Living and working on the Turkish Mediterranean: the ins and outs of getting a Turkish work permit

Ideal work surroundings?The hardest thing about working on the Mediterranean, yacht broker Adrian Greenwalton confesses, is convincing your friends that you are actually working on the Mediterranean.

“Most of my friends back in London think I spend my days sat on a boat, eating olives and drinking raki,” he said. “I do actually work hard out here but the last time I was back in London and I said that to a friend he just pointed at my tan and shook his head.”

A once in a lifetime opportunity

Adrian moved to Fethiye in 2010. The former financial officer said he had holidayed and sailed in and around the Mediterranean sea port “dozens of times”, and always dreamed of relocating for good. “I bought a villa in Ovacik in 2002 and planned to move out when I retired and spend my days sailing. But as it turned out, that move happened a little earlier.”

Adrian has been a keen sailor since he was old enough to hold a rudder. His love of sailing and the ocean took him all over the world - and on some very unusual journeys. “I once crossed the Atlantic alone on an 18 footer. My friends thought I was absolutely crazy. But I did it. Thankfully I didn’t have to sail back as I sold the yacht Stateside.” 

A sailor's dream jobNow the 55-year-old world wanderer has cast his anchor in Fethiye - for good, he believes. “On a trip to Fethiye back in 2009 I got talking to a man in a hotel bar who is a yacht broker, selling yachts mainly Turkish clients. We got talking about sailing, he found out I was interested leaving my London job for a new adventure and by the end of the conversation he’d offered me a job.” London-born Adrian now travels to and from the UK sourcing clients and matching them to the perfect yacht - and passing on his passion for sailing in Turkey. He also organises the rental of high-end yachts for visitors wanting to explore the coastline on holiday.

A sailor’s dream

Adrian is discreet about his clientele but admits there are some “big, very big names” on his Rolodex. “Sailing in Turkey is becoming so popular and yachts have always been a status symbol. All you need to do is wander down to one of the big marinas around here. They’re no longer rickety wooden affairs with frayed rope - Turkey’s marinas are suddenly all state-of-the-art, with incredible facilities to boot.” These types of facilities tend to bring in the money, he said. “Oil money, royal money - you name it. They’re all coming to Turkey, and a lot of them want to sail while they’re here.”

The self described “old salt” says Turkey’s sailing conditions are some of the best in the world. “Believe me, I know. I’ve been caught in more unpleasant squalls than you’ve had hot dinners. Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline is just wonderful: steady, warm breezes, lots of interesting bays and harbours and just enough challenge to keep an old sea dog like me keen.”

All (above) board

Fortunately for Adrian, his new employer was keen to help him obtain a work visa in Turkey. “It was fairly straightforward, especially if you have a residency permit. This is easier to do now as new home buyers in Turkey automatically get a year’s automatic residency.”

The process

You can apply from your home country or, if you hold a residence permit, from within Turkey. If you are outside Turkey, you’ll need to apply to your local Turkish consulate. If you are residing in Turkey, you can apply directly to the Ministry for Labor and Social Security.

Read to move abroad?You will need the following documents:

  • A contract or a letter confirming your employment from your future employer
  • Your passport
  • Four passport-sized photographs
  • Photocopies of the passport page showing your photo and the expiration date.
  • Photocopies of the last stamped entry on your passport
  • Residence permit (if applicable).

Once you have submitted your application, your employer then has 10 working days to submit their own application to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Department for Work Permits for Foreigners. Some employers, especially larger ones used to working with foreigners, will know about this time frame, while others will not. So it is best to clarify the process with your future employer, and make sure you’re both ready to complete the applications.

Time frame

Work permit approved? Time to head to pastures newIt can take up to two months to process a work permit. Once your application has been approved, the applicant will need to go to the consulate with their passport to get the work permit and relevant stamps. You have only three months to do this or you’ll need to start the whole process again.


The cost of applying for a work permit varies from country to country. British nationals currently need to pay £321.

The best job in the world

Yachts in Fethiye“As they say, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it,” Adrian said.

“Part of my day is spent on the phone, tracking down yachts of all specifications, from hobby dinghies to superyachts, and I usually get out and test drive a new yacht when I can.” 

Adrian claims his life couldn’t be better. “Sailing has always been a passion of mine, but it was really a hobby. Or as my ex wife would say, ‘an obsession’! I can’t believe how lucky I am that I now live and breathe boats and sailing for a living, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” 


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