Category Archives: Bureaucracy

Hilary is a Window – an experiment with obtaining HGS

Here in Turkey there are two motorway and bridge toll systems.  OGS which works off number plate recognition and KGS which works by pressing a card to a reader, a bit like Oyster cards in London.   You do not need to stop at a toll booth with OGS, with KGS you do.  We have been using a KGS card because the OGS system does not work with motorcycles, bikes do not have a number plate on the front.  KGS is being phased out because it slows traffic flow too much, is ending in January, and a new system is being introduced to replace it.  The new system, HGS works by bar code recognition.  The idea is to place a sticker with a bar code on the vehicle, usually the windscreen, which can then be read by a sensor as traffic speeds through the toll booth.

We went to the PTT (Post Office) to inquire about HGS and how it might work with a motorcycle.  We were told to mount the sticker on a windscreen.  We explained the problem, motorcycles do not normally have windscreens (ours can have but we did not want to complicate matters).  Various options were discussed, mounting the sticker on the headlamp or some other forward facing surface seemed a start until we asked about what happens in the rain.  Mounting on the crash helmet, this might help enforce helmet laws, but has the same problem, a lightly plasticised sticker is going to fall apart in the rain.

The solution, stick it to a piece of plastic card which can be taken out of a pocket when approaching the toll and held forward for the scanner to read.  Mostly when using the motorway Hilary is on pillion, so she can look after the sticker and pretend to be a windscreen.

Happy with the solution we completed the necessary paperwork, two short forms, paid 35 Lira which breaks down as 5 Lira for the sticker and registration, and 30 Lira of credit.

 What you need:-
Photocopy of vehicle registration papers.
Actual registration papers
Ikamet or Passport.
And ideally a windscreen.

Following the Rules

Recently we went to Aydin to buy a new printer.  The previous one refused to work shortly after we installed the new print cartridges.  Whilst we were in Aydin we experienced two instances of officials not knowing the rules, and both of them had commendable attitudes to sorting the issues out.

First was a bus driver.  There are municipal buses in Aydin which take you anywhere on their route for the princely sum of 1.5 lira.  We were on the bus between the train station and Forum (a mall).  A youngish man got on with a document which he believed made him exempt from paying the fare.  The driver looked sceptical.  He had never seen such a document before.  So he phoned a friend.  The document was cleared and the young man travelled for free.

Later we went to visit the excellent archaeological museum which is just opposite the Forum.  We showed our Muze Kart.  We were asked if we were Turkish Nationals as, according to the man in the ticket office, only Turkish Nationals are entitled to a Muze Kart.  Hilary explained that there was a new law which meant we could have Muze Kart if we have an Ikamet.  He looked sceptical.  But he looked the rules up in some papers he had on the desk and, sure enough, in we went without paying.  He seemed happy enough to have learned something new.

We were asked not to take photographs.  We would never use flash within a museum in any case, but it’s a pity we have no photographs to show you.  The museum is really impressive.  The finds are mostly from Tralleis, Magnesia, Alinda, Nysa, Alabanda and Ortasia.  It’s only been open since the end of August but we would recommend it to anyone with an interest in archaeology.  There is a wonderful, wonderful marble statue of Pan and a fascinating Hittite bronze.  Outside there are two lions, one in the Roman style, the other strictly oriental.  A wonderful touch.


A few months ago we tried on the offchance to get a Műzekart and were politely told by the staff at Selçuk museum that only Turkish Citizens were entitled to one.  More recently we heard this rule had changed and a friend of ours had managed to get one.  Currently there is no indication of this rule change on the Műzekart web site which still states that applications from non-Citizens will be refused.  More helpfully the website lists many of the places where a Műzekart can be used, it is not a complete list, and there are some exceptions which are clearly listed. All the exceptions are areas within sites where you have to pay extra in any case (e.g. the Harem at Topkapi and the Terraced Houses at Ephesus).

With this potential change of rules in mind we walked into the museum in Selçuk and asked, expecting to have to try to explain there is a new law which means that people with a residence permit and kimlik numbers are now entitled to one.  We were pleasantly surprised, not only were the staff aware of the new rules but knew exactly what needed to be provided.  We were asked for Kimlik Numbers and Residence Permits, and paid 30 lira each.  No photographs were required, the photos in our Residence Permits were scanned and used for the card.  There are no forms to fill out, everything instead entered onto computer.  Our local mobile number was taken and it was explained we may be called for security reasons, so we guess having a local phone number may be necessary.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

To summarise, what you need:-
Residence Permit
Kimlik Number
30 Lira
Contact telephone number

The cards are valid for one year and give free entry into virtually every museum and archaeological site in Turkey under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. For us, this represents a significant saving. We will be making a great deal of use of these.

And Finally – Getting a Turkish Driving Licence – Episode 4

It has taken a long time but yesterday we got a call from the police to say my driving licence was ready to collect.

We are not 100% sure what the rules are about being required to have a Turkish driving licence, like many things here the rules seem to change and there are many views as to whether it is necessary or not.  We know people who are still driving on a foreign licence after living in Turkey for many years and we know others who have obtained a Turkish licence.  The last time we were stopped by the police it was asked for and they accepted our explanation that we had applied and it was with the police, the previous time we were stopped it was not asked for.  The reality is that having one means if we are stopped and someone decides my UK licence is not sufficient we will not go through vast amounts of hassle and potentially being stranded with a vehicle and unable to legally drive.

There are additional benefits.  Unlike the UK licence it is for life, not until some age specific point where it would need to be reapplied for.  I also get to keep the UK licence which could potentially be useful.

So today we took ourselves off to the police station, and now, almost exactly three months from when I started the process, I have the licence.  Episodes 1, 2 and 3 give further details of the process.

For the record a breakdown of the cost, this is for a motorcycle licence, one for a car would be more expensive.  25 lira – dossier with all the forms
50 lira – Translation of UK driving licence
65 lira – Noter, for notarised copy of translated licence
6 lira – photos
5 lira – Belediye ID check
15 lira – blood group test
20 lira – eye test
96.35 lira – processing fee
79.75 lira – for the licence
A total of 337.10 lira

Driving Licence – Episode 3

Yesterday, whilst sitting on a dolmuş in Izmir, waiting to be transported home with the latestIkea haul, we got a phone call from the Trafik Polis, asking us to come to the office in the morning to take the process of getting Ashley’s driving licence forward.  This morning we walked down there.  They had a letter confirming Ashley as the holder of a UK licence.  It was all in Turkish and we weren’t actually shown it but Hilary did make out the letters ‘DVLA’, Ashley’s name, the date his licence was first issued and the categories of vehicle he is entitled to drive.  Much paperwork was done.  The computer was consulted and…

We were sent away to get confirmation of Ashley’s blood group, the blood test was necessary, if we’d had any proof of Ashley’s blood group they would have accepted that instead, and to pay a fee (97.75 lira) at the tax office.   As Hilary suspected, a licence covering motorcycle only is cheaper than the one you need for a car.  Tax office was easy.  We went straight to the vezne (cash desk) and, as ever, everyone was really helpful and nice.  Paid.  Got receipt.  Off to the ABC private clinic.  Ashley had blood taken, tested and a card written out and stamped.  Time taken – less than 10 minutes.  Cost – 15 lira.  This was a bit of running round town.  But it’s all really straightforward.  None of the people we dealt with other than in the polyclinic had spoken English to any significant degree, but all were incredibly polite and helpful.  We think that speaking and understanding Turkish, even minimally, is extremely helpful when undertaking any sort of bureaucracy here.  Yes, we think that is pretty obvious.

Back to the Emniyet…  Papers taken.  Computer consulted.  Paperwork filled in.  We were asked for a photocopy of Ashley’s fingerprints.  Well, we didn’t have one.  So his fingerprints were taken on an electronic machine (no inky fingers!).  This was signed and stamped and is now in our files…  They kept a copy and gave us a copy.  He has signed his licence and paid a further fee (79.75 lira ish) for the licence itself.  We will be phoned when it is ready for collection.

So, the step of sending off for confirmation of Ashley’s driving licence took a long time – two and a half months.  The process appears to involve requesting information about Ashley and his licence from the British Consul, the Consul then requesting this from DVLA, and then it being passed back to the police, and at some stage being translated into Turkish.  During the wait we dropped in a couple of times to ask how things were going and got sent away being told we would be phoned when they were ready.  Clearly we were being impatient, the police indicating that more than two months was not unusual.

Hopefully the final steps will be a lot faster.

Getting our Universal Health Insurance

This insurance, Genel Sağlık Siğortası (GSS) is not compulsory for us as UK citizens but we decided that we wanted to take it out.  We want to pay into the system and we want to be sure we will be covered in the long term.  Maybe because we both worked for the NHS (and Hilary worked in a private hospital for a while) we are somewhat wary of private healthcare.

Our understanding has been that we were not entitled to apply for this until we had been in Turkey for a full year.  We knew they would want to see our Ikamet (residence permits) and those started just over a year ago.

So, off we went to Tire with a whole load of documents and photocopies.  Arriving at the SGK office we took a number – 70 – they were currently on 48 and we despaired of being seen before lunch…  Despair was short-lived as they romped through the numbers (many of the numbers appeared not to have associated tickets, or maybe the people with the tickets had given up and gone home) – we waited less than a quarter of an hour.  The lady behind the desk took our Ikamets, kimlik numbers, and our translated, notarised wedding certificate.  She did not ask for any other papers.  She was about to photocopy them when we called out to her that we had already done this.  She checked that our photocopies were adequate for her purposes and issued Ashley with a form to fill in.  He filled it in…

We were passed to a very pleasant man in the office behind the desk.  He told us that the system was down and he would phone us and tell us what we needed to do next.  He wrote on a piece of paper that Ashley wanted to register for Genel Sağlık Siğortası for himself and his wife.  Ashley signed it.  We established that we didn’t have to hang around in Tire, went for a wander and lunch, were home by 14:00 (having done some shopping on the way).

The man from Tire phoned at about half past five.  Our address is not on the system.  He said we needed to go to the Nüfüs office in Selçuk to get it confirmed and on the system.  He did not think we would  need to go back to Tire.  We looked the office up on the Internet and it is on the 3rd floor of the Belediye building where the Tapu office is.

The following morning, on arrival at the Belediye building we found  the Nüfüs and explained to the lady behind the desk that we needed our address confirmation for the GSS.  She looked at our Ikamets, kimlik numbers, and at a bill we had bought along to prove where we lived and gave us some signed and stamped papers verifying our address.  She was of the view that we should take the stamped papers to the SGK office in Tire.

In the afternoon we delivered these to the office in Tire.  We were recognised on arrival, the papers we had brought were added to our file.  We were told we would be phoned when we were on the system.

This took a while.  We saw on various expat forums that people were being told that the system was down and there was a public holiday but about 5 working days later, Hilary was showing a visiting friend around Ephesus when the man from the Tire office phoned her to say we are on the system and we needed to go to the bank to pay our bill.

This morning we popped into Halk Bank here in Selçuk, took a ticket, queued for around 40 minutes (they were very busy), told the cashier we wanted to pay our GSS – he took Ashley’s kimlik number and asked us for 248 lira.  We reckon that’s for about three days of August and the regular sum due on 1st September but only time will tell…

Driving in the slow lane – Driving Licence – Episode 2

The ongoing saga of getting a Turkish driving licence started with a trip to the Noter office in Selçuk  where we picked up the translation of the licence and paid 65 lira.  From thence we headed to the photographer.  They were unable to find the old photos of Ashley on file so they took new ones (then they found the old ones).  6 identical photos, 6 lira.  Over to the ABC clinic where Ashley’s eyes were examined and a paper signed.  No blood tests, this was a surprise, we had expected one, purely for blood group.  No other tests or health questions.  Cost 20 lira.

By this time the next office we needed to visit was shut for lunch so we headed off for a çay with a friend who has a shop in town, watching the very cute kittens in a nearby carpet shop where they do keep pedigree cats…

Off to the Belediye Justice department for the ID check – that cost 5 lira, then to the Polis (Security Chief – Emniyet Müdürlüğü).  There the papers were examined and photocopied,  but they have to send something to Izmir, or have a conversation with Izmir.  On the positive side they accepted all the papers we provided so it would appear we got all the papers they need.  We were led to believe they would want to keep Ashley’s licence but it was not asked for.

We were told they would phone us when whatever they need from Izmir is completed.  So we went home…  Hilary thinks a motorcycle licence might be cheaper than a car licence.  But time will tell.  Total cost to date: 161 lira.

Shortly after getting home the postman arrived with Ashley’s Harley Owners Group membership package.  This included the membership number needed to create the online profile and to log in to various sites, and the membership card which will get discounts at Izmir HD, so stuff that is generally more useful than the enclosed badges and advertising.  This kept Ashley busy for a while.

This was all done on Monday, it is Thursday now, we have not heard back yet.  There really is no hurry.  It’s hot today so we went to the beach instead of worrying about it.  It will all happen slowly….., or as they say here,  Yavaş yavaş.

Learning to fly – Driving Licence – Episode 1

I went with a friend to start the process of getting a Turkish driving licence.   I borrowed a scooter which was a fun way to get around the town centre, quicker than walking and a small amount of cooling effect.  We went to the local office of the şoförler ve otomobilciler federasyonu to collect the sürücü belgesi dosya, a file of forms which cost 25 lira.  Some of these I need to fill out and some I don’t since I am not applying for a new licence but to convert my UK one to a Turkish one.  Then took my UK licence to be photocopied and left the copies for a translator – I should get the translated copy in a day or so, it then needs to be notarised.

Meanwhile as we were heading through town we saw a baby stork exercising its wings suddenly lose contact with its nest.  The attempt at controlled flight was fairly inept, as was the less controlled crash into a tree across the road.  It did not fall out of the tree so I can only assume it found a perch.  Parents will find it, feed it, and it will get better at flying.  Flight test – fail.

We then went to the local polyclinic to enquire about the health test I need.  I think this is pretty basic, blood test, eye test and maybe one or two other things.  I need to go back with two photographs, residence permit and kimlik number and they will do the test and provide the completed health test paperwork.

Later the translator called to clarify a few issues and wanted to see the original licence, and said the translated and notarised copy would be ready to be collected from the noter at 10.00 on Monday.  I should be able to get the health test done at the same time since the polyclinic is around the corner from the noter.  This is progress, there will still be lots of forms, offices and bureaucracy to navigate, which sometimes feels like learning to fly.

Nothing is ever simple

We have heard it stated that when dealing with bureaucracy in Turkey it is never simple.  It is often a long and complicated process as we found out with sorting our Residence, buying a home, buying a bike, importing our stuff and a whole host of other things we have got through.  On the whole we are good at dealing with this sort of thing, we both worked in a large bureaucracy, this helps.  We have learned not to be impatient – being retired it is easy not to feel we have to hurry.  Officials here take their time, they try to get things right, to do things by the book.

So we packed up our Tapu (title deed), Residence Permits, tax numbers, bank details and anything else we could think of to make an attempt to pay our Belidiye (Council) tax.  We expected the whole thing to be complex and time consuming.  Imagine our surprise.  We walked into the Belidiye offices, told an official we wanted to pay our Belidiye Tax, were directed to the right desk, queued for less than 5 minutes, showed the Tapu, within seconds we were told how much to pay, which we did, got a receipt, and left.  The entire process took less than 10 minutes and could not have been simpler.   We expected it to be significantly less than the council tax we were paying in the UK.  It was considerably less than we expected.

We are not expecting the next planned task to be so simple.  Ashley is planning to get his driving licence converted to a Turkish one.

All our electricity are belong to us

Recently we were reminded that having electricity in someone else’s name can cause problems.  When we moved here none of the utilities were in our name.  The electricity was the most complex since it was not in the name of the previous owner.  She had not changed it into her name because she did not have a Residence Permit and the name on the bill was that of the previous owner (who we have been told is dead). We were also told that we would not be able to change the name on the bill without that man’s permission (which goes to show one should not believe everything one is told).   Tedaş (the electric company) did not seem to be concerned, we paid the bills and they were happy.  We are not sure how much of a problem this might cause in the long term, but decided it would be a good idea to correct the situation.

We inquired at the local Tedaş office and were told to come back with various documents

Residence Permit
Tapu (we also took the old tapu showing the transfer of ownership from the name on the electric bill to the lady who sold us the house)
Kimlik Number

We also took an old bill to aid in communication.

This we did.  Various forms got filled out.  Then we were told the process would continue but there was nothing else to do at this point.

A week or so later someone came to read the meter, and then told us we needed to go back to the Tedaş office in a day or so.  Back at the Tedaş office more forms got filled out.  We were then told to go a pay the outstanding balance and return.  This we did.  Papers then got signed and stamped, taken upstairs for the boss to sign, we paid about 75 lira for what we think is a deposit  and the process was completed.

We were told that we needed to take the new papers to the bank to cancel the automatic payment of the sum we had just paid (not due for a week or so yet).  We went to the bank and were told everything was OK, that we need not have bothered to do so, but it seemed best to be on the safe side.

Apart from the small bit at the bank, the entire process was managed in Turkish since nobody at the Tedaş office spoke English.  Hilary had enough language to manage.