Boat owners cruising in Turkish waters are facing more difficulties because a new law regarding Residence Permits is confusing everyone concerned, the Cruising Association has revealed.

Visitors’ Visas to Turkey for cumulative visits of up to 90 days in a rolling 180 days are easily obtained on-line – an agreement that matches the Schengen regulations for non-EU citizens.

But many boat owners wish to cruise for longer than the constraints of the visa so then have to apply locally for a Residence Permit before the 90-day limit is reached.

New law

The new law – 6458 – which came into force last April, means that anyone cruising in Turkey can only apply for a Residence Permit for a period of 3-12 months – and this requires some difficult documentation.

Before that, cruisers wanting to stay longer could apply for a Residence Permit which would last for up to five years as a straightforward process.

But the Cruising Association (CA) has learned that, at a meeting last month, the Turkish Foreigners Department told the British Consulate that a 120-day cancellation provision within the new law would be applied.

This would be based on cumulative periods outside Turkey over a 12-month count-back basis. There is now speculation that the 120 days might be extended to 180 days but this will only alleviate the problem if, instead of counting back, it only applies to the period of the current Residence Permit. It has also been indicated that the cancellation clause will apply to holders of the old style longer term permits.

This means that now, if a boat owner has left for a cumulative period of more than 120 days (or possibly 180) in the previous 12 months, the Residence Permit will be cancelled on re-entry and the boat owner must return on an e-Visa, until a new residence permit is obtained. Under the new law the cancellation clause applies to all types of permit but it would be logical to exempt permits of 12 months and less from it.

The CA has more than 5,000 members, more than 1,000 of whom enjoy cruising in the Mediterranean as well as Turkish and Greek waters.

Advice for cruisers

A spokesman for the CA, Bill Anstead, who has cruised in Turkey in recent years, said: ‘We are frequently explaining the Residence Permit problems to our local representatives who fully understand how it might discourage cruisers and the local marine industry have made representation to the Government.

‘Not all officials and agents understand the new law and how it should be applied.  And certainly not all visitors!  Several official UK and Turkish government websites do not use wording which makes it clear.’

Mr Anstead added: ‘What I will recommend to CA members based in Turkey, if the interpretation of the law does not change, is that they enter every year on a Visitors’ Visa (perhaps in April) and a few weeks before going home for the hot months apply for a Residents’ Permit for just 5 – 6 months to the end of their season.

‘This will keep cost of visa and permit to a minimum (about $70pa total) and also minimise local insurance costs, etc.’

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