Mobile Phone Use/Registration in Turkey
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Oct 2, 2012 3:58 AM Last Post By: hobbittr
Jul 23, 2012 1:11 AM
Mobile Phone Use/Registration in TurkeyI hope this will generate some more answers. If any ThornTree advisors have newer, better or more definitive information about this issue I hope you will please post your comments to this thread. Thank you
Do I need a Mobile Phone in Turkey?
Most of the questions seem to be from people who will be tourists and who will be less than a month. Ex-pats or immigrants have a different issue because they need to apply for residence permits, will stay long term, and will usually need a Turkish SIM card.
Be sure to inquire with your local home mobile network provider about roaming in different countries. In some cases they have special plans for tourists who use roaming for travel.
To start with, here is a list of Useful Phone Numbers , and some more Emergency and Service Numbers .
The Jandarma emergency number is 156 if calling on a mobile phone, the call is directed to Antalya. Someone should be available who speaks English if you have an emergency.
DO make sure you put police and Jandarma (gendarme) on a speed dial. (Here is why... )
To learn the 15 digit IMEI number unique to your handset dial these symbols:
*#06# (star-pound sign-06-pound sign)
You should not need to buy another phone nor should it need to be registered IF:
--you do not purchase a Turkish SIM card
--you are visiting Turkey for less than 30 days
--you have a mobile phone from your home country
--you are using roaming from your home country network which will work in Turkey
--you only need it for emergencies
Your mobile phone in all cases should enable you to dial emergency numbers.
(Confusion seems to start for tourists who stay longer than 30 days. I was unable to get a definitive answer but I have posted several links below. )
Many modern people forget that landlines (non-wireless telephones) are still in abundance all around the world. Hotels, pensions, restaurants, bars all have landlines and will usually allow you to make local calls in Turkey.
Internet Cafes are located in nearly every city and small town and almost always will enable you to send and receive email and make cheap or Skype calls abroad.
There are many landline phone booths where you can make cheap calls throughout Turkey. Using Turkish Telephones should tell you all you need to know. Public phones operated by Türk Telekom have pictograph instructions and operate on either credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) or on phone cards (telefon kartı, telekart) that you buy from post offices, street kiosks and other places advertising Telekart Satılır (Telekarts for Sale). You might also find this page about PhoneCards useful.
Most "smart" phones are actually little computers which have email and Internet wi-fi (wireless) capability. Since wi-fi is almost everywhere that a tourist will/can go, why bother with any but an emergency phone call? Just sit down at a cafe or your hotel which has wi-fi and email ahead for reservations or information or use Skype calling---FREE!
A young friend of ours is visiting Turkey for the duration of his 3 month tourist visa. The Kaş Turkcell phone shop said he did not need to register it unless he wanted to purchase a Turkish SIM card for local calling. Our friend decided NOT to register his phone. Because he was going to be here for 3 months and possibly longer, he did purchase a cheap used phone for local use (50 TL) and bought a SIM card (60 TL kontör) which is refillable. No hassle and legal.
NOTE: if, for some reason, your phone is about to be de-activated:
5 days before de-activation of the IMEI number, your handset (SHOULD) get a Turkish text / SMS message stating you should register. This text / SMS message looks like this: ......... IMEI nolu cihaz kayit disi listesinde oldugu icin DAY/MONTH/YEAR da kullanim disi birakilacaktir. Hattiniz acik kalacaktir. Bilgi icin 4440532
Turkey Travel Planner has a commentary on this issue: Register Mobile Phones in Turkey
Other links which seem to state that unless you use a Turkish SIM card, you do NOT need to register your phone:
ThornTree Forum posting Telephone questions and answers:
ThornTree Forum posting: Telephone....
and yet another: using a mobile phone in Turkey
People with ROAMING telephones using a provider from home such as Vodafone are apparently exempt from the new regulations. (NOTE: the links are no longer available on this 2nd post)
Turkish Consulate UK:Mobile Phones Need To Be Registered...
It is necessary to register the mobile phones in order to use them WITH SIM CARD BOUGHT FROM A TURKISH NETWORK OPERATOR.
A comment on the Turkish Living Forum: How to register a mobile phone in Turkey : "If you come here with a UK phone & a UK sim card YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REGISTER IT, neither will you get disconnected."
Staying longer than 3 weeks in Turkey? Every handset used with a local Turkish cell / mobile SIM card must be registered within 3 weeks. After 21 days the Network Operator de-activates the phone number. On the 23 rd day your phone reports "SIM card registration failed". YOUR CELL / MOBILE PHONE CAN STILL BE USED WITH FOREIGN SIM CARDS. (Also a good link about using GPRS/EDGE)
AVEA: Why Roaming?
While roaming on Avea, you can: use your mobile phone without being disconnected
Customer Care Services 444 1 500
Vodafone: Should I register the mobile device that I brought from abroad?
Roaming Information: 444 9 777 - Vodafone Call Center: 444 0 542
You should contact to the nearest Vodafone Shop for registration within 30 days after you arrived Turkey.
Please take this notification into consideration only if you are having turkish sim card using any handset with a foreign IMEI (international mobile equipment identity
Jul 23, 2012 10:39 AM
1Avea doesn't speak English. If you call that number you'll get a chirpy English voice telling you to press 9 for English; then, you get Turkish again.
The majority of phone shops, in my experience, have no knowledge, time, or experience in registering foreign phones. Unless a pushy Turkish person goes with you, you may need a whole morning for registering the phone. (Or if you are lucky, of course).
Jul 24, 2012 12:43 AM
Jul 27, 2012 1:52 AM
I read through your post and seems spot on to what I have experienced. Living in Istanbul myself I found that it was getting way to expensive to keep using my British mobile phone. 30TL was all I needed for buying a new Sim card, however, to actually purchase the card I had to get help from someone from the street who spoke English. Many of the phone stores don't have anyone that speaks English, I normally have to take someone who speaks Turkish with me to get anywhere with them.
The only annoying thing I have found to be very frustrating was that I am here in Turkey for the long term, and I am being told that I am unable to get a contract phone. Because of work and calling home now and again I am finding I am spending way above the amount I would spend on a contract!
Nice post :) really helpful!
Jul 27, 2012 2:49 AM
4Gemmalouise do you mean a land line phone or a contract mobile?If the latter then it is possible if you are prepared to lay down an inordinately huge security deposit :(
Another option is to ask a good Turkish friend to take out a contract phone for you to use.Obviously this would need to be someone you know well-and trusts you..maybe your boss or manager at work?
Jul 28, 2012 6:11 AM
5gemmalouise, thank you for your comments. There are many inexpensive and easy-to-use solutions for long term visitors to Turkey, you just have to search for them.
Do try to find an Avea phone store where someone speaks English well enough that the two of you can communicate. That should not be too difficult in Istanbul. It seems they have international calling plans that may be affordable.
If you have a laptop or a "smart" mobile phone why not use your home ADSL modem or go to a wi-fi hot spot and call people using Skype? Skype also has a computer to phone service.
My wife used TruPhone on her Nokia "smart phone" for a while, it works great over wi-fi so if you have ADSL in your house you can make calls using it just as if you were calling next door.
You might look at this overview of Prepaid Phone Plans in Turkey .
I currently use the DiamondCard Callback Service on our landline and it is VERY inexpensive. It states "you can make long distance calls from your home, mobile, office phones at low rates."
You need to tell them "all your phone numbers that you might be using the callback service from." So you could use the landline of a neighbor to make cheap international calls.
I recently spoke to the USA for 20 minutes using DiamondCard and it cost me a little over 1.00 USD. I have always had good quality on my calls and the couple of times when I had difficulty hearing I simply hung up and called back and all worked great!
I have never used their mobile phone service so you will have to contact them to see how that works.
By the way I do NOT have any affiliation with DiamondCard in any way. My uncle does not own it (I wish he did), nor do I know anyone at DiamondCard. I found them to be an easy and cheap way to make international calls.
Sep 7, 2012 7:17 AM
Thanks for the very informative post. Wish I'd seen it a few days ago. I bought a Turkcell sim on the 5th September and was surprised when it was activated immediately without me needing to show my passport. I queried the guy in the shop a couple of times about this but he said don't worry it's activated. It works fine at the moment.
This morning I received the dreaded message saying my phone will be blocked on the 12th Sept (one week after activation). I visited a number of phone shops and received the same reply a number of times. Apparently I need to visit a tax office and pay 100 Lira and then return to a Turkcell office, show them the tax receipt and pay another 25 Lira to have my phone registered. Together with the cost of the sim this makes it a very expensive connection for a month's holiday.
This person seems to have had the same bad experience recently. So apparently things have changed for the worse unless I have been misinformed.
Sep 8, 2012 1:39 AM
7So many people make this mistake it is almost criminal.
Too bad for you, these phone shops make a lot of money off of NOT advising people properly about buying SIM cards.
If you are visiting Turkey for a short while, DO NOT BUY A TURKISH SIM CARD!!! A waste of time, effort, and money and a frustrating hassle on top of it.
Our friend in Kaş did not buy one for his home phone and after 4 months he is not blocked. He does NOT have a Turkish SIM card.
Sep 24, 2012 1:30 AM
8Sorry for the very delayed reply! It was for a contract phone that I wanted to get, but they said I am unable to get one as I leave the country to often, even though I live and work here. My Turkish friend tried to get me a contract phone on his name but because he already has a line with Turkcell, if he took another they would cancel his number....I don't understand why but that is what the lady in Turkcell said. In the end I have just brought a iphone here and am using imessage and facetime as well as skype to communicate with people outside Turkey. Its such a hassle that they make you jump so many hops just to get a phone. Unfortunately the big security payment I wouldn't be able to pay all at once so my phone is currently on 24 month credit card payments via a friend.
I know that when I first came here I registered my british phone but after my initial 3 week stay paying for the registration etc, after going back to the UK for 4 days then flying back to Turkey, after 1 week it had been blocked again, it was something to do with my English phone company even though they new I was here but they thought my phone had been stolen. No matter where in the world you go all phone companies seem to be useless!!
Oct 2, 2012 3:58 AM
9kanchenjunga asked a question about registering their mobile phone.
"As I have understood it, if you get the phone you are importing registered with airport customs then you can get it activated with a Turkish Sim at a Turkcell kiosk."
You also write you "don't want to do anything very complicated!"
I decided to put my answer here, I hope it will help:
Why do you want to "complicate" your visit with attempting to register your phone all for a Turkish SIM card? It is a MAJOR hassle!
It is unfortunate but far too frequently, the mobile phone operators, even the ones at the airport and the "authorised" mobile phone company shops are clueless about what is needed and you may end up getting your phone blocked anyway, then what do you do?
If you absolutely have to have a Turkish SIM card, buy a phone at one of the many phone shops which can be found in any sizeable town. For around 100-120 TL you can buy an old used phone with a SIM card ready to go.
To register your foreign phone is going to cost you 100 TL!! PLUS the cost of the SIM!! PLUS whatever the phone shop decides to tack on!!
Under ordinary circumstances, you then have to go to a tax office to pay the money which is NOT located in any shopping malls or plazas next to the phone shops.
Some phone operators have told customers they did not need to pay the "tax" at the tax office and they, the phone shop, would take care of the tax (for an extra fee of course), but then something happened and their phone still ended up blocked.
If you do not use a Turkish SIM card you do not need to register your mobile phone and you can use it for emergencies.
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