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Moving to Istanbul

Moving to Istanbul will raise various questions for you. How to deal with the local authorities? How to navigate the infamous traffic in such a huge city? Our article gives all the answers to your questions about Istanbul, from administrative info to transportation.

When thinking about Istanbul, the first things to come to mind probably include Turkish bazaars and historic buildings like the Hagia Sophia. In fact, Istanbul is not just Turkey’s cultural center. The city also boasts an impressive heritage.

In ancient times, many people were moving to Istanbul’s forerunners, then known as Byzantion, later on as Constantinople or Byzantium. It has been the capital of three successive empires and seen an influx of all kinds of ethnic groups. They came as colonizers, settlers, traders, conquerors, or migrant minorities, but they all left their mark.

Today, Istanbul is not only the biggest city in Turkey. People moving here will experience a vibrant culture, a modern society, and a dynamic economy.

Two Continents, One City

Did you notice how the Bosporus seems to break the city in half? Istanbul is simultaneously located in Europe and Asia, giving people moving to Istanbul the chance to be in two continents at once. Its location makes it a bridge between the East and the West.

The Bosporus has always been an important passageway. It connects the Black Sea in the north with the Marmara Sea in the south. In this way, it has boosted Istanbul’s economic significance. Relocating to Istanbul will take you to a place where the defining characteristics of two continents join with an abundance of historical sites, picturesque landscapes and waterfronts.

The First Step: Your Work Permit

If you are going to Istanbul for work reasons, you will have to secure a work permit, a work visa and a residence permit first. The first step is finding a Turkish Embassy or Consulate in your home country. There you will have to apply for a work permit and then for a work visa, in this order.

To apply for a work permit, you have to provide the following documents:

  • one copy of your passport (with translation if not in the Latin alphabet)
  • one copy of your residence permit
  • official translation of your diploma
  • completed work visa application form
  • one copy of your work contract

Following the Work Permit: Your Work Visa

After receiving your work permit, you can apply for a work visa at the same consulate or embassy. You have to turn in the following paperwork (in person), also prior to your move to Istanbul:

  • valid travel document with your work permit
  • non-refundable work visa processing fee
  • non-refundable work permit processing fee

Settling in Istanbul: Your Residence Permit

Even after your move, you are not done with your paperwork. Now it is time to make your way to Aksaray Police Station in order to pick up your residence permit. This has to happen within 30 days after your arrival. Your residence permit will be valid for one year. You can renew it as often as you wish as long as you are employed in Istanbul.

Fortunately, the Directorate General of Migration Management offers information on how to make an appointment and where to get the required documents. The Aksaray Police station is located on the European side of the city.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Sven Baudach

"My business partners, also mainly expats, and me, we always use the wonderful InterNations Events as an informal get-togethers."

Maggy Roswick

"With all the great information and contacts provided by InterNations, it was no big deal to get settled in Istanbul."

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