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The KTLN Guide to the 120 day rule for Short Term Residence Permits (STRP) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 December 2015

Short Term Residence Permit (STRP)

This article has been updated following a Twitter announcement by DGMM on 16th August 2016.

N.B. The Twitter announcement said that the 120 day rule was being abandoned.  Initially this relaxation was widely interpreted as only applying to new STRPs issued, and it would not apply retroactively to all existing permits.   However as far as the Kaş office is concerned the 120 day rule is history, and no penalties will be incurred by anyone who has fallen foul of this rule.  So the way in which this is being applied in Kaş will be to drop the 120 day rule completely, irrespective of when your permit was issued.

The rest of this article is retained purely as a reference to how the 120 day rule used to be applied before it was annulled.  Please be assured that this rule is now history.

Original article follows:

The Foreigners & International Protection Act - Law No. 6458 came into effect on 10th April 2014.  This law governs the way in which foreigners can obtain residence permits.  It also covers eVisas for tourists.  This link takes you to the English translation of Law No 6458

It's taken a while to develop an understanding of how the new rules work.  There have been some inconsistencies in how the law has been interpreted and the application process has evolved over time. 

This KTLN guide explains one specific rule that has been especially hard to figure out - the so called 120 day rule. It applies to Short Term Residence Permits (STRPs) only.

With a STRP, if you stay out of Turkey for more than 120 days, your residency permission will be cancelled.

The 120 day rule explained
This is what the law says: according to Article 33, paragraph C, of Law 6458:

"Under the following cases a short-term residence permit shall not be granted, shall be cancelled if has been issued, and shall not be renewed when:

c) [the foreigner] lived outside of Turkey for longer than one hundred and twenty days in total during the preceding year"

 For UK citizens this is what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) web site says in relation to this subject:

If you are out of Turkey for more than 120 days in the previous 12 month period your residence permit will be cancelled on re-entry to Turkey and you must obtain either an e-Visa, or visa on arrival, to cover your stay until you wish to reapply for a residence permit. This rule is now being applied to both short term residence permits issued after April 2014 (new style card) and those issued prior to April 2014 (old blue book style). If you are a family residence permit holder you may stay out of Turkey for 150 days without your permit being cancelled.

Nevertheless, you will be able to apply for a new residence permit immediately following cancellation of your existing one.

The 120 day rule does not apply to first time applicants i.e. any period of time spent outside Turkey before applying for a residence permit is not counted.

For any foreign national who intends to stay out of Turkey over the 120 day period but wishes to stay in Turkey longer than the 90 days allowed by a tourist visa the DGMM recommends them to cover their stay by an e-Visa and a few months short term residence permit as necessary to meet their needs.

Dalaman customsNo problems at border checkpoints - so what's the fuss?
In a nutshell, despite appearances, if you have a STRP and you have been out of Turkey for more than 120 days and you return without buying an eVisa, you are in Turkey illegally.  But we know for sure that you will not be challenged by the border Police when you return to Turkey. You will be allowed in. 

Your SGK (if you have it) will continue as before. If you have a car or scooter and are subject to a routine traffic check nothing will be said about your residency status.

For all intents and purposes everything will continue as before, however in the eyes of the DGMM if you choose not follow the official advice to buy an eVisa when you return to Turkey you are in the country without legal permission.  This will become apparent when you need to deal with the DGMM - for example if you wish to renew your STRP.

The reason that you won't be challenged by other government departments and agencies is because they don't have access to the the full DGMM computer system, so as far as officials and officers outside the DGMM are concerned you appear to have a residence permit and a kimlik number.  It would seem that the status of your residence permit is a matter of concern for the DGMM only.

What are the consequences?
If you followed the advice and bought an eVisa you can stay in Turkey legally for up to 90 days, so there are no consequences - you have permission to be in Turkey. 

If 90 days is not enough you can apply for a STRP, however even if you had residence permission before, your application will be treated as a first time application and not a renewal.  If you have been accruing residency years to go towards the eight years required to apply for a Long Term Residence Permit (LTRP) you will find that by staying out of Turkey for more than 120 days you will have lost all the time you had accrued.  The clock is reset to zero. If there are extraordinary circumstances that meant you had no choice but to stay out of Turkey there is an appeals procedure but we don't know of anyone who has tried to use it.

If you didn't follow official advice to buy an eVisa and you contact the DGMM within 90 days of re-entering Turkey our understanding is that you should be able to sort things out easily and you will pay a relatively small fine.  But if you return to Turkey, don't buy an eVisa and you then stay for more than 90 days the penalty will be greater.  We can't say exactly what the penalty would be.*  If you go to the DGMM office in Kaş they will refer the matter to head office for a ruling, taking into account your particular circumstances and the amount of time you have spent in the country illegally.  Any fine needs to be paid at the Maliye office in Kaş.

That's KTLN's take on the "120 day rule".

* One person told us that her fine for exceeding the 120 day rule was 150TL.

Feedback
If you have fallen foul of the 120 day rule please let us have your feedback as this may be useful to other KTLN readers.  You can get in touch through this link: Contact KTLN

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2016