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Andrew Henderson

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Second Passport

Turkish Citizenship by Investment: The Ultimate Guide

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Minimum investment of $400,000

Get your passport in eight to nine months

Visa-free, visa-on-arrival or eTA (electronic Travel Authorisation) travel to 125+ countries


A few years ago, the Nomad Capitalist team didn’t think that the Turkish Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) program was going to amount to much. Launched in January 2017 with an entry cost of at least US$1 million, unsurprisingly, there weren’t many initial takers.

The Turkish government realised it had grossly overvalued its passport and dropped the investment required to US$250,000 in mid-2019. This instantly made it one of the hottest passports in the Residence and CBI world.

 If you need proof of its new-found popularity, the numbers don’t lie.

By 2020, 5,100 investors had been granted Turkish citizenship through the program. Add to that spouses and dependants, and Turkey can boast of naturalising more than 25,000 people since the program’s inception.

What’s more, Turkey brings in an average of US$250 million a month from its foreign investors. This equates to an impressive US$3 billion in annual receipts.

No other RCBI program even comes close.

Since then, the program’s sheer popularity has led to public pressure in Turkey, resulting in the minimum investment requirement being raised from US$250,000 to US$400,000. With citizenship by investment programs constantly evolving, sign up and stay tuned for the latest updates.

 

What is a Citizenship-by-Investment Program?

If you don’t know what a citizenship-by-investment program is, let us bring you up to speed.

CBI is a scheme set up by a national government to attract foreign investment. It does so by granting citizenship to people who invest a specified sum in the country through one of its pre-approved investment options.

Many jurisdictions around the world offer CBI programs like Turkey’s. For example, you can invest a similar amount in Malta and get its passport, which would grant you visa-free access to almost every country in the world.

Or, you could opt for the tax haven of St Kitts and Nevis and get its citizenship by investing a mere US$250,000.

The options are plenty and vary widely, but across all the CBI schemes, some features are consistent:

  •    You must invest or ‘donate’ a pre-set amount of money
  •    The asset classes that you are allowed to invest in are also pre-defined
  •    You will get citizenship and, therefore, a passport in return.

Why Turkey?

Turkey is a vast country that straddles the Eurasian continent, with one foot in Western Europe and one in the Middle East. With a population of 85 million, an averate age of 31.8 years old and a life expectancy of 78, Turkey is a highly dynamic country and a true amalgamation of many cultures.

From a business point of view, Turkey has an emerging manufacturing sector that produces everything from televisions to home appliances. It’s a member of the G20 and NATO, as well as a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU). There is no denying that it’s a regional economic powerhouse and now the world’s 17th-largest economy. In 2023, Turkey’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita grew 4.5%, passing US$1 trillion for the first time.

These strong fundamentals, including its young population, strategic location, and emerging market status, among other elements, make it a noteworthy country for investors.

But it’s not all a bed of roses and Turkey does have its fair share of challenges.

These include sharing a border with its war-torn neighbour, Syria, to the south and hostile relations with its eastern neighbour, Armenia. Add to this the fact that the Turkish lira has crashed hard in the past few years, the country’s friendship with Russia, the authoritarian aspirations of the country’s President Erdogan and, well, the list goes on and on.

The fact that only back in 2016, there was an attempted coup d’état that took place in Turkey underlines the fact that this a country where things can change at very short notice.

If you are going to invest in Turkey and apply for a passport, it’s wise to monitor the political and socio-economic developments there carefully. Or better still, let the Nomad Capitalist team of country-specific advisors help you. 

The Turkey Citizenship by Investment Program

Turkish CBI is one the easiest ways to secure a second passport, with relatively easy conditions attached to obtaining citizenship by investment. Since January 2017, you can basically buy your way to Turkish citizenship.

The legal foundation of its CBI program is based on its Citizenship Law, Act No. 5901, Regulation 2016/9601, which was passed and signed into law by Turkey’s Council of Ministers.

The main Benefits of Turkey’s CBI program include:

Pass it on

Turkish citizenship can be passed to your children.

Visa-free travel

Access to 125+ countries, including Japan and almost all of Latin America.

Fast route to the USA and UK

Get access to live and work in the USA and UK as a Turkish citizen.

Get a passport quickly

Apply and receive your citizenship in eight to nine months.

Bring the family

You and all of your dependants under 18 years of age will get citizenship.

Investment options

Pick from six routes to obtain your passport.

Three Routes to Obtain Turkish Citizenship by Investment 

If you’re wondering how to acquire Turkish citizenship by buying property, then here’s your thorough answer. The Investment Office, under the jurisdiction of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, has set out three routes on how a foreigner can obtain Turkish citizenship by investment.

1. Acquiring a Property

A major attraction of Turkey’s CBI program is the opportunity for foreign investors to buy cost-effective property there.

To become eligible for a passport, you will need to invest US$400,000 in real estate in Turkey. There are no restrictions on the types of property you can buy: It can be a house, apartment, or land – whatever makes the most financial sense.

There is no pre-approval of properties as with other CBI programs where the real estate is often overpriced.

Historically speaking, real estate in Istanbul can dramatically increase value within a 5–10 year timeframe. So, if you’re looking to buy, rent, and hold for the long term, this is an attractive option to gain another passport.

There are some rules that you must adhere to, however. If you’re looking to buy multiple properties, the combined value of your investment must be US$400,000 or more.

Apart from that, properties that are purchased for the CBI need to be in the same area, you cannot purchase one in Istanbul and one in another Turkish city.

All of your properties must also be registered on the same day to be counted towards the required US$400,000 investment. You are also required to hold the property for a minimum of three years to maintain your citizenship. 

2. Creating Jobs

Have you always wanted to start a company abroad, or do you already have a business and want to outsource some of the labour to a cheaper country? If so, then creating jobs in the Turkish market in exchange for citizenship might be an attractive option.

When the Turkish CBI program was launched, you needed to employ 100 people in Turkey. Now, that requirement has been halved.

Basically, if you can start a company there and employ at least 50 people, you will become eligible for a Turkish passport.

You’ll need some legal guidance on navigating the business world in Turkey. We usually only recommend this option for people who are set on running a legitimate business in Turkey for the long term.

3. Making a Capital Investment

If you prefer not to get tied up in real estate or set up a boots-on-the-ground operation, there are several ways you can make a capital investment to obtain citizenship in Turkey.

The minimum investment is currently US$500,000, which you must deposit in a Turkish bank.

The three options for the capital investment for Turkish CBI are:

  • Fixed capital investment confirmed by the Ministry of Industry and Technology
  • Fixed deposit in a Turkish bank for a minimum of three years
  • Government bond for a minimum of three years, confirmed by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance.

You also need to maintain the investment for a minimum of three years, which is relatively short compared to other CBI programs that require it to be held for five years.

What’s Your Best Option? – Foreign Investors

For many, the option to invest in real estate in exchange for Turkish citizenship makes the most sense.  

You could go through the process of setting up a business and employing 50 people, but you must then be hands-on to run that business or have someone you trust run it for you.

You could put US$500,000 into a Turkish bank account or government bonds, but Turkey’s property market has the potential to generate solid returns if you want to do something other than just park your capital. 

Also, you must hold your investment in the often-volatile Turkish Lira, which is another reason why our preferred option is real estate. 

The Step-By-Step Turkish Citizenship Application Process

Let’s explore how you can achieve Turkish CBI in practical terms.

To begin with, the application process usually takes around four months and does not require you to learn the language or attend a formal interview of any kind.

Neither is there a requirement to live in Turkey. Your family members (spouse and kids under 18 years of age) can also obtain Turkish citizenship as long as you fulfil the requirements as the principal applicant.

You can go to Turkey for a three-day trip, during which you would purchase the real estate and go home with your title deed.

It is important to remember that the process involves a substantial amount of paperwork, such as official translations, apostilles, notary certifications and photographs. We highly recommend that you entrust this to a certified professional. The last thing you want to do is worry about keeping track of all these requirements.

It should also be noted that, as with most other programs, some nationalities are banned from the Turkish CBI including Armenia, Cuba, Nigeria, North Korea and Syria.

Here’s what you need to do to get Turkey CBI. For the sake of illustrating the process, we’ll assume you’re going the real estate route. However, the process for other investment types is similar.

1. Find and Buy a Property

This is the investment-making part of the process. Many smaller steps are needed, such as obtaining a tax registration number. You must also open a Turkish bank account if you want to purchase a property there. Then, the property search can commence.

As linked to above, we’ve published other articles that offer valuable insights into investing in Turkish real estate. They cover everything you need to know, including important tax considerations and valuable tips for finding the perfect apartment.

2. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility

If you’ve chosen real estate as your investment, you will need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility.

In other words, it needs to be deemed as having fulfilled the requirements set out by the law. In the case of real estate, you will need to apply to the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre of the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation.

That’s a lot to handle. Just imagine navigating all of that on your own – a real headache. It’s always best to have local help in these scenarios. We are happy to guide you in the right direction.

3. Obtain a Residence Permit

You must be a legal resident when you start the citizenship application process. Therefore, you must obtain a residence permit to be considered for a Turkish passport.

Typically, your passport is issued after you fill out the residence permit application form, along with the Conformity Certificate and real estate investment approval. The process takes a week at most, making it one of the speediest residence processes.

There’s no need to live in Turkey prior to becoming a resident, but the applicant needs to be physically present for both the residence and citizenship application interview.

After you have had the residence permit interview, you can schedule the second interview for citizenship and leave Turkey. However, it is recommended that you stay for another week to finalise everything.

 

4. Lodge an Application for Citizenship

As soon as your residence permit is granted you can submit your citizenship paperwork to the Provincial Directorate of Census and Citizenship and have the second mandatory interview. The Turkish language requirement is not applicable.

In essence, in two weeks you can submit all the paperwork, complete both interviews, buy a property and fly home with your title deed in hand. You can then expect a passport in the mail in the next four months.

A Turkish passport is valid for ten years, so you won’t need to renew it anytime soon.

Other Ways to Obtain Turkish Citizenship

There are numerous ways to acquire a second or additional passport. If the investment option isn’t what you’re looking for, alternative routes exist. However, keep in mind that these approaches involve more effort on your behalf. 

If marriage is a possibility, then marrying a Turkish national could mean you’re eligible for a Turkish passport. Certain conditions must be met, however. You must have been married for at least three years and submit to a process in which a commission determines whether your marriage is genuine and valid.

You can also apply based on descent, family heritage and other particular circumstances, but the process is long and demanding.

The Pros of Turkey’s Citizenship by Investment

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the appeal of the Turkish CBI program has grown over time. However, Turkey’s Tier C passport just doesn’t compare to many of the other passports from jurisdictions that offer CBI, such as countries in the Caribbean.

But Tier C does not automatically mean a bad passport. It’s a weighting given to passports that do not provide access to the United States and Schengen countries. Besides these limitations, you can access almost all of Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.

As such, not many people would give up their Western citizenship to become Turkish. It is, however, a good passport to use as part of a passport portfolio or with our ‘Belt and Suspenders’ strategy.

If you like investing in real estate, have cash lying around, and want to expand your global options, Turkey may be a good deal.

Let’s look at the various benefits that Turkish citizenship brings:

  • Generate income from your real estate investment: Rent your property once you buy it and turn a profit while you’re at it. 
  • Travel to 125+ countries visa-free: Many countries worldwide have bilateral agreements with Turkey, allowing for visa-free travel. This includes popular destinations like Japan, Mexico, South Korea and pretty much all of South America. If you possess a Western-friendly passport and want to add to it, expanding your travel and business options without extensive expense, obtaining a Turkish passport is worth considering.
  • Relocate to the UK: As a Turkish national, you can live and work in the UK fairly easily. You would need to apply for a businessperson visa, initiate the move, and eventually even get British citizenship if you so choose.
  • Work in the USA: The United States is another Western country open to businesspeople from Turkey. If you’d like to relocate stateside quickly, you can apply for an E-2 investor visa. The Amigos Act has essentially added a residency requirement, which has increased the processing time of the E-2 visa by three years for these investors.
  • Prospective visa-free travel to the EU: Turkey and the EU are now closer to striking a deal for visa-free travel than ever before. It’s a real possibility, as Turkey has already met almost all the conditions.
  • You don’t need to declare your wealth: Some countries that run CBI programs require you to declare all of your global wealth in order to apply. Turkey prioritises your privacy.
  • Free medical care for all your family: If you’re a Turkish citizen, you’re entitled to free public medical help, both for you and your family members. While public health in Turkey probably isn’t at the level you might want, it’s still a good backup option.
  • Favourable inheritance law: You don’t have to worry about your heirs not inheriting your real estate in the event of your death. Turkey’s laws fully protect your legal heirs and will make sure the property passes down to them.

The Cons of Turkish Citizenship by Investment

There aren’t as many downsides to Turkish citizenship as one might think. With changes to the program making it more favourable for foreign investors, the Turkey citizenship-by-investment program is one of the best currently available.

However, you will have to take a few challenges onboard.

One of the most significant drawbacks of holding a Turkish passport is the mandatory military service. However, there are ways to avoid it, such as proving that you don’t actually reside in Turkey.

Turkey is still a developing nation, which presents various challenges but there shouldn’t be significant cultural and socioeconomic implications for your lifestyle. In other words, if you don’t live in Turkey, you’re not going to be concerned about the quality of its roads or education.

However, this consideration does become important when it starts affecting your investments. You want a stable government and political situation where you invest and Turkey is a little shaky in this regard. President Erdogan has ruled with an iron fist since he took control of the country’s presidency in 2014.

Since then, he’s managed to undermine human rights and limit his citizens’ freedoms. He’s inclined towards some authoritarian tendencies that have made him more of a foe than a friend for many global heads of state.

And then there was the attempted coup back in 2016, when a significant portion of Turkey’s armed forces tried to overthrow the government. Even though that didn’t succeed, who’s to say it won’t happen again?

Even so, overall, there aren’t any obvious or practical drawbacks to having Turkish citizenship but do carefully consider the risk involved when investing in a developing state like this.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment: FAQs

How much does Turkish citizenship by investment cost?

You can obtain Turkish citizenship by depositing US$500,000 in a Turkish bank or in government bonds, creating at least 50 jobs for local people, or investing in property worth US$400,000.

Can everyone apply for Turkish citizenship?

No. Citizens of certain countries are prohibited from applying for Turkish citizenship and these include Armenia, Nigeria, North Korea, Cuba, and Syria.

Can I apply for Turkish CBI with my family?

Yes. Your family members, including your spouse and children under 18 years of age, can also obtain Turkish citizenship as long as you fulfil the requirements as the principal applicant.

How long will it take to process my Turkey CBI application?

Turkey has one of the shortest processing times for a CBI program. If approved, it takes three to four months from lodging your application to receiving your Turkish passport. 

Do I need to travel to Turkey to apply for CBI and obtain my passport?

The entire Turkish CBI process can be done remotely, but you may want to go to Turkey for a short trip if purchasing real estate. There is no requirement to live in Turkey once you have obtained your passport.

Does Turkey allow dual citizenship?

Yes. The Turkish Nationality Act recognises dual citizenship, so you won’t have to renounce your citizenship of another nation when you become a Turkish citizen. However, you must check that any country you’re already a citizen of permits dual citizenship.

What Happens Next

We think it’s safe to assume that 2024 will be a record-breaking year for the Turkish citizenship-by-investment program. In a recent development, Chinese immigration agents caught wind of the Turkish CBI program and started flocking to the country, eager to find out all about it on behalf of their clients.

What it all boils down to is this: the main benefits of the Turkish CBI are simplicity and a promising real estate market. Investors can visit Turkey for just three days, join the program, receive a passport and become official Turkish citizens with all the privileges that entails.

Turkey gives you a lot of options. It’s a safe haven for those from less tolerant Middle Eastern countries and those looking for a Plan B.

Are you contemplating applying for Turkish citizenship? Or has this article struck a chord with you and sparked an interest in pursuing Turkish CBI?

We always recommend you do your due diligence and remind you, there’s no substitute for professional advice. Laws change, requirements become outdated and personal circumstances might change – with Turkey, change is the operative word.

We can help you navigate all this and add a Turkish passport to your portfolio. Let’s talk.

 

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