Working in Turkey

As an applicant or status holder of international protection, you have the right to work in Turkey. There are various types of work permits that you can apply for, but the most common ones are for wage employment and self-employment.

In order to access the labour market and find job opportunities, we recommend that you get registered with İŞKUR, the Turkish Employment Agency, and/or UNHCR partners that provide counselling on available opportunities.

There are many advantages in working legally, and informal work as well as informal businesses are against the law in Turkey. You can enjoy your rights and have access to social security and insurance if you have a work permit and/or official business in Turkey. You will be entitled to the same rights as Turkish nationals and you are entitled to the minimum wage.

Work permits for wage employment

Six months after you registered for or acquired international protection in Turkey, you will be eligible to apply for a work permit. Begin by looking for a work opportunity, as the work permit application is made by the employer and not the potential employee.

Once the potential employer and the potential employee have reached an agreement, the work permit process can be initiated by the employer. The work permit application is made online via the e-government portal.

Please note that you can only work in the city in which you are registered. If you find employment in another province, you need to apply at the Provincial Directorate of Migration Management with your employer to change your place of registration – you will need to bring the job contract that you have with your employer. Once this change has happened, your employer can apply for a work permit.

The documents needed to apply for a work permit are:

  • The identity document (including foreigner’s ID number) of the international protection applicant/status holder;
  • A photograph of the individual;
  • The contract signed between the employer and the employee;
  • The e-Government password of the employer that enables all procedures;
  • Related documents (activity document, other documents, latest capital and partnership information of the organization, latest tax return, power of attorney, etc.) of the workplace where necessary.
  • The new online system requires an e-signature and an institutional e-mail address.

Pre-prepared forms are available on the Ministry of Labour website. Both Arabic and Turkish templates are available; however, the parties are free to use any contracts in line with Turkish labour law.

Work permits for self-employment

If you are self-employed or would like to be self-employed, you need to have a legal enterprise in Turkey that is established and registered according to the Turkish Commercial Code. There are many types of enterprises in Turkey.

You can set up your own business, such as a shop, in Turkey just like any other foreigner. In that case your work place also has to be registered in accordance with the Turkish regulations. Support from UNHCR is available to help you register your business.

Once you have registered your business officially in Turkey, you can apply for a work permit yourself. Counselling is available from UNHCR partners on the work permit application process, setting up your own business as well as entrepreneurship programmes. Please contact UNHCR’s partner organizations below for further details.

Special procedures for specific areas of work

If you would like to work as a seasonal agricultural worker or in jobs related to animal rearing, there is an exemption possibility. You need to apply at the Provincial Directorate of İŞKUR in your place of registration and state that you will be working seasonally in an agricultural or animal-rearing job. You will be granted the exemption document and therefore will be working formally in Turkey. You can access health services with the exemption document. You can also pay for your own Social Security Premium on a voluntary basis towards retirement.

If you are a doctor or teacher and would like to work in Turkey, you need to receive a preliminary work permit from the provincial directorates of your relevant ministries.

Vocational training

You can take free vocational classes in Turkey. Visit the İŞKUR website to apply for the Turkish Government’s free-of-charge vocational training opportunities.

UNHCR and partner organizations also provide vocational training opportunities. Please contact UNHCR’s partner organizations below for further details.

Further support

For further support on livelihoods and work-related matters, please get in touch with UNHCR’s partner organizations using the details below.

Contact details of partner organizations providing livelihoods support


METEM, Yeni Mahallesi Atatürk Caddesi No: 74 Akdeniz/Mersin
Tel: +90 546 657 87 49

Support to Life (STL)

Halkalı Merkez Mahallesi 216. Çıkmaz Atakent 1. Etap Klima Blokları No: 18 G Küçükçekmece/ İstanbul
Tel:+90 212 697 54 35


Yesilce Mahallesi Celik Caddesi No:41 INOGAR Kagithane/Istanbul
Tel: +90 850 333 23 66 – +90 212 265 33 14/15/17


Tel:+90 850 888 11 22, +90 535 035 86 22

Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce

Incilipinar Mahallesi  Ticaret Odasi Hizmet Kompleksi Sehitkamil/Gaziantep
Tel: +90 342 220 30 30 (extension: 322)


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