19 February 2014

Being a Legal Yabangee in Turkey

Blog posts are sooo much easier to write than papers on whether Kant would prefer Rousseau or Marx as an Enlightened figure. Which is why I'm drafting this and continuing to develop my already brilliant procrastination skills instead of proving that the correct answer is Rousseau. Which I really  only "know" because my brilliant and learned friend, Jillian, Doctor of Philosophy, told me so.

In this week's wine review, I mentioned that I renewed my residence permit. This actually seems much easier than getting it in the first place, which I suppose makes sense. It could also be that I had barely arrived in Turkey and spoke no Turkish at all when I got my original permit so the process seemed super complicated (even though I paid someone else to do it for me...). Renewal is actually pretty easy though:

First you have to make an appointment at your local police station. This can be done online and the website even offers an English option. Theoretically your ikamet (permit) is valid for up to eight days after expiration and as long as you can show you have an appointment (even if it's after expiration) you should be ok. But it's best to start trying to make an appointment 2-3 weeks before expiration.  But there is a pretty pricey penalty if you go too far over so careful.

The appointment website tells you almost everything that you need to bring with you:
  • The form that you fill out on line (as part of making the appointment)
  • 4 passport pictures
  • an exchange slip in your name showing you have exchanged $300 per month you're applying to live in the country (ie $3600 for a year); or a Turkish bank statement showing the same amount
  • a copy of your passport id/expiration page
  • a copy of your passport showing the last Turkey entry stamp
  • your actual passport AND
  • (what they don't tell you) copies of the first 6-7 pages of your ikamet.
If you forget to copy anything, no worries. There's a shop across the street from the police station that does copies.

My appointment happened to be on Valentine's Day which gets more attention here than Christmas. Walking along Istiklal Caddessi I saw hearts and red, pink, and white balloons stung up everywhere. At the top of my street there were giant snowglobes you could enter and have your picture taken in. It would have been fun to get a few pictures of all the hoopla but I'd left my camera at home and didn't care enough to walk back up five flights of stairs.

Once you get to the police station (which is not where the address on the website would have you think it is...walking down Istiklal towards Taksim, hang a left at IST CAFE and it's down the block on your left), you do not have to take a number and wait around with everyone else. I did that before I wised up. Just walk into the office and find someone free sitting in the 'Yabangeeler Buro' section. I was both surprised and happily pleased to discover that they all spoke at least some English and were all really pretty friendly.

About the money...it's kind of an open secret that you can go to just about any of the exchange places, let them know you need that exchange slip, give them 50-100 TL, and it's done. No need to actually exchange the money. I had to get a bank account to pay my rent anyway so I figured I'd just give them that statement. I should have known better than to assume a statement printed from the website would be enough. So I had to go back to my bank (take a number, wait forever even though there were very few people in there) and get the right paper. Helpfully though, the guy at the police station helping me wrote down, in Turkish, exactly what I needed so all I had to do was hand it over the the bank teller.

Annoyingly you cannot pay for your new ikamet at the police station. You have to pay for it at the tax office which is exactly at the other end of Istiklal near the Sisane metro station. Istiklal Caddessi is the bane of my Turkish existence (well that and the stairs in my apt). Apparently you also have to have a tax id to make the payment. If you don't have one, just make sure to bring along an extra photocopy of your passport and you can get one before you make the payment. True to all Turkish paperwork, making a simple payment is complicated by the three different lines you have to stand in. In the first line, the guy looks over your ikamet application paperwork and generates an invoice. The second line, the guy takes your invoice, generates completely identical copies of it, and passes it to the cashier who is line number three where you actually pay.

With all these new papers in had I returned to the police station, handed over everything, and in theory I can pick up my new permit next Friday! And for all the running around and not knowing what I was doing, the process only took about 2.5 hours...which I think is a wine.

I had to grocery shop so I stopped at Carrefour on the way home. To my utter delight all wine was 25% off! And since my Valentines plans pretty much included drinking and eating chocolate that worked out quite well for me :)


Sarah said...

Is it a Freudian slip that you think 2.5 hrs process is a "wine"? :)

Andrea said...

Hahaha! Maybe just a little bit of one! :)