This is information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. Whilst this information has been compiled by the UK FCO and is therefore aimed at UK nationals, the advice may be appropriate to many nationalities looking to find additional information on a particular country.
Turkey has lots to offer those who are looking to move abroad, from the hospitality of the people to the beautiful fine sand beaches. The country also offers an affordable standard of living that's hard to find in any northern European country. We speak to Willy Buttigie MBE, Consul at the British Embassy in the city of Izmir to get his inside knowledge.
"Turkey may border the more volatile Middle East, yet it is a stable, secular and democratic country with much to offer. A physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia bordering 12 nations and four seas, it's a country of vast history and culture with numerous cities, beaches and areas of historical interest and natural beauty to explore. Factor in the relatively short flight time (its only a 4 hour flight from the UK) and it isn't difficult to see why Britons are now the leading foreign nationals buying property here and make over 2.5 million visits to Turkey every year!
While Turkey may be a familiar country to some of us who spend a lot of our time here, it is still a foreign country and there is much to find out before you decide to relocate. Obviously, there are some general issues for anyone thinking of going to live overseas (issues of health, taxation, voting, pensions if appropriate etc), and you can find advice on these at fco.gov.uk/livingabroad.
Then there are also some specific things to be aware of. Not everyone is going to speak English for starters, especially in Izmir, and you should certainly take out comprehensive medical insurance. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not be valid and medical treatment for British nationals is not state-funded and can be very expensive. Its probably worth pointing out that Ministry of Health officials have stated verbally that implementation of a proposed compulsory health scheme may start in the near future.
Buying Property in Turkey
You may have seen stories hitting the headlines about problems property buyers have experienced in Turkey, and I myself know of some of the main issues from talking to the British community here. You also have to remember that Turkey has only recently (2003) opened up the purchase of property to foreign nationals and there are still restrictions, such as limiting ownership to designated areas. But the basics are:
Reservation contract: This is very different to the UK. This takes the property off the market usually for 2-4 weeks allowing time for your independent legal advisor to do checks. Reservation fees vary between €2000 and €6000. If you do not continue with the purchase due to legal problems then you should ensure your contract entitles you to a refund!
Legal Advice: I know many of you would have been told this - but I cannot emphasise this enough. Always obtain the services of an independent lawyer before committing yourself to purchasing property. I define "independent lawyer" as one who has no connection with either the seller or an agent of the seller: an agent can be an estate agent or anyone acting on behalf of the seller. To prevent some of the problems I have seen, such as double selling, your legal advisor should check the title of the property to ensure that:
- The person selling the property is the owner
- That the land is registered in the name of the seller
- There are no charges on the property, e.g. existing mortgages, outstanding bills
- Necessary building permissions and licences are in place on the property
- The conditions laid down by the seller are acceptable
- All documents should be available in English for you to fully understand
TAPU/Military checks: Your legal advisor will arrange for your documents to be handed in at the local Title Deeds Office (TAPU) plus arrange for the relevant military checks to be completed. Turkey has a close relationship with the military and clearance for a foreign national has to be approved by the Turkish Military before being allowed to purchase any property. The same goes for Timeshares as well. Checks are made on the individual and on the proposed property/land to ensure the person is suitable and the land is not within a military zone or restricted area. This process normally takes up to 3 months. Both you and the seller, or the seller's legal representative with power of attorney, should attend the TAPU Office and sign the contract before title deeds can be handed over. Know what you are signing - ensure that a translator is available if communication is in Turkish! Once completed you will be issued with a TAPU (title deed) in your name.
- Employ an independent lawyer
- Agree fees in advance and ensure contract includes all necessary checks
- Research your developer/location/amenities/estate agent/builder
- Ensure you have a translator at all meetings
- Rent first - ensure Turkey is right for you
- Check you are able to obtain residency permits, i.e. ensure you can financially support yourself without working
- If purchasing off plan ensure stage payments are clearly defined
- Ensure your contract includes all the smallest details
- EHIC cards cannot be used in Turkey as there is no reciprocal agreement between the UK and Turkey for health treatment. It is essential that you purchase health insurance
- Visit ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk and fco.gov.uk/livingabroad
Turkey can be very hot, especially in summer when temperatures can reach 30-40C. To avoid heat related illness drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, use a high factor sunscreen and avoid direct sunshine. Older, very young and some other travellers may be particularly vulnerable to heat related illnesses and should take extra care.
And don't forget, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), relating to free medical treatment in EU countries, is not valid in Turkey.
We always advise to seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47."
For more information on moving abroad visit www.fco.gov.uk/travel.
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