Catch 22

A couple of weeks ago we went off to Izmir with a load of documents all in a nice pink file to renew our residence permits. Beforehand we had researched what was needed, most of which we had to hand or could scan at home. What was left was some sort of proof of health insurance. We have GSS, the state health insurance which is managed from the SGK office. We knew it was a bit of a catch 22, health insurance is needed in order to apply for a residence permit and a residence permit is needed to have the state health insurance. We were wondering if or when this might trip us up.

Anyway, we went to the SGK office and explained we needed proof of health insurance for our applications for a residence permit. They printed off some papers, stamped them, signed them and handed them to us. We put these in our pink files and dutifully headed for Izmir. In Izmir, we took a ticket and waited in line. Just as it was about to be our turn, the office closed for lunch. But we were told to keep our number. When the office re-opened we were first to be seen and, after a bit more running round paying fees and getting the receipts copied (an enterprising gentleman has set up a tea stall and photocopy service in the grounds) it was all done and paid for. Three hours from start to finish (including the one hour lunch break). We have proof that we have applied to extend our residency and all we need do now is wait for the new permits to arrive in the post, probably according to the police in Izmir in a month or two.

Then a week before official date of expiry of our existing residence permits, we headed to the local GSK office to renew our GSS. We were told it could not be done, that we cannot be entered onto the system until we have the new residence permits. This prompted a lot of running around before we established this was actually the case, that until the new residence permits arrive we cannot renew our GSS. This is because we can’t be reinstated on the system until we have the new permit number (our kimlik numbers, which will remain the same, are not sufficient).

Of course we still need to pay the GSS premium every month, despite not being able to claim on it, and right now we are left with no health insurance. It is rumoured that should we need hospital care we can claim the cost back when we can complete the GSS renewal, but this is rumour and it is not something we want to test. It is all a bit frustrating.

We have now got ourselves some accident cover so if one of us falls and breaks a leg it is covered. If we have an accident on the bike we are covered for injuries. It also covers breakdowns, accidental damage at home and some other bits, and given how little it cost was a pretty good deal.

Next year we will start it all earlier. Residence permits can be applied for up to 60 days in advance. Long enough normally for the new ones to arrive before the GSS needs to be renewed – well in theory. It is slightly more complex for us and with a tighter time frame because Ashley’s residence permit expires a month later than Hilary’s and despite Hilary being on Ashley’s GSS policy her cover expires when her residence permit expires. So we only have 30 days to play with, which we are hoping will be sufficient. The system is still new – it only came into force in April and, at some point, new offices will be set up so that applications will not have to be sent to Ankara to be processed. Perhaps that will be in place in time for next year, perhaps not…

8 responses to “Catch 22

  1. I hear you. I feel your pain. I commiserate and I salute you!

    Dealing with the day to day crap in Turkey can send the most patient person postal.

    I lodged my documents two weeks ago although my insurance was issued no problem. My issue stemmed from the bank account requirement and no bank in Mersin prepared to give me a bank account without a kimlik which I won’t get without a bank account. I now have a bank account. I now have a butt load of money in said bank account but I am not able to access the bank account without the kimlik.

    Give me the strength!

    • So many instances of Catch 22! We were able to open a bank account with just our tax number, but that was quite a few years ago. I also opened one with HSBC by putting the proceeds of the sale of our London UK apartment into HSBC, going Premier and getting them to open me an account here.

      I used to be a bureaucrat before I retired so, I guess, I have more patience with it than some. It’s the huge holes in the system that irritate me! And the right hand not appearing to know what the left hand is doing.

  2. . . have a year to go before we need to renew – hope the glitches are worked out by then – that said, something else will change!

    • I honestly believe that the system is improving with time. Apart from the GSS catch 22 it was incredibly smooth. Though, of course, we are still waiting for our cards from Ankara.

      We will also have to renew next year. Our very helpful Izmir Polis apologised that he could only let us apply for one year.

  3. I have a friend who is in her 40th year of living in Turkey, who applied for her resident’s one year permit (entitled to the permanent one, but that hasn’t started yet) 4 months ago and still hasn’t received it. She’s been told that it is still in Ankara. It begs the question of how early you have to apply.

    • It does. We have a friend in a similar situation who applied for the long term permit. About four months ago. I think though that the process is improving as the Polis get practice with it. In Izmir the whole thing was like clockwork. And we dealt with the same Polis – his English is a great deal better than it was three years ago (or maybe our Turkish is better)!

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