Turkish Citizenship by Investment: The Ultimate Guide

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Three years ago, we didn’t think that the Turkish citizenship by investment program was going to amount to much. They had just launched it back in January 2017 and with the entry cost of at least $1 million, there weren’t many takers.

The Turkish government realized that they grossly overvalued their passport and dropped the investment needed to $250,000 in mid-2019. This instantly made it the hottest thing in the RCBI (Residence and Citizenship by Investment) world.

If you need proof, it’s all in the numbers.

Since the bar has been lowered, approximately 800 applicants are approved for a Turkish passport every month. Add to that spouses and dependants and Turkey has naturalized nearly 20,000 people since the inception of the program just three years ago.

What’s more, Turkey brings in an average of $250 million a month from its foreign investors. This equates to a staggering $3 billion in annual receipts! No other RCBI program even comes close.

However, there is trouble in paradise. The sheer popularity of the program has caused some public pressure in Turkey. There are talks of upping the real estate requirement from $250,000 to $500,000 – perhaps the golden mean of Turkey’s CBI program, keeping both the investors and the locals happy.

Don’t want to miss out? Want to get citizenship while it’s still at the lower threshold? We’ll tell you how.

In this article, we take an extensive look at what’s what in Turkey’s CBI program, how you can jump on the bandwagon, and the pros and cons too.

What Is a Citizenship by Investment Program?

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

A citizenship by investment (CBI) program is a scheme set up by a national government to attract foreign investment. They do so by granting citizenship to people who invest a certain sum in the country through one of various pre-approved investments.

Whereas in this article we’re talking about Turkey, many different jurisdictions around the world offer CBI programs.

For example, you can invest $1+ million in Malta and get its passport, which would grant you visa-free access to almost every country in the whole world.

Or, you could opt for the offshore haven of St Kitts and Nevis and get its citizenship by investing a mere $150,000.

The options are limitless and vary widely, but a few things are always the same:

  • 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 a passport in return

Why Turkey?

But why would you want a Turkish passport in the first place?

Turkey is a vast country that straddles the Euroasian continent, with one foot in the Western European world and one foot in the Middle East. And, with a population of 78 million people, a median age of 31.5 and life expectancy of 76, Turkey is a country that’s highly dynamic and a true amalgamation of cultures.

Its rich culture and stunning landscapes drew over 50 million people to its beaches and cities in 2019. But tourism isn’t its only thriving industry as Turkey is a newly industrialized country producing everything from televisions to home appliances.

Turkey has many great fundamentals, including the young population, its location, and its emerging market status, among many other factors that make it a highly interesting country for investors to engage with.

Turkey is a member of the G20 and NATO, as well as a candidate for EU membership. There is no denying that it’s a regional economic powerhouse and the world’s 16th largest economy.

It also has one of the highest GDP rates per capita when compared to other countries that offer citizenship by investment.

But it’s not all a bed of roses. Turkey does have its fair share of problems, as do all countries.

The troubling neighbor that is war-torn Syria in the south, the hostile relations with its other neighbor Armenia, their Turkish lira that has crashed hard in the past few years, their friendship to Russia, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dictatorial aspirations… The list goes on.

The fact that only back in 2016, there was an attempted coup d’etat that took place in Turkey shows that it’s a country where things could change on very short notice.

So, a word of caution. If you are going to invest in Turkey and get its passport, it would only be wise to carefully monitor the political and socio-economic developments there.

Or, better yet, get a professional to do it for you – the Nomad Capitalist team is always ready to help.

Turkey’s Citizenship by Investment Program

The Turkish citizenship by investment program is one the absolute easiest ways to obtain a  second passport out there, with even easier rules.

Ever since January 2017, you can basically buy your way to Turkish citizenship.

It’s foundation is in the country’s Citizenship Law, Act No. 5901 and in the Regulation 2016/9601, which was passed and signed into law by the Council of Ministers (i.e. the Cabinet).

Main Pros of Having a Turkish Passport

Pass it on

Turkish citizenship can be passed along to your children

Visa-free travel

Visit 110+ countries, including Japan and all of Latin America

Quick routes to USA and UK

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

Get a passport quickly

Apply and receive your citizenship in 3-4 months

Bring the family 

You and all of your dependents will get Turkish citizenship

Investment options

Pick from 6 routes to obtain your passport

Background: How Did the Program Come to Be?

To understand how the Turkish CBI program came to be, we need to understand what sort of situation the country found itself in four years ago.

Some major terror attacks took place in Turkey in 2016, some targeting tourists. The most memorable, perhaps, was the June 28th attack in the departures hall of the Ataturk International airport, where 45 people died.

Battling ISIS and the Kurdish rebels, who were to blame for the terror attacks, the Turkish government was overwhelmed. An attempted coup d’etat of 2016 added fuel to the fire.

Turkey’s economy ground to a halt. Tourism numbers fell off a cliff. Turkey saw direct foreign investment halve when compared to 2006. The country’s current-account deficit stood at nearly $34 billion in 2016.

And the final nail in the coffin was the massive surplus of real estate that just sat there.

You see, president Erdogan fuelled the construction sector for many years before – government spending and easily obtainable credit were the main culprits.

Many of Erdogan’s business allies are in this sector. If we average a few estimates, there were approximately two million unsold homes available on the market, stock that would’ve taken over three years to sell. Erdogan couldn’t allow that.

Some of this overpriced inventory was sold to people from the Middle East who had a lot of wealth but mediocre passports. They liked the idea of having a secular country in the Muslim world give them a passport, just in case something in their own country went wrong.

So, the citizenship by investment program was launched, perhaps as a way to sweeten the pot for the Middle Eastern nationals already looking to buy property or invest.

The initial investment threshold was set as follows:

  • Real estate purchase of at least $1 million
  • Investment of at least $3 million

As we already mentioned, not many people were interested and the buy-in was low. But since they drastically dropped the rates, Turkey’s CBI program has flourished.

Today, there are three ways you can obtain citizenship by investment in Turkey. Let’s see what they are.

Three Options to Obtain a Turkish Passport

Acquiring a Property

Invest $250,000 in real estate in Turkey

Creating Jobs

Outsource some of the labor to a cheaper country

Making a Capital Investment

Depostit $500,000 in a Turkish Bank

The Investment Office, under the jurisdiction of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, has set out three options on how a foreigner can obtain a Turkish passport by investment.

1. Acquiring a Property

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This is the main attraction of Turkey’s CBI program. Since the lira has plummeted, real estate options are plentiful and they are cheap for foreign buyers.

You need to invest $250,000 in real estate in Turkey to become eligible for a passport and there are no restrictions on what you buy. It can be a house, apartment or land – do whatever makes the most financial sense to you.

There is no pre-approval of properties as you’d get with other CBI programs where the real estate is usually overvalued.

Historically speaking, real estate in Istanbul doubles its value within 5-10 years. So if you’re looking to buy, rent, and hold for the long-term, this is the perfect option to gain another passport.

There are some minor rules that you must adhere to, however. If you’re looking to buy multiple properties, both of which combined would make your investment $250,000 or more, they must be in the same neighborhood.

In other words, you can’t say “I’m going to buy one in Istanbul for $200,000 and then I’m going to buy something on the coast for $50,000.”

All of your properties must also be registered on the same day to be counted towards the required $250,000.

Besides the requirement to hold the property for a minimum of three years, that is all that there is to it.

2. Creating Jobs

Have you always wanted to start a company abroad or do you have a business already and want to outsource some of the labor to a cheaper country? 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. Now, that requirement has been halved.

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

You’ll probably need some legal guidance and advice on navigating the world of business in Turkey. Plus, setting up a company, running a payroll and all that comes with its own costs. Here’s a government page on the cost of doing business in Turkey so you can find out more about it.

It’s hard to pin down exactly what your total investment would be, but we would 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 setting up a boots-on-the-ground business, there are multiple ways you can make a capital investment to obtain citizenship in Turkey.

The most important thing here is how much you need to invest.

The number currently stands at $500,000. You can put that money in as a deposit in a Turkish bank, you can buy government bonds, or you can buy real estate or venture capital investment fund shares.

The good news is that you are not required to make your deposit in lira. And it’d be smart not to.

The lira has plummeted in recent years and it remains a volatile currency. You’re better off using a more stable currency like the euro, but do note that the sum must equate to $500,000.

You also need to maintain the investment for a minimum of three years, which is very short in the CBI world.

What Is Your Best Option?

Real Estate Investment Turkey

Invest in real estate to get your Turkish passport

Take our advice – Invest in real estate to get your Turkish passport. And we’re not just saying that because it’s the lowest amount of money that it takes to participate in Turkey’s CBI program.

It’s also the option that makes the most sense to an international investor.

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

You could put $500,000 into a Turkish bank or a bond, but why add complexity to things?

Invest in real estate, rent it, then watch it appreciate in value and sell it three years later. The Turkish citizenship is yours.

The Step-by-Step Application Process

Convinced that you need a Turkish passport in your passport portfolio? Let’s talk about how you can achieve it in practical terms.

The application process usually takes just three to four months and it does not require that you learn any Turkish or go to a formal interview of any kind.

Neither is there a requirement to live in Turkey. All of your family members (spouse and kids under 18 years of age) can also obtain a Turkish citizenship if you fulfill the requirements as the main applicant.

You can expedite the process and apply remotely before going to Turkey for a three day trip, during which you would purchase the real estate and go home with your deed title. It’s incredibly easy.

However, keep in mind that throughout the process, lots of paperwork will be required. Official translations, apostilles, notary certifications, photos… It’s best to leave it all up to a certified professional. You definitely don’t want to be keeping track of all that.

Restricted nationalities: Armenia, Cuba, Nigeria, North Korea, and Syria.

Here’s what you need to do to get a Turkish citizenship by investment. And for the sake of illustrating the process, we’re just going to assume you’re going the real estate route (the process for other investment types is extremely similar). 

1. Find and Buy a Property

This is the investment-making part of the process. There are many smaller steps that make up the bigger step, such as obtaining a tax registration number. You must also open a bank account if you want to purchase a property in Turkey. Then, the property search may commence.

We have an extensive article that will tell you all about investing in Turkish real estate, including all of the taxes that you should know about and where it’s best to look for an apartment.

2. Obtain a Certificate of Eligibility

If you’ve gone the real estate route, you will need to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for your investment.

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

That’s a mouthful. Imagine having to navigate that all by yourself too – real headache. It’s probably best that you have local help. We can help point you the right way.

3. Obtain a Residence Permit

You need to be a legal resident at the time when you start the application process for your citizenship. So, you must obtain a residence permit after you’ve made your investment to be considered for a Turkish passport.

Normally, this will be issued on the day of your application, making it one of the speediest residence processes we’ve seen in the world.

There is no need to stay or even live in Turkey prior to becoming a resident, nor do you need to continue staying in Turkey after you’ve received it.

Basically, it’s just a formality and another hoop to jump through. Luckily, Turkey has made it a particularly easy one.

4. Lodge an Application for Citizenship

The final step in the journey – actually applying for citizenship. As soon as your residence permit is granted, you can submit your paperwork to the Provincial Directorate of Census and Citizenship

Technically, this could be all done on the same day.

And the best news of all? You don’t have to be present for the decision to be made. No interview has to take place either.

In essence, you drop off the paperwork and can fly home with your title deed at hand and expect a passport in the mail in the next 3-4 months.

A Turkish passport is valid for 10 years, so you won’t be needing to renew it soon.

Join These Nomad Capitalists Enjoying their Turkish Citizenships

“Obtaining a Turkish citizenship, as well as real estate, has meant that I now feel safer about my future, and the future of my kids.”

Mazin Shaheed

“Turkey has been a great addition to my portfolio. In just two years, the apartment I bought in Istanbul has doubled in value.”

Alex Vandenbergh

“The Turkish citizenship has given me visa-free travel to all of Latin America, region in itself has a lot of investment opportunities.”

Joshua Aylward

Other Ways to Obtain Turkish Citizenship

As always, there are multiple ways to obtain a second (or subsequent) passport.

There are alternative ways to obtain a Turkish citizenship if the investment route isn’t what you’re looking for. However, there are a lot more hoops to jump through.

If a marriage is in the cards for you, marrying a Turkish national could mean you’re eligible for a Turkish passport. Certain conditions must be met, however.

You must be married for at least three years and then go through a process in which a commission determines whether your marriage is real and valid.

You can also apply on the basis of descent and special circumstances, but the process is extremely long and demanding.

The Pros of Turkish Citizenship

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, we thought that Turkey’s CBI program wasn’t much to look at when it first started.

Why would they charge so much – $1 million – for a tier C passport? Turkey’s passport just doesn’t compare to many of the other passports from jurisdictions that offer CBI, e.g. countries in the Caribbean.

Also, not many will be giving up their western citizenship only to become Turkish. It is, however, a good passport to use as part of a passport portfolio or with my “Belt and Suspenders” strategy.

If you are someone who likes investing in real estate, has cash sitting around, and wants to expand their global options, Turkey is a good deal.

With the price lowered and some of the other benefits now better than before, let’s take a look at the various pros that a Turkish citizenship brings:

  • You can generate income from your real estate investment. Rent your property and turn a profit while you’re at it. 
  • Travel to 110+ countries visa-free. A lot of countries in the world have bilateral agreements with Turkey for a visa-free travel regime. These include Japan, Mexico, South Korea and pretty much all of Latin America. So, if you’re looking to take your current western-friendly passport and add on to it without wasting a lot of money, a Turkish passport may be an interesting option.
  • 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 business person visa, initiate the move, and eventually even get a British citizenship if you so choose.
  • Work in the USA. Another Western country that’s open to business people from Turkey is the United States. If your dream is to quickly relocate stateside, you can use the E-2 investor visa to get the process started.
  • Prospective visa-free travel to the EU. Turkey and the EU are now closer to striking a deal for visa-free travel between the two than ever before. It’s a real possibility, real soon – Turkey has met almost all of the conditions already.
  • You don’t need to declare your wealth. Some countries that run CBI programs will make you declare all of your global wealth in order to apply. Turkey has your privacy top of mind.
  • Free medical care for all of your family. If you’re a Turkish citizen, you’re entitled to medical help free of charge, both for you and your family members. Sure, public health in Turkey isn’t of the top-level quality that you might want, but it’s a great back-up option.
  • No military service. Turkey’s CBI applicants and their dependents are exempt from mandatory military service.
  • Favorable inheritance law. You don’t have to worry about your heirs not inheriting the real estate in the event of your death. Turkey’s law fully protects your legal heirs and will make sure the property passes down to them.

The Cons of Turkish Citizenship

There aren’t as many cons to Turkish citizenship as one might think. With the changes to the program making it more favorable for foreign investors, Turkey’s CBI program is one of the best out there at the moment.

There are a few challenging points that you do have to wrap your mind around, however.

Turkey is still a developing country and that comes with its own challenges. The cultural and socioeconomic implications of that on your life shouldn’t be many.

In other words, if you don’t live in Turkey, you’re not going to care about the quality of their roads or their education.

However, when it does become important is when it starts affecting your investments.

You want a stable government and a stable political situation where you invest. Turkey is a bit shaky on this.

President Erdogan certainly has ruled with a tight fist, undermining human rights and freedoms at times. He has some dictatorial tendencies that have made him more of a fiend than a friend of the heads of states in the world.

Plus, don’t forget there was an attempted coup to overthrow the government by the Turkish Armed Forces just back in 2016. Even though that didn’t succeed, who’s to say it won’t happen again?

All in all, there aren’t any obvious or practical drawbacks to having a Turkish citizenship, but do keep in mind that there is risk involved when investing in a developing state like this.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment FAQs

Who cannot apply for Turkish citizenship?

There are certain countries whose citizens are prohibited from applying for a Turkish citizenship. These are: Armenia, Cuba, Nigeria, North Korea, and Syria.

Do my family members also get a Turkish passport if I apply?

Yes. If you’re the main applicant, your spouse and all of your dependents under 18 years of age can also get a Turkish passport.

What paperwork do I need to apply?

A lot of paperwork will be required of you, most of it accompanied by official translations, apostilles, notary stamps and so on. It’s best not to navigate all of this by yourself but with professional and legal help.

How long does it take to get a Turkish passport?

It takes 3 to 4 months from lodging your application to receiving your Turkish passport. This is one of the shortest times for a CBI program out there.

Do I have to pay tax in Turkey?

If you make an investment in Turkey but don’t live there, you won’t be liable to pay income tax. Do keep in mind that if you sell your property after the mandatory three year holding period is up, you will be liable to pay VAT.

How to get Turkish citizenship by investment?

There are three ways to get a Turkish citizenship by investment. First, put $500,000 into a Turkish bank or government bonds. Second, create at least 50 jobs for local people. Third, buy real estate worth $250,000.

How much do I have to invest in Turkey to get its citizenship?

The minimum investment that’s required is $250,000. You should spend all of this money on real estate in Turkey to be eligible for a Turkish citizenship.

Can I invest in a currency other than Turkish lira?

Yes. The investment amounts are specified in US dollars, but you can invest in any currency that you’d like. For example, if you’d like to make a deposit at a Turkish bank, you can make it in any currency that the bank will accept and hold. It just has to be equal to $500,000.

What Happens Next

We think it’s safe to assume that this year will be record-breaking for the Turkish CBI program. Only recently, the Chinese agents have caught wind of Turkey’s CBI program and have started to flock to the country, eager to tell their clients back home all about it.

It’s main proposition remains the simplicity and the low investment threshold. Investors are able to visit Turkey for just three days and get into the program, then receive a passport.

And indeed, Turkey gives you a lot of options. It’s a safe haven for folks from less moderate Middle East countries and other countries where people want to have a Plan B.

Have you been thinking of applying for Turkish citizenship? Or has this article struck a chord and you’re considering it now?

We always recommend you do your due diligence.

The information we’ve included in this article cannot be substituted for actual and professional advice, as always.

Laws get changed, requirements get outdated and even your personal circumstances might change. And with Turkey, that’s particularly true.

Just now, three changes could throw a spanner in the works: the potential upping of the investment threshold, the implementation of visa-free travel between Turkey and EU, and the rising real estate prices in Turkey.

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

Andrew Henderson is the world’s most sought-after consultant on legal offshore tax reduction, dual citizenship, and nomadic lifestyles. He works exclusively with seven- and eight-figure entrepreneurs and investors who want to “go where they’re treated best”. He has personally lived and done this stuff since 2007.
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Source: https://nomadcapitalist.com/2020/04/18/turkish-citizenship-by-investment-guide/

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