Getting married in Turkey
Turkish law is applied for all marriage procedures of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons to be conducted in Turkey. Under Turkish law, a Turkish national and an asylum-seeker, refugee or stateless person, or two asylum-seekers or refugees of different nationalities, can be married by the Turkish authorities. All marriages carried out by the Turkish authorities are subject to the Turkish Civil Code and related regulations.
Marriages are conducted by marriage officers at the Marriage Departments of municipalities. Couples intending to marry therefore need to submit the relevant documents to municipalities. Please see the section below on the required documents.
It is important to note that only official (civil) marriages are legally recognized in Turkey, as defined under the Turkish Civil Code. Other forms of marriage, without an official marriage, are not recognized in Turkey. Getting an official marriage is important as it will secure and guarantee the legal rights of children and of spouses, especially women. Only after the official marriage is a religious marriage (carried out by imams) permitted.
Legal age of marriage in Turkey
In Turkey, the legal age of marriage is 18.
There are only a few exceptions that allow someone to marry before turning 18. A 17-year-old person may be granted permission to be married with the consent of his/her parents or legal guardian; and a 16-year-old person may be granted permission to be married by a court decision and with the consent of his/her parents or legal guardian.
Legal sanctions for under-age marriage
An unofficial ‘marriage’ with a child is considered as child abuse under the Turkish Penal Code. Perpetrators are punished, including with prison sentences.
State institutions, health and education institutions, as well as NGOs are obliged to inform the Turkish authorities about a child facing any kind of protection risk. Additionally, anyone who is aware of a crime being committed is obliged to inform the authorities.
You can find out more about the negative effects of child marriage, as well as information on how you can seek protection and assistance, by reading our leaflet on child marriages, forced marriages and domestic violence.
Other conditions for marriage
In addition to the age requirements, the Turkish Civil Code specifies other conditions that couples have to meet in order to marry.
- Only those who have the mental capacity to make decisions are allowed to marry; mental illness is a barrier to marriage.
- Marriage between close relatives is prohibited. This includes marriages between siblings; marriages between uncles, aunts and their nephews and nieces; marriages between a parent and his/her adopted child, as well as between a parent and the children or former spouse of his/her adopted child; and marriages between a person and the immediate family member of a former spouse.
- If one or both of the individuals wishing to marry have already been married, that previous marriage must first be terminated. Under the Turkish Civil Code, polygamy is not allowed and considered a crime; this regulation applies to Turkish nationals as well as foreigners, including refugees.
- Formerly married woman cannot ordinarily marry again until 300 days after the date on which the previous marriage was terminated. However, if the woman obtains a medical report indicating that she is not pregnant, the 300-day waiting period is not required.
Documents required in order to marry
In order to get married, the documents below need to be submitted to the Marriage Departments of the municipalities:
- Petition of the marriage: the couple must file a petition of marriage (evlenme beyannamesi in Turkish), signed by both individuals applying to marry;
- Celibacy document certifying that the applicants are not already married;
- Medical report confirming that the applicants are free from diseases that would prevent them from getting married;
- International protection applicant registration document; international protection applicant identity document; international protection status holder identity document; or temporary protection identity document;
- Four photographs.
Additionally, the written consent of a legal representative, including a certified signature, is required for the marriage of minors and of persons with limited capacity.
Getting divorced in Turkey
It is possible to get a divorce in Turkey, even if the marriage was conducted outside of Turkey. Turkish legislation is the applicable law when it comes to the divorce procedures of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons. Asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons wishing to divorce in Turkey are subject to the provisions of the Turkish Civil Code.
The civil status of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons acquired in the country of origin or former habitual residence in line with the rules of the respective country is recognized in Turkey. In some countries, religious marriages are recognized as official marriages. Therefore, the religious marriage conducted in the country of origin or former habitual residence would also be recognized in Turkey, as this is a form of official marriage in that country. Other traditional forms of marriage, as long as the person had testified so during registration with the PDMM, would also be recognized in Turkey, even if an official document certifying the marriage could not be submitted at the time of registration.
Procedures for divorce and custody
To get divorced, you must submit a divorce petition to the relevant Family Court. In the divorce petition, you may request from the court settling of the custody issue(s) with respect to your children. Refugees may receive legal assistance through the Legal Aid Bureaus of the Bar Associations for divorce and custody procedures. Upon request, a lawyer may be appointed free of charge by the Bar Association if it is assessed that he/she does not have the financial means to cover attorney and judicial fees.