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15 March 2024

What is a Work Permit? How to Obtain a Work Permit in Türkiye?

Author Civan Güneş, Kerem Akdağ, Category Work Life

What is a Work Permit? How to Obtain a Foreign Work Permit in Türkiye?

    Türkiye has become an attractive destination for many foreign workers due to its cultural richness, strategic location, and economic opportunities. However, foreigners wishing to work in Türkiye must be knowledgeable about several details regarding work permits. So, what is a work permit, and how does the process of obtaining work permit in Türkiye?

    What is a Work Permit?

    A work permit is an official authorization required for foreigners to legally work in Türkiye. This permit is regulated under the International Labor Law No. 6735 (In Turkish) and formalizes the employment relationship between employers in Türkiye and foreign workers. Work permits in Türkiye are issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, and these permits are mandatory for foreign nationals to work in the country. Obtaining a work permit in Türkiye is a complex process that requires fulfilling legal procedures and accurately completing the necessary documents.

    What are the Types of Work Permits?

    Temporary Work Permit

    A temporary work permit is granted for up to one year on the first application, conditional upon employment under a specific employer and within a predetermined sector. This permit allows for employment only at designated workplaces or within the same sector, without exceeding the duration of the employment or service contract specified.

    According to Article 10/1 of the International Labor Law, "If the application is positively evaluated, the foreigner is granted a work permit valid for no more than one year on the first application, on the condition that it does not exceed the duration of the employment or service contract, and that it is for working in a specific job at a specific workplace owned by a real or legal person, or at public institutions or organizations, or at their workplaces within the same sector."

    Regarding the extension of the temporary work permit, it is possible to apply for an extension after the initial duration has ended. If this extension application is accepted, the foreign national can be granted a work permit for up to two years for the first extension and up to three years for subsequent extensions, under the same employer.

    Indefinite Work Permit

    An indefinite work permit, which allows for working in Türkiye without any time limit, is granted to foreign nationals who have a long-term residence permit or have had a legal work permit for at least eight years. This type of permit includes documents that need to be updated every five years from the date they are issued. The updating process should be carried out within the six months before the five-year period ends and in any case, before the duration expires. However, even holders of an indefinite work permit are not allowed to engage in certain jobs and professions that are considered exclusive to Turkish citizens and prohibited for foreigners. This indicates that regulations related to work permits in Türkiye include both opportunities and restrictions.

    Independent Work Permit

    An "Independent Work Permit" in Türkiye is a type of permit that allows foreign nationals to work independently on their behalf in Türkiye. With this permit, foreigners can start their own business or work as freelancers. To obtain an independent work permit, individuals must meet various criteria, such as residing in Türkiye for a certain period, the need in their sector, and their level of expertise in their field. Article 29 of the International Labor Law Implementation Regulation states:

    1. "Independent work permits can be issued to the foreigners listed below:
      1. Professional members of professions determined by the General Directorate.
      2. Cross-border service providers who are independent or employees of an employer established abroad, providing services exceeding the durations foreseen in paragraph 1 of Article 48.
      3. Foreigners who are company partners and managers in limited companies, board members who are company partners in joint-stock companies, and managing partners in limited partnerships divided into shares, established according to the Turkish Commercial Code No. 6102 dated 13/1/2011.
      4. Foreigners who are company partners and managers in other companies established according to Law No. 6102.
    2. Foreigners within the scope of paragraph (a) who have an independent work permit cannot perform jobs not compatible with their profession.
    3. Foreigners granted an independent work permit under paragraph 1 may be given the right to work at more than one workplace, provided that they comply with the relevant legislation and apply through the system. The matters to be included in the application and the implementation principles are determined by the General Directorate.
    4. Foreigners within the scope of paragraph 1 who complete the work permit application can be given an independent work permit application document without any fee or charge.
    5. In evaluating independent work permit applications in line with international labor policy, factors such as the foreigner's education level, professional experience, contribution to science and technology, the impact of the activity or investment in Türkiye on the economy and employment, and if a foreign company partner, their share of capital and other similar factors are considered.

    How to Obtain a Work Permit?

    To obtain a work permit, foreign worker candidates must first apply for a work permit and visa at the relevant Turkish Republic foreign representations. However, if the foreigner is in Türkiye with a valid residence permit of at least 6 months, the work permit application can also be made domestically.

    What are the Types of Work Permit Applications?

    There are two different application types for obtaining a work permit in Türkiye, depending on the residence status.

    Domestic Application

    For foreign nationals residing in Türkiye, there is no obligation to apply for a work permit at Turkish consulates abroad. However, to obtain a work permit, these foreign nationals must have a valid residence permit of at least six months.

    If the foreign worker has a valid residence permit in Türkiye for at least six months, an application must be made to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. According to Article 15 of the International Labor Law Implementation Regulation: "Foreigners determined by the General Directorate who are legally in Türkiye can apply through the system without a valid residence permit. The provision of the opportunity to apply without a valid residence permit for foreigners involves;

    1. Board decisions,
    2. Matters related to the qualifications of the foreigner for whom a work permit application is made,
    3. Matters related to the qualities of the employer or workplace where the foreigner will be employed,
    4. Matters regarding the compatibility of the application with international labor policy,

    are considered to determine special conditions and the General Directorate is authorized to update these conditions in six-month periods and publish them on the official website.

    Overseas Application

    Work permit applications are made through the embassies or consulates of the Republic of Türkiye in the foreign citizen's own country or in the country where they legally reside. If the candidate will work within the structure of a foreign employer, the first step is to apply for a work visa at the relevant embassy or consulate. After this application, the documents and information required by the employer must be uploaded to the system and the application approved. Once these procedures are completed, the work permit application is finalized. If the foreigner will not work with a foreign employer, the application process is completed by submitting the necessary documents and information to the relevant embassy or consulate, and getting them uploaded and approved in the system.

    It is important to note that if a work permit is granted as a result of applications made from abroad, the permit holder must enter Türkiye within six months from the start date of the permit. Otherwise, work permits of foreigners who do not enter Türkiye will be cancelled.

    Article 16: "(2) In terms of work permit applications made from abroad:

    1. It is mandatory for the employer on behalf of whom the work permit application is made for a foreigner to work to have an electronic notification address.
    2. The electronic notification address of the foreigner for whom an indefinite work permit or independent work permit application is made is reported to the Ministry through the system within thirty days from the date the work starts.

    Article 25: "(2) In applications made from abroad, the foreigner must start working within one month from the date of entry into the country and in any case within six months from the start date of the work permit, by fulfilling their obligations under the relevant legislation.

    is specified.

    Documents Required for a Foreign Work Permit

    Both the company and the foreign worker candidate are required to provide certain documents for the work permit application. These documents are delivered to the Ministry through an online system authorization. Following the delivery of the documents, the work permit application is taken into consideration.

    Documents Required for the Foreign Worker

    • A job contract signed with the current date (monthly salary should be clearly stated as XXXX Turkish Lira/gross per month, and signatures must be made with a blue pen)
    • Passport (Turkish translation and notarized copy)
    • Diploma (Turkish translation and notarized copy)
    • Photograph (scanned passport-size photo)
    • Contact information of the foreigner (e-mail address/phone number)
    • Reference number: The worker candidate must visit the Turkish Consulate/Embassy in the country where they legally reside to obtain a reference number.

    Documents Required for the Company

    • Corporate Tax Declaration
    • Provisional Tax Declaration for the latest period
    • Trade Registry Gazette
    • Activity Certificate
    • "No Debt” Certificate from the Social Security Institution" (SSI)
    • "No Tax Debt Certificate" which can be requested from the Tax Office
    • SSI Premium Payment Slip and Insured Service List

    However, for Work Permit processes of Liaison Offices established with the permission of the Ministry of Industry and Technology:

    • Instead of the corporate tax declaration and provisional tax declaration, an "Annual Activity Report" should be provided.
    • Instead of the Trade Registry Gazette and Activity Certificate, "Ministry Permission Letter and Permission Extension Letters" should be submitted.

    2024 Work Permit Fees and Valuable Paper Fees

    The costs for the year 2024 are as follows:

    Valuable Paper Fee 565.00 TRY
    1-Year Permit Fee 7,345 TRY + 565 TRY = 7,910 TRY
    2-Year Permit Fee 14,690 TRY + 565 TRY = 15,255 TRY
    2-Year Permit Fee 22,035 TRY + 565 TRY = 22,600 TRY

    What are the Conditions for a Work Permit?

    In Türkiye, there are certain eligibility conditions for foreign work permits. These conditions include:

    1. Employment of Turkish Citizens: The employment of at least 5 (five) Turkish citizens is mandatory at the workplace for which a work permit is requested. If the foreign applicant is a partner in the company, the condition of employing five people is required for the last six months of the one-year work permit given by the Ministry. For each additional foreigner requested at the same workplace, separate employment of five Turkish citizens will be required for each.
    2. Financial Requirements: The workplace must have a paid capital of at least 100,000 TRY, gross sales of at least 800,000 TRY, or an export amount of at least 250,000 USD in the last year.
    3. Exceptions: The conditions in the second item do not apply to foreign nationals who will work in associations and foundations. Similarly, the first and second conditions will not apply to the evaluation of work permit applications for foreign nationals working in Turkish representations of foreign state airlines, the education sector, and domestic services.
    4. Shareholder Requirements: For a foreign company partner requesting a permit, it is mandatory to own at least 20% of the company shares, with the share value not being less than 40,000 TRY.

    Minimum Wage Coefficients According to Position

    On a legal basis, it is of great importance that the salaries of employees are updated annually in parallel with the minimum wage increase, ensuring they are not employed for a wage below the minimum by considering appropriate coefficients for their positions, and that their social security premiums are paid without delay. After obtaining the permit, it is mandatory for the foreign worker to enter Türkiye within 180 days after the relevant fees are paid. Within 30 days following their arrival in Türkiye, the employer must complete the worker's social security registration; otherwise, the employer may face penalties. The monthly wage declared to be paid by the employer to the foreigner must be consistent with the position the foreigner will work in. Accordingly, considering the minimum wage amount in effect as of the application date, the minimum wage to be paid to the foreigner should be at least:

    Positions Minimum Wage Coefficient
    For those working in domestic service 1
    For Customer Representatives, Sales Staff, Marketing, Export Officers, and similar 1,5
    For those working in tourism, animation, organization companies as acrobats, or similar titles, and jobs such as masseurs, masseuses, and SPA therapists 2
    For those working in jobs requiring expertise and craftsmanship, teachers, doctors 3
    For unit or branch managers, engineers, and architects 4
    For senior managers, pilots, and managers, engineers, and architects applying for preliminary permits 6,5

    How to Apply for a Work Permit Extension?

    The principles for applying for an extension of a work permit according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security are as follows:

    1. To extend the duration of a work permit issued by our Ministry, an extension application must be made at most sixty (60) days prior to the expiry date of the current work permit or before the expiration of the permit period. Applications for extension made after the expiry date of the work permit are evaluated according to the procedures and principles of the initial application.
    2. After a legal working period of one year, if the extension application made according to Article 7 of Law No. 6735 is positively evaluated, a work permit can be issued for up to two years for the first extension application and up to three years for subsequent extension applications, contingent upon the same employer. Applications to work under a different employer are evaluated according to the initial application procedures and principles.
    3. Just like the initial application, the request for extending the work permit is made electronically via e-government.

    Who are the Foreigners Exempted from Work Permit?

    Foreign nationals exempt from the work permit requirement in Türkiye are identified under certain conditions specified in Article 48 of the International Labor Force Law Implementation Regulation. This exemption grants individuals the right to work and reside without needing a work permit for specific durations, depending on the activity they are involved in. The regulation details who can request this exemption and how long it will be valid:

    "“(1) Subject to the provisions of special laws and the obligations arising from other laws between the foreigner and the employer;

    1. Foreigners who will work within the scope of scientific, cultural, and artistic activities for up to one month,
    2. Foreigners coming for the purpose of training related to the use of goods and services exported from or imported to Türkiye, or to provide training on the installation, maintenance, and repair of imported machinery and equipment, or to take delivery of the equipment or to repair vehicles broken down in Türkiye for up to a total of three months,
    3. Cross-border service provider foreigners for up to three months,
    4. Non-resident board members of joint-stock companies established under Law No. 6102 and partners of other companies who do not have a managerial position, and foreigners who will work in Türkiye authorized at the highest level for representation and binding for these companies for up to three months,
    5. Individuals reported by the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as being of Turkish descent and residing abroad who will work in Türkiye for up to three months,
    6. Foreigners who will work in the context of sports activities for up to four months,
    7. Foreigners who will undergo internships under student exchange programs made between Turkish universities and universities in foreign countries and approved by the Council of Higher Education for up to four months,
    8. Foreigners who will work in seasonal agriculture and animal husbandry determined by the General Directorate for up to six months,
    9. Foreigners working in fairs and circuses operating outside the boundaries of certified tourism enterprises for up to six months,
    10. Foreigners reported by the relevant public institutions and organizations who can make significant contributions to Türkiye in economic, socio-cultural, technological fields, and education for up to six months,
    11. Foreigners working as tour operator representatives for up to eight months,
    12. Foreigners who will undergo internships within the scope of international internship exchange, new graduate intern exchange, or youth exchange programs approved by the General Directorate for up to twelve months,
    13. Foreigners coming to universities and public institutions and organizations to conduct research or to enhance their knowledge and experience, limited to the duration of their education and in any case up to two years,
    14. Professional foreign athletes, coaches, sports doctors, sports physiotherapists, sports mechanics, sports masseurs or masseuses, and similar sports personnel coming to Türkiye with a sports visa approved by the Ministry of Youth and Sports or the Turkish Football Federation for the duration of their contracts with sports federations and clubs,
    15. Foreign seafarers working on ships registered in the Turkish International Ship Registry and operating outside the cabotage line, with a Certificate of Conformity Approval from the relevant authority, according to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers under Rule I/10 of bilateral protocols with states,
    16. Foreign nationals assigned to programs or projects carried out within the scope of Türkiye-European Union Financial Cooperation Programs for the duration of their duties,
    17. Foreign students enrolled in a formal education program in Türkiye who are required to do an internship with an employer as part of their vocational training according to the relevant legislation for the duration of their mandatory internship,
    18. Foreign nationals working in schools, cultural institutions, and religious institutions operating as an affiliated unit of the diplomatic and consular representations of foreign countries in Türkiye for the duration of their duties,
    19. Foreign nationals working in the special service of diplomatic staff members, consular officers, administrative and technical staff members, and consular service staff at diplomatic and consular representations of foreign countries in Türkiye, and international officers and administrative and technical personnel at international organizations in Türkiye for the duration of their work or service contracts,
    20. Foreign nationals working within the scope of military factories and shipyards operating under the Ministry of National Defense and the Machinery and Chemical Industry Joint Stock Company for the duration of their work or service contracts,
    21. Foreign nationals, researchers, or managers who will work within the Turkish-Japanese Science and Technology University established by the Law No. 7034 dated 18/06/2017, for the duration of their employment contracts,
    22. Foreign nationals receiving specialist training in accordance with the Regulation on Specialist Training in Medicine and Dentistry published in the Official Gazette No. 28983 dated 26/04/2014, for the duration of their training, are considered within the scope of work permit exemption.”

    Does a Work Permit Replace a Residence Permit?

    In Türkiye, having a work permit also grants the foreign worker the right to reside. This means that individuals with a work permit can live in Türkiye without needing to obtain a separate residence permit. However, when the work permit expires, the residence permit automatically terminates as well. In this context, it's mandatory to apply for a new residence permit suitable for the individual's new status within ten days following the expiration date of the work permit. Otherwise, violating residence regulations could risk deportation for the foreign national. If a foreigner does not leave Türkiye despite a deportation order, administrative detention measures may also be implemented. Therefore, carefully monitoring the expiration date of the residence permit and applying for a new one suitable for the new status within sixty days before its expiration is crucial. However, work permits issued to applicants for international protection, conditional refugees, and those under temporary protection status do not substitute for a residence permit.

    Professions Forbidden to Foreigners in Türkiye

    Article 9, paragraph ç of the Law No. 6735 on International Labor Law titled "Refusal of Work Permit Application" states that foreigners are prohibited from practicing various professions in Türkiye in the phrase "for jobs and professions that are reserved for Turkish citizens in other laws". These professions are as follows:

    1. Founder, Manager, Trainer for Private Security Companies and Representatives Authorized by the Legal Entity Partner of the Company (Article 5 of the Law on Private Security Services)
    2. Private Security Officers (Article 10 of the Law on Private Security Services)
    3. Bazaar and Neighborhood Watch (Article 3 of the Law on Bazaar and Neighborhood Watch)
    4. Financial Consultancy (Article 4 of the Law on Certified Public Accountants and Sworn-in Certified Public Accountants)
    5. Members of the Board of Directors of Cooperatives (Article 56 of the Cooperatives Law)
    6. Assistant Customs Consultant (Article 227 of the Customs Law)
    7. Founders of Schools Opened by Foreigners and Teaching in Languages Other Than Turkish (Article 8 of the Law on Private Education)
    8. Responsible Manager in Private Hospitals (Article 9 of the Private Hospitals Law)
    9. Dentistry, (Law on the Practice of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Article 30)
    10. Hospital attendant (Law on the Practice of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Article 63)
    11. Pharmacy (Article 2 of the Law on Pharmacists and Pharmacies)
    12. Veterinary Medicine (Article 2 of the Law on the Execution of the Veterinary Medicine Profession, the Formation of the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association and its Chambers, and the Affairs to be Performed)
    13. Foreign Assistants to Work Outside of Specialty Training (Article 20 of the Regulation on Specialization in Medicine)
    14. Notary (Article 7 of the Notary Law)
    15. Judge and Prosecutor (Article 7 of the Law on Judges and Prosecutors)
    16. Lawyer (Article 3 of the Law on Lawyers)
    17. Mediator (Article 20 of the Law on Mediation in Civil Disputes)
    18. Expert Witness (Article 12 of the Law on Expert Witness)
    19. Concordat Commissioner (Article 4 of the Regulation on Concordat Commissioner and Board of Creditors)
    20. Trainee Aviation Information Management Officer (Article 16 of Aviation Information Management Personnel License and Rating Regulation)
    21. Honorary Traffic Inspector (Highway Traffic Law Additional Article 6)
    22. Transportation Business Organizers (Article 7 of the Regulation on Transportation Business Organizers)
    23. Agency Supervisor, Travel Agency Supervisor (Article 3 of the Law on Travel Agencies and Travel Agencies Association)
    24. Tourist Guide (Article 3 of the Tourist Guide Profession Law)
    25. Export of fish, oysters, mussels, sponges, pearls, corals, diving, prospecting, piloting, captaining, navigating, clerking, clerking, crew, etc. within territorial waters (Article 3 of the Cabotage Law)
    26. Sports Counselors (Article 5 of the General Directorate of Youth and Sports Regulation on Appointment and Employment of Sports Counselors)
    27. Labor Intermediary in Agriculture (Article 6 of the Regulation on Labor Intermediation in Agriculture)
    28. Ship Agency Official and Ship Agency Personnel (Articles 7 and 8 of the Regulation on Ship Agencies)
    29. Permanent Supervisor, Technical Staff (Articles 125 and 130 of the Mining Regulation)

    CottGroup® Expertise in Work Permit Applications

    The Ministry of Labor and Social Security enforces stringent and highly detailed procedures for foreign nationals wishing to work in Türkiye. CottGroup's expert team offers comprehensive services and guidance from start to finish for companies in Türkiye that have staff or are in need of staff, navigating the complex process of work permit applications.

    For more information on work permit applications and for consultancy regarding the employment of foreign nationals in Türkiye, please contact us.


    Contents provided in this article serve to informative purpose only. The article is confidential and property of CottGroup® and all of its affiliated legal entities. Quoting any of the contents without credit being given to the source is strictly prohibited. Regardless of having all the precautions and importance put in the preparation of this article, CottGroup® and its member companies cannot be held liable of the application or interpretation of the information provided. It is strictly advised to consult a professional for the application of the above-mentioned subject.

    For each concrete situation, it is strongly advised to seek guidance from a professional advisor. If you are a customer of ours, please consult with your customer representative before taking any action related to the announcement. If you are not a customer, seek advice from an expert.

    About The Author

    Civan Güneş

    Digital Marketing Specialist

    Kerem Akdağ

    Business Development & Marketing Consultant

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