Life at the 'Lik: Registering your American phone

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alexander Puma
  • 39th Air Base Wing Legal Office
Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to provide in-depth information to both current and future members of Team Incirlik about topics specific to Incirlik and Turkey. The goal is to assist Airmen and families in making informed decisions about their move to the area and to provide guidance about local policies, procedures and quality of life matters.

Moving to a new country can bring a lot of changes and while some changes can't be avoided, there are some you can control. One of those is to not lose your ability to make on-the-go phone calls. While it isn't as easy as just signing a contract, knowing the road you must follow can lead to a registered and working foreign phone in Turkey.

First thing that is important to know is that the process must be done not long after you first arrive in country as there are specific time requirements to register a phone in Turkey. Foreigners must register and set up the phone within the first 30 days of arrival in Turkey based on the most recent entrance stamp on the passport or NATO orders. Each person can only register one phone and each individual registering a phone must be available in person themselves-- no one can complete this process on their behalf.

To begin the registration process Americans must obtain a country entrance certificate from the Foreigners Police Station, commonly known among the base populace as the Residency Permit Office. Here dependents will require their passport, and military members will require their NATO orders and military identification card. Once the information from these documents are verified, the certificate is given free of charge. Make sure not to confuse the certificate with a residency permit, though they are both obtained from the same station.

For the next step in registration visit the Turkish Tax Office in Adana. Be sure to bring the following:

- Country entrance certificate
- Passport
- 115 Turkish Lira per phone
- The phone(s) being registered

Also know the international mobile equipment identity, more commonly known as the IMEI number, of each phone. The method for obtaining this number varies by device. Asking a Turkish national friend to join and translate will make registering the phone much easier.

Once at the tax office stay on the first floor and take a number. When the number is called, go to the window with a translator and have them request that the foreign phone to be registered. Shortly afterwards the teller will type up a tax certificate and process the payment before you receive the phone's certificate of registration.

With the certificate of registration in hand, go to any popular Turkish network operator store to get a subscriber identity module, or SIM card. Bring all the documents obtained during the registration process including your passport or NATO orders. At the store fill out an application and pay a fee for a SIM card and its registration.

It all boils down to a personal choice on whether or not you decide to go through the process. Just know that while it may take some time and effort, it is certainly possible for those wanting comfort and convenience from their familiar on-the-go companion.