Mobile Service in Turkey
In our article, we will tell you about Turkish mobile operators and how to choose the right provider when buying a SIM-card and a service package.
There are three mobile companies in the Turkish telecommunications market: TURKCELL, TURK TELEKOM, and VODAFONE.
You can also find very attractive offerings from several virtual operators, such as BIM CELL. However, these providers do not have their own networks and run the equipment of the three major market players.
The use of mobile service in Turkey has its specifics, especially for those who spend here more than 3-4 months a year. If you visit Turkey as a tourist for the period from 2 weeks to 90 days granted by the visa-free agreement, you can easily buy a SIM-card. Just stop by any of the numerous offices of mobile operators and show your international passport. SIM cards of virtual operator BIM CELL are available in all supermarkets of the BIM chain store. You have to pay for a Turkish SIM-card from $6 to $20. Keep in mind that it may take the operator some time to activate the SIM-card.
After buying the card, we suggest you top up your balance with enough money to buy a service package, which includes voice communication, SMS service, and several Gb of mobile Internet. Otherwise, the service cost will be very high.
If you stay in Turkey for more than 90 days, you should know the laws that regulate the use of mobile networks and mobile devices.
One of the laws requires that you give your residence permit to the operator. If you fail, the operator will disable your SIM card in 90 days after its activation. Therefore, if you visit Turkey many times during the year without applying for a residence permit, you will not be able to use the same phone number for more than 90 days.
The second serious limitation concerns the use of mobile devices. If you use your mobile device with SIM-card of the Turkish operator for more than 120 days, you will have to pay a customs duty, which is about 600 Turkish Lira or about 100 dollars as practical for the 1st of May 2019. In clear terms, a mobile phone purchased abroad will be blocked after 120 days of use in Turkey. Moreover, even after paying a 600 Turkish Lira fee, you will be able to use the device only with the SIM-card that you specified during the registration. This restriction does not apply to the devices operating in roaming.
This is why many permanent residents prefer to buy mobile devices in Turkey rather than bring them from abroad, although they are much more expensive here. For more information on how to pay the customs fee and unlock your phone, see one of the next overviews.
In Turkey, all mobile phone users pay a tax. So do not be surprised that 2.4 Turkish Lira (about 40 cents) will be withdrawn from your balance account every month.
As for the rates for mobile service, the packages include voice, SMS, and 2-3 Gb of the Internet and cost 20-25 Turkish Lira as a minimum per month. Explore the offerings of different mobile service providers.
In general, mobile coverage in Turkey is very dense; the LTE signal (4.5 G) is quite stable not only in large cities and near hotels but even in distant mountain areas. Therefore, if you come to Turkey not only for the beach holidays but also for hiking along the picturesque trail of the Lycian mountains, you will stay in touch with your Turkish SIM-card almost everywhere.