Civil registration of child-birth
Birth registration is both a right and an obligation for foreigners including beneficiaries of international protection. Births that take place in Türkiye need to be notified to the Population and Civil Registry Departments under the Governorates. Notification shall be done by the mother, father or legal guardian of the child. In the absence of parents or a legal guardian, the child’s grandmother, grandfather, adult siblings or other persons accompanying the child shall notify the Population and Civil Registry Departments
The notification needs to be made to the Population and Civil Registry Departments within 30 days. After birth registration, a birth certificate will be issued for the child. The registration process and the issuance of the certificate are free of charge.
Reporting the birth of the child to the PDMM is important as the child will be issued with an identity document certifying his or her legal status in Türkiye. Registration enables children to access rights such as education and health care. Birth registration proves the age of the child and protects the child from being vulnerable to protection risks such as trafficking, child labour, child marriage, illegal adoption and sexual exploitation. Birth registration also proves the parental linkage between the child and the parents and protects the unity of the family. It can also help family reunification of the child with the parents in the future in case of family separation.
The language barrier has an impact on childbirth registration in practice.
Civil registration of marriage
Turkish law is applied for all marriage procedures for international protection beneficiaries and applicants. Under Turkish law, a Turkish national and an applicant or beneficiary or two applicants or beneficiaries of different nationalities can be married by the Turkish authorities. All marriages carried out by the Turkish authorities are subject to the Turkish Civil Code and related regulations.
Marriages are conducted by marriage officers at the Marriage Departments of municipalities. Couples intending to marry therefore need to submit the relevant documents to municipalities. Relevant documents are:
- Petition of the marriage: the couple must file a petition of marriage (evlenme beyannamesi), signed by both individuals applying to marry;
- Celibacy document certifying that the applicants are not already married;
- Medical report confirming that the applicants are free from diseases that would prevent them from getting married;
- International protection applicant registration document; international protection applicant identity document or international protection status holder identity document;
- Four photographs.
Non-official marriages are not recognised in Türkiye. A religious marriage (carried out by imams) is only permitted after the official marriage.
In Antakya a new problem arose in 2019 linked to the data verification process (see section on Temporary protection identification document). It was revealed that some people had lied about their marital status, particularly single women to protect themselves from potential threats. A problem then occurred when the women really wanted to get married. This is a legally unresolved problem unfortunately that has meant people have tried to produce fake divorce or marriage documents. In Antakya, there has been an explosion in this type of fake documents. The courts only accept documents sealed by the Syrian consulate in İstanbul and apostilled by PMM. For the others, the public prosecutors open investigations based on ‘forgery of official documents’ and PDMM issues deportation decisions.
The number of lawsuits on the correction of civil records increased after the data verification process. As an example, a lawsuit was opened regarding a child who was registered with the wrong family. The court asked for registration documents showing that the child belongs to the Syrian family, but the latter was not able to receive such documents by an official authority in Idlib, where they came from. In civil rights matters, there are a lot of counterfeited documents circulating but people often have no other choice but to resort to counterfeit documents because the public authorities do not issue the necessary documents. The only document accepted by the courts is the one sealed by the Syrian Consulate in İstanbul. Opponents of the Syrian authorities are afraid to go to the Consulate, however.
Regional PDMMs now process data updates (civil status matters such as changing marital status, registration of a newborn etc.) over an electronic appointment system called E-Randevu. People can get an appointment by ringing 157 or goc.net.org. An appointment system is in place in big cities such as Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Hatay where there are large refugee populations. In small cities such as Kahramanmaraş and Malatya, people can apply without an appointment. Appointment schedules depend on the province and may sometimes be very b’usy. There were reports of refugees giving bribes to get an appointment in Adana and Gaziantep, as the waiting period for an appointment could reached up to 2-3 months, except in urgent cases. This waiting time is one month in Adana. This system is used for data updates only.
As noted previously policies were introduced in 2021 that are discriminatory towards foreign citizens. This included on registering marriages. The Mayor of Bolu raised the price of getting married to 100,000 TL (5,700 EUR) for foreign citizens as part of his aggressive anti-migrant campaign.
In 2021, PDMMs focused on data updates because the number of registrations of newborns, address changes, address registry, and others was relatively high. This included İstanbul where in 2021 there was a high number of ID corrections and divorce cases. It was difficult for the legal aid service to assign a lawyer to each case, as there were many applications to the legal aid office.
There can be delays in divorce cases. If the residential address of a missing spouse cannot be determined, the litigation period can take a long time. In the divorce cases of Afghan protection seekers, courts request a document from the country of origin proving that the applicant was married in Afghanistan but due to the regime change, these documents cannot be obtained from the embassies, and lawsuits are frozen.
Address verification started at the end of 2021, beginning of 2022 for temporary protection holders then for international protection holders. In the southeastern region, administrative fines are issued. In general, PDMM notifies those who do not live in their declared addresses that first their GSS will be deactivated then their IDS will be canceled. In Isparta, IDs were canceled and there is no online appointment to reactivate the IDs. All appointments were taken for 2022 meaning that they will be living undocumented. It is expected that in İzmir at least one quarter of all migrants’ IDs will be deactivated if they do not return to their cities of registration. After the COVID-19 lockdowns, many people have tended not to go to PDMMs for the duty to sign, especially Somalians and that had led to an increase in cases of ID deactivation. In the Aegean region, it is impossible to hand a written petition to PDMM making it difficult to open administrative lawsuits in relation to these issues.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, February 2019.
 Information provided by a lawyer from the Antakya Bar Association, February 2020.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, March 2021.
 Hurriyet Daily News, ‘Bolu mayor announces ‘controversial’ wedding fee tariffs’, 13 November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3yBUoSR.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, April 2022.
 Information provided by a stakeholder, April 2022.