public healthcare facilities.
Firstly, public hospitals barely receive any financial support from the government. This has led to the over-utilization of already outdated medical equipment, which is poorly maintained as well. Moreover, many of these public patient centers become overcrowded, rendering services extremely slow.
As an expat seeking medical attention in these hospitals, expect to encounter faulty equipment that often has missing components. In addition, public hospitals often run short of experienced medical practitioners. Patients are left at the hands of inexperienced nurses. Doctors are never on call at night, hospital beds rarely have privacy curtains, and expect few English speaking medical practitioners. Public hospitals do not feed their patients, and blood banks are constantly running out of donor blood.
The teaching hospitals are preferable for an expat seeking health service on a budget. These hospitals are located next to medical schools, thus are properly funded and maintained. They also have a low influx of patients, are quite clean, and have professional doctors on call 24/7. However, the teaching hospitals also have inexperienced nurses as the qualified ones are transferred to the public hospitals with fewer doctors. Nevertheless, an expat has a better chance of quality healthcare in teaching hospitals than in the government-owned hospitals.
Local clinics are located on the outskirts of major cities. They usually have one doctor and a maximum of two nurses. These local clinics are only available for vaccinations, check-ups, and medical prescriptions. Consultation services are offered as well, but in the Turkish language. Any major medical cases are often referred to the bigger, well-equipped hospitals.
Foreigners can visit local clinics as long as they speak Turkish or are accompanied by a Turkish-speaking individual. Treatment is free if you have insurance and reasonably subsidized for those without medical cover.
Finding a hospital
If you have medical insurance, your policy provider will give you a list of the best hospitals and clinics within your locality. If you are visiting Turkey for a short period, ensure you get temporary international insurance cover. Alternatively, there are Turkish holiday providers that add medical care to their tourist packages; these are ideal for tourists who are coming to Turkey on holiday.
Ambulance services are available in Turkey. The emergency number is 112 for all Turkish towns. Ambulance response time entirely depends on the hospitals that own them. Ambulances from private hospitals have a faster response time and have quality emergency equipment. Public ambulances are poorly maintained and often take too long to respond owing to the many emergency cases they receive. If it is not a life-threatening emergency you are dealing with, you are better off using a cab.
Istanbul has plenty of private healthcare facilities with quality ambulance services because international hospitals like Medline have branches in Istanbul. Towns like Ankara and Izmir have few ambulances, which also affects the response time. Emergency helicopters are available as well and owned by international hospitals like Medline or airlines like Doruk Air. It is advisable to have all the emergency numbers for your respective Turkish towns.
Olive Tree Counseling
Telephone: +90 (532) 057 33 45
Korto Psychological Counseling
Open A Bank Account[back to top]
Turkey has a certified currency known as YTL (the new Turkish lira). Some time ago, the Lira was a very unsteady currency. However, the currency has now stabilized significantly thanks to various monetary policies that reduced the zeroes from Turkish bill values and the current economic growth. The currency instability in Turkey caused foreign currency investments to be undervalued in the country for a long time. Nevertheless, today many Turkish banks will provide you with the option of opening up an account with the new Turkish lira or with a foreign currency. Garanti Bankası, Türikiye İş Bankası (Isbank), Yapı Kredi Bankası-Koçbank and Akbank are some of the major banks in Turkey. Expats can open different types of bank accounts with foreign-owned and local banks in Turkey.
Garanti Bankası is popular with expats because it has English-speaking staff in most of its branches. Most EU expats prefer Isbank because it has a number of European branches, making it highly suitable for them. In addition, Turkey has several foreign banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, HSBC, Citibank, and Deutsche Bank.
Islamic banksTurkey has two main Islamic banks, namely Türk Arap Bankası and Turkish Bank. These banks conduct their operations in adherence to the Islamic laws. Islamic banks do not pay or charge interest (faiz) on loans or accounts. In addition, they do not invest in companies associated with gambling, pork, or alcohol. These banks also buy homes and sell them at higher costs, but the purchasers are allowed to pay in installments.
Opening a Turkish bank account
You must register for a Tax Number before you are allowed to open a bank account in Turkey. Many banks demand a residency permit from applicants before they are allowed to open an account in the new Turkish Lira. However, some may make an exception, especially for customers with large investments. Even if you do not have a residency permit or fail to negotiate with the bank staff, do not give up because many banks will happily open up an account for you in other currencies including the US dollar, British Pound, or Euro. The only drawback with foreign currency accounts is that they offer little or no interest.
Generally, you will be required to fill in an application form and provide your tax number before you can open an account in Turkey. Consider opening a current account first because it allows you to deposit and transfer cash. Many banks in Turkey do online banking, which allows you to conveniently pay for utility bills. Alternatively, you can open a savings account. However, it is important to know that a savings account is charged fifteen percent withholding tax. All interest rates are inclusive of the withholding tax.
Many Turkish banks open between 9:00 hrs and 17:00 hrs. The banks remain open during lunch, but avoid banking at this time of the day because you might have to wait a long time for service.
Cash, cards and ATMs
Ensure that you always carry cash while in Turkey because some shops and restaurants do not accept debit and credit cards. Normally, only big and popular stores accept credit cards. Apply for an ATM or debit card as soon as you open a bank account. Use the card to withdraw money from your account. You should be able to use any Cirrus card, Switch or Maestro with any ATM in the country. However, you might also find some ATMs that cannot work with your card. When applying for your ATM card, confirm with your bank for ATM transaction charges. Most transactions are usually charged at a fee.
It is important to know that Turkish banks do not provide overdrafts. Therefore, ensure that you are aware of your balance to avoid being denied access to cash or debit money. Lastly, avoid carrying around huge amounts of money, especially if you live in a city. Carrying large amounts of money may attract criminals.
Credit and debit cards
Even though debit cards are not accepted in some shops, you can apply for one to enable you to withdraw money from ATMs. Credit cards eliminate the inconvenience of having to go to the bank whenever you need cash.
You are required to be a Turkish citizen to apply for a Turkish credit card (kredi kartı). However, exceptions might be made, especially if you have significant funds to deposit in a bank account. However, this may affect your credit.
Many credit cards are activated by phone. The PIN is also set during the telephone call. You may also activate your card online. Research the activation process and have all the required details ready before you start the activation process.
Checks (çek) are available in Turkey but its best if you avoid using them altogether because many businesses in Turkey do not accept them. When you pay for items using a check, the shop owner has to verify that the check has cleared before handing you your goods. Your merchandise is kept in reserve until the check has cleared. Due to the slow check processing procedure, checks are used in commercial transactions and for expensive purchases only.
Travelers’ checks are also inconvenient. Many merchants and banks do not accept them and those that do will force you to visit a particular branch to be served. Moreover, you might be charged up to 20% of the check’s value for it to be cashed. Therefore, it is wise to stick to credit, cash, and debit
Foreign-Owned Banks in Turkey
Tel: (212) 355 08 00
Fax: (212) 274 79 93 - 266 93 00
Eurobank Tekfen A.Ş.
Tel: (212) 371 37 37
Fax: (212) 357 08 08
Tel: (216) 524 50 00
Fax: (216) 524 50 50
Deutsche Bank A.Ş.
Tel: (212) 317 01 00
Fax: (212) 317 01 05
Expats can open bank accounts with the banks in their home countries or with Turkish banks.
Learn The Language[back to top]
The dominant language in Turkey is Turkish, with sixty percent of the seventy million native Turkish speakers there. The first or second language of almost all inhabitants in the country is Turkish, although some also speak Kurdish. Turkish has largely been influenced by languages in Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Siberia. It is difficult to determine whether Turkish is an Altaic or Oghuz language as it has characteristics of both. The first Turkish writings were inscriptions on Mongolian monuments.
Turkish has three forms. The first was Anatolian Turkish that was written on Arabic script from the 13th to 15th centuries. Ottoman Turkish followed between the 15th and the early20th century, when Islam was largely adopted by Asian inhabitants. Vocabulary from the Persians and Arabs modified it. Afterwards, Modern Turkish rose from Kemal Ataturk in 1928. He strove to keep the language pure by changing the alphabet from Arabic to Latin. He also formed the Turkish Language Association (Turk Dil Kirumu TDK) to eradicate and replace all foreign words with Turkish equivalents.
The standard dialect is Istanbul Turkish. There are two other majorTurkish dialects. The first is the Western group whose major dialect is known as the Danubian and the second is the Eastern group that contains other dialects such asEskisehir, Edirne, Dinler, Gaziantep, Karamanli, Razard, Rumelian, and Urfa.
Characteristics of the Turkish language
The Turkish language has 21 consonants and 8 vowels in its alphabet. There are two types of vowels: the dotted vowels (e.g. ö, ü) and plain vowels (a, i, o, u). The sound of the dotted vowels is produced from the front of the mouth while the sound of the vowels originates at the back of the mouth. The three major distinguishing characteristics of the Turkish language are vowel harmony, agglutination, and consonant mutation.
Vowel harmony: this is a very important aspect of the Turkish language. Better linguistic compatibility is created by rules on vowel combinations. This also makes the Turkish language easier on the tongue.
Agglutination: this is a word derived from the Latin word agglutinare, which means ‘to glue to’. The Turkish language attaches suffixes to words to add meaning or grammatical forms.
Consonant mutation: These are changes that indicate pronunciation differences. It helps to maintain the phonetic structure of the Turkish language. This also happens in the English language, although very rarely.
Nouns are placed after adjectives. Adjectives do not change based on the plurality or singularity of a word and do not have to agree in number.
Gender and articles: Turkish has neither gender pronouns (she, he and it) nor definite articles (the).
Declensions: Turkish only has six cases because it has neither genders nor numbers that declensions are supposed to modify. These six cases include:
• Nominative: this is the root word that contains no suffix
• Genitive: indicating ownership or possession
• Dative: shows movement towards an object
• Accusative: shows the direct object of a verb
• Locative: shows location
• Ablative: shows movement away from an object.
A simplified and almost completely accurate guide to Turkish word order is Subject Object Verb (SOB).
How to learn Turkish
Learning Turkish can be relatively easy or very difficult depending on one’s native language. Speakers of native languages that use declensions would find it easier to learn Turkish compared to those whose languages do not. Researching Turkish learning options is the best way to start. Below are the most common learning methods.
Language schools in Turkey
This is the best option for a student who is serious about learning Turkish. Practicing outside the classroom after the language school course will translate into excellent results. These Turkish language school courses are available in many cities at varying prices.
Home stay courses
This is the best option for a student who is interested in learning Turkish language and culture. It involves staying with families in Turkey for a given period. These courses offer a deeper connection with the culture and can be cheaper.
Private tuition is ideal for a learner who finds language schools expensive. It is also the best for one who wants more individual attention. Looking online at expatriate websites or on university boards and expatriate cafes are the best ways to find a private teacher.
Au pairs in turkey
This is a very affordable option that gives you the chance to participate in the daily life of a Turkish family. A benefit of this language learning method is that in exchange for helping around the house, the family pays you. These duties may vary according to a family’s needs and may include childcare and property maintenance. An au pair mostly stays with the family for between three and twelve months. The disadvantage however, is that you may find yourself working harder and longer than expected. It is advisable to get as much info as possible from the family before agreeing to work.
Turkey language schools
Babil Language School
Found at the heart of the city on Ismetpasa stop very close to the clock Tower, old city and Marina. The school is accessible by car, tram, and on foot. Take a nostalgic tram to Konyaalti Beach or Shopping Malls. Next to the building is a taxi company. The school is on the fourth floor. The school offers a variety of courses (English, Turkish, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian language courses) and housing options for both groups and individuals in Antalya. The teachers are native speakers of the language with university degrees in their fields and teaching experience. It is government approved.
42 Babil Yabanci dil Kursu Mh. Cengiz Toytunc cd Bakirci Hafiz is Merk 1sk., Antalya,07040, Turkey
Tel: +90 242 243 50 69
Royal Turkish Education Center
This school offers standard Turkish courses 5 days or 15 lessons per week and intensive Turkish courses for 5 days or 20 lessons a week. The maximum number of students is 5. It also offers highly intensive private lessons for flexible students who wish to learn alone. In Istanbul
Royal Turkish EC-IstanbulSıraselviler Cad. No: 30/306 Katip Çelebi Mah.
34398 Beyoğlu / ISTANBUL
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The Turkish education system is quite extensive due to the education reforms that happened in 2005. This entails a total of 12 years’ compulsory education for both boys and girls, after which students may be admitted to a university.
The education system’s organization is as follows:
• 2-3 years of optional pre-primary education (usually for children of ages between 3-5 years)
• 4 years of primary school (ilkogretim)
• 4 years of middle school
• 4 years of compulsory high school (lise)
• University (optional)
Pre-primary education is optional since its major purpose is to enhance physical, mental and sensory maturities of children and to enable them acquire good habits so as they can prepared for primary education. Students can complete all three stages of compulsory education in public schools. Alternatively, students can opt to attend private schools.
Turkish students are required to take entry exams before gaining admission into a university or institution of advanced learning. The entry exams play an important role in determining if students will gain admission into a four-year undergraduate degree or a two-year education program.
The school day usually begins at 08:30 and ends at 16:30. It is divided by a lunch break from 12:00 to 13:00. Schools in Turkey lack cafeterias. Therefore, many students either go back home for lunch or carry lunch to school. To deal with the problem of overcrowding, especially in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara, classroom sessions may be split into two, where each session involves half-day attendance.
Turkish students have a single teacher until they reach the sixth grade. From there on, they have different teachers for different subjects. Despite Turkey’s predominantly Muslim population, state funded schools do not allow prayer. There is the recital of the Istiklal Marsi (national anthem) instead of prayer at the beginning of the school day. In addition, headscarves (hijab) are restricted.
Students in public schools are required to take religion classes. These classes begin halfway through primary school. The religion class focuses on Islam. Foreign students are not required to attend religion class but their participation is welcome.
If you would like your child to attend religion classes, just check with the school and learn about the curriculum. You might change your mind after learning the details depending on your own religious beliefs. Some parents allow their children to attend religion classes just so that they can have a better experience of the Turkish culture. Nevertheless, you should make your decision based on whether or not you think your child will be comfortable attending the optional classes.
It is important to know that physical punishment is not a taboo in Turkish schools. If you are from a western country where laying hands on a student by a teacher will cost them their job, bear in mind that at the very least, a number of teachers in Turkey are permitted to pinch the ears of an undisciplined student. However, this does not necessarily mean that your child will be severely admonished, but it is worth remembering.
Western girls should also not expect the equality between boys and girls that they are used to in their home countries when attending Turkish schools. Rebellious girls are likely to face discipline or expulsion more easily than boys. It should be noted that this tradition is significantly different in private and international schools, where there is a large presence of foreign students.
Public schools and kindergarten
Public schools are offered at every educational level, from kindergarten to university. However, keep in mind that that “public” does not always equal “free”. Years ago, kindergarten was considered unnecessary. Children usually started primary school at the age of six. In the recent years, kindergartens (anaokulu) have been established by primary schools. Kindergartens in Turkey make students ready for advanced school days and tutor some basic lessons. Kindergarten students are also required to put on uniforms just like other students. Kindergarten fees usually cost around YTL 800 per year; the fees cater for the cost of uniforms, food, and other supplies.
At 6 years of age, children begin compulsory education even if they have not attended kindergarten. The school year in Turkey is nine months long and lasts from September to June followed by approximately three months’ summer holiday, which includes a number of holidays for Muslim feasts and religious functions.
Primary school students’ uniforms are plain blue in color up to the age of 11, after which students change to uniforms that are specific to their school. Parents are required to buy their students’ uniforms on their own, though they are easily available in local shops.
Primary students are taught the basics of most subjects and foreign languages. English is the most commonly taught language, although French and German are also taught. However, native-speaking foreign language teachers are a luxury uncommon in public schools.
State funded primary schools have many weaknesses. For instance, in the past, the basis of the curriculum centred on examination and memorization to the extreme. For example, information about Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, would be copied from books to paper by hand. Furthermore, public schools in major cities are often overcrowded. Class sizes of 50 to 60 students are common in Istanbul, making it almost impossible for a number of students to grasp much of what they are being taught.
While some students leave school at the age of 14 and enter the work force the following year, many do continue to secondary school (lise). However, unlike primary schools, Turkish secondary schools are not free and their cost can range from hundreds to thousands of lira per year.
Private and international schools
Many expat parents opt to send their children to international schools because of the problems of language barriers and overcrowding associated with public schools. Private schools are becoming increasingly popular in Turkey because many people do not have confidence in the Turkish public school system.
As the average family’s income grows, Turkish parents have gradually become aware of the weaknesses of the public school system. Many now opt to send their children to private schools (kolej/ozellise) featuring small class sizes, qualified teachers, and extra curricular and athletic activities. However, tuition fees for private and international schools are often higher than those of public schools.
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