Foreign seamen who are nationals of countries with whom Turkey has bilateral agreements pursuant to the Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (“STCW”) are entitled to serve on board Turkish flag vessels by mere endorsement of their seamen books.
Otherwise, seamen who are nationals of other countries are obliged to apply for and obtain a work permit or an exemption certificate from the Ministry of Labour in Ankara. In both cases the seamen would also have to obtain a residence permit from the relevant authorities. Given that separate set of procedures need to be initiated before the competent Security Directorate for the issue of residence permits, this requirement places a heavy burden on the employer of such seamen both in term of cost and time. In a welcome move, recognising that the existing formalities and permit requirement need to be relaxed, the Parliament passed a new Law namely the Foreigners and International Protection Law numbered 4817 which will enter into force on 11/04/2014 (which applies to all foreign workers in Turkey, not just seamen), pursuant to which the work permit or the exemption certificate will also be treated as a residence permit. It follows that seamen who obtain either a work permit or an exemption certificate will no longer be required to obtain a residence permit.
Instead, they will be able to start serving on board Turkish flag vessels as soon as a work permit or exemption certificate has been issued in their name.