On January 8th 2019 our 90 day Turkish visas expire and Aannsha and I have to leave and cannot return to Turkey for a further 90 days. We really don't want to be somewhere out sailing or anchored in the Mediterranean during the northern hemisphere winter months so the only option open to us is to apply for a 12 month Turkish residency.
Armed with our UK passports we began the application process on a cool Thursday morning in December, first with a visit to the photo shop in Kaş where we needed to buy a set of 4 biometric photos each. Normal passport photos won't do, the photographer has to embed certain security features into the photos before he prints them out. We were in and out in 15 minutes and the two sets of photos cost a total of 70 Lira (AU$18).
Next it was off to the local insurance broker because we must have medical insurance for the duration of our residency. Only two insurance companies are allowed to offer medical insurance for Turkish residency, Alliance and AKSigorta. We chose the latter as the policy was slightly cheaper. There are quite a few medical issues that are not covered during the first 12 months of the policy such as treatments and complications related to the gall bladder, all types of hernias, spinal and disk issues, knee, shoulder, hip and elbow joint diseases and lesions, kidney and urinary system stones. Which is understandable as the cost to treat any of the above would certainly be more than the insurance premium. Even if you have your own worldwide health insurance you still have to buy a Turkish policy. However, if you're 65 or over you don't need insurance.
It took around 30 minutes for the broker to enter our details into the online form and when complete they printed out two copies, one in Turkish and the other in English. We aren't actually planning on staying in Turkey for the full 12 months, as of writing this blog we estimate that we should be checking out of Turkey sometime around early to mid May 2019. But things can change when you're on a sailboat so that timeline is not set in stone.
Because the 12 month residency permit is still valid whether we're in Turkey or not, there is no option to get a refund on any unused portion of the health insurance. However if a resident application is denied for whatever reason, the insurance policy can be cancelled for a full refund. The cost for both policies was the same at 749.44 Lira (AU$201) so 1,498.88 Lira (AU$ 402.16) in total.
Clutching our newly printed health insurance policies we then made our way to the office of Gunhan the translator who was going to fill in the online application for the actual residency. We presented him with all of our documentation and during the 90 minutes it took to fill in two applications we sat and relaxed in his office offering up incidental details when asked. Each application cost 430.49 Lira (AU$111) plus 72 Lira (AU$18) for the issuance of the actual residency photo ID card.
Because we were friends of Mike, Gunhan also discounted his normal fee by 50% so we paid him 500 Lira (AU$129). The total cost there was 1,504.98 Lira (AU$ 403.80).
Overall we managed to spend 3,073.86 Lira (AU$ 824.73) in the space of 3 hours. We then had to take our paperwork (originals and copies), including proof that we can fund ourselves for a year, to the government office in Kemer, which is a 2.5 hour drive north east of Kaş. Our appointments were set for the morning of December 18th, an auspicious date as it marked the first anniversary of us leaving Australia and it's also my 56th birthday. We hired a car for the week and took the opportunity to do some sightseeing in the area.
The day of our appointments we got up before the sparrows even had a chance to consider farting and, bundled up against the cold we followed the directions from the nice lady who lives inside our sat nav and managed to arrive in Kemer with 45 minutes to spare. The office of the government department that handles residency applications is tucked around the corner from the front entrance to the Kemer town council building. This week's YouTube video (December 29th) gives easy to follow instructions for locating the office.
Once inside we sat and waited for our first appointment time which was 10.30 for me and 11.30 for Aannsha. As it turned out the lady who was processing our application just processed both of us at the same time. The whole thing took about 30 minutes and without much fanfare we were handed our temporary resident documents complete with several stamps and signatures and told that our photo I.D. resident permits would be mailed to us in a couple of weeks. Standing up to leave Aannsha explained to the lady that it was my birthday and I said that being issued with our residency was the best birthday gift. She relayed this to the other staff in the office and they all seemed to find it somewhat amusing. We left them smiling and wandered off in search of somewhere to eat.
Smiley is the man
I've made mention of Smiley in a previous blog, he's the guy to know in Kaş as he can help you with anything and he gets stuff done quickly. We mentioned that we needed a hire car so that we could drive to Kemer for our residency application and immediately he was on his phone and talking to someone. After the brief call ended Smiley said "Okay, I got you a good price on a nice car. They will bring it to my restaurant on Sunday evening and it's all ready for you for a week from Monday morning." He did get us a good deal. The car was a Hyundai Accent Blue which is priced from 120 to 150 Turkish Lira a day depending on the time of year, but we were getting it for 80 Lira a day (AU$21.50). Bargain, thanks Smiley.
Smiley also gave us a local area map and a list of interesting places to visit and we spent long days in the car driving north and south along the Turkish coast and on one day we rugged up really well and drove up into the mountains to the snowline. More about our sightseeing adventures in future blogs and videos.
Turkey is a Muslim country so obviously Christmas is not a thing here. One or two of the shops that cater towards tourists do have a section with some tinsel and festive items but generally it's a non-event. We decided to treat ourselves to a full English breakfast at Smiley's restaurant for Christmas Day and it was delicious complete with bacon and sausages and as we were eating it at 11.00am I decided to wash it down with a couple of beers, Aannsha was sensible and had tea with her breakfast.
After being wished a merry Christmas by Smiley's staff and several other shopkeepers who have become acquaintances since we've been here in Kaş we wandered back to the boat and caught up on replying to comments from our videos and blogs and then had a short afternoon nap. Dinner was a couple of chicken and lamb Doner Durum wraps followed by a great video, watched in the princess suite, called 'The Trip To Spain'. We can highly recommend it.
Boxing day is nose to the grindstone to get our blogs written and scheduled and get Saturday's YouTube video finalised. We hope that your Christmas was everything you wanted it to be and that your new year is fun filled and prosperous.