Work permits in Turkey

Updated: 20 October 2020 Created: 19 May 2013


Without a residence permit, finding a job in Turkey can be difficult unless you're an academic or in the corporate sector. You'll need to find an employer willing to help you get that all-important work permit.

Language teaching is a popular way to live and work in Turkey. However, many employers will take on staff illegally to avoid investing time and money in the bureaucratic process of applying for a work permit. It's best to avoid this - there have been cases where English teachers have been caught and deported.

Job hunters may pick up leads on the following expat and advertising websites:


If you want to work in Turkey as a resident, you'll need a work permit. For a foreign national to work or do business in Turkey, a residency permit MUST be obtained within one month of your arrival to Turkey and a Turkish work visa for foreign nationals must also be acquired. You can apply for a Turkish work permit from either inside Turkey or outside of Turkey.

How to get a Turkish work permit?

After you have been granted your residency permit in Turkey, you can then start the process of gaining a Turkish work permit. You need several documents before you begin your application for a work permit, these include:

  • Your passport
  • Four passport-sized photographs
  • Photocopies of the pages in your passport that show your photo
  • Photocopies of the passport expiration date
  • Photocopies of the last stamped entry on your passport

If you are looking for employment opportunities in Turkey after obtaining the work permit, you will need these documents as well as an application from the Ministry for Labor and Social Security. The Turkish company who is looking to employ you will make this application on your behalf – you will not be able to obtain a Turkish work visa without a company in Turkey sponsoring you.

If you are based outside of Turkey, we advise you to contact your nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate to begin your work permit application process.

It is also highly recommended that you acquire a residence permit with a long duration, as residency permits with less than six months left have been known to be denied the right to work in Turkey.

Once you have all the paperwork in order and are ready to process with your application, you must then submit your work permit application to the Ministry for Labour and Social Security. If you are approved for a Turkish work permit, your passport will be stamped with your new work visa in Turkey.

What happens once you have your work permit in Turkey?

Once you have been granted your Turkish work permit, you are then considered free to be employed in Turkey and conduct business in Turkey. If you are looking to open your own business in Turkey, many Turkish banks offer loans and there are numerous business grants available for foreign nationals looking to set up business in Turkey.

If you are looking to set up a business in Turkey, you will have some forms that need to be filled out and notarised and you will need to notify some departments in Turkey.

Are there some jobs that foreign nationals are not allowed to do in Turkey?

Yes, some jobs in Turkey are only permitted employment by Turkish nationals. These jobs include high end jobs such as doctors, dentists, chemists, attorneys, and opticians.

Which jobs are available to foreign nationals in Turkey?

Seasonal Workers/ Representatives: Special government agreements are in place surrounding seasonal workers for UK and foreign tour operators. These ‘rep’ work permits lasting 6 months are sponsored by tour operators like Thomsons and Thomas Cook alongside their Turkish partner companies. Many ex-patriots in coastal resorts work as holiday representatives as a result and competition for these roles can be fierce. If you fancy trying your hand as a travel rep keep in mind that the hours worked are lengthy and often anti-social, the basic wages generally low and commission based, and work normally lasts just 6 months of the year. Contact the tour operators to apply and be aware that most recruit and interview candidates before the season starts (January to March) so the team is in place for summer.

Working for large companies and blue chips: Some large blue-chip and international companies with offices in Istanbul and other cities are willing to recruit and sponsor foreign employees. The roles are best sourced direct via internet research or via international recruitment agencies like Michael Page and Adecco who have offices in the cities. As a guide to salaries, Michael Page suggest an experienced sales representative normally gets between 2000TL and 3000TL per month, a good sales manager 3000TL to 5000TL in Istanbul, far less on the coast. An average wage in most areas in Turkey is far less than many other countries, often the equivalent of just a few hundred pounds per month.

Teaching English in Turkey: Many looking to work in Turkey have considered teaching English. One of the best qualifications to get is TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) if you are serious about becoming an English teacher. TEFL courses are widely available throughout the UK and the qualification gives you a good basis to assist with applications. The hardest task is finding a Turkish language school that will sponsor you for a work permit. As is the case throughout Turkey, many employers are happy to talk to you about roles that may be suitable, but few will actually draw up the paperwork necessary to secure you a work permit. It is best to contact prospective schools via email and by phone and, if offered a role, keep in contact with the employer regularly making sure they hire you officially in writing and support your work permit application. Remember, if you are caught working without a permit, hefty fines are issued to the employer, and in many cases deportation of the illegal worker results.

Working illegally: We do not recommend that you accept any position working in Turkey illegally. You will, no-doubt, come across many illegal foreign workers in bars, restaurants and offices throughout Turkey. The penalties to both the employer and employee can be steep so, if you do take a role without a work permit, remember you will not be insured, may well be fined or deported, and be prepared to pay the consequences. The authorities often visit businesses to check that the staff are registered and paying necessary taxes, in addition they do receive tip offs that companies have foreigners working for them so be careful.

Tax in Turkey while working

Tax in Turkey is determined by your work and residency status. All foreigners with Turkish residency are liable to pay tax in Turkey. Non-residents working contracts in Turkey for short periods (less than 3 months), or on a short term basis pay limited tax just on their earnings whilst in Turkey.

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