Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish Citizenship by Descent: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 20 July 2023

Delving into the depth of ancestry to claim one’s heritage is no small feat. It takes us on an enthralling journey through history, culture, and identity. Within such a voyage, Turkish citizenship by descent emerges as a particularly captivating exploration. In the heart of Eurasia, Turkey’s allure holds a potent mix of vibrant history and profound cultural riches, waiting to be unlocked by those tracing their genealogical roots. 

This article opens the gateway to understanding the intricacies and legal nuances of Turkish citizenship by descent. As it traverses this intriguing path, it will dissect the eligibility criteria and the process of obtaining Turkish citizenship by descent. 

What Is Turkish Citizenship?

In the legal lexicon, Turkish citizenship is best understood as the relationship between an individual and the Republic of Turkey, anchored in reciprocal rights and obligations. This bond can be formed via several pathways, including birth, naturalization, marriage, and descent, each outlined in the Turkish Nationality Act. In its essence, this is akin to gaining membership in a unique ‘club’, where one can fully participate in the cultural, economic, and political life of Turkey.

However, to make sense of citizenship practically, we must venture beyond the confines of law textbooks. Here, Turkish citizenship unfolds as a multi-dimensional experience. It’s not just about holding a Turkish passport or being able to vote in elections. It’s about the ability to work in Turkey without the need for a work permit, or having access to universal healthcare. Moreover, it’s also about enjoying the country’s rich cultural heritage. 

Gaining Turkish citizenship, legally or practically, thus encompasses much more than mere paperwork. It’s a confluence of the past, present, and future – a connection with ancestors, participation in contemporary society, and the opportunity to influence Turkey’s destiny.

Benefits of Turkish Citizenship

  • Passport Privileges: A Turkish passport offers visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries, facilitating easier international travel.
  • Employment Opportunities: Turkish citizens can work in Turkey without needing a work permit, opening up an array of employment possibilities.
  • Healthcare Access: Turkish citizens have access to the country’s healthcare system, including state-sponsored healthcare services.
  • Education Benefits: Access to public education is granted to Turkish citizens, along with the eligibility to apply for scholarships.
  • Property Ownership: Turkish citizens face no restrictions when buying or selling property in Turkey.
  • Political Rights: As a Turkish citizen, you gain the right to vote in elections and referendums, and to run for public office.
  • Consular Assistance: In case of an emergency abroad, you can seek assistance from Turkish embassies and consulates.
  • Retirement Benefits: As a citizen, you may be eligible for pension benefits in line with Turkey’s social security regulations.
  • Dual Citizenship: Turkey allows dual citizenship, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of two nations, subject to the laws of your other country of citizenship.
  • Residential Perks: As a citizen, you can live, work, or study anywhere in Turkey without any time limit or additional permissions.

Turkish Citizenship by Descent

Acquiring Turkish citizenship by descent is akin to the rekindling of ancestral bonds, an intricate process with its roots nestled in the very fabric of one’s genealogy. The guiding principle behind this acquisition method is the concept of jus sanguinis, or “right of blood,” which is embedded in the Turkish Nationality Act. It is not merely a matter of unearthing your Turkish lineage, but it also necessitates the navigation through various legal stipulations.

In its most straightforward form, a person can claim Turkish citizenship if either parent was a Turkish citizen at the time of the person’s birth, irrespective of the place of birth. However, the inheritance of citizenship can be influenced by factors such as the nationality of the other parent, whether the Turkish parent is the mother or the father, and the marital status at the time of birth. Furthermore, the timing of establishing the parent-child relationship can also impact the application of jus sanguinis.

Embarking on this journey of citizenship by descent, one navigates not just through layers of legal procedures but also embarks on a personal voyage of rediscovering one’s roots and connections to Turkish ancestry. 

Turkish Citizenship by Descent: Eligibility and Requirements

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Demonstrable lineage from a Turkish parent: If one or both of your parents were Turkish citizens at the time of your birth, you could be eligible for citizenship by descent.
  2. Marital status considerations: The nationality of your parents, their marital status at the time of your birth, and the acknowledgement of paternity can all impact eligibility.
  3. Dual citizenship status: Turkey allows dual citizenship. However, your home country’s laws regarding dual citizenship could influence your eligibility.
  4. Timing of parent-child relationship establishment: This is particularly crucial when the parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth.


  1. Birth certificate: Certified copy indicating your parents’ identities.
  2. Parent’s documentation : A copy of your Turkish parent’s passport, or other documents demonstrating their Turkish nationality at the time of your birth.
  3. Marriage certificate of parents: If applicable, especially if your parents were married at the time of your birth.
  4. Proof of residency: If you were born outside of Turkey, proof of residency or citizenship of that country could be required.
  5. Application form: Fully completed and signed citizenship application form.
  6. Supporting documentation: In certain cases, additional documents, such as court decrees establishing paternity or adoption papers may be required.

Please note that requirements may vary depending on individual circumstances, and it’s always advisable to consult with a legal expert or the relevant Turkish authorities.

How to Obtain Turkish Citizenship by Descent

There are a series of steps that the applicants must follow in order to get Turkish citizenship by descent. These steps are as follows:

  1. Research and Gather Information: Understand the process and eligibility criteria. Consult with legal experts or Turkish authorities for personalized advice.
  2. Document Collection: Collect all necessary documents like birth certificates, parents’ documents, and any other relevant legal paperwork.
  3. Translation and Notarization: If your documents are not in Turkish, they may need to be translated and notarized.
  4. Citizenship Application: Fill out the application form for citizenship. Ensure all information is accurate and the form is signed.
  5. Submission of Application: Submit the application and all accompanying documents to the Turkish consulate or embassy in your current country of residence.
  6. Follow-up and Updates: Keep track of your application status. The consulate or embassy should provide updates about any progress or additional requirements.
  7. Interview: In some cases, you may be asked to attend an interview at the consulate or embassy.
  8. Approval and Citizenship Acquisition: Upon approval of your application, you will receive your Turkish citizenship documents and become a legal citizen of Turkey.

Alternative Pathways to Turkish Citizenship

Citizenship by Birth: Grounded in the ‘jus soli’ principle (right of soil), anyone born on Turkish soil to parents who are non-citizens can apply for Turkish citizenship. However, there are conditions to this, including that the parents should not be in the country under a temporary capacity such as tourists or diplomats.

Citizenship by Marriage: A foreign national can become a Turkish citizen if they are married to a Turkish citizen. However, there are stipulations attached, such as the requirement of living together, not engaging in behavior that threatens the union, and having no hidden motive for marriage, such as obtaining Turkish citizenship solely for its benefits.

Citizenship by Naturalization: This path entails several criteria, including residing in Turkey for five continuous years, having a clean legal record, demonstrating the intent to settle in Turkey, and having sufficient knowledge of the Turkish language. Applicants are evaluated on these factors before a decision is made.

Citizenship by Investment: The Turkish government introduced a program known as the Turkish Golden Visa that grants citizenship to foreign nationals who invest significantly in the country. The options include a minimum real estate investment of $400,000, a bank deposit of at least $500,000, or creating jobs for 50 Turkish residents. An investor who fulfills any of these requirements and holds onto the investment for at least three years can apply for Turkish citizenship, providing a fast track compared to the other methods.

These alternative paths offer a rich array of opportunities for acquiring Turkish citizenship, each with its distinct benefits and considerations. As such, it is always advisable to make an informed decision based on your personal circumstances and professional guidance.

Turkish Citizenship by Descent: Conclusion

Securing Turkish citizenship, whether by descent, birth, marriage, naturalization, or investment, is a nuanced process intertwining legal procedures with personal journeys. This exploration takes us beyond the realm of passports and privileges, nudging us towards a deeper understanding of how one’s roots, relationships, residency, or resources can become conduits to a vibrant national identity. 

The multitude of pathways illuminates the diverse opportunities Turkey offers to potential citizens, each path requiring careful consideration and meticulous preparation. While the steps may seem daunting, the destination – becoming a part of Turkey’s dynamic community – promises a unique blend of cultural richness, socio-economic opportunities, and a sense of belonging. 

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