Sailors cruising in the Mediterranean this spring are likely to feel a little cramped for room. Turkey, without the three month limit on visitors to Europe (a three month 'revolving door' visa), has long been a haven for those who want to escape from EU regulations.
Sailing the Turkish coastline - it doesn’t get much better
In addition red tape and expensive berthing has been chasing would-be Greek Island cruisers to the more friendly Turkish coastline. While Turkey's new regime is a bit of a game-changer, there IS a way.
As Turkey glides closer and closer to Europe as part of its application process for joining the EU (but who would want to right now?), the country's regulations also drift closer and closer to those of the EU.
Rather than Turkey's old 90 day visa which could be purchased back-to-back or renewed before the expiry date, from 1st February 2012, visas now lasts for 180 days, but visitors, including cruising sailors, are only be able to remain in Turkey for a total of 90 days during that period. This is causing a necessary flight from the Turkish coastline for some sailors.
The new visa rules are also hoped to combat the illegal worker problem in Turkey where it is believed that the number is approximately 1,500,000 people, a large majority of whom are refugees trying to reach Europe but unable to cross the borders. This is a major problem for the Turkish economy and increasing unemployment amongst Turkish people.
But where do the cruising sailors go? All members of the EU also have a '90 day in 180' rule for visiting sailors, so, while Turkey remains outside the EU, presumably a cruising sailor can spend three months in Turkey and three months in the EU countries of the Med.
But there is another way.
For those who wish to stay in Turkish waters for more than 90 days during the Spring, Summer and Autumn, the only option is to apply for a residence permit.
A Residence Permit? Yes, Residence Permits are affordable and not so difficult to obtain. They relate to the contract that a cruising sailor has with a marina in Turkey, and all details are available from marinas, who are understandably enthusiastic about the idea.
There are some conditions which some cruising sailors may not like, and this revolves around the ability of cruising sailors to support themselves while they are in Turkey. If they are retired, a 'certificate of pension' needs to be supplied (and translated) or a bank statement proving that the person has a deposit at a Turkish bank equivalent to US$500 per person per month of the visa duration.(For example: If applying for a 12 month resident permit, then you need to deposit & keep US$6000 in the bank per person.)
But it does mean that your yacht and you are able to remain in Turkey for a full twelve month period (the most common marina contracts in Turkey are for 12 months), flying home as desired and leaving the boat in good hands in Turkey.
If you want to stay a further 12 months , you could be asked to pay health insurance. Seeing your own home health insurance is likely to have been cancelled or put on-hold, this is not particularly onerous, and costs around 282TL per month (about $150). Your 'home address' for the year would remain at the marina, even though you may cruise up and down the Turkish coastline or sail further afield.
But step No. 1 is talking to your Turkish marina about a year's contract, which is not too much more expensive than a six or nine months contract.
For full and detailed information about Turkey's new visa rules, consult www.noonsite.com