Turkey has been awesome so far. Pretty much everyone has been super helpful. But as is the case with most bureaucratic systems, I’ve run into a couple of issues here and there, but the main one has been my phone. So instead of continuing to complain about it, I thought I would be productive and explain the process for those who visit or move to Turkey.
In order to cut down on black market phones (which is understandable), any phone brought into Turkey cannot just get a new SIM card and call it a day, as I found out. When you bring a non-Turkish phone into Turkey, you have one month from when you arrived in the country to register your phone or the government will lock it down and not unlock it…ever.
So when I first got here, I got a SIM card from Turkcell to replace my American SIM card.(Make sure you take your passport with you to do this.) However, when I switched the SIM cards, T-Mobile locked my phone, so I had to chat with someone from T-Mobile to ask for the unlock code to my phone. Two days later, the request went through; they emailed me the code and I was able to unlock it. (To those making their way over, I recommend you get the unlock code before you leave for Turkey, just to speed up the process.)
I also found out that I have to pay a phone tax of 100 TL to register my phone with the government. Since the tax office is open only during the week until 5, I had to ask my roommate to do it because I wouldn’t get home in time. About three days before she had the chance to go pay the tax, the government locked my phone. I had a working phone for about a week before they locked it. Now remember that I have until October 1 to get this figured out, or they will lock it for good– so time is of the essence.
When you go to pay the tax, make sure you have your passport, the papers that Turkcell gave you with your Turkish phone number, the IMEI number of your phone, and 100TL cash. I gave all of this to my roommate, she brought me the receipt, and I went back to Turkcell. However, I found out that I need some proof of residency. And this is where I’m stuck. I think you can use a copy of your lease, an official letter saying you live there, or your residence permit. I get my temporary residence permit on Thursday, so we’ll see if that works. I’ll keep you posted so that anyone else making the journey can make this a much easier process for themselves.