Turkish nationality law
Turkish nationality law is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis. Children who are born to a Turkish mother or a Turkish father (in or out of marriage) are Turkish citizens from birth. The intention to renounce Turkish citizenship (or acquire citizenship from another state) is submitted in Turkey by a petition to the highest administrative official in the concerned person's place of residence, and when overseas to the Turkish consulate. Documents processed by these authorities are forwarded to the Ministry of Interior for appropriate action.
Definition of citizenship
Citizenship is defined in Article 66 of the Turkish constitution:
- Everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk.
- The child of a Turkish father or a Turkish mother is a Turk.
- Citizenship can be acquired under the conditions stipulated by law, and shall be forfeited only in cases determined by law.
- No Turk shall be deprived of citizenship, unless he commits an act incompatible with loyalty to the motherland.
- Recourse to the courts in appeal against the decisions and proceedings related to the deprivation of citizenship, shall not be denied.— 1982 constitution., Article 66 (as amended on October 17, 2001)
A child adopted by a Turkish citizen automatically becomes a Turkish citizen if they are under 18 years old on the date the application for adoption was made. In some cases (although it is not required), those who have foreign names and are applying for Turkish citizenship change their name to a Turkish (but not necessarily a Muslim) name. Examples of people who have done this include football players Colin Kazim-Richards and Mehmet Aurélio.
Loss of citizenship
The Blue Card as a form of "Citizenship light"
Former Turkish citizens who were forced to give up their Turkish citizenship (for example, because they have naturalized in a country that usually does not permit dual citizenship, such as Germany or Austria) can apply for the Blue Card (Mavi Kart), which gives them some citizens' rights back, e.g. the right to live and work in Turkey, the right to possess land or the right to inherit. Excluded from this "Citizenship light" is the right to vote.
A foreign national may apply for nationalization if he or she meets all of the following conditions:
- Reached the age of majority as defined by the laws of his or her own country or those of Turkey in the case of stateless persons,
- Resided in Turkey for an uninterrupted five years prior to filing the application,
- Intends to settle in Turkey and has taken actions that demonstrate this,
- Is free of any disease that threatens public health,
- Is of good moral character,
- Has an adequate command of the Turkish language,
- Has sufficient income for his or her own livelihood and that of any dependants in Turkey,
- And poses no threat to national security and public order.
Meeting these conditions does not give a foreign national an absolute right to Turkish citizenship.
A foreign national who has been married to a Turkish citizen for three years and is still married to that partner may apply for naturalization under a different set of conditions:
- Resides with Turkish partner (exceptions granted if Turkish partner dies after application is lodged),
- Avoids acts that would jeopardise the marriage,
- And poses no threat to national security and public order.
Following a successful application, the naturalised partner may preserve their Turkish citizenship in the event of the marriage dissolving, so long as both partners entered into the marriage contract in good faith.
Dual citizenship (the simultaneous possession of two citizenships) is possible in Turkey because there are no uniform rules of international law relating to the acquisition of nationality. Each country has its own laws regarding nationality, and its nationality is conferred upon individuals on the basis of its own domestic policy. Individuals may have dual nationality by choice or by the automatic operation of these different (and sometimes conflicting) laws.
The laws of Turkey provide for acquisition of Turkish citizenship based on one's descent—by birth to a Turkish citizen parent (or parents) in Turkey and also by birth abroad to a Turkish citizen parent (or parents)—regardless of the other nationalities a person might acquire at birth. Children born in Turkey to foreign citizens do not have a claim to Turkish citizenship, unless one of the parents is also a Turkish citizen or the child would otherwise be stateless. The automatic acquisition (or retention) of a foreign nationality does not affect Turkish citizenship. Turkish laws have no provisions requiring citizens who are born with dual nationality to choose one nationality over the other when they become adults.
While recognizing the existence of dual nationality and permitting Turkish citizens to have other nationalities, the Turkish government requires that those who apply for another nationality inform the appropriate Turkish officials (the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate abroad) and provide the original Naturalization Certificate, Turkish birth certificate, document showing completion of military service (for males), marriage certificate (if applicable) and four photographs. Dual nationals are not compelled to use a Turkish passport to enter and leave Turkey; it is permitted to travel with a valid foreign passport and the Turkish National ID card.
Since not all countries allow dual citizenship, Turks must sometimes give up their Turkish citizenship if they want to become citizens of another country. See the section above The Blue Card as a form of "Citizenship light".
Visa requirements for Turkish citizens
Holders of an ordinary Turkish passport may travel without a visa, or with a visa received upon arrival, to 102 countries, as of 2016 according to the Visa Restrictions Index.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkey also provides a special sort of "passport for foreigners" to citizens of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), to enable them to travel freely, as this country is generally not recognized and the TRNC passports are not accepted as valid travel documents in some countries.
Citizens of TRNC are also entitled to become citizens of Turkey if they wish and apply to do so. They are exempt from the above criterea. The only criterea is that they are born Turkish Cypriots, i.e. of a Turkish Cypriot mother or father.
- "Turkish Citizenship Law" (PDF). 29 May 2009. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
- From Bury to Brazil, the rise of a boy called Colin Kazim-Richards Times Online. Retrieved on 2009-04-13.
- "Turkish Citizenship Law" (PDF). 29 May 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
- Official website (Turkish)
- Sozuer, Adem; Yasar, H. Nuri; Tarhanli, Turgut; Narli, Nilufer (April 2005). "Türkiye'nin ulusal kimlik meselesi". Hukuki Perspektif Dergisi (in Turkish) 3: 137–166.
- Çağaptay, Soner (2005-12-15). Islam, Secularism and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who Is A Turk?. Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern History. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-38458-2.