Substitute payment, denaturalisation, withdrawal and asylum

An overview

by Roni Sıncı, Connection e.V.

(06.02.2024) All male Turkish citizens are subject to compulsory military service, which in Turkey applies indefinitely, even though the law limits the age of military service from 20 to 41 years (Art.3a) (1). They are often unaware of the options for avoiding military service. Here we want to present the current status as of 2024. The conditions for replacement payment and deferment differ depending on whether you live in Turkey or abroad.

"The Conscientious Objection Observatory (vicdaniretizleme) calls for the legal recognition of conscientious objection in Turkey. It documents and monitors violations of rights to which conscientious objectors are exposed due to the lack of regulations and supports those affected."

Turkish citizens in Turkey

Deferment - erteleme

Students up to the age of 32 can apply for a deferment: High school students until 22, university graduates until 25, master students until 28 and doctoral students until 32. Active athletes, artists or other professional specialists e.g. doctors and dentists until 35. Persons subject to compulsory military service must apply for deferment by 31 December at e-Devlet or at the nearest military service office. (Art. 20 para. 3) (1)

Substitute payment - bedelli askerlik

Article 9 (1) defines the regulations for Turkish citizens subject to military service who live in Turkey under the term "Paid Military Service". This means that the duration of military service can be reduced from the regular minimum of 6 months (as a private) to 1 month. (2) An application must be submitted to e-Devlet or the nearest military service centre.  The amount must be fully transferred two months after the application is submitted. The amount is adjusted every six months to a civil servant’s annual salary and amounts to TL 182,608.92 or EUR 5,600 from 01.01.2024 - 01.07.2024. (3) The maximum number of people who can take advantage of this opportunity will be announced in advance by the Ministry of Defence. If there are more applicants than places available, a lottery procedure will follow.

Deserters and conscripts who evade draft are not eligible for the substitute payment.

Draft evader, absent without leave or deserter - yoklama kaçağı, sakli ve bakayalar

Those who are late for duty, desert or abscond shall be penalised. (Para24) (1) 

Those who do not fulfil the call-up and are inspected are required to clarify their status within 15 days. (Art.36 para 2) (1) In this case, cumulative fines are imposed, social rights (freedom and labour rights) are restricted and imprisonment may occur.

Criminal proceedings can be initiated against a person and an unlimited number of judgements can be passed. In its judgement "Ülke v. Turkey", the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) used the psychological pressure of possibly being repeatedly prosecuted, convicted and punished, as well as the constant risk of being punished, as the starting point for the definition of "civil death". (4)

Detailed information on this and the experiences of those affected can be found in the Vicdani Ret Izleme brochure from May 2023.  (5)

Vicdani Ret Izleme offers counselling in Turkish.

Withdrawal of military service in Turkey and abroad - askerliğe elverişli olmayanlar yurtiçinde ve yurtdışında

Classification for fitness for military service is only carried out in health facilities selected by the Turkish Ministry. (Art. 15 para 5) (1). The decision must be recognised by the Ministry. An appeal may be lodged against the medical decision, which leads to a new examination. (Art. 17) (1)

Examinations of conscripts abroad are carried out exclusively by the Ministry of Defence’s health authority in Turkey. (Art. 15 para. 7) (1)

Experience has shown that Turkish nationals living abroad are generally not discharged.

You can apply to the Turkish consulate in Germany to be discharged if you believe that you are "unfit" for the army for health reasons. This requires relevant medical certificates from doctors that are recognised by the Turkish authorities. The Turkish consulates have a list of these doctors. The certificates and all other relevant documents must be available as certified Turkish translations. The application is first checked by the consulate and then forwarded to the central health authority of the National Ministry of Defence, where a decision is made.

Turkish citizens abroad

Deferment abroad - yurtdışı askerlik erteleme

If you live abroad permanently, have had a work permit for 3 years or have a double nationality, you can apply for deferment until the age of 35. (Art. 38 para. 1 ) (1). The same deferral conditions apply to students as to Turkish citizens in Turkey.

Anyone who has been granted asylum, has fled or is working illegally cannot apply for deferment. However, a positive asylum decision does not invalidate Turkish citizenship and the obligation to perform military service remains in force.

The exact conditions and the online application for deferment can be found here: (6)

Replacement payment - dövizle askerlik

Anyone who has worked abroad for more than 3 years or has a double nationality has the opportunity to fulfil their military service by making a payment. The amount (182,608.92 TL or 5600 Euro) must be paid once and before the application for exemption is submitted. (Art.39 para I ) (1)

An online course must be completed. You will then receive a discharge certificate (Kesin terhis belgesi), which serves as proof that you have completed your compulsory military service. The one-month shortened military service is cancelled.

The age limit of 38 years has been abolished, an application is also possible after this age. (7)

There is no entitlement to the replacement payment if the amount is not transferred in foreign currency, another military service has already begun in Turkey, salaries are drawn from Turkey, or asylum has been authorised. (Art. 39 para. 3) (1)

If your application for replacement peyment has been rejected, refunds are possible. (Art. 39 para. 4) (1)

The money will be transferred to the account of the Central Treasury of the Ministry of Finance. (Art. 39 para. 11) (1)

Those who are excluded from the replacement payment, because they have not paid or have been in Turkey for more than 184 days in a year must report to the military authorities by 31 December 2025 and pay within 10 days of submitting their application. The service is then deemed to have been completed. Anyone who has paid too little must pay within 10 days, anyone who has paid too much will not get anything back. (Provisional para. 2) (1)  

Denaturalisation - vatandaşlıktan çıkarma

On 19.01.2024, the german federal government agreed on a new naturalisation law, which will come into force in spring 2024 (April/May). Among other things, it will then be possible to apply for dual citizenship.

Turkey will therefore no longer carry out denaturalisations for Turkish citizens in Germany. (8)

Evading duty abroad - yurtdışı yoklama kaçağı ve sakli

If no action is taken regarding the deferral of military service, entry into Turkey should be avoided. A possible second citizenship is also irrelevant for the Turkish authorities: You would be treated there like a deserter and handed over to the recruiting authority. Even if dual nationality is accepted by the German state, you should not assume that the German consulate would intervene to prevent your forced recruitment.

The same penalties apply as for military conscripts in Turkey.

Do Turkish authorities issue a passport for draft evaders abroad? - Türk Devlet yurtdışı yoklama kaçağına pasaport veriyor mu?

If you do not have German citizenship, but only a residence permit, this is linked to a valid identity document. According to Section 52 (1) No. 1 of the German Residence Act, the residence title can be revoked if you no longer have a valid passport or passport substitute.

The question arises as to whether Turkey issues a passport for draft evaders abroad.

Turkey amended the Passport Law in May 2011. According to Article 15(6) of the Passport Law No. 5682, neither Turkey nor the diplomatic missions abroad will establish a connection with the completion of military service or proof of military service when issuing a new electronic passport. In practice, this means that you will receive a passport even though you have not fulfilled your military service obligation. Reports from those affected confirm this.

However, it should be kept in mind that you may still be called up for military service if you enter Turkey.

Is it possible to apply for asylum? - Iltica imkani var mi?

For Turkish conscripts who do not have a residence permit in Germany, applying for asylum can be a way of avoiding compulsory military service in Turkey.

When refugees from Turkey apply for asylum in Germany, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees first checks whether they entered Germany via so-called safe third countries. According to the Dublin III agreement, the country through which the refugee entered Germany or from which they received a visa to enter the country is always responsible for processing asylum applications.

If it is determined that Germany is responsible for the asylum application, the Federal Office for Migration first checks whether there is political persecution. This is usually denied in the case of conscientious objectors. Persecution solely for conscientious objection to military service is still not considered grounds for asylum.

The Federal Office for Migration also checks whether there are obstacles to deportation in accordance with Section 60 of the Residence Act (AufenthG). The Federal Office for Migration often denies this as well. For conscientious objectors, however, there are important indications for protection against deportation in accordance with Section 60 (5) Residence Act due to the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the cases Bayatyan v. Armenia (9) and Erçep v. Turkey. (10)

Section 60 (5) of the Residence Act states: "A foreigner may not be deported if the application of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950 indicates that the deportation is inadmissible." The law thus refers to the European Convention on Human Rights.

This means that if a country has ratified the Convention on Human Rights, but the asylum applicant is nevertheless threatened with a human rights violation if deported to their country of origin, protection against deportation is to be granted in accordance with Section 60 (5) of the Residence Act.

Conscientious objectors from Turkey can therefore invoke the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, which has found that the prosecution of conscientious objectors violates Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the authorities will examine each individual case in the asylum procedure to determine whether such persecution is actually possible. It must therefore be assumed that the Federal Office for Migration and the courts dealing with an asylum application will examine whether there is credible conscientious objection in accordance with the definition of the European Court of Human Rights (...more). It will therefore be important for the conscientious objector to be able to explain in detail his or her motivation and conviction that under no circumstances can he or she pick up a weapon. We recommend contacting competent counselling centres, which can also provide lawyers.

In German at: office(at) or phone: 069 - 82 37 55 -34

In Turkish language at: vicdaniretbilgi(at)


(1) Military law Kanun 7179   










Roni Sıncı, Connection e.V.: Substitute payment, denaturalisation, withdrawal and asylum, update 06.02.2024.

Keywords:    ⇒ Asylum   ⇒ Draft Evasion   ⇒ Recruitment   ⇒ Turkey