There are three network operators in Turkey:
Torque Telecom (formerly called EVA)
Touristel (Istanbul Welcome Card)
Turkey can be a complicated country to buy a local SIM, as there are some legal restrictions. Turkey is not an EU country, so roaming fees can be very high for many operators. Generally, you can buy a local SIM card by showing your passport at a store.
Registration for foreign mobile phones
All mobile devices purchased outside Turkey that use a Turkish SIM must be registered with the government after grace. In 2015, this additional period was finally extended to 120 days. After this period, the phone will be blocked for Turkish SIM. This does not affect KTTC SIM cards in Turkey or abroad.
(SIM) A few days after you start using your SIM on the new device, you will receive an SMS in Turkey with the exact grace period. It reads as follows:
If you are staying for more than 120 days, this entry can be made at the same time as buying a SIM card from a network operator’s store. They will register the IMEI (unique number that identifies your device) and SIM. You can check the IMEI of most handsets by dialing * * 06 #. Once connected to a Turkish SIM, it will not be possible to connect the same device (or IMEI) to another Turkish SIM in the future.
Taxes for foreign mobile phones
Before the operator can register your phone, they need a special document from the local tax office. In 2019, the fee for “importing” a foreign device was taxed at 1,500 TL (Turkish Lars) (approximately 0 230 or 25 255). So you have to go to a tax office first and finally pay 1500 TL to get your phone registered for another 50 TL to use the local SIM card. More information about this procedure from this website in English. There are exceptions for temporary residents.
Turkey has adopted a registration system to prevent theft and fraud, although some are skeptical of other reasons. Since the waste period has now been extended to 120 days, work visits are no longer relevant for one-time visitors.
If you plan to stay longer, you can buy a cheap Turkish phone or modem. You will need to provide paperwork to show who you are, but you do not have to pay tax to register a new device.
North Cyprus (KKTTC) prepaid SIMs can operate in Turkey on the Telsum / Vodafone network or on discounted packages without a rom surcharge.
You can bring more than one device (or dual SIM phone) and replace them every 120 days, adding time to block them all.
Instead you can use a roaming SIM card from a foreign provider. At the end of this article some good offers like Vodafone SIM cards of some countries are mentioned.
On the next turkey, better take a different phone with you, if your Turkish SIM is still valid and 120 days have passed.
Technically, the danger of an IMEI-based whitelist approach is that there are mobile devices on the market that can easily change (change, re-flash) their IMEI number.
Many Wi-Fi access points are available nationwide and offer a valid alternative.
Prices and availability
Prices for new SIM cards vary widely in Turkey. Every third shop in Turkey is now a mobile store. Shop around and negotiate and you’ll find lots of offers for starter packs. Most will have credit or data already added and will start at around 150 TL. If you do not speak Turkish, you will need to add at least 100 TL to package the prices below to start with SIM cards in city stores. Shop around for the best deal. The fee is quite high at airports and even 5 times higher in branded stores. Buy in a better city instead.
Tom has written an extensive blog in English about the situation in Turkey with more details about the situation at the airports. Prices for data are very low after purchasing a SIM card package and are determined by the operators. If you already have a Turkish SIM card, each branded store can sell you a data package or ad at a similar price.
For returning visitors who register their own handset, the expiration rules are very complicated. Given the relatively high initial cost, you may want to consider keeping your SIM. Generally, your credit and line will remain active for up to 6 months, before at least TL 20 is required. This can be done online or abroad from third party top up sites (free of charge). In compliance with the registration and top-up rules