'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

‘Jesus Wept!’

As my mother used to say – ‘Jesus wept!’ Well, he would have done if he’d had to deal with this Turkish bureaucracy!

local bureaucrat

I know, I know! Sweeping generalisations are not the way to go – but bureaucracies the world over are a pain in the arse, mainly because they are created by arse’oles – and that’s not a generality, it’s a bloody fact!

Before I go any further and dig myself into a hole, I want to say this; J and I have never paid a back-hander to anyone in the 15 years we’ve lived here. In that time we have always been treated with consideration, kindness and understanding by the rank and file bureaucrats that we have dealt with and today has been no exception.

As Bill Clinton once famously didn’t say, ‘It’s the system, stupid!’

So, what did the system do to us? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin . .

As I said a moment ago, J and I have lived here for nigh on 15 years and in that time we have owned three cars – our present one is just a year old. In those years we have driven all over Turkey and J has done her share behind the wheel. We have been stopped at countless police/jandarma check points and our documents have always checked out. We have also never had an accident, which is just as well because we have just learned that J was not insured for all those kilometres!

How could this be? In 15 years didn’t we ask? Didn’t we check? Of course we did! And everyone, including the police told us there was no problem; J was covered on my insurance. And she would have been – if we had been married!

Before going any further here, I want to make something clear – we are not, and will not be married as a matter of principle. We have been together for many more years that over half of the population of Turkey has been alive – we have children that are older than many of you reading this – we have always shared equally everything we have ever owned, from homes to debts to money in the bank. We have never felt the need to justify our relationship to anyone. Apart from that, J wouldn’t marry me if I was the last bloke on the planet!

Anyway, back to our bureaucratic adventure; we are law-abiding in the main because the last thing either of us (or you) wants is to get dragged into the legal bureaucracy here in Turkey. We needed to get ourselves sorted – and quickly!

Inquiries to insurers and to contacts at the police HQ established that we could put the car registration in the name of a Turk (Yeah! Right!), in which case anybody and their dog could drive the car; or we could get J’s name on the documents as a joint owner and then the insurance covers us both. Remember, if we had known all this at the time we bought the car it could have been done then (take note ye ‘living-in-sinners’).

Off we went to the Notary to do the business. Even though this was the first time they had done such a thing for a yabanci (foreigner) it went fairly smoothly apart from the delays caused by the central computer system which kept crashing. Eventually, hours longer than it should have taken, we were ready to pay the modest fee and have our new document stamped and ready to be taken to the police for their part of the process.

Except that the names of J and my mothers and fathers on the central computer in Ankara did not tally with the (correct) names in our residence permits! There was no way that process could or would move forward until that was sorted, and so off we went to see our nice policeman to request his help. Should be just a matter of explaining that all of the local documentation was correct but that some clerk had been careless inputting those details; right? Wrong!

same faces, same furniture, same system!

Our local people had to tell Muğla, who then have to tell Ankara who will then instruct the clerk to correct the error, with a fair wind and a star to guide us, the process will not be compounded by further errors. It will be Monday at the earliest before that gets done – when it eventually is, we’ll be able to go back to the Notary, pay our fee and get our shiny, new joint ownership documents to what has always been (in our minds if not those of the bureaucratocracy) our joint property.

‘Job done, then’ I hear you say. Well, sort of, because within 30 days we then have to go the Traffik Polis HQ in Muğla and get our new registration document, anyone out there interested in the odds?

Hmmmm! . . . I sense another post coming on!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

14 thoughts on “‘Jesus Wept!’

  1. How weird, just about to start writing a post about bureaucracy and then I saw your title pop up in my reader so thought I’d have a read. We’re not married either and have had a few similar things pop up for us, living in Turkey. Good luck with your insurance. I’m not braving offering ANY odds on this one. 😉

    1. ‘Nil illigitimus carborundum’ or words to that effect ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down!’ Sorry if I queered you post. 😀

  2. Serves you right for living over the brush, you sinner. I’m with J on this one. I wouldn’t marry you either. Mind you, I don’t know why Liam and I bothered. Hell will freeze over before it’s recognised here. Can you imagine the looks in the notary!

    1. Ha! You jumped-up moralist; up there on your high ground. I can for sure imagine the looks on faces, we’ve had them from certain quarters for years and not just here in Turkey. J and I don’t, as a general rule, broadcast our arrangements – it has sod-all to do with the rest of the world. Then, we don’t pretend either. I shared here because it is relevant.
      Here’s a little saying that I recommend to you and Liam for the times when you want to set some bigot back on their heels – ‘Sana ne?’ literally ‘To you, what is?’ Said sharply and forcefully it has sent the offender scurrying away in embarrassment.

  3. Alan – I never for a moment thought about this for both of you as we don’t talk “cars” very often! We had to do the same three years ago – Peter and Dee had somehow found out about it! I had blissfully been driving around the countryside too, in an illegal status!

    1. who says it didn’t post? Anyway, I know how it is; you thought we were so well organised that we’d have it covered – now we’re exposed – its all a bloody front!!

  4. Ouch! Good Luck! I know how it is, I have a yabanci car but am married to a Turk(American) but in Turkey only the Turk par counts. Good luck with the paperwork. (We also lived in sin…4 years in the US and two in TR). Also after the marriage I didn’t take his name…makes for fun paperwork.


    1. Thanks for that, Jules; and good luck keeping your own bit of identity. Computers have compounded the idiocy; when our last car was due its test we were held up all day because of borc(h) – it turned out we had overpaid 2 years earlier and we couldn’t get our test done until we had sorted out a refund! ‘Burasi Turkiye’ (sorry, this keyboard doesn’t have easy Turkish chars)

  5. Jesus wept, indeed. I can still hear him weeping – from frustration as well as the hilarity of it all.

    We married after years of not giving a whit about it – finally in part to avoid stuff like this in the Turkish part of our lives around property, etc. Three years into the “legal” marriage and the Turkish government is still giving us a run-around about legitimizing our marriage as our marriage certificate (from eloping in the U.S.) while notarized, is a xerox copy. The folks where we eloped won’t send us the original. So, we are going to have to just tie the not in Turkey at some point. I can only imagine a chorus of weeping Jesi (my attempt at plural?) at that point.

    May the name fixing go well on Monday. 🙂 Hysterical post.

    1. A young man from our village who like a son to us (and is a Deputy Vali) got married at age 28 to the love of his life (also 28) in a civil ceremony with the top bureaucrats from Mugla as their witnesses. Her father then took her away until the village wedding had taken place in her family area. After this wedding he then took her away again until the village wedding here in Okcular!! Three weddings before he let them stay together – but then they are from the Black Sea (Laz?)!!

  6. It’s an annoying little rule that and it’s caught out a lot of people over the years. I put vehicles in my company name so I don’t have the problem, anyone can drive the car, and I don’t have the MA plate hassle either.

    The mixed advice is about standard for anything to do with cars and personally I think a lot of it is a cock up from years ago when they changed the mavi plaka import thing. Lots of mixed advice about driving licenses around too and the police will happily give conflicting info on that on an hour by hour basis!


    1. . . and not quite over yet! Ignorance is no defense in law – here it has been refined to a fine art – and general public don’t have a legal leg to stand on either!!

  7. Oh Groan!! Bureaucracy!! I don’t think I had any clue what that word really meant until I moved to Italy. I think I can feel a few posts coming on myself just reading about your experiences….”Abused by the Mustachioed Woman in the Post Office”, “The Missing Stamp”, “The Eternal Line.” Then there is always the question of what they call in Italy “raccomandazioni” and the greasing the palm. Sigh sigh. An American friend of mine who moved to Rome recently had me in gales of laughter telling me his solution to everything, “Need an Italian driver’s license, take the train to Naples, pay for a fakte”, “Need a new Identity card, take the train to Naples, pay for a fake.” I still haven’t resorted to that yet, but you never know!! Can you catch a train from Turkey to Naples? You may end up saving time! The Neapolitans are so creative, I am sure they could get some Turkish documents for you. (Just Kidding!)
    I always get a kick out of reading your blog! Trisha

    1. . . thanks Trisha! The saga continues with some more added in for good measure – I tell myself these things will pass and I know they will – but . .
      Whatever, each day I get up, look out of the window and say to myself ‘Oh no! Not another beautiful day in Turkey!’

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