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Dealing with the Administration in Turkey

This guide was written by Başak Yıldız Orkun, Managing Partner at Orkun & Orkun (info@orkunorkun.com) in collaboration with Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 19 June 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is a very brief look at the issues you might face when dealing with the administration in Turkey.

Introduction

If you speak, however briefly, to a foreigner living in Turkey they are likely to tell you a horror story about dealing with some aspect of the Turkish administration. Whether they’ve had trouble paying a parking fine or converting their driving licence; or whether they have been kept waiting in a hospital or been given the run-around when trying to pay their local property taxes, the stories tend to be pretty much the same: the administration is slow, overly bureaucratic and doesn’t speak their language.

piles of filesWhilst there is still an element of truth in some of these comments, the administration is often unfairly criticised. Many of these people will have been living in Turkey for many years and may not have realised just how much things have changed. Paying a parking fine - which used to involve going to three different offices and having to pay not in cash, by credit card or by cheque but by buying some special stamps - is now done in a couple of clicks on the internet via your e-government account.

Having said that, the administrative system in Turkey is different and therefore, inevitably, causes some confusion for people who are expecting things to operate pretty much as they did ‘back home’. The position is made worse if the person concerned does not speak Turkish.

Experience is key

It is worthwhile persevering and getting to understand how the various parts of the Turkish administrative system work. They are often a little – or a lot – bureaucratic, but they work. You will find lots of tips on this in the various guides on this website. You will, however, have to accept that acquiring all this knowledge will take time and - until you have got it - you will experience some frustrations.

Language barriers

One of the areas where you should be much less frustrated than you would have been even four or five years ago is with regard to language. Almost every administrative office in Turkey now, because of the passage of time and the greater number of English speakers leaving Turkey’s schools, will employ at least one person who is at least semi-proficient in English. This is especially true in the big cities and in popular coastal areas. Of course, this won’t help you if you come from Russia or China and don’t speak English - but it’s a very good start. Sadly, there is no guarantee that the person will be on duty when you turn up to deal with your problem; but in fact, in many of the larger administrative offices and especially in the towns and cities, you will find quite a number of staff who speak English to at least some level and some who speak other languages such as Spanish, French, German, Mandarin and Russian. These people are encouraged to wear a name-badge with a little flag or flags on it denoting the languages that they speak but many don’t and so just because you don’t see a badge don’t assume that there is no one there who can help you.

Conclusion

Dealing with the administration in any new country is tough. Turkey is better than some, and worse than others.

It’s probably worth remembering during the more trying moments that you will experience that there will probably be some Turk in your country at that very moment having exactly the same difficulties with your administration.

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
Learning Turkish
Some tips on learning the language
Click to see this guide
Cultural Differences in Turkey
A few of the cultural issues you might have to face when moving to Turkey
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
Turkish Republic: Public Administration Profile
A detailed PDF report from the UN.
public administration in turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Başak Yıldız Orkun

19 June 2017


 

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