When you haven't fulfilled the 5-year legal and duly residency requirement or have not clocked enough days via work, applying for Turkish citizenship as a foreigner may seem complicated, but it is anything but.
Apart from applying in the general way mentioned above, you can also apply for Turkish citizenship under exceptional schemes.
One of these remarkable ways is through real estate investments.
Widespread interest in this scheme and the Turkish lira's depreciation spurred the Turkish government to reduce the amount needed for property investment to $400,000, down from $1,000,000.
Under this citizenship scheme, the Turkish government allows foreigners who have acquired immovable property worth a minimum of $400,000 (or the equivalent in other foreign currencies or Turkish lira) to acquire Turkish citizenship.
What's the Catch?
The citizenship scheme comes attached to the condition that you cannot sell the property for three years. But after that time is up, you are free to do whatever you want.
The Turkish government has not made any specifications on the type of real estate you plan to invest in as part of this scheme. It can be a land lot, residential, commercial, or agricultural property. The property also doesn't have to be complete and can be under construction at the sale time.
It would be best if you bought from a Turkish citizen and not a foreigner to obtain citizenship.
You can buy the property directly or pay in installments, as long as the payment plan started after Jan. 12, 2017, and the title-deed was acquired after Sept. 19, 2018.
Do I Have to Have a Residence Permit before Applying?
No, as a foreign national seeking to benefit from Turkish citizenship via a property scheme, you do not need to have a residence permit. In fact, after the acquisition of the real estate, you will be granted a renewable short-term residence permit, according to Law No. 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection.
Where Do I Apply?
Suppose you are a natural or legal person intending to acquire real estate in Turkey. In that case, you will have to make your application to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre together with the owner of the property you intend to buy.
Documents You'll Need to Apply for Turkish Citizenship via Property Scheme:
- Your passport or identity document evidencing your nationality (which must be accompanied by a notarized Turkish translation)
- 4 biometric photographs
- Tax number (for more information on how to get a tax ID as a foreigner, read this.)
- The title-deed of the property
- Appraisal/evaluation report
- Letter of applicability/eligibility (uygunluk belgesi)
- A bank receipt showing the purpose of your purchase and a total payment of $400,000 or more has been made.
More on Documents…
The Capital Markets Board (Sermaye Piyasası Kurulu - SPK) requests a "Real Estate Appraisal Report" prepared by real estate appraisal companies included in its selective list of certified appraisers.
This appraisal/evaluation report should state the actual and total price of the property or land. Don't forget that this document is only valid for 3 months.
If the price listed on the evaluation report is higher than the actual amount you paid during its sale, this will raise red flags. The selling price should be equal to the price listed by the expert, not including the Value Added Tax (KDV).
The bank transfer receipt should include a clear description of your purpose of the transfer (citizenship via property, for example) and be certified by the issuing authority, i.e., the bank.
What If My Property Is Valued at Less Than 400,000?
If the value of the property you have purchased is less than $400,000, you should know that the law and regulations for this scheme do not state that a single piece of property has to amount to this figure. That means that as long as the total value of the properties you have purchased amounts to at least $400,000, you will be eligible to apply for this scheme.
Moreover, suppose the property you have bought is less than $400,000, and you don't plan on acquiring more real estate. In that case, you can still obtain Turkish citizenship as long as you remain in Turkey legally and uninterruptedly for 5 years and hold the correct real estate residence permit or work permit
Applying – Step by Step
- Buy the real estate.
- Get a financial evaluation/appraisal report for the property and a letter of applicability (Uygunluk Belgesi)
- Get an annotation affixed to the land registry of the property of your pledge not to sell the property for at least 3 years.
- Obtain your short-term residency as an investor
- Apply for citizenship
It would be best if you started by applying to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre (Tapu ve Kadastro Genel Müdürlüğü - TGKM) after buying your property. Next, send your citizenship application to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization alongside the Real Estate Appraisal Report confirming that your property is worth at least $400,000. If your property is deemed eligible for the citizenship scheme, you will be sent a letter of applicability (Uygunluk Belgesi).
After further examination, the ministry will request an annotation stating that the property cannot be sold for 3 years to be added to the title-deed by the recorder of deeds, aka the TKGM. Your application enters its final stage when sent to the General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs. If approved, you will be invited to the directorate to be issued your Republic of Turkey Identity Card and passport.
As the investor, you need to have obtained the title deed and registered at the notary and the real-estate registry office (if you have paid in total).
You can lodge your citizenship application during the transfer of ownership or after. The only point you need to be careful of is to expressly state that the sale is happening for obtaining citizenship and that you guarantee that it will not resell for at least 3 years.
In case there was a mortgage on the real estate, you should clear it either before the transfer of ownership or within 5 days of your purchase.
If you are paying in instalments or the property is still under construction at the time of sale, you will have to have finalized these before applying for citizenship.
Current regulations do not state a specific time frame to purchase multiple properties to obtain citizenship. You will need to get an evaluation report on all your properties before submitting your application for citizenship.