After much brouhaha and faffing about, the Turkish Government will finally introduce new visa requirements on the 1st February. Essentially, this means that foreigners entering Turkey on a tourist visa can only stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period. Anyone staying longer will have to apply for a residency permit.
The permit process is not particularly onerous or expensive but it is a tiresome paper chase of red tape. It can be weeks before you finally get your mitts on the precious little blue book (that looks like it’s been knocked up by a child in a shed). Patience is needed. After years of encouraging foreigners to spend their readies and buy their dream holiday home, Turkey will not allow them to enjoy the fruits of their investment for more than 3 months at a time without becoming residents of a country they don’t reside in.
There’s a more significant change that is rocketing blood pressures into orbit. Spleens are being vented all over the forums. According to an article in the Land of Lights, the Turkish Parliament has passed a law requiring all expats with a residency permit exceeding twelve months to join the Turkish National Health Scheme. The cost will be a flat fee of 212 Lira per month each. This week’s special offers are two-for-one for married couples and children under 18 get in free. Those living in sin or have done the in-sickness-and-in-health thing differently (civil partnerships, for example) needn’t apply. Also, as with all the best health insurance policies, pre-existing conditions will not be covered. So it’s just tough if you’re a bit old and slightly doddery, with a touch of arthritis and spot of hypertension. That’ll be many expats then. Best not cancel your private insurance just yet.
The article also states that, while the scheme isn’t up and running yet, everyone is required to register by the end of this month. Failure to do so will attract a hefty fine. If this is the case, how come this crept up and caught us awares? What’s our man in Bodrum (actually, our woman) been doing? Sod all as usual.
I’m a great supporter of national health care, free at point of delivery and available to all. Apparently, the fee is the same for everyone, Turk and expat alike. I find this difficult to believe as 212 lira is a lot of dosh to most Turks I know. We’re happy to do our bit and pay our dues but I’m not keen on any scheme that isn’t linked to the ability to pay. As the cost of residency for Brits dropped dramatically last year, is this a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul?
As with most things the devil will be in the detail. The forums are hot with gossip and hearsay, outrage, resignation, argument and counter-argument. I’ll let the dust settle before I decide what to do. I’d still like something from the Honorary Consul, though. I won’t be holding my breath.