I just went through the process of getting a SIM in Turkey today, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d read it would be in other posts, well apart from the cost. I’d put aside the whole day expecting it to be a headache but was done in under an hour.
I’ve included the details below incase they help anyone else. I might have been spared some pain as we were able to do this in central Istanbul.
1. I visited the Tax Office in Karakoy, which is located just outside the Sishane metro stop (official looking building with Turkish flags, opposite the Big Chef restaurant).
2. The tax office was fairly quiet. At the counter, I asked for a ‘Certificate of Registration’ and handed over my phone and passport. The lady behind the counter typed away for a minute, we paid 119.50lira ($55) and received a receipt. Step 1 complete! As well as your passport, you do need to take your phone with you as they need the IMEI number and will only process it if they see the number on the phone themselves. I had it written down to save time but that wasn’t accepted.
3. I then walked to Istiklal St (the main street which leads up towards Taksim square) to the big Turkcell shop on the left, a few minutes down the street. I visited customer service upstairs and they sorted everything out for me (and spoke excellent english). They did all the necessary paperwork including registering the phone. I paid 35lira for the month which included 500 minutes, 1000 (I think) texts and 2GB data. On top of that, it cost 29lira for the SIM and 50lira to register the phone. I paid, signed the papers and it was done. I had access on my phone before I’d walked out of the shop.
The total, including costs for the first month was around US$110. Pricey, but potentially worth it depending on your needs. We’re hiring a car for 4 weeks, so for us it was worth it for access to maps etc.
Anyway, hope that helps others.