How to get a driver's license in Turkey
Due to the current circumstances, driving schools have halved their capacities (since June 2020). It is obligatory to wear a face mask at all times during classes and in the vehicle.
Trying to get a driver’s license in Turkey may seem daunting with all the paperwork, lessons, exams, and fees, but it is not as hard as you think.
If you have a foreign driver’s license, you are allowed to keep it and use it for up to 6 months from your official entry date into Turkey. After that date, to drive legally in the country and not incur fines, you’ll have to apply for a Turkish driver’s license.
Warning: The fine for driving on an illegal license is over TL 500. If you don’t have a valid license in Turkey, you will not be insured in an accident. You will be liable to pay for the damages on the vehicle and if you happen to be at fault and the person in the accident dies, you may have to pay a lifetime’s worth of compensation to the deceased’s family.
You can go about getting a license in 2 ways:
- You can convert your original driver’s license into a Turkish one,
- Or apply to acquire a Turkish driver's license from scratch.
If you have never obtained a driver’s license before and want to drive here in Turkey, you’ll, of course, have to choose the second way.
How to convert your license
Get an appointment from the registrar’s office, aka the “Nüfus Müdürlüğü,” either by phone (Alo 199) or online. You’ll need to collect the following documents before your appointment:
- The application form for getting your Turkish driver’s license
- Your passport or residence permit card
- Your driver’s license and a color photocopy
- A notarized or consulate-approved translation of your license
- A doctor’s report (medical clearance to show you are fit to drive, which can be obtained for free at your family doctor)
- A blood type card (request while getting your medical report)
- An education certificate/diploma (a primary school diploma at the minimum) and its notarized translation
- A criminal report (which can be obtained at your local courthouse or online by visiting e-devlet)
- 1 biometric photo (take extras just in case)
- Receipt of payment of license fee (Tell the tax office or bank staff: “Sürücü ehliyeti harç, değerli kağıt ve vakıf payı ücretlerini ödemek istiyorum.”)
You’ll need these documents regardless of whether you are applying for a new license or converting your old one. You will need these additional documents if you are applying for a brand new Turkish license:
- 4 biometric photos
- Proof of address (your ikametgah, which can be obtained from e-devlet)
- Passport and residence permit card
If converting your license:
One point you should consider, and a major drawback at that is that you will have to relinquish your original license and return it to the issuing authority in the country of origin.
If you hold a license from a country such as Australia, the United States, or any other country not a signatory to the Road Traffic Agreement, you will not be able to convert your license.
Turkey and 83 other countries (Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Central Africa, Chile, Costa Rica, Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana , Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lithuania, Liberia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Mongolia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican, Venezuela, Zimbabwe) have signed the agreement.
How to obtain a new Turkish license
- You will have to find a local driver’s ed course (sürücü kursu) authorized by the Ministry of National Education (Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı). Before you enroll in a course, you need to pay the driver’s license (sürücü belgesi) fee to the tax office. For example, for a class B vehicle, your fee will be TL 988,70. (Check prices here.)
- Don’t forget to inquire about the schedule of classes so you can arrange your hours accordingly. Each driving school will have different prices for lessons but expect to pay an average of TL 1,800 for a class B vehicle.
- The lessons are divided into 2 categories: theoretical and practical.
The first stage: theoretical exam
You’ll first have to take about 3 weeks’ worth of theoretical lessons, consisting of about 12 hours of lessons on traffic and environment, 8 hours of first aid training, 6 hours of auto mechanics, and 6 hours of traffic etiquette. You will also be given a handbook to read and learn the information necessary to pass the exam.
Once you have completed the theoretical training, take the electronic exam called “e-sınav,” which can be taken in Turkish, English, German, French, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic. Make sure to inform the course of your preferred language at least 3 days in advance. The tests, held simultaneously with students from many other courses, are held at designated testing centers.
The 50-question multiple-choice exam will measure your theoretical knowledge of the subject matter, divided into 3 main categories: traffic (speed limits, right of way, etc.), first aid, and mechanics (motor in Turkish). You need to score a minimum of 70/100 to pass.
A day before the exam, you will have to pay TL 90, the fee for the written exam, via a state-owned bank (Halkbank or Ziraat).
Once you successfully pass the theory exam, you’ll need to take a few weeks' worths of practical lessons.
2nd stage: practical exam
You will have to take about 12 hours+ of driving lessons with an instructor, learning how to parallel park, start up on a slope, and emergency-break, among many others, for this part of the course. The lessons will be in Turkish. It is mandatory for you to take these classes even if you already know how to drive.
During the exam, your instructor will want you to complete a specific route and a set of maneuvers in the order you were told to memorize during your lessons. You will have to know when and where to make these moves without being prompted by your instructor.
If you pass:
- You will be given a temporary license that day as you wait about 2 weeks for the actual one to be issued by the General Directorate of Security and be sent by mail.
If you fail:
- You have 3 more chances to take the exam. Each exam will set you back TL 120.
Once you pass both exams, get an appointment at https://randevu.nvi.gov.tr. The driving school should give you your driver’s file (sürücü dosyası) to take to the registrar’s office for your appointment. Within a week or 2 of passing your exams, you should also be issued a driver’s certificate signed by the District National Education Directorate.
Don’t forget to bring your ID, driver’s certificate and file, medical report, blood type card, receipt of payment for license fees, and 2 photos to your appointment.
So-called border runs
Do not fall for these so-called border-run tours to bypass the latest legalization by getting a new passport stamp. The law is clear that you must convert or obtain a Turkish driver’s license after 6-months of being a resident or you risk not being covered by your insurance provider in case of an accident.