How to move to



Find A Job

Turkey is a popular destination for expats seeking residence and work, particularly its beautiful city of Istanbul and its capital, Ankara. If you are interested in working in tourism and hospitality, the tech industry or English teaching, you will find suitable vacancies in Turkey, but the country’s economy has recently taken a downturn and you may not find as wide a range of jobs as was previously available. There are a number of bureaucratic steps you will need to take if you are planning to relocate. Please read on for further details.

What are the legal requirements for foreign employees?

In order to work in Turkey, you must first secure a job offer, as your employer must apply for your work permit – you cannot apply yourself.

They can do so in two ways. Either they must apply through the Ministry of Labor and Social Security online, via the "e-devlet" service – this method is best if you are already in the country and have a valid residence permit – or by applying to the nearest Turkish embassy – this method is best if you are still in your home nation.

You will need to submit:

• a copy of your passport
• your visa application form
• a letter of sponsorship from your employer
• one biometric photo

You may also be asked for:

• a return ticket and proof of accommodation
• bank statements for the last several months
• evidence of health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Turkey
• your personal tax records for the last several years
• your up-to-date police clearance document

Your employer will also need to submit some documentation, including taxation documents.

If you are applying from outside Turkey, note that a work permit is equivalent to a residence card, so you will need to pay an entry visa fee, work permit certificate fee and residence fee respectively. You will need to register your residential address within 20 business days following your arrival in Turkey with the Directorate of Populations Registry (Nufus Mudurlugu) and/or Migration Directorate (Göç İdaresi).

You can apply for a work permit individually if you are self-employed, but in practice, these are rarely granted, and then only to people who have been a resident in Turkey for over five years. A new kind of visa, called a Turquoise Card, is supposed to be implemented to cover self-sponsorship in exceptional cases, such as some forms of entrepreneurship and investors, but this is still pending at the time of writing.

Are any skills in particular demand?

The Turkish government has restricted some professions to Turkish citizens only. Therefore, as an expat, you will not be able to work in the legal, medical or mining sectors.

However, you are likely to be able to find work in tourism and English language teaching. You will need a TEFL certificate for the latter and ideally a university degree.

You may also wish to consider the possibility of secondment from your existing employer, or to approach one of the UK multinationals that currently has a base in the country. For example, Marks & Spencer, HSBC, Vodafone and BP all have Turkish branches. Google, Colgate-Palmolive and Red Bull also have bases in the country.

It is not essential to speak Turkish, especially if you are applying to an international company, but it is advisable that you pick up the basics of the language.

What are typical working hours and annual holiday entitlement?

Businesses open from around 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m, or later in the case of retail. The legal working week is 45 hours, but in practice this is often not adhered to.

Annual leave will depend on how long you have worked for a company. You will be entitled to 14 days of annual leave if you have worked for an employer for between one and five years. There are nine public holidays.

If you become pregnant, you will be entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, split evenly between before and after the birth.

The minimum wage is currently set at €422.30 per month.

Can my spouse work?

Your spouse will need to be registered for a residence permit for the same length of time as your work permit. They will not be permitted to work as your dependant, but must apply for a separate work permit.

Are speculative applications to companies common?

You can make speculative applications and, as above, there are a number of multinationals in the country.

What is the best method of finding a job?

There is a wide variety of job boards and recruitment agencies for specific sectors, such as TEFL. There are also several agencies that cover summer jobs, if you are interested in seasonal work in Turkey.

What is the recommended format for CVs/resumes and covering letters?

A standard CV/resume is acceptable, and if you are applying for work in the hospitality industry (for example, as a barman) you may not even be asked for one. If you are applying to a Turkish-speaking organisation, however, it is advisable to have your CV/resume translated into Turkish.

Which questions are illegal / can be asked in an interview?

Under Turkish law, discrimination on the basis of gender, race, colour, language, religion, belief, sect, philosophical and political opinion, ethnic origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health status, disability and age is prohibited.

Qualifications and training

If you are applying to a Turkish-speaking organisation, it is a good idea to have copies of your qualifications and training translated into Turkish. You may also wish to have your qualifications apostilled.

Apply For A Visa/Permit

Many foreign nationals will need a visa to enter Turkey. The standard Turkish tourist/visit visa is valid on a multiple-entry basis for a period of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Some cruise ship passengers, who arrive at sea ports to visit as tourists, may be exempt from needing a visa, assuming they have an eligible passport and are staying for less than 72 hours.

You can apply for your visa at your nearest embassy or consulate, or you can obtain an eVisa online. An eVisa costs around $35, plus a small service fee, which can be paid by credit or debit card. If you decide to apply for an eVisa, you must do so at least 48 hours, and up to three months, before you travel. It is always advisable to carry a printed copy of your eVisa, in case there are any technical errors.

An eVisa is only valid for the purpose of travel, tourism, and commerce. Be wary of using unauthorised websites, which could charge additional fees or issue fake eVisas. You can visit the official government website here.

If you are planning on remaining in Turkey for a period of more than 90 days, you can apply for a long-stay visa before you travel. Alternatively, once you are in Turkey, you can obtain a residence permit from the local authorities, so long as you do so before you have been there more than 90 days.

If you are entering Turkey by crossing a land border, be sure to check that your passport has a dated entry stamp, before you leave and continue your journey. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you enter Turkey, and that there is a full blank page available for the entry and exit stamps.


There are several visa categories in the Turkish visa system, each of which covers a number of circumstances. These are:

Tourist/business visa

The tourist/business visa category encompasses:

• Touristic visits
• Single transits
• Double transits
• Business meetings/commerce
• Conferences/seminars/meetings
• Festivals/fairs/exhibitions
• Sportive activities
• Cultural artistic activities
• Official visits
• Visits to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Official visa

An official visa is for someone who is visiting Turkey in an official capacity. This type of visa is most commonly used by diplomats, but can also be used by those assigned for duty and couriers.

Student/education visa

The student/education visa doesn’t just cover those studying at university. It also covers:

• Internships
• ERASMUS internships
• AISEC internships
• Turkish language courses
• Other education courses
• Studying in a certified education institute in Turkey
• Studying in a certified education institute in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Work visa

A Turkish work visa is essential for those wishing to legally work in Turkey. It supports a variety of careers and trades, such as:

• Lecturers and academics
• Approved sportspersons
• Assigned artists
• Free Zone workers
• Assigned journalists
• Montage and repairman purposes
• Other special conditions of employment

Other visas

There are a few visas available for those entering Turkey that fall under a miscellaneous category, labelled “Other”. Such purposes include:

• Archaeological excavation and/or exploration
• Researching and filming documentaries
• Persons working as a tour operator / tour representative
• Medical treatment
• Accompaniment
• Family reunification
• Freight visas
• Seafarer visas

For all visas other than those issued for tourist, business or commerce purposes, which can be done online, applications must be made at your local embassy or consulate.

Work permits

Standard employment

Every foreigner who intends to work in Turkey will require a valid work permit. Work permits are issued by the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security (a.k.a. the MLSS). In order to obtain a work permit, you will need to submit an application to your nearest embassy or consulate in your home country prior to travel, and your employer will file a submission with the MLSS.

In some circumstances, you may be able to apply for a work permit while you are in Turkey. Usually, foreigners who have already been issued a residency permit, which has at least six months’ validity left on it, will be able to apply for a work permit from within Turkey. Foreigners visiting for tourism purposes will not be eligible.

You will need to have an employment contract or job offer in order to be approved for a work permit.


If you have continuously and legally worked in Turkey for a minimum of five years, you will be eligible to apply for an independent work permit. An independent work permit will allow you to work as a self-employed individual. These types of permits must be applied for at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Ankara.


Temporary residency

Eligible foreigners intending to be in Turkey for more than a 90-day period can apply for a temporary residence permit; this must be done within 30 days of arrival.

Permanent residency

In order to be considered eligible for permanent residency status in Turkey, foreigners must have legally and continuously resided in Turkey for a minimum period of eight years.

You may also be able to apply for permanent residency if you start a business or purchase a property in Turkey. There is no minimum investment required to do this, you just need to show sufficient evidence that you legally own a property or are running a business, and that you have sufficient financial means to live in the country.

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

Renting Property

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 property’s 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.

Other regions

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.

Military permission

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.

Property Insurance

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.

Buying Property

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. Didim’s 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.

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Turkey health insurance

If you are working for an employer in Turkey you should be registered by your workplace with the SGK, but check to see if they have done this. Otherwise you can register yourself: you will need to go to the local SGK office. These are regionally governed so the application process might differ slightly from area to area, depending on where you are based, but you will need your passport and any ID cards, as well as proof of your residency in the country.

Under the Social Insurance and General Health Insurance Law (GHI), Turkey suffers from something of a catch-22 situation in that you cannot gain residency status unless you have approved health insurance, but conversely you will not be able to sign up to the SGK unless you have residency.

You can take out private coverage initially – however, note that although this will be recognized by Turkish hospitals, it may not be recognized by immigration if you are planning a longer stay. Thus your applications for residency and the SGK will overlap and both offices should issue you with a provisional document to take to each of the other departments. If you need to update your residency permit, make sure that you inform the SGK.

You will need all or some of the following documentation, depending on your local office’s rules:

• an application form
• a copy of your passport
• your residency application
• a health assessment carried out by an approved doctor
• proof of your address issued by the local Nufus office (this is the department which monitors the population)

Either your employer will deduct your contributions from the payroll, or if you are making your own contributions as a self-employed person, you will need to pay these in monthly, online or via a Turkish bank.

You should also check whether your home nation has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Turkey: France and Germany do, for example, but the UK does not. If this is the case, you will automatically be covered under the public healthcare system but will need to make your presence known to them.

Open A Bank Account

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.

Opening hours

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

Denizbank A.Ş.
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

Citibank A.Ş.
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.

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

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Learn The Language

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.

Turkish dialects

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

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
Skype: babelgrup

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

Choose A School

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.

Primary school

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.

Secondary school

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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