What Benefits Does Turkish Ikamet Bring?

A Turkish legal residence permit is called Ikamet. It can be a temporary or a permanent residence permit. You can acquire a permanent residence permit after living in Turkey for 8 years.

You can acquire a residence permit by purchasing property that costs at least US$75,000 in a large city or US$50,000 in a small town. Besides, a long-term rent agreement can make you qualified for an Ikamet too.

Please mind, however, that the rent option has become quite unreliable recently. Even if you have a one- or two-year rent agreement, you may be issued a residence permit that is valid for 6 months only. Or your application may be simply rejected. You’ll be safer purchasing a piece of property in Turkey.

Your Ikamet can be extended indefinitely as long as there are legal grounds for that, i.e. as long as you keep the property in your possession.

One of the main advantages that a Turkish Ikamet has is the fact that its holder can acquire residence permits for his/ her spouse and children under 18. An Ikamet is a plastic card pink in color and it carries the holder’s photograph and personal data.

With a residence permit, you can legally stay in Turkey. However, there are many other benefits that a Turkish Ikamet brings.  

An opportunity to acquire citizenship of Turkey

If you live in Turkey on legal grounds for five years, you are entitled to apply for citizenship of the country by naturalization. Please mind that you have to spend the best part of the 5-year period in Turkey. You can leave the country every now and then but not for too long. If you stay away from Turkey for more than a year in total within the 5-year period, you won’t qualify for citizenship.

Besides, the Turkish Government does not guarantee that citizenship will be granted to you after 5 years. You can apply but you will have to meet some other conditions as well. 

Can you ensure becoming a citizen of Turkey? Yes, you can because the country runs a citizenship-by-investment program. Invest at least US$400,000 in real estate in Turkey and citizenship of the country will be guaranteed to you.

Visa-free travel

Turkey is not a Schengen zone country so you cannot enter the EU on your Turkish Ikamet. You can only use it to enter Turkey without a visa. 


Ikamet holders are eligible for medical assistance in Turkey. They only have to buy an insurance policy. Normally, the policy is issued in the name of the head of the family but it will also cover the spouse and underage children. The medical insurance will make healthcare costs much lower in Turkey and this holds for both state and private clinics.

Anyone who has attended a Turkish clinic will confirm that medical institutions are very well equipped in the country. You can see state-of-the-art medical equipment even in small clinics in remote places.


You have to have an Ikamet if you want to send your children to school or kindergarten in Turkey. This requirement holds for both state and private schools.

Children of immigrants are eligible to attend schools, colleges, lyceums, and universities in Turkey. Moreover, educational grants are available to them so they can study free of charge.


An Ikamet does NOT serve as a work permit in Turkey.

Moreover, you will be fined heavily, deported, and barred from Turkey if you are caught working illegally. On the other hand, no-one forbids you to work remotely! If you are a freelancer working for a company located in another country (and you are paid from another country), you are welcome to work while living in Turkey. This is why there are so many freelancers in the country. 

Personal car

You can drive a car with foreign number plates for two years after acquiring a Turkish Ikamet. Such a car cannot stay even one extra day in the country and the Turkish authorities are serious about it.

You could hardly sell the car in Turkey as nobody would want to buy a car with foreign number plates. For this reason, you’d better take your car back to its home country and sell it there before the 2-year period expires. 

Foreign driving licenses are valid for 6 months in Turkey. After that, you can leave the country and re-enter or obtain a Turkish driving license. It is not difficult to do that if you have an Ikamet but it takes some time.

An Ikamet also makes you entitled to purchase a car in Turkey. This is what most immigrants do. Without a residence permit, you are unable to buy a car in Turkey.

Bank accounts and bank loans

Most Turkish banks will deny services to a foreigner who does not hold an Ikamet. This is not a legal requirement but the banks’ choice. If you do have a residence permit, you are welcome to set up a bank account in Turkey.

Please mind that you may be asked to make a US$5,000 to SU$10,000 initial deposit and the money is going to be ‘frozen’ for a few months.

Taking out a bank loan in Turkey is a separate issue. You need a credit card (not a debit card) to rent a car in Turkey, to book a hotel, etc. but obtaining one can be a more challenging task in the country than taking out a mortgage! Some banks in Turkey want foreigners to make a deposit in the amount of 150% of the credit limit before they agree to issue a credit card. Plainly speaking, they want you to use your own money while paying an interest to them. 

You can buy a piece of property directly from the development company and if the development project is incomplete, the price may be especially attractive. Most developers in Turkey make it possible to cover the cost in several installments while the building is under construction.


If you have spent more than 6 months in Turkey within a calendar year, you automatically become a tax resident of the country. Residents are taxed on their global income while non-residents are taxed only on the income made in Turkey. The income tax rate is progressive and it can be between 15% and 40%.

All in all, it is comfortable enough and inexpensive enough to live in Turkey. Even though it is an Asian country, a tiny piece of it is actually located in Europe.

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