The eligibility requirements for Turkish citizenship are fairly straightforward: You need to be of adult age (according to your country of origin), and you must have lived in Turkey for at least 5 years, with a total interruption of less than six months. This is reduced to 3 years if you are married to a Turkish national or if you are a foreigner born on Turkish soil.
Your physical and mental health must be sound and you must have no criminal record. Also, you must be able to speak Turkish at a basic level. If you are not married to a Turkish national you also have to prove that you can support yourself while living in Turkey. As long as you have a job, you will meet that requirement. If not, though, you may be able to prove this through existing funds or pension payments.
Your chances of obtaining citizenship will be greatly improved if you can demonstrate that you can make a valuable contribution to Turkish culture and society – if you work for a Turkish company, for example, or are a professional athlete or university professor.
Applying for Turkish citizenship
To apply for Turkish citizenship, you need to bring the following documents to a local government office (usually a town or city hall).
- Valid passport
- 4 passport-size photos
- Documents proving your relationships with your spouse and children (if applicable)
- Certificate proving you are in good mental and physical health
Also, you will need proof of your Turkish language ability. You can get this by conducting an interview with a Turkish government official, and should be able to arrange an appointment through your city or town hall. These interviews are subjective and their difficulty varies depending on the official. If you are fluent in Turkish, however, you should have no problem.
You will be provided with application forms when you bring your documents to the town hall. Once you have completed the required paperwork and paid an application fee, your documents and applications will be forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior for review.
The Turkish Consulate General will inform you of the results by mail. Keep in mind that Turkey’s citizenship law tends to be flexible. Officials sometimes make exceptions if they perceive that a decision will improve the country’s image in the international media. This is especially true as the Turkish government continues to court the European Union.
Notes on Turkish citizenship
If you obtain Turkish citizenship through marriage, then later divorce, your citizenship status will not be affected.
In the event you are considering marriage solely as a means of obtaining Turkish citizenship, however, note that Turkish courts will not grant you a divorce on the basis of a ‘fictitious marriage’. Furthermore, you may be prosecuted by security authorities and the Census Directorate (Nüfus Müdürlüğü) if they learn of your scheme.