Marrying in Turkey as a foreigner

I will write a little blog from my perspective as a Dutch person marrying with a Turk in Turkey. About applying for a marriage license and all the necessary papers. This blog is part one, since it is only about our part in Turkey. Maybe later a part two will follow about what to arrange after marrying in Turkey. Think about changing passports, switching residency permit, registering our marriage in the Netherlands etc…

Normal marriage license application vs. the application for foreigner + Turk

So if you are a ‘normal’ Turkish couple wanting to marry in Istanbul, Turkey there are a few necessary papers you need. In Turkey you apply for a marriage license in order to get a wedding date and place. The wedding ceremony in Turkey is called a nikâh. We chose to seperate the nikâh and the wedding party. One in Istanbul and the other in Bodrum. Our nikâh in Istanbul will be held in a wedding hall of the municipality. Think of it as performing your wedding ceremony in city hall. Since Istanbul is so incredibly BIG there are very many ‘municipalities’.

You will apply for a wedding license in the municipality that you are registered to live in, in our case that is Kadıköy. We chose a different municipality to get married in though. Out of practicality we chose Ataşehir. This means we have to bring all the necessary papers to our own municipality and then with a permission paper from them we will go to Ataşehir municipality and finish the application there.

Now about the necessary papers… As a normal Turkish couple you’ll need the following;
* Bring you original and make a photocopy of your identity card
* ID pictures, taken in the last 6 months. Make sure to get plenty since you’ll need them in several places. We got 12, just to be sure. (when you go to a picture place and tell it is for marriage license they’ll make sure you get the right kind)
* Health report: This will consist of blood tests and chest exray
It will be taken from your family health doctor as signed and stamped.
The duration of the medical report will not exceed 180 days.
Mediterranean Anemia test is required in men. The statement that this test has been performed should be written on the health report.

Now for me as a foreigner, I had a ‘few’ extra papers to take care of;
– Instead of a Turkish ID I used my residency permit card as ID. If you are using your residency permit or visa, make sure it is still valid when you want to get married!
– A translated and notarized passport (First translated by a translator, which are often located close to notary offices and then approved by  notary)
My birth certificate > doğum belgesi
I got my birth certificate from the Netherlands, luckily my mother was coming to Turkey so she could bring it with her instead of me having to wait for it to get in the mail, which can take a long time. I had my father request the birth certificate in person, which he can as my parent. Also  I made sure I got the international version which is multi lingual.
– An official document proving my marrital state (unmarried) > bekârlık belgesi
Getting this paper was trickier.. I could get this document from the consulate in Istanbul but needed my birth certificate and citizen registration document (BRP, former GBA) to do so. Since I am living abroad for longer than 8 months I was no longer registered in the BRP but in the RNI (Registration for non citizens with Dutch nationality). There are several places in the Netherlands representing the RNI from which you can get the necessary document. I had my mother bring both documents from the Netherlands. I got an appointment at the consulate online, which they gave me a month later. I went with both documents and my passport and residency permit and got the paper.

Our troubles on the way to applying…
Because my bekârlık belgesi wasn’t an original from my own country I needed it approved by the Kaymakamlık from Kadıköy which is sort of the municipalities management. Little did we know that was not enough! When we got to Ataşehir municipality to apply with all our papers it turns out that not the whole document was multi lingual and the actual part which states that I am unmarried was only in Dutch. This way our application would be denied. So we had to go back to Kadıköy to get the original document, then find a translator to translate the document and then get it notarized. After drop it of in Kadıköy and take a copy back to Ataşehir.

Make very sure the paper has NO mistakes on the translated documents because the marriage license will be based on the translation, not the official document. Which, if it is applied with mistakes, will later on come to bite you in the ass.

Also we ran into another obstacle when they tried to put my Turkish ID number in the computer.. It showed no adress!! Which is silly ofcourse, because I can’t even get my residency permit with that ID number without an adres. So what went wrong? Apparently the foreigners office and citizen office do not communicate changes with each other. So when we moved from Ataşehir to Bostancı, Kadıköy and didn’t separately change my adres I fell into nothing! This made the computer show up empty when trying to apply. So we had to go to the Ataşehir citizens office to officially change my adress.

After all of this we finally were able to get our official wedding date and time! Hopefully after all this trouble we will have a happily ever after ;).

Combining our last names

When you get married in Turkey you officially take your husbands last name and your maiden name will no longer exist. There is a possibility for the woman to combine the 2 last names. First will be your own and lastly will come your husbands name. If you want this you have to tell this when you are applying so they can fill out the right papers for this. In Turkey it is not possible to only keep your last name as a woman.

I chose to combine our last names after we are married for a couple of reasons. First of all I like to combine and be able show both our backgrounds coming from 2 different countries and cultures. This was a more symbolic reason. From a more business perspective, I already am an active freelancer under my own maiden name in Turkey and in the Netherlands and would like to continue to use it as such to show my individuality in my work and business in both countries. Practically it also gives me the option to use the more ‘logical’ last name in different places. I would use my husbands name when in Turkey on a daily basis and maybe my maiden name in the Netherlands because of pronunciation. Also I am proud to carry my future husbands last name and if it was possible I would choose to have his last name first and then mine.


Marrying in Turkey as a foreigner
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