The major gripe of expats in Turkey over the last few years has been the cost of a residency permit. In theory, under the recipricocity principles, it was supposed to be the equivalent of what a Turkish person would pay to reside in the UK, but in practice, as there was no equal under the British visa system, the price was whatever someone in Ankara felt like charging and it had gone up exponentially in recent years, culminating in a hefty rise to £370 per person, per year in 2010. That certainly stung and as the actual amount you paid was in Turkish lira and fluctuated with the exchange rate there were times in recent months when people were paying over 800tl a year for their permit.
As a result of the rise in permit prices many expats gave up their residency and made a regular trip out of the country every 90 days and stayed in Turkey on the £10 tourist visa. This caused problems though as you need a residency permit for a host of things – from buying a car to organising a phone line. Coupled with a commitment by the Turkish authorities to do away with this automatically renewable 90 day tourist visa and bring in a 90 in180 day visa the stress level of expats was rising fast and to those on a very fixed income Bulgaria started to look like a cheaper living option!
Fortunately the British Consul stepped in and conducted intensive talks with the Turkish authorities and from yesterday 1st April the residency permit costs have been substantially reduced. Other countries have benefited too and for Irish citizens there appears to now be no charge (see bottom of this post for details).
Whist not the ideal day to make an announcement of this magnitude it has been greeted with great relief by many expats who have today woken up to find it is indeed true!
Residency for British citizens is now priced in US$ and costs $25 for the first month and $5 for every subsequent month making a year’s residency $80 or roughly 60 Euros although, as usually, come the day you will pay in Turkish lira and be subject to the exchange rate fluctuations. Your “blue” residency booklet is an additional cost and you will need to buy it on your first application.
Amongst the chattering classes (or clattering glasses!) of the expat community there are rumours that you can only renew your residency five times before you have to apply for citizenship. This is not true. You can renew your residency as many times as you like but after five renewals you need to buy a new “blue book”.
If you wish to apply for citizenship and have no familial connections to Turkey then you need to have a minimum of five years uninterrupted residency (of the right type!) in order to commence the process so maybe that is how the rumour originated.
Paperwork for residency permits varies from county to county and it is best to visit your local aliens department at the police station to see what is needed in your area. Some like proof of income, some are happy with just proof of a bank account. Best check to be sure.
It is worth noting that whilst the maximum residency term you can apply for at any one time is 5 years this is dependent on the amount of time remaining on your passport. So, if you only have a year remaining on your current passport you can only get a year’s residency.
Those of us who live in Turkey have to congratulate the British Consulate for their work on our behalf and for securing such a huge reduction in the resident permit cost. It will make a big difference to the cost of living here and generates goodwill all round. So, thank you, the atmosphere here on the Aegean coast, despite the current rain, is a little happier today – apart from those who renewed their residency last week and are raving!
Further information on the recent discussions the consul has had with the Turkish authorities can be found here, this includes the resident permit and other issues – FCO Turkey – Consular Meeting update
Latest news for our Irish cousins is that from April 1st 2011 residency permits for citizens of Eire are now FREE! Irish citizens just pay the 149tl for the “Blue book” when they first get their residency but other than that there is no charge.