Monday, 3 May 2010

Marriage in Turkey

I was browsing a Turkish ex-pat website, and came across these conditions for marriage, which were provided by a firm of Turkish solicitors, for information.


Capacity to marry: Only those persons who have sufficient mental capacity to make fair judgments are allowed to marry. Mental illness is, therefore, a bar to marriage. In addition, a person must have reached the minimum age of 18 to marry.

Absence of consanguinity: Marriage between close relatives is prohibited

Already existing marriage: Monogamy is one of the essential principles of Turkish family law. A second marriage cannot be entered into unless the first is terminated. A divorcee should produce legal documents (i.e.: A Court Sentence about the termination of her/his previous marriage) in order to marry again.

Waiting period: Married women whose marriage has been dissolved cannot marry before the expiration of three hundred (300) days from the date of dissolution. The divorce decree may also state a waiting period within which the guilty spouse may not remarry.

Sickness: Certain sicknesses, such as epilepsy, hysteria, venereal and contagious diseases, constitute a bar to marriage in Turkey.

Only civil marriages performed by authorized marriage officers are allowed in Turkey.

Necessary Documents for Marriage

1. Four (4) copies of the petition of the marriage. To start an action, the groom and the bride must submit a petition of the marriage. This is called Evlenmme Beyannamesi

2. Identification such as: Passport, Identification card or Birth Certificate

3. Health certificate (If demanded by one of the parties)

4. 6 passport size photos of the bride and the groom.

5. Certificate of capacity to Marry. (Single, divorced, widow or widowed) (For foreigners the certificate of no impediment can be obtained from the relevant Embassy or Consulate which then needs to be authenticated by the local Governor office in Turkey.)

The foreigners who reside in Turkey as provided in the Turkish Civil Law

According to Turkish Citizenship Law, marrying a foreigner does not influence the citizenship of the husband. A foreign wife marrying a Turkish husband has the right to choose her own citizenship. But in some exceptions, such as "having no citizenship", the foreigner automatically shall gain Turkish citizenship due to the principle of "having at least one citizenship". Foreign women married to Turkish men are not required to give up their other citizenship.Turkish Laws allow the wife to hold both citizenships implicitly


It brought back memories of the enormous amount of effort involved and the volume of paperwork generated at the time Mr Ayak and I were married just over 11 years ago. The laws regarding marriage have changed a bit since then. For example, I was able to obtain my Turkish citizenship as soon as we had married, but a foreign woman getting married now has to wait three years before she can apply, and then undertake a Turkish language test.  Until then she can't use her married name. (Now I state this according to a friend who has recently gained citizenship after waiting three years but I'm not sure whether this has changed...laws here constantly just get used to one law and they move the goalposts)

Blood tests were required to check for diseases that might prevent the marriage going ahead....but it would seem that now this is only required if one party requests it. At the time I was married it was a requirement. The 300 days waiting time for women after a previous marriage is dissolved , is to make sure the woman isn't pregnant from the former husband. In fact, I remember being at the state hospital to have my blood tests and was informed that I should also have a pregnancy test. I insisted this wasn't necessary as I had had a hysterectomy some years before, and stated this clearly, but they still argued the point... I refused of course.

I also waited in a queue for my blood tests (it would appear that all blood tests were taken on a certain day of the week so there were an awful lot of people waiting). When I was almost at the front of the queue, with one person in front of me, I could see where blood was being taken. It was an open cubicle, with blood spattered walls, and the nurse was taking blood from one person after another at a rapid rate, without surgical gloves or washing her hands between patients. I decided not to have the tests done there, so went off to find a private clinic where hygiene standards were considerably higher. This was a particularly poor example of a state hospital by the way...things have vastly improved since then.

It's quite amusing to see that amongst other "sicknesses", hysteria can constitute a bar to marriage in Turkey.

Quite frankly, if you weren't suffering from hysteria at the start of the process leading up to marriage, it was very likely you would be by the time you finished!


  1. I enjoy reading your blog. I lived in Turkey for three years with my Turkish husband. Now we are in the USA.

    We were married in Turkey and when we started investigating marriage in Turkey. We saw that same information you posted as well. Can't believe they still have not updated it or changed it after 6 years. I have epilepsy, and was able to be married to a Turkish man in Turkey.

    It was required for us to get our blood tested but thank god we did not have to wait in lines and could go when we wanted to.
    Like you said after the process one will end up crazy.

  2. Hi Jamie...welcome! It is interesting that websites don't update important information. As I said the goalposts move all the time, and as you will remember it's like wading through a minefield to get married. I'm glad you mentioned that your epilepsy didn't prevent you from getting married, because I suspect that a lot of these restrictions aren't implemented anyway, and I wonder why they are even mentioned. I also believe that a lot depends on the particular officials you deal with at the time, as to whether the process is made difficult or relatively easy.
    I did find it useful (even though it was expensive) to have every piece of paper translated so that I could understand exactly what was happening.
    I'm curious to know if your husband prefers life in America to Turkey?

  3. I bet you had so many forms to fill in it must have made your head spin. A lot of the regulations you mention are also the same here in France - both parties have to have a medical with blood tests and cousins are not allowed to marry(but I bet they do in some of the more 'enclosed' Breton communities.

    I hope your flight on Thursday will be without incident. Fingers crossed


  4. It wasn't just the forms was having to take each form to a different office to be stamped by a different official, and sometimes in different buildings too. It could have been so easy to just give up.
    I think there are people in village communities here that are in-bred..well I know there are. They probably just go through the Muslim ceremony and not the official one..which is the only legal one.

    Thanks for crossing your fingers for Thursday...if you can manage it please keep them crossed till Friday!

  5. Sheesh, I thought I had loads of paperwork when I was buying my house in Turkey !!!!

  6. Oh don't the Turks just LOVE lots of paperwork auntiegwen!

  7. All I can say is OMG ... I think I would have failed the turkish laws lol. Have a great time in the UK, Ive got my fingers crossed too xx

  8. Blimmey! What a palaver!
    I wonder what would happen if you developed an affliction AFTER you were married? Like epilepsy or mental illness or well...... anything that is normally barred?
    Seems a bit harsh and makes me wonder how many of us would pass!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  9. Bomb and Maggie....I don't think they can possibly adhere to these restrictions, because if they did I'm sure there would be an awful lot of people being barred from getting married!

  10. I'm curious to know if your husband prefers life in America to Turkey?

    Well....tricky question...job wise America is better. He worked for a landscaping company when he first got here two years ago and learned the ropes. So, now he is starting his own lawn care service. Also, he works full-time for the city, so we get great health insurance. So, I can stay at home with our 3 year old and work from home in the evening.

    In Turkey, his employer did not offer us health insurance and it was hard getting by. With just his job and the only job I could legally get was teaching English. Which would be fun but not something I would want to do all the time.

    However, we both miss Turkey a lot. Miss the markets. The grocery stores have zip on produce compared to the turkish outdoor markets. I make a lot more Turkish foods, so it sucks having to order tomato pasta and other things online. But at least we can get them. Just America is a little unfriendly compared to Turkey. So, we miss the Turkish culture.
    Our overall goal is to work in America but take long vacations, and to retire in Turkey.

    Really, the only bad thing about Turkey for us, was lack of jobs. Everything else we loved.

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  12. Jamie (Your post came up twice so I deleted one)

    I think you've summed up the situation least this is how I see it...the lack of jobs. It's the biggest problem for my husband too. Even though he is trying to get a business up and running, it's all so uncertain with no guarantees. I think you have the right idea in having long holidays here and retiring here eventually. I agree with you...I love everything else about the country and it's people.

  13. My head was spinning after all the paperwork and health checks we had to take part in.

    After our wedding I realised they had given me my husband's surname automatically (and I don't have citizenship) but I still wanted to use my maiden name along with it. That in itself is a whole other palaver that I am still sorting out.

    You are right Ayak, it's not so much about all the paperwork but the places you have to go to get it all done. It's just never ending. They should just have one place called the "Evlenmek" (to marry) şubesi or merkezi (centre; a one stop shop for all your marriage needs!

  14. Everyone seems to have a different experience of getting married in Turkey, as you point out... found your blog through Ohhsweetturkey... I married five years ago and am able to use my married name (not sure why they would disallow use of a legal married name?) from the beginning. Maybe your friend didn't use her married name from the onset?

    Nice to stumble upon your blog. Enjoy your trip to England!

  15. Renai...I agree a one stop department for all marriage paperwork would be so much more helpful.

    Rose Deniz

    Hi...welcome to my blog and apologies for not responding sooner (am catching up when I can).
    Yes it is odd about my friend not being able to use her married name from the outset and I've never understood why. There also seem to be different interpretations of the "rules" depending on the area where you live. Do you find that? It shouldn't be the case of course..but often is.

  16. Agreed - the rules seem to change depending on where you are and who you talk to, for that matter. I've learned not to compare too much or risk getting frustrated all the time. On the upside, there is usually always a way to get something done, get what you want, it just might not be in a linear fashion.

    Thanks for your nice reply to my comment!

  17. Wow that was such an interesting post. They do not make it easy do they? You are right about laws though they seem to change in every country, all the time. Just when you think you finally understand something it changes again. Keeps us on our toes if nothing else. Hope you enjoyed your trip to the UK. I used to live in Scotland for a few years.

  18. Rose Deniz: Ah yes there are always ways of getting things done in would seem everyone has a price and the odd "backhander" can make all the difference!

    Lilly: Thanks for your comment. I am indeed enjoying my trip to the UK. Although I'm wondering if my return flight will be OK for next Sunday.

  19. Had to laugh at all the comments about paperwork and getting things done in backhanded fashion. The year that my husband and I lived in Turkey, I decided to get my national ID card. I'd never needed it before, as I'd only ever spent summers there, and had a passport.
    I went all over Istanbul, from one muhtar to another, to the noter to the... well, you know. At one point they said "your family are not on record" - when what they meant was they hadn't entered us in the computer database! I almost said "look, just let me go in the back room and look in the defter myself!"
    Then when we got back to Canada, my mother sent off a request to the embassy in Ottawa, and I got my card two weeks later.

  20. Deniz, the bureaucracy and red tape here is so frustrating. But occasionally it can be very efficient.I realised a little while ago that my British passport runs out at the end of this year, and I was assuming that I could just renew it at the consulate in Bodrum, which I did 10 years ago. At that time the forms were completed, sent off to Ankara, and
    my new passport arrived back a week later. It's a good job that I checked the website because it now appears that you can't do this now. All the paperwork,including the current passport has to be sent to Dusseldorf!! It's fortunate that I have a trip to England planned for April/May and will be there for 4 weeks so I will renew it then. Typical...the one example of a procedure which was fast and efficient has now gone!

  21. Dusseldorf? Good grief!
    Say, what are you doing up so late? [g]
    Funny - I might be going to England in April myself! Speaking of ex-pats and all, a friend of mine who was born in England but lived in Canada all her life is engaged to an Englishman and just moved there a few weeks ago to be with him.

  22. Deniz...I actually didn't realise the time till you mentioned it! I've got a bad cold at the moment and had a nap this afternoon so of course I'm not tired now!
    I'm beginning to wonder if one day the world will end up being full of ex-pats!


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