In July 2016, a new law came into force in Turkey, allowing foreigners to obtain Turkish citizenship if they have a property there. Initially, the investment threshold for such buyers was quite high - $ 1 million. However, two years ago, in September 2018, it was reduced to $ 250,000. After the threshold was significantly reduced, wealthy foreigners from different countries began to choose Turkey for investment and an opportunity to obtain a "golden passport". Since July 2016, more than nine thousand foreigners have taken part in the program and have spent more than three billion dollars on real estate in Turkey in order to obtain citizenship.
What Turkish citizenship gives foreigners
Today, nationals of 146 countries have property in Turkey. Most often, people from Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan buy housing to obtain citizenship. However, among those who buy apartments in Turkey to get a "golden passport" there are also many Europeans, Russians and residents of the former CIS countries. The minimum investment in real estate in Turkey for obtaining citizenship for the whole family is 250,000 dollars in 2020 (2 million TL). It takes no more than three to six months to process and issue kimliks - Turkish passports (for the investors themselves, as well as for their minor children and spouse), even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Why do property investors choose Turkey? Turkish citizenship allows the whole family to move to the country, legally work in Turkish companies, launch and develop your own business. Investors also have the full right to keep the passport of their home country (dual citizenship) and do not become obliged to change tax residence or move to Turkey for permanent residence. Another obvious benefit of the "golden passport" is the return on investment. Within three years, you can resell your apartment (or villa, land, shop, etc.) purchased for citizenship without losing your Turkish passport.
Through Turkey to the UK and USA
Turkish citizenship allows you to visit 111 countries of the planet without a visa, including: Japan, Iran and Iraq, South Korea, the Bahamas and Singapore, Brazil and the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Montenegro, Jamaica, Thailand, Morocco. Turkey opens a legal route to the United States and Great Britain for its citizens who want to emigrate. How does it work? Thanks to the agreements between Turkey and the European Economic Community and the United States, Turkish citizens can use the "Turkish Business Visa" (TBV) or international programs (E-1, US visas for entrepreneurs and E-2, US visas for investors) to move with their family or legally move their business to the UK or the USA. The agreement with the UK expires at the end of December this year but the countries will discuss its extension. Residing in the United States on the basis of E-1, E-2 visas does not give grounds for obtaining a green card or US passport, however, these visas do not have a specific investment threshold and are unlimited in terms of status extension.
What you can invest in to obtain Turkish citizenship
To become a Turkish citizen, it is enough to buy housing (new or secondary one) from a Turkish individual or legal entity, commercial real estate or land for construction. The sum of money in TL equivalent to a quarter of a million dollars must be:
- transferred from the foreign buyer's bank account to the Turkish seller's account;
- indicated in the TAPU (certificate of ownership);
- confirmed by the examination (it is carried out by certified appraisers before the purchase and sale transaction).
In addition, in order to obtain Turkish citizenship, the purchase must be confirmed by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Development of Turkey (Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığı).
Choosing a new or secondary home for investment, one or more properties can be purchased for 250,000 dollars. These may include villas, country houses or apartments in Turkey. All Turkish provinces are available for real estate investment with the exception of the border areas on the Black Sea coast.
In addition to housing for investment, you can choose any commercial property, both ready-to-use and under construction: shops, offices, warehouses, infrastructure facilities, hotels and many other options.
Another investment option for obtaining Turkish citizenship is the purchase of a land plot of the arsa category. There are two categories of land plots in Turkey: agricultural plots (tarla) and plots for housing or commercial buildings (arsa). To be able to apply for citizenship, an investor can purchase building land. In this case, a land plot must be:
- no more than thirty hectares;
- no more than ten percent of the total area of the district to which it belongs.
Who can become an investor under the program "Turkish Citizenship by Buying Real Estate"
When planning a purchase, you should know that the program gives the right to move to Turkey and only your closest relatives can get citizenship: your spouse and children (if they are under eighteen, with the exception of children with disabilities, they can participate in the program without age limit). All other relatives (parents, brothers and sisters, uncles-aunts, nephews, etc.) will be able to issue a residence permit in Turkey without any problems.
An adult who has an official source of income, who has never violated the Turkish visa regime and has not been deported from the country, can apply for Turkish citizenship if they invest in housing, land or commercial real estate. When considering an application, the Turkish authorities also take into account the applicant's state of health (absence of socially dangerous diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, etc.) and check their reliability (no criminal records, no involvement in extremist and terrorist organizations).
What documents you need
To apply for citizenship, the applicant must prepare the following package of documents (translated into Turkish and apostilled):
- two copies of the application forms (both the applicant themselves and their authorized representatives can fill in it);
- notarized translation of the passport;
- birth certificates (for both children and adults);
- certificate of family composition;
- marriage certificate and a certificate from the registry office that the applicant is still married;
- certificate of no criminal record (for all adult program participants);
- a certificate confirming the applicant's income;
- an extract from the General Cadastral Office of Turkey on the fulfillment by the applicant of their investment obligations (uygunluk belgesi);
- a receipt for payment of the state fee for issuing a Turkish passport;
- TAPU (certificate of ownership of real estate in Turkey);
- the applicant's contract on buying Turkish real estate;
- ikamet (applicant's valid residence permit);
If the investment object is land, then it is also necessary to attach a plot development plan (development project) and a building permit. If the investment object is a home purchased with a mortgage, you must also provide an agreement with the bank. The already paid under the contract sum of money must be at least 250,000 dollars.
How much you pay for Turkish citizenship
The applicant will have to pay the state fees:
- for a residence permit (in 2020 - 250 TL per person or $ 33).
- for a Turkish passport (in 2020 - 915 TL per person or $ 120).
Another thing to consider is the tax on registration of the purchased real estate (four percent of the cadastral value indicated in the TAPU). With a cadastral value equal to the $ 250,000 required to obtain citizenship, the tax will be $ 10,000.
An expert appraisal of real estate will cost about $ 150 before concluding a purchase and sale agreement. Another thousand dollars in total will cost translation of documents, their notarization, powers of attorney, etc.
How to apply for Turkish citizenship and how long does it take to get it?
It takes, on average, two to three months from finding a property suitable for investment to obtaining a Turkish passport. In 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions, it may take up to six months. In the first week or two, a potential investor will be tested for compliance with the criteria of the program "Turkish Citizenship when buying real estate". It will take another couple of weeks to find and book a property in Turkey suitable for investment, as well as to conduct a sale transaction. The collection, translation and certification of all documents required for application usually takes about one to one and a half months. After you successfully submit documents for citizenship (to the immigration service of the city where the property was purchased), they consider you application, which can take from two to four months.
Obtaining Turkish Passport
The procedure for issuing a Turkish passport takes just a couple of minutes. A Turkish passport (kimlik kartı) looks like a double-sided plastic card with a color photograph of a citizen and information about them in Turkish (name, surname, religion, parents' names, city and date of birth, etc.). A new Turkish citizen can get their kimlik only in person. It is used as an internal document; for foreign travels you need to additionally apply for a travel passport.
What rights and obligations investors who have received Turkish citizenship for the purchase of real estate have
The only restriction imposed on the program participants is the need to retain ownership of the real estate objects, the purchase of which served as the basis for obtaining citizenship, for three years. However, three years after you have bought the property, you can sell it and until that time rent it out (if you buy housing or commercial real estate in Turkey). The rights of new Turkish citizens who received kimliks by investing in real estate are no different from the rights of those who were citizens by birth in Turkish territory, in a Turkish family. After getting citizenship, you can:
- run for government and political positions, vote in elections;
- legally work or open a business in Turkey;
- get education on a general basis;
- receive medical care, get medical insurance;
- have dual citizenship;
- transfer Turkish citizenship by inheritance;
- get a driver's license.
However, you will also have some obligations as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey:
- pay taxes regularly;
- undergo compulsory military service (if you have not served in the army and are between the ages of 18 and 22).
- From July 2016 to July 2020, 9,011 foreign investors took part in the program. The total amount of investments at this time amounted to 3 billion 261 thousand dollars.
- By attracting foreign real estate investors, Turkey has to compete with Portugal and Spain. However, while in these two countries foreigners buy every fifth property, in Turkey this figure is every 25th;
- In 2019, Turkey earned $ 6.5 billion from the sale of real estate to foreigners, while Turkey's potential (which market players are eager to reach) is to earn $ 20 billion annually;
- in the autumn 2020, mortgages in Turkey is being issued to foreigners at 5.75 percent per annum (in euros); 6.28 percent per annum (in dollars); 20 percent per annum (in lira);
- the average cost of a property in Turkey purchased by a foreigner in 2020 is 875,000 TL (about $ 113,000).