Look, the world is changing fast and it is a messy process. The best way to diversify long-term, not only for yourself, but also for your descendants, is to obtain other citizenships that are easily transmissible. The Turkish citizenship using the bank deposit is one such option.
I talk a lot about real estate in Turkey. I wrote entire articles on the real estate markets in Istanbul and Izmir. Right now, buying any real estate in Turkey for a total of $400,000 qualifies you, your spouse, and your underage children for Turkish citizenship. The process typically takes 7-8 months. After 3 years you can dispose of your real estate and keep your Turkish citizenship.
There are very strong rumors that the threshold will soon increase to $600,000, so if you want to act, do so fast.
However if you want affordable, quick, and easy with minimal costs
I like real estate, but objectively it is work and involves a bunch of transaction costs.
If you want quick, easy, and affordable this solution is potentially right for you:
- Deposit $500,000 into a special Turkish bank account. The money gets converted into Turkish Liras.
- You get 30%+ in yearly interest in Liras.
- If after the 3 year holding period the total amount of the initial deposit + received interest is less than $500,000 due to Lira devaluation then the Turkish Central Bank special guarantee kicks in and gives you enough money to cover the gap so that you get your $500,000 back.
- On top of this there is a guaranteed yearly USD interest of about 5%-6%. At current rates you’d get about $85,000 in interest for the three years.
Why am I saying affordable? Because this way the citizenship won’t cost you much at all. You should be getting $585,000 back as a minimum, and potentially more if the Lira does not depreciate too much.
What are the risks:
- The bank going bust is not much of a risk as this special program is guaranteed by the Central Bank. This makes a big difference.
- Could the Central Bank go bust? Yes, but highly unlikely.
- Capital controls or foreign exchange controls could kick in by the time the three years are over and you’d struggle to get your money out. This is not impossible.
Would I take a 3.5 year loan back home to arbitrage this? Probably not; it would be unreasonable.
But still, for those of you sitting on large cash balances, this could do the trick. You can do everything remotely apart from one trip to Istanbul for bio-metrics. The bank deposit option is faster as well; it takes about 6 months in total.
As a reminder, the Turkish passport is a really great travel document if you do not need access to the EU, US, and the usual other anglo countries. But for Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East it’s great.
Here’s a reminder of why you should consider a Turkish passport but if you can’t stomach the volatility of being the citizen of a country that constantly makes scary headlines, then please don’t do this.
I discussed the bank deposit option with my lawyer Yüksel.
If Turkey is not quite for you, then have a look at these other options.
I wish you all the best for 2024 as it promises to be a volatile year.
To a World of Opportunities,
The Wandering Investor.
Other articles on Turkey:
- Making a real estate investment in Izmir? A value play within Turkey
- My Apartment Renovation in Istanbul – Case Study with numbers
- Why is the Turkish Citizenship by Investment Program misunderstood?
- Making a Real Estate Investment in Istanbul, Turkey – Overview and what to watch out for
- I bought an apartment in Istanbul
- How to buy Real Estate in Istanbul for the Turkish Passport
- Turkey Citizenship by Investment – Timelines, Fees, and Traps to Avoid
Available services in Turkey:
If you want to read more such articles on other real estate markets in the world, go to the bottom of my International Real Estate Services page.
If you want to discuss your internationalization and diversification plans, book a consulting session or send me an email.
Transcript of “Turkish Citizenship Bank Deposit option – Central Bank guarantee explained”
LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from thewanderinginvestor.com. Today, I’m with my lawyer here in Istanbul, Yüksel, and we’ll be discussing a very interesting option for the Turkish Citizenship By Investment Program, which is the bank deposit option.
Initially, it was pretty easy, you could deposit money in the bank in dollars, get your interest after three years, get your money out plus the interest. Then the government switched it to you must convert the money to Turkish liras and get interest in Turkish liras, but which was very risky because of the constant devaluation of the Turkish lira. But now the government has made some changes because nobody was going for the bank deposit option anymore. Now you can deposit $500,000 for three years, it gets converted into Turkish liras, but there are mechanisms in place to protect investors against the Turkish lira devaluation.
LADISLAS MAURICE: So, Yüksel, can you explain the new mechanism?
YÜKSEL: Yes. Turkish bank deposit option has become very attractive after this product of the Turkish government, which was a bit the number of the applications was decreased when the law passed saying that the investment amount has to be converted into Turkish lira. Unfortunately, it is a high sky-rate inflation and the Turkish lira devaluation is so high, naturally, the investors become worried. But Turkish government immediately introduced a new product for the investors to call them to encourage them to Turkey.
So, how it is happening, this is called YUVAM account, which is a Turkish lira account. Yes, your $500,000 capital necessary investment amount needs staying in Turkish lira, but the Turkish Central Bank guarantees your capital plus they are giving you additional, guaranteeing additional return, which is regardless of the devaluation or inflation, what is the inflation rate in Turkey at the maturity date. For example, you put your money, $500,000, and then, as a CBI applicant, you need to keep it for three years. And this account, this game-changer product giving you the chance to receive your $500,000, it is in your hand regardless of what is the Turkish lira would be, what is the US dollars would be, it is in this hand. And also you are receiving additional return, which is–
LADISLAS MAURICE: How much, roughly?
YÜKSEL: There is a gradually different percentage, but 5% it is roughly actually for three years, which is necessary term for the CBI applicant to 17%. And if everything goes down, Turkish lira lost value, dropped sky high, doesn’t matter, you get your $500,000 plus you get your $85,000. This is the additional return. This is the worst scenario you get at the worst scenario. If the Turkish value is strong against the foreign currency and US dollars, you get also additional interest. And totaling, you will get 30%, 40% interest–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Per year?
YÜKSEL: per year. Per year, definitely.
LADISLAS MAURICE: On Turkish lira?
YÜKSEL: So, it is not only protecting your investment capital, it is also it’s kind of gaining returns and interest, saving your money. And this account also provides you this guarantee, guaranteed by the Turkish Central Bank. It is not a normal individual bank, state bank, or private bank, the Turkish Central Bank directly guarantee these figures, which is pretty productive, less free of any risk. And plus there is a possibility you may earn some income also and interest also.
And Turkey, yes, Turkey has been suffering from the inflation but Turkey has a very strategical economical area for the regions, for the continents in this area. And then I am sure the economy will be going up. So, you will be getting guaranteed amount, your investment amount, guaranteed additional returns plus interest. So, there is no risk. And this way also, very practical, less costly, less paperwork, and then you get your letter of confirmative in one month even comparing to real estate purchase. Then the remaining procedure is the same, only we need you to come to give your fingerprint for the residence permit. And when your passport is confirmed, you can get your passport at the Turkish missions abroad anywhere you like.
So, one more thing, this is very important. There is no transfer fee. Also, there is no withholding tax, which is 25% on the regular deposit account at the moment. So, it is a quite productive attractive options for investors who are running for the CBI. So we recommend this option also to our clients.
LADISLAS MAURICE: I mean, it’s quite interesting, you put $500k, your $500k are guaranteed by the Central Bank. The Central Bank also guarantees you roughly 5% to 6% interest in dollar terms per year for three years guaranteed, so $500k plus roughly $85k guaranteed by the Central Bank, and interest in liras. Look, the interest in liras, I wouldn’t really count on it in the sense that the lira, sure, you’re making 30% but inflation is 70%. Chances are the currency will devalue by more than 30%. If I were to do this option, in my mind, I would just completely disregard the Turkish lira interest, it would just be an added bonus–
YÜKSEL: It will be bonus, right.
LADISLAS MAURICE: that’s unlikely to materialize, if we’re honest. But yeah, $500,000 plus the 5% to 6% a year, that’s guaranteed not by bank, but by the Central Bank. So if your bank goes bust, it doesn’t matter because the guarantee you have is with the Central Bank. Does it mean that it’s entirely risk-free? No. The Central Bank could run out of dollars, there’s always that risk, but the risk is infinitely much lower when you get a Central Bank guarantee than just a commercial bank guarantee.
LADISLAS MAURICE: And then you can help investors with the whole process from A to Z. Personally, I find that the real estate option is more interesting because I’m a real estate guy. I wrote a whole article on the real estate investment market here in Istanbul and also in Izmir, there are links below. But for people who just want to not deal with real estate, who just want to do it quickly, just transfer money, come here for a few days with their family, get the fingerprints, take the family for a trip to Istanbul, like, big deal. And then, what, six, seven months later, you get your passport?
YÜKSEL: Yeah, you get your passport for the whole family.
LADISLAS MAURICE: For the whole family in three years, you’ve made money if the Central Bank doesn’t go bust, which would be a stretch, and you’re a citizen, your family are all citizens, and all your descendants will also be citizens, and you take your money out, and you can do whatever you want with your $500k in three years, and the $85k of guarantees.
YÜKSEL: And bonus, if everything goes well, Turkish lira keeps strong–
LADISLAS MAURICE: Don’t bank on it, but yeah.
YÜKSEL: [laughs] Yeah, yeah.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Like, don’t bank on it.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Don’t come back to me in three years saying, “Ladislas, you said you’d get me 30% interest.” I’m not–
YÜKSEL: As a Turkish citizen, I am optimistic, living here.
LADISLAS MAURICE: Cool. Good.
YÜKSEL: [laughs] Right.
LADISLAS MAURICE: [laughs] Fantastic. So if you’re interested in this, there is a link below, and you can get in touch with Yüksel. She has a law firm here in Istanbul, and she has helped a number of CBI applicants go through this very process. Okay, Yüksel, thank you very much.
YÜKSEL: Thank you so much, Ladislas. Thank you.