All expats have to obtain a work permit to be allowed to work legally in Turkey. The government is becoming very adept at finding illegal workers and enforcing immediate deportation and heavy fines.
Despite recent improvements in the level of bureaucracy, the Turkish government is still hesitant to give out too many work permits to expats and there are still certain fields that foreign nationals are excluded from working in. Not only that, qualifying for a work permit is dependent on proving that you possess a skill that can't already be found within the Turkish population.
However, it's still possible for experienced and determined expats to find jobs in Turkey; particularly in tourism, teaching, property and finance. Opportunities are also available in the engineering, IT, HR, design, PR, marketing and sales industries; although these tend to be harder to find.
Expats should apply for a work permit at least one month before arriving in Turkey. The
submission process actually involves a double application: both the expat and the future employer have to submit forms and documentation within three working days of each other. Permits are usually granted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security within 90 days.
There are three different types of work permit: temporary, permanent and independent.
Temporary work permits last for a maximum of a year and only allow expats to work at a specific workplace in the exact job specified at the time the permit was applied for.
Permanent work permits are sometimes awarded to expats who have lived in Turkey for at least eight years and who have already held a work permit for a minimum of six years.
Independent work permits may be given to applicants who have been living in Turkey for more than five years without breaking any laws. The ‘five year’ condition is occasionally waived for foreigners who are married to a Turkish citizen.
If your application for a permit is rejected you can appeal the decision within 30 days.
Unfortunately, the red tape doesn’t stop there! Expats are also expected to obtain a residency permit within 30 days of arriving in Turkey and preferably before starting work. This official document states that you have the right to live in Turkey for the specified period of time and is obtained by registering with the local police headquarters or the Directorate of Security.
It’s possible to apply for five year residency if you own Turkish property and have a title deed as proof, but if you only have a rental agreement or contract this is reduced to a maximum of three years. As with many application processes in Turkey, there are fees to pay. These are usually calculated based on how long you plan to stay in the country.
Usually a residency permit is granted for a two year period on initial application; this can then be renewed up to four times.