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The Ugly Truth about opening a bank account in Turkey (for Residency)

8th November 2016

OK so you have visited every bank in Turkey (or so it seems!), Only to be told ‘Sorry we need to see your foreigners identity number first in order to open an account

BUT your applying for a ‘First Time Turkish Residence Permit’ and thus need the bank account FIRST and only after receiving your residence permit card, will you receive the much requested ‘yabanci kimlik number’ (foreigners identity number) 

It’s a “CATCH 22” we know. However, we have laid out our experiences of our beloved clients for all of those other frustrated expats who are tired of walking from bank to bank and feeling ‘rejected’.

Why Banks Refuse to Open an Account

Some banks will claim that since the recent ‘coup attempt’ regulations have become more strict and so they have to be more selective and require extra documents in order to open an account, On the other hand other banks have been more honest with us and stated “We don’t want dead accounts” –

You see the problem with requesting lots of foreigners to open a bank account for the sole purpose of a residence permit has created a common problem among Turkish Banks; ‘Empty Accounts’ with many foreigners opening the account and depositing the required funds, only to withdraw the money days after their appointment with the migration dept. Thus leaving a dormant bank account never to be used again. 

This creates a problem for the individual banks that do not want mass dormant accounts and effectively poor quality customers.

Passport Problem

Yes some banks will reject you based on your nationality – bummer! But that’s just how it is unfortunately. An Afghan client of ours was turned away from a branch of Garanti Bank because of his passport, and was told they don’t accept, Afghan, Pakistan, Iranian or Iraq’s – Needless to say we all left the bank bewildered. 

Another of our clients where turned away from a branch of Is Bankasi because of their Nepalese passport.

We researched further this issue with a branch of ‘KuveytTurk’ and were told countries known for money laundering have a higher chance of being rejected from a Turkish Bank or will require additional documentation or ‘held’ deposit when opening an account.

Although this is not a common problem among foreigners and all of our US or UK clients never experience this, and generally most will not experience this kind of rejection, However, it does happen.

What you can do

When opening a bank account it is best to prepare your documentation first, have with you, a passport, Turkish tax number, recent utility bill (either from Turkey or from your home country) or a driving license with an address listed. Some banks will even accept a notarized rental contract of your Turkish home.

If you have a hefty deposit that will make the process easier too, and talking about future interests with the bank like ‘getting a credit card’, opening a saving’s account etc etc will likely gain the bank personnel’s trust – and don’t forget the bank manager does not have to open an account for you, they can reject you if they wish.

Remember dormant accounts = poor quality customers

Paying in a deposit

Some branches of ‘Ziraat Bankasi’, ‘KuveytTurk’, or ‘Halk Bank’ will require a held’ deposit to open a bank account, and this can range from 6,000 USD to 10,000 USD. (or equivalent in local currency) The length of time the money must stay in the account also differs from 3 months to 6 months.

Govt. Banks

You are more likely to be accepted for a bank account in a State owned bank compared to the private or international banks. State owned banks may be see here;

TC Ziraat Bank

Halk Bank

Vakıflar Bank

Also you may try certain banks known as ‘Katılım Banks’ i.e ‘Ziraat Katılım Bankası’, ‘Albaraka Türk Katılım Bankası’ ‘Vakıf Katılım Bankası’ etc 
(please don’t confuse these with the normal high street bank i.e ‘Ziraat Bank’ – they are NOT quite the same)

Not every bank is the same (even though they actually are!)

Every bank regardless of who they are will differ from region to region, and each will have their own regulations or criteria for new clients. For example; we know of two branches of ‘Ziraat Bankasi’ located in two different districts of Istanbul who are both requesting different deposit amounts. And some branches of ‘Turkiye Finans’ are refusing new foreign clients with other branches of ‘Turkiye Finans’ accepting new foreign clients. Frustrating!

Although There is Hope..

Why you may not need a bank account (Get lost Bank!)

The is a rumor circulating that new permit applicants are not being asked to show proof of funds via a Turkish Bank account, and that their declaration of earnings on their application form is sufficient and accepted by the authorities. Thus far in every city of Turkey we have not experienced this, (and we process many applications) Although we have seen this for some of our renewal clients, but not first time applicants. We would love to hear from you if you managed to submit your application without showing a bank account!

Is this problem restricted to only Istanbul?

No definitely not, this issue can be found in every city of Turkey. Even clients of YellAli as far away as Gaziantep have experienced these issues with Turkish Banks.

Although clients of ours located in the coastal regions of Turkey incl. Fethiye, Bodrum, Antalya etc have almost no issues.

It is impossible?

No not at all. Have your documents prepared and head to your local bank or contact us if you require professional assistance with your residence permit application (including all the required documents to make a successful application)

Please feel free to comment below about your experiences of Turkish 


Turkish Residence Permit


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