Obtaining a long-term residence permit in Turkey is a process that can prove lengthy (a few weeks at best) and is often easier to initiate from within the country (for more information, check our long-term permits in Turkey article). Hence, a number of expats enter Turkey under a visa — a temporary document allowing you to stay in the country for up to 90 days — before applying for a longer-term authorisation of stay.
Applying for a Turkish visa
To obtain a visa, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months as from the date of your arrival in Turkey. The visa stamp should be clearly displayed on your passport when you enter the country.
You should apply for a longer-term residence or work permit within 30 days from your date of arrival in the country under a visa.
Different visas are available according to the primary purpose of your stay, the most common ones being tourist, work, and student visas.
Good to know:
Regardless of the visa or permit you hold, you are advised to keep your passport and authorisation of stay at hand at all times in case of random police controls.
Entering Turkey under a tourist visa before extending it with a residence permit is a very popular option among expats who have not yet sorted out all the details of their new life at the time of their departure.
Nationals of certain countries (namely Germany, Belgium, France, Georgia, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Greece) are exempted from the obligation to apply for a visa for non-work-related visits of up to 90 days.
Passport-holders of other countries are required to apply for a visa, either directly at the border or online, through the e-Visa Application System.
In addition to your identity documents, you will be asked a passport size identity photo, your flight itinerary and a proof of accommodation for the duration of your stay (a hotel reservation or an invitation from a Turkish resident for example).
Good to know:
Applying through the e-Visa platform entitles you to a discount (around 30%) on visa fees.
A tourist visa can be rejected at the border. Still, ungrounded refusals are extremely rare.
Expats moving to Turkey for work purposes should beforehand have applied for a work visa, mandatory even if their home country benefits from visa-free admission for touristic stays.
Once you have signed an employment contract with a Turkish company, you should file a work visa request from a Turkish embassy or consulate in your home country, submitting a copy of your work contract, of your degrees, and of your identification documents.
In the meantime, your employer will initiate the process of procuring you a longer-term work permit (calisma izni).
Similarly, students enrolled in a Turkish university or school should apply for an education visa in their home country before moving, providing a letter of acceptance from their school in Turkey. For internship visas, a letter from the employer is also required. Holders of student or internship visas should apply for a residence permit within 30 days of their arrival in Turkey.