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Tips for Sailors Roaming with Mobiles in Turkey

By doina — last modified Jun 28, 2009 06:27 PM

Published: 2009-06-28 18:27:28
Countries: Turkey

The below comments are updates to an article posted on the same subject back in 2007 (see bottom for original article).

Received 25 June 2009

Subject: Tips for Sailors Roaming with Mobiles in Turkey
Message: Another solution - yesterday in Alanya I purchased a Turkcell 100 credit prepay SIM card, plus a new mobile phone (the cheapest) for 108 lira. Need to take my passport to the office - all in took 10 minutes to do the deal and get setup and running.
Phil Shipley

Received 29 May 2009

"I have come and gone to Turkey with new phones purchased in America but having european capability. I simply go to a Turkcell office with my phone and passport and they register the phone, sell me a new SIM card and off I go".
Richard Cross

Received 28 May 2009

Buying a pre-paid local mobile is possible in Turkey, but time consuming.

If using a local card in your own phone the Turkish network locks the IMEI number of the foreign mobile phones after about two or three weeks. This can be cleared by paying a registration fee (5 TL) in the shop of an operator (Turkcell, for example); and take your passport with you, sometimes they also require the bill of the mobile phone, so better have it. This should then enable you to use the prepaid card without the phone locking.

A prepaid package gives a local Turkish number, and can receive incoming international calls. Credit must be pre-loaded onto the card.

On the coast and in the major port towns like Kusadasi, Bodrum, Marmaris, Gocek, Fethiye, as well as Antalya, Alanya, Kemer, Side etc., all networks are well developed. The coverage is sometimes weak in a few less densely populated areas though.

The alternative would be the purchase of a Turkish mobile phone without a contract, in which you then use a prepaid card.

Udo Hinnerkopf
Korrespondent der YACHT

Previous article posted in 2007

Turkish Law has now changed meaning that foreigners bringing in their own phones will get it blocked if they try and use a local sim card and make calls at reasonable prices. The alternative is to i) use international roaming with your home sim card and then be charged HUGE amounts of money, or ii) bring in differnet documents and get your phone registered within Turkey (this is difficult enough for anyone, let alone foreigners!!).

However, I was recommended to purchase a new Turkish Telsim sim card - Blusim, sold in the UK solely by There is no need to register your phone, you receive free calls (as usual) and make calls abroad/within Turkey for local rates. Checkout (sim cards)

Hope it helps.

Tarkan Ahmet

Other comments received

  • Tried the Bluesim cell card reported for Turkey ... does not work ... Phone was shut down in less than two weeks ... card was blocked along with phone because it was not registered in Turkey ... this information was confirmed with Telsim (Vodafone).
  • We registered our own UK phone at the local Turkcell dealer when Turkey first changed the law over registering phones last year. This can still be done at the Turkcell stores when you buy a Turkcell sim card. All you need is your passport & a Turkish address (marina will do). Another alternative is to buy a cheap "pay as you go" Turkish phone!
  • (July 07)am currently in Turkey and have been using the Blusim sim card no problems. I recommend to top up online as its easier especially as my Turkish is not very good!
  • We purchased a Turkcell SIM card from the Turkcell office in Bodrum and registered our foreign bought phone with the Turkish government. We were told that it could take up to two weeks for registration to be completed and that our phone could be blocked after ten days. We've now been in the country for more than a month and have had no interruption of service. One must bring their passport to the Turkcell office in order to register their phone. (August 2007)