I am a tourist visiting Turkey for the first time. I am a regular tourist, not intending to stay in the country longer than my visa permits, and as such, I do not possess a residence permit and do not plan on obtaining it.

Let's say I have decided to get a local cell phone number: many local services require one (case in point: I'm about to run out of my contact lenses and lensmarket.com demands a Turkish phone number to make an order), and this is one of the first things I do in a country if I'm staying for more than a weekend anyway.

However, as I understand it, if I use a Turkish SIM card within a foreign cell phone, I then have to register the cell phone with the government or it gets banned in 120 days. The registration process, though, requires a residence permit which I do not have.

How do I deal with this situation as a tourist? Or how am I even supposed to deal with this — is the intention here that I am not supposed to own a local phone number unless I'm applying for residency?

  • 3
    Will you be staying more than 120 days?
    – Joe Malt
    Apr 19 at 20:12
  • 2
    @JoeMalt: of course no, but as far as I was able to understand, the 120-day timer won't stop when I leave the country. I am planning to return to the country later this year or next, though.
    – intelfx
    Apr 19 at 22:31
  • Then you'll probably have to get a new SIM when you return. Or find a foreign SIM with generous roaming terms.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 20 at 12:44
  • You may consider using an international roaming service if your phone supports esim feature. I recommend Yesim yesim.onelink.me/F4hw/og3t0zhc
    – aiternal
    Aug 12 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


You have two options:

  1. A prepaid sim card (traditional and physical)
  2. A prepaid e-sim card (modern and 100% digital)

Option 1 requires a visit a local phone carrier store. You will swap out your sim card with a local one.

Option 2 requires purchasing online, no more visiting a store, no more swapping sim cards physically and you still get to avoid unexpected roaming charges. Order online, receive a code, change your settings and you are connected to a Turkish mobile network.

I personally use Vodafone in most countries I visit. Vodafone has tourist packages in Turkey, allowing you to keep a local number for 3 months. I hope that helps.

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