Marriage to a Turkish Citizen
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Turkish citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps.
If you want to bring your Turkish spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
Turkey Marriage Basic Requirements
Only civil marriage is legal in Turkey, any religious ceremonies can be conducted in addition to the civil wedding.
Turkey cannot grant a marriage certificate to a marriage that is not recognized in Canada.
For marriage before Turkish authorities, a document from the proper authorities in Canada is required confirming your eligibility for marriage. This can be a marriage license or a statement.
Documents required for marriage certificate
- Marriage petition
- Certificate of celibacy
- Passport, ID birth of health certificate
- Photos of bride and groom (five copies of each for records)
Turkish Marriage Legislation and regulations stipulate that, a Turkish national and a foreigner or two foreigners with different nationalities can get married in Turkey before competent Turkish authorities.
Two foreigners from the same nationality can either marry in their own Country's Embassy or Consulate or before the Turkish authorities.
Conditions for a valid marriage
- Must be above 18 years
- Must be of stable mental condition
- Must not be closely related
- Must not be previously married, any existing marriage should be dissolved, polygamy is illegal
- Divorced individuals must wait 300 days before marrying again
- Sicknesses like epilepsy are a hindrance to marriage
Capacity to Marry
In Turkish law, those persons who have sufficient mental capacity to make fair judgements are allowed to marry. Mental illness is, therefore, a bar to marriage. In addition, a person must be 18 years and above to marry.
Absence of consanguinity
Marriage between close relatives is prohibited and forbidden.
Monogamy is one of the essential principles of Turkish family law. A second marriage cannot be entered into unless the first is terminated.
Married women whose marriage has been dissolved cannot marry before the expiration of three hundred days from the date of dissolution.
Epilepsy, hysteria and such medical conditions are considered a bar to marriage. Only civil marriages performed by authorized marriage officers are allowed in Turkey.
If your Turkish spouse has dependent children, this does not affect the Turkish Marriage document application.
If you have dependent children, they have no effect on the application to marry a Turkish citizen.
List of Turkey Consulates in Canada
Information for Canadians travelling to Turkey
Embassy of Canada in Turkey
Cinnah Caddesi No.58
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: turkey.gc.ca/
Consulate of Canada in Istanbul
209 Buyukdere Caddesi
Telephone: 90 (212)385-9700
The official currency of Turkey is Lira. The minor unit is called kuru.
Calling Turkey from Canada
The exit code for Canada is 011
The country code for Turkey is 90
Dial 011 – 90 – area code – local number
Calling Canada from Turkey
The international code is 00
The country code for Canada is 1
Dial 00 – 1 – are code – local number
|Alberta||403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
|BC||236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
|Ontario||226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|Manitoba||204 / 431||PEI||782 / 902|
|New Brunswick||506||Quebec||418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||709||Saskatchewan||306 / 639|
|Nova Scotia||782 / 902|
Time difference with Canada
Turkey is +2 UCT.
|Canadian Time Zone||# of Hours
Turkey is Ahead
|# of Hours
|Pacific (BC, Yukon)||10 hours||9 hours|
|Mountain (Alberta, western Nunavut, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan)||9 hours||8 hours|
|Saskatchewan||9 hours||9 hours|
|Central (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)||8 hours||7 hours|
|Eastern (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)||7 hours||6 hours|
|Atlantic (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, eastern Quebec||6 hours||5 hours|
|Newfoundland||5.5 hours||4.5 hours|
Different marriage types
In the past, marriages among cousins and relatives were common in Turkey but today such customs are nonexistent as modernity has taken over.
Another kind of marriage that is common is when the death of a brother occurs, the widowed sister-in law is wed with a single or widower brother-in law it is called (Levirat).
This is done in order to protect the inheritance of the deceased by ensuring it remains in the family and for the children’s welfare.
Similarly, a sister gets married to a deceased sister’s husband (Sororat). However, this rural tradition just like the other marriages among relatives is being abandoned.
“Taygeldi” is another type of marriage. In this marriage, the children from previous marriages of a widow and widower, who get married, can get married as well.
In the past, particularly in rural areas, men would steal or kidnap a girl that they wanted to marry, but were not allowed to do so for one reason or the other, mostly due to objection by the girl’s families.
In this circumstances, a girl and boy would run away to overcome family objection to their matrimony. In some regions, there is also a type of “snatching” called “oturakalma”, where a girl goes to the home of the man that she loves and settles there, many times at the objection of her own family.
Another kind of marriage which was often practised in ancient Turkey is called “beÅ¿ik kertme”. While children were still young and toddlers, they were promised or “engaged” to each other by their families.
In the past, the rejection of marriage by the girl or boy once they reach marrying age, would be regarded as dishonour to the family and would even cause bloody feuds among the two families. This type of arranged marriage is almost extinct in modern Turkey.
Another kind of marriage or custom in Turkey is “iç güveysi”. In this marriage, a man settles in the wife’s home. Usually in case of inability to pay a dowry for the bride or the absence of a son on the part of the bride’s family leads to this kind of arrangement.
In another type of marriage called “Berder” (exchange, changing) two families may marry off their daughter and son to another family’s son and daughter. Such kind of marriages relieves the two families off paying dowry to the bride’s family, they simply level out.
In some regions polygamy is practised, despite the practice being outlawed and punishable by law, it is still practised and it was more common in the past when a wife could not bear children or she became ill.
Age of marriage
In Turkey today, men usually are expected to marry after they complete their mandatory military service, in some more traditional areas, they marry before the military service.
General men marry at around 22 years and women around 20. Today older siblings are usually expected to get married before their younger siblings, particularly if they are of the same gender. Pressure to marry at a younger age varies according to region where traditions are observed.
The groom to be and this family usually take the lead in initiating the steps that leads up to marriage, while the girl’s family remains passive. The first step toward marriage is expected of the man and his family.
Goruculuk (Asking a girl for her hand in marriage)
In the traditional setting, the courtship process leading up to a marriage begins with looking for a girl. The family of the son who want to marry begins looking out for girls, starting with their relatives, neighbours and close friends.
In larger cities of Turkey where culture has changed a bit, it is now most common that couples meet on their own and date.
However, “Görücülük” is still the main type of interaction, marriage is more traditional in communities in rural areas.
“Görücülük” is the act of several women of a family or friends of a man who wants to marry, paying special visit to the home of the girl who they see as a potential fit for the man, examine the girl closely and reveal their intentions.
This procedure is called “seeing a girl, to send women to see a girl, woman sent out to inquire about a prospective bride” (“kız bakma”, “görücü çıkma”, “dünür gezme” in Turkish). After positive judgment about the girl, the prospective bride’s family is given time both to get more information about the prospective groom and his family and to make a decision.
Once the two families agree, the task of (gorucus) comes to an end. In the process of asking for the girl’s hand in marriage, care is taken to include among those who will visit the prospective bride’s family such respectful persons who could not be refused by the bride’s family, together with close relatives of the prospective bridegroom’s family. It is not uncommon that several such visits are paid to a family or girl who’s reluctant to agree to this marriage for one reason or the other.
Agreement to marry
Agreeing to marry (söz kesimi) follows the process of asking the prospective bride’s hand in marriage. Both families who reached an agreement by way of “Dünürcülük” (women from groom’s family sent out to inquire about a prospective bride) agree on marriage before crowded guests, which is called “Söz Kesme” (agreement to marry).
Engagement is completed by attaching a ring and an embroidered kerchief bought by the prospective bridegroom’s family. In some regions “Söz kesimi” is also called a small engagement ceremony. Sweet dessert is prepared by the prospective bridegroom’s family is distributed to guests immediately after agreement by both parties to marry their children.
Even today in some regions the prospective bridegroom is not present at the time of this ceremony. According to the attitude of the prospective bride’s father the bridegroom who is present in the bride’s home and the prospective bride both kiss the hands of the older guests. This marks the end of the agreement process.
The engagement ceremony is held in the bride’s home and the costs of the ceremony in some regions are met by the bridegroom’s family, in most cases by the bride’s family.
After choosing the date for the engagement ceremony, an invitation called “invitation to neighbours” is made. Guests who gather together on the day of engagement in the bridegroom’s home go to the bride’s home.
Traditionally, women and men sit separately in the bride’s home, and after lunch, jewellery called “takı” is given to the bride who is dressed in a special engagement dress given to her by her mother-in law and relatives of the groom.
In some areas of Turkey, the groom does not come to the bride’s home. In this case an engagement ring is worn by the bride through a woman from the groom’s home. In an engagement ceremony where the groom is present, rings worn by the bride and groom are placed by an old man on ring fingers of their right hand accompanied by kind words and wishes.
In many engagement ceremonies today, the ceremonies are more elaborate and modern, wedding halls are rented and men and women sit together, live music is played and the engagement is celebrated by family and friends of the prospective bride and groom.
There is no specific length of time for the engagement. It depends on the agreement made by both sides. While it is considered natural that engaged couples may meet each other inmodern communities, in traditional, rural communities, such meetings are allowed only through the permission of the parents and it is customary for family members to accompany the couple. Breaking off an engagement is considered a serious matter and is frowned upon in traditional circles.
If it is the girl who broke off the engagement, all jewellery that she received must be returned to the former groom. If the man broke off the engagement, usually the former fiancée keeps the presents.
Weddings today in modern Turkey are much more like western weddings, with a wedding banquet or reception uniting family and friends of the couple.
Also, all marriages require a civil ceremony conducted and recorded by a municipal officer to become legally effective. In many cases, the religious ceremony precedes the civil ceremony by a few days.
In the traditional setting, wedding ceremonies generally start on Tuesday and end on Thursday, or start on Friday and end on Sunday. Wedding expenses are met by the bridegroom’s family.
Regional differences aside, traditional weddings are marked by, planting of a wedding flag, entertainment for the women of the couple’s families on the eve of the wedding day, characterized by the colouring of parts of the hands and feet with Henna (Kına Gecesi), fetching the bride, and the bride’s veil.
Before the wedding, as is done in the course of the engagement ceremony, formal invitations are distributed, family, friends and neighbours are invited to the wedding. While the bride’s family tries to complete preparations, the bridegroom’s family finishes wrapping up gifts for the bride to be presented to her before, during and after the wedding.
A wedding flag is planted by men coming from noon prayers and friends of bridegroom at the bridegroom’s home. In some regions, apples, onions, mirrors, etc. are placed on top of the flag. Thus the wedding is officially underway.
The night before the wedding is set aside for the bride to spend her last night at her family’s home in the company of women of all ages who are close to the couple’s family. This ceremony get its name “Kına Gecesi” which means henna night, the bride’s hands are adorned with Henna. The bridegroom’s female relatives too attend this event and are hosted in the bride’s home.
Usually dry henna brought by the bridegroom’s family is broken to pieces in a silver or copper vessel by a woman whose both parents are still alive and still married. After preparing the bride, a veil ornamented with red flake is placed over her head, and she is brought amidst the guests accompanied by songs and hymns about henna.
Hands and feet are dyed with henna. The bridegroom’s side is under the obligation to put money in the hand of the bride.
This henna ceremony is different for every region. The dyed henna has such names and types as “iplik kınası” (henna for yarn), “sıvama” (smearing), “kuÅ¿gözü” (bird eye).
This ceremony, which can also be a sad occasion, where relatives of the bride, particularly her mother lament the departure of the daughter from her parent’s home, is followed by joyous celebration, song and dance.
After the guests leave, it is not unusual for the closest friends of the bride to remain with her until the next morning, spending their last “single” hours together. In some regions, a similar ceremony is held for the bridegroom by his friends at his home.
Gelin Alma (Fetching the Bride)
The next day is the day of “Gelin Alma” (to fetch the bride), “kız alma” (to fetch girl), “gelin götürme” (to carry the bride), Everybody is invited to this ceremonial procession from the home of the bride to the home of the groom.
Guests go to fetch the bride on foot if her home is not far. In some regions the bridegroom is not allowed to accompany the bridal procession. The procession is followed by drums and pipes.
In some regions the bride is prepared by elderly women (yenge) who help and attend to the bride. But today the preparations for the bride are done at a beauty salon.
She joins the procession on her way to the groom’s home. Before leaving her home, a “maidenhood Belt” (Bekaret kuÅ¿aÄ¿ı), mostly a red ribbon, is tied around her waist by her brother or a close relative and then the bride says good-by to those she leaves behind at home.
To lighten things up, the doorway is sometimes blocked by a male relative of the bride or a younger brother sits on the wooden chest that carries the bride’s dowry, as to not allowing the bride to leave. A tip by the groom’s family solves this final hurdle, and the bride leaves her parent’s home.
After travelling around the village, accompanied by drums and pipes, the wedding procession arrives at the groom’s home. The bride and procession is met by the Mother-in law at the front door, who welcomes the bride with a gift.
The groom takes her by the hand and leads her inside the house. After a while the groom goes out with his friends until later in the night. While away, he is shaved, bathed, dressed and taken to the mosque for the late night prayer (Yatsı Namazı) and then returned home.
The religious marriage ceremony is performed by the hodja (preacher) of the local mosque. After the ceremony is performed, the bride and groom are allowed to enter the nuptial chamber.
Gerdek (Nuptial Chamber)
An elder woman in the nuptial chamber asks the couple to hold each other’s hand. The groom performs his ritual prayer, and then opens the bride’s face after giving her a present to see her unveiled face. They eat the meal prepared and offered by the bride’s family.
In traditional communities virginity is extremely important and the groom’s family has to ascertain that the new wife is a virgin.
This proof is usually blood on the bed linen where the marriage was consummated. Absence of blood on the linen can be cause for great shame for both families and may be reason for the bride to be sent back to her parent’s home. However, that this too is a very outdated procedure and not widely observed.
Although the main religion in Turkey is Islam, the country does have a rich past in terms of other religions that blend together to create a multi-cultural society.
99% of the population of Turkey is Islam; however Turkey is a secular state without any official religion. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey, which claimed legitimacy from religion, religion was separated from politics in Turkey and in 1937 secularism was made a constitutional principle.
80% of Muslims in Turkey follow the Sunni branch of the Islamic religion with most of the remainder belonging to the Alawi understanding of the Muslim religion.
There are small minorities of Shia followers of the Muslim religion. All sects of the Muslim religion believe in One God and believe in the teachings of the prophets from other religions including Jesus, Moses and Abraham.
All Muslims in Turkey view their religion as the delivery of the same message talked about by other religions. The foundation of the Muslim religion is belief in One God and that Muhammad was the last messenger therefore Islam is the last divine religion.
The book of the Muslim religion is the Quran which was revealed by God through Muhammad. There are many old Qurans and manuscripts of religion in museums throughout Turkey.
In Turkey, other religions make up only 1% of the population and most of these are Christians. Armenians are the largest followers of Christianity in Turkey. They belong to one of three branches: Catholics, Protestants and Gregorian.
Other branches of the Christians in Turkey are the Greek orthodox who live on the West of Turkey close to Greece, although there are also followers of the Byzantine Catholic religion in the same area of Turkey.
There is a small community of Jews in Turkey who live mainly around Istanbul and the west coast. These Sephardic Jews had lived in Spain until they fled to Turkey after being persecuted in Europe because of their religion.
The followers of the Jewish Religion in Turkey are between 5,000 -10,000 although they are free to practice their religion freely in Turkey without any trouble.
Food for weddings
Because Turkey is a diverse country with different cultures, this diversity is also evident in the food. Turkish wedding parties consist of multiple courses. Even though they vary depending on the region they originate from some foods that are common are, lamb, spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, rice pilaf and cheese.
Another common wedding party food is chicken. There’s also a unique soup which is dished up at celebratory gatherings. There are a variety of recipes for the wedding party soup, plus the ingredients differ, nevertheless the soup generally includes lentils or lamb and occasionally peppers like paprika and cayenne.
Kebabs are pieces of sliced up meats roasted and then served on a skewer and are a widely used native food which is common at weddings. Flaky pastries with spinach and cheese in the sheets are also served at weddings.
Lots of Turkish weddings feature sourdough bread which is indigenous in the region. There is also bulgar or rice which is first seasoned and then wrapped in eggplant, cabbage or grape leaves. The wedding dinner concludes with dessert choices include dates, ice cream, baklava, almonds, pastes of figs, other desserts and, pieces of the wedding cake.
In areas close to the Black Sea, Turkish wedding reception cuisine may include a variety of seafood, caviar or shellfish in place of lamb, chicken or beef. Some regions serve cornbread instead of sourdough bread.
• 2 kgs or 3 cartons of local tobacco products, 5 kgs of alcoholic beverages/12 bottles of Raki/local drinks and foodstuffs up to a total value of TRY 100, each commodity with a limit of 5 kgs;
• Gift articles with a value of TRY 5,000. If you want to export more, proof is required that foreign currency has been exchanged to the amount in excess of TRY 5,000.
- Grain products
- Firearms and military ammunitions
- Meat and dairy products
- Radioactive substances
- Cats and dogs require a certificate of good health. They may enter but in passenger’s baggage which is checked, or as cargo.