Already an IBA member? Sign in for a better website experience

The acquisition of Turkish citizenship through the purchase of real estate

Friday 16 July 2021

Necdet Can Artüz
Bozoglu – Izgi Attorney Partnership, Istanbul
can.artuz@bi.legal

Simge Kublay Can
Bozoglu – Izgi Attorney Partnership, Istanbul
​​​​​​​simge.kublay@bi.legal

The procedures and principles governing the acquisition and loss of Turkish citizenship are regulated in the Turkish Citizenship Law No 5901 (the ‘Law’). Pursuant to Article 5 of the Law, ‘Turkish citizenship is acquired by birth or may be acquired later.’

Pursuant to Article 6 of the Law, Turkish citizenship is acquired by birth based on lineage or place of birth. Acquisition of Turkish citizenship after birth is regulated in Article 9 of the Law and the following articles. Pursuant to Article 9, Turkish citizenship may also be acquired by a decision of the component authority, by adoption or by the exercise of the right to choose.

Exceptional acquisition of Turkish citizenship is regulated in Article 12. As per Article 12(b), those who have a residence permit pursuant to the Law on Foreigners and International Protection No 6458 (the ‘Law on Foreigners’) and their foreign spouses, minors or dependent children may acquire Turkish citizenship by the decision of the President, provided that there are no obstacles in terms of national security or public order.

Article 31 of the Law on Foreigners states that foreign persons, their foreign spouses and minors or dependents who do not work in Turkey but will invest within the scope and amount to be determined by the President may obtain a short-term residence permit.

In line with these regulations, foreigners who apply for Turkish citizenship through investment must first obtain a short-term residence permit, which is also called exceptional acquisition of Turkish citizenship.

The scope and amount of this required investment is outlined in the Regulation on the Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law (the ‘Regulation’), and its accompanying Implementation Guide.

Foreigners who fulfil one of the conditions listed under Article 20 of the Regulation may acquire Turkish citizenship by the decision of the President. These conditions are as follows:

• a fixed capital investment of at least $500,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira;

• purchasing real estate worth at least $250,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira provided that an annotation is put in the land registry that it will not be sold for three years, or annotating an agreement in the land registry to be drawn up from a notary public that promises the sale of an estate, provided that at least $250,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira is deposited in advance, with the commitment that it will not be transferred or cancelled for a period of three years;

• employing at least 50 people;

• depositing at least $500,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira in banks operating in Turkey, on the condition that the funds will not be withdrawn for at least three years;

• purchasing government debt instruments worth at least $500,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira, on the condition that the funds are kept for at least three years; or

• purchasing real estate investment fund participation shares or venture capital investment fund participation shares of at least $500,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency or in Turkish lira, on the condition that the funds will be kept at least three years.

Since it is the preferred method, this article focuses on the acquisition of Turkish citizenship through the purchase of real estate. Accordingly, the acquisition of Turkish citizenship through other investment methods is outside the scope of this article.

Foreigners who purchase real estate meeting the conditions specified in the Law may acquire Turkish citizenship by making an application with the necessary documents. Following the amendment made to the Regulation on 7 December 2018, it is now also possible for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship by making a preliminary agreement for the sale of an estate with certain conditions attached. However, construction servitude or property ownership must be established on the estate that is or will be the subject of the preliminary sales agreement for this to occur. A certificate of conformity must be obtained stating that the purchased estate meets the requirements of the law. This document is provided by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation, General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Applications to acquire Turkish citizenship through the purchase of real estate must be made to the immigration authorities in Istanbul or Ankara, with the certificate of conformity, application form (VAT-4 – which can be obtained from the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality website) and other documents required for the application.

In summary, in order to acquire Turkish citizenship through the purchase of real estate, it is necessary to:

• purchase real estate worth at least $250,000 and maintain ownership of this estate for at least three years; or

• draw up a preliminary sales agreement for the sale of an estate. For the acquisition of Turkish citizenship through a preliminary sales agreement:

– construction servitude or property ownership must be established on the estate;

– at least $250,000 must be deposited in advance;

– the agreement should be drawn up in a notary public; and

– the agreement must not be transferred or assigned to a third party or must not be terminated for at least three years.

It should be noted that meeting the conditions sought in the Law does not provide an absolute right to citizenship; a presidential decision is also required for any exceptional acquisition of Turkish citizenship.