Document legalization and apostille processes in Turkey can be complicated for foreigners. Especially for those who are not physically in Turkey, getting certain documents legalized or apostilled is challenging. As in all countries, there are two main avenues for document legalization in Turkey: consular legalization vs. apostille. If the country to which the document will be submitted is a member country of The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents ("HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention") the document can be apostilled. If the country to which the document will be submitted is not a part of the HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention, then the document must be legalized via the Consulate (in Turkey) of that foreign country.
How to get documents apostilled in Turkey:
Turkey became a part of the HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention as of September 29th 1985.1 Turkey therefore is able to apostille documents so that the document can be considered legalized in the country to where the document will be submitted (which must also be a party to the Convention). Documents that are commonly required to be legalized include Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Police Clearance Certificate, Diploma or Transcript, Divorce, Adoption, Custody or other court decrees, notarized statements and certain types of medical reports. Generally, the majority of these documents can be apostilled at the District Governorship (Kaymakamlık) authority.
How to get documents legalized in Turkey for non-apostille countries:
For countries that are not party to the Convention, apostille attestation wouldn't be recognized. In these circumstances, documents must be legalized at the Consulate or General Embassy of that country in Turkey. Each consulate has different requirements for their legalization process and these must be confirmed directly with the relevant consulate. Generally, most consulates in Turkey will be willing to legalize Turkish documents that are original government-issued (i.e with original stamp) by the District Governorship. The procedure will often involve an appointment booked at the relevant consulate, consular fees paid either prior to the appointment or directly at the consulate, requirement of standard documents such as ID Card/Passport, original District Governorship approved documents, fee payment confirmation, Power of Attorney (for proxy filings), address proof and in some case an application form.
Procurement and Legalization Process of Most Commonly Requested Documents
There are two types of documents that are recognized as legal proof of birth in Turkey. The first and most commonly used by foreigners born in Turkey is the Form A document issued by the Populations Registry Director (Nüfus Müdürlüğü). This document is available to anyone who was born in Turkey regardless of nationality and/or citizenship and has a unique registration number. In the event that the requester does not know the registration number, the request will have to be made from the registry office which initially registered the newborn. Any individual with a proper Power of Attorney ("PoA") executed by the subject of the Form A can obtain this document from any Population Registry office In order to procure the Form A certificate of children under 18, either one of the parents' PoA is sufficient. The Form A can be then legalized at the District Governorship or apostilled.
The second document considered proof of birth is the Family Registry Record (Nüfus Kayıt Örneği). This document can be procured from the Populations Registry Directorates, and similarly can also be procured by third parties with a notarized Power of Attorney., Note that the Family Registry Record can also be procured in electronic format from Turkey's government online system called "e-devlet". The subject of the record must create an e-devlet account in order to procure in this manner. The important caveat regarding an electronically issued Family Registry Record is that unfortunately, District Governorships do not legalize/apostille this version of the document. The District Governorship will only legalize/apostille a Family Registry Record issued from the Populations Registry with wet signature and stamp.
The most common way of proving marriage in Turkey is the document that is called a "International Family Booklet" (Uluslararası Aile Cüzdanı). This document is issued by the Population Registry and handed during the official marriage ceremony. Therefore this document can be procured more than once only in limited circumstances, such as loss or amendment. Upon issuance of a new booklet, the previous booklet becomes invalid. In order to procure a new Family Booklet the couple must visit the local government representative (mukhtar) to obtain a "Marriage Certificate Demand Form" (Evlilik Cüzdanı Talep Formu). The couple must then submit the form as well as two photos each along with the receipt of the relevant fee payment to the Population Registry (Nüfus Müdürlüğü) linked to their residential address. This procedure can be done only by the couple or a Turkish lawyer with a PoA.
The second document considered proof of marriage is the Form B document. This is a multilingual document issued pursuant to the Convention on the Issue of Multilingual Extracts from Civil Status Records ("Vienna ICCS Convention") that is available to anyone married in Turkey. This document can be obtained by third parties from Populations Registry Directorates with a PoA. Both a notarized copy of the Family Booklet and the Form B can be apostilled or legalized at the District Governorships.
Police Clearance Certificate (PCC)
Similar to birth and marriage certificates, Police Clearance Certificate's ("PCC") can be obtained in two ways; a PCC issued by the Courthouse or the electronic version obtained via "e-devlet" system. Again, third parties can obtain this document on behalf of the subject from courthouses with a notarized Power of Attorney. The e-government system allows applicants to obtain a PCC in 8 difference languages. Both traditional and electronic versions can be apostilled or legalized at the Courthouse or at the District Governorship by the applicant or by a third party with a notarized Power of Attorney.
Diploma and Transcript
In circumstances where a student is not in possession of their diploma and/or educational transcripts, they must obtain them from the issuing University or via a third party with a specialized Power of Attorney. Obtaining transcripts or a letter confirming graduation is almost always easier than obtaining a second diploma and should take up to ten days. Diplomas on the other hand are significantly more troublesome to obtain, and the processing time for the university to issue a new diploma is can be several months. The procedure and timelines vary according to the university. Diplomas and transcripts can be apostilled/legalized at the District Governorship office providing that these documents have (i) an official "T.C" stamp (which stands for Turkish Republic) as opposed to the Student Administration Office stamp, and (ii) the name of the university rector who signs the document is on the district governorship's list of rectors. Once both criteria are met, the district governorship may legalize these documents.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.