The country code is +90 and the international access code is +00. Within Turkey, numbers starting with 444 don't require area codes and, wherever you call from, are charged at the local rate.
If you only want to make one quick call, it's easiest to look for a booth with a sign saying kontörlü telefon (metered telephone). You make your call and the owner reads the meter and charges you accordingly. In touristy areas you can get rates as low as ₺0.50 per minute to Europe, the UK, the US and Australia.
If your cell phone is unlocked, you can purchase a prepaid SIM card (SIM kart) including some credit. There are three major networks: Turkcell (www.turkcell.com.tr), Vodafone (www.vodafone.com.tr) and Türk Telekom (www.turktelekom.com.tr). Each has shops throughout the city.
- Turks adore mobile (cep; pocket) phones.
- Reception is excellent across most of Turkey.
- Mobile phone numbers start with a four-figure number beginning with 05.
- Turkcell coverage is best, especially out east.
- You need to show your passport, and ensure the seller phones through or inputs your details to activate your account.
- SIM cards and kontör (credit) are widely available – at streetside booths and shops as well as mobile phone outlets.
- You can buy a local SIM and use it in your mobile from home, although the networks detect and bar foreign phones after 120 days.
- The minimum Turkcell credit you can buy is ₺20.
- The bigger the credit bundle, the better the rates you receive.
- Most shops charge a small commission on credit (eg ₺20 credit costs ₺22).
- The networks offer SMS bundles (for Turkey or abroad).
- Dial *123# to check credit.
- For assistance and information in English, call 8088 on Turkcell.
- On Turkcell, reverse charges by dialling *135*53, followed by the number, followed by #.
Staying in Turkey longer than 120 days? To avoid having your home phone banned, register it within a month of arrival. This costs ₺149.20 and the registration process is convoluted. For a run-down, go to https://yellali.com/advice/question/235/how-do-i-register-a-mobile-phone-in-turkey.
SIM Card Costs
SIM cards cost around ₺85 (including ₺30 in local call credit). An internet data pack with the SIM will cost around ₺25/30/40/60 for 1/2/4/8 GB and a pack for international calls will cost an extra ₺30/60 or so for one/two hours credit. Ask staff in the phone company shop to suggest the most cost-effective solution for your needs – prices and plans change constantly. Once you have the SIM, it can be recharged in amounts of ₺20 upwards.
Payphones & Phonecards
- Türk Telekom payphones can be found in most major public buildings, facilities and squares, and transport terminals.
- International calls can be made from payphones.
- All payphones require cards that can be bought at telephone centres or, for a small mark-up, at some shops. Some payphones accept credit cards.
- Two types of card are in use: floppy cards with a magnetic strip, and Smart cards, embedded with a chip.
- The cards typically cost ₺10 to ₺20.
- Phonecards are the cheapest way to make international calls.
- Cards can be used on landlines, payphones and mobiles.
- As in other countries, you call the access number, key in the PIN on the card and dial away.
- Stick to reputable phonecards such as IPC (www.ipccard.com).
- Cards are widely available in the tourist areas of major cities, but can be difficult to find elsewhere.