Working Illegally 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 24 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 Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.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 about working illegally in Turkey. It defines "illegal work" and sets out the consequences.


Working illegally in Turkey is widespread.

It is also dangerous.

Unfortunately for those involved in this activity, or thinking about getting involved, the authorities are getting a lot more efficient at catching illegal workers and they are now highly motivated to do so because of the high levels of unemployment amongst native Turks.

At the moment, illegal workers can be found in almost every field of activity. There are 8,000 foreign workers who hold work permits to work in Turkey. There are no reliable estimates of the number working illegally but it is certainly substantial, especially in Istanbul and the coastal regions. In addition to the ‘regular’ illegal workers in Turkey, there is now a massive influx of refugees – especially from Syria – adding to the illegal workforce. In late 2015, the Centre for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies suggested that there were probably about 250,000 illegal Syrian workers in Turkey. The number has almost certainly grown since.

The legal requirements for working in Turkey

It is worth repeating that, for a foreigner to work legally in Turkey, they require a work permit. See our Guide to Coming to Turkey to Work.

Once she has her work permit she needs to comply with the requirements of Turkish employment law. See our Guide to Employment Law in Turkey.

Why do people work illegally in Turkey?

There are many reasons why people start working illegally in Turkey:

The dangers of working illegally in Turkey

The main dangers of working illegally in Turkey are:


I'm a lawyer, so obviously I'm going to say this, but don't work illegally in Turkey. The downsides and risks are simply not worth any benefits. There are lots of legal options for work in Turkey, so read our other guides - or contact me - and find the best route for you!

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
Finding Work in Turkey
Getting a job in Turkey
Click to see this guide
Employment Law in Turkey
Rights and responsibilities of employers and employees
Click to see this guide

Readers' Comments


Further information?

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

Başak Yıldız Orkun

24 June 2017


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