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In Turkey, people are required to register their mobile devices they brought from abroad. If a new device is not registered within 120 days, its IMEI number is blocked (official source in Turkish).

I'm a Turkish citizen living in the UK and occasionally travelling to Turkey. The official source assumes that short-stay visitors never come back after 120 days.

Do I need to register my phone even if I'm using a UK SIM card?

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From trawling various sources on the web it seems that as a foreign visitor you can use your phone for up to 120 days without registering it, using either a Turkish SIM, or an foreign SIM. If your phone were then to be blocked permanently thereafter this would be a big problem for many Europeans.

However, TurkeyResidentVisa.com has this to say about missing the registration deadline:

If you miss the due date for your mobile phone registration in Turkey, you will have to leave and re-enter the country to register your phone.

This implies that you should be able to use your phone on each of successive short visits without a problem. The article doesn't indicate what 'leave and re-enter the country' entails. Simply crossing the border into, say, Greece for 20 minutes might not be enough.

Disclaimer: I have no idea how authoritative this web site is. It's the only place where I found mention of anything like the 120-day problem for visitors

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    Simply crossing the border into, say, Greece for 20 minutes might not be enough. And if it is enough, then you don't actually need to cross the border. In a lot of situations when you're near the land border, your phone can get decent signal, therefore you can go to settings on the phone and manually connect it to the network operator from the other country. Then I guess you could wait a bit and later try to connect back to a Turkish network. That obviously works if say ~20 minutes is enough. Could also spend a whole day near the border if there's a cafe/restaurant or other things to do. – kiradotee Jul 1 at 10:08
  • @kiradotee While that would likely prevent the number from being blocked, it doesn't solve the legal requirement to leave the country. (Although it is probably likely that no one would know the difference.) – Michael Mior Jul 1 at 13:56
  • I expect the "cross the border" requirement means either (a) that when processing the request the relevant authority will look at your "passport" (the electronic records, actually) when you last entered the country or (b) that for Turkish SIM cards, the will take the request from a foreign operator to connect that SIM as a signal to reset to 0 the counter of days stayed in Turkey. Note that this will only work for their own SIM. As the OP is using a foreign SIM card, connecting to a foreign network would be equivalent to placing the phone in plane mode from carrier the POV. – Ángel Jul 1 at 15:03
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According to the prepaid SIM card wiki, which is of course unofficial but usually reliable, you do not have to complete the foreign-purchased-phone registration process if you are using a non-Turkish SIM card.

If you can read Turkish, you may be able to find more information from the MCKS website, though their English website does not appear to contain any relevant information and I suspect the problem is due to just being an unhelpful website rather than bad translation.

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If you use foreign SIM card, you do not have to register. However, if you ever use a native SIM card, then 120 days period starts and whatever you do (leave-come again), after 120 days, the phone will be blocked for native SIM cards. After this point, could you still use a foreign SIM card again? There is no official information, but by experience, at least after leave-come trick, yes. However, with a native SIM card, until registering it, never.

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