Answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Unloading of the supplies provided by Germany

Unloading of the supplies provided by Germany, © Bundeswehr/Hildermann

08.03.2023 - Article

This page provides answers to the most frequently asked questions on the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023.

I cannot reach my German family members in Turkey. Who can I contact? What can I do?

First, please determine whether your family members were recently present in one of the regions that was struck by the earthquake. Current information indicates that the provinces of Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Hatay, Adana, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Şanliurfa, Adiyaman, Kilis and Osmaniye were severely affected.

If your family members were recently present in one of the affected regions, please fill out the contact form of the German Embassy in Ankara and give us all necessary information related to the missing person(s), so that we can then contact the Turkish authorities.

This should include the following: What are your family members’ names? Which nationalities do they hold? What are the birthdates of the missing persons? Where were they at the time the quake struck?

You will need to provide us with your own contact details, too, so that we can get in touch with you (as the point of contact filing the missing persons report).

Our Embassy can also be reached by telephone. When you call, please be ready to provide the above-mentioned information.

My passport was lost in Turkey due to the earthquake. I want to return to Germany. What can I do?

Please contact the German Embassy in Ankara by filling out the contact form. On the form, enter the keywords “applying for a passport as a victim of the earthquake”. If you have lost all documents that can be used to confirm your identity due to the earthquake, then please send us the following personal details now, via the contact form:

Surname, first name, date of birth, place of birth, place of residence in Germany or, if you do not have a place of residence in Germany, the name of the authority that issued your last passport.

Please provide us with an email address through which we can contact you. The Embassy will then get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I am a German citizen and have become homeless due to the earthquake in Turkey. Who can I contact?

The situation in areas affected by the earthquake is constantly evolving. Please keep checking the travel and security advice page, as well as German Embassy Ankara’s posts on social media. For local assistance, contact the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey and other local authorities.

I want to bring my relatives who have been affected by the earthquake to Germany – what ways are there of doing this?

Even in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake, Turkish and Syrian citizens still require a valid visa in order to enter Germany.

The Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community have agreed on a simplified, pragmatic visa procedure.

The simplified procedure has been developed for Turkish citizens who meet the following criteria:

  • They have clearly as an individual been strongly affected by the earthquake (i.e. may become homeless or have suffered injuries that require treatment).
  • They are close relatives (first or second degree, i.e., spouse, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren or siblings) of a German citizen, or of a person who holds a permanent German residence permit. (The simplified procedure can also be used for immediate family members (spouses and minor children) of the aforementioned first- or second-degree relative.)
  • The family member in Germany has signed a declaration of commitment in accordance with sections 66 to 68 of the Residence Act.
  • At the time of the earthquake, their place of residence was in one of the affected provinces.

The following documents must be presented:

  • Application form
  • Valid Turkish passport (or a valid provisional Turkish passport) (required to be able to leave Turkey)
  • Health insurance (30,000 euro coverage for healthcare and repatriation costs in the Schengen area, insurance for the entire duration of the trip including arrival and departure days, direct payment by insurance to doctors/hospital. This cover can be arranged online with many providers.)
  • Biometric photograph
  • Original declaration of commitment by a first- or second-degree relative (has to be signed at the German foreigners authority at the place of residence of the relative)
  • Photocopy of the ID card or passport and, if applicable, of the residence permit of the person issuing the invitation
  • Proof of residence, including a list of previous places of residence (this list must include an address in the area affected by the earthquake at the time of the earthquake;“Tarihceli yerlesim yeri bilgileri raporu”)
  • Document proving relationship with the person issuing the invitation (“Tam Tekmil Vukuatlı Nüfus Kayıt Örneği” with official observations (“Düşünceler”) and barcode)
  • Short written account of the emergency situation
  • For minors: Signatures / notarised consent of both parents, or proof of sole custody or temporary custody

The visa will be issued at no cost. The usual service charge (approx. 33 euro) for applications at the visa application centre does however still need to be paid to the external service provider, as the provider works on the basis of a service concession. This service charge is the only way to fund the application centres and also the increased number of appointments.

An application can only be submitted if it is accompanied by a complete set of documents and a Turkish passport. Applications may be submitted in person with a complete set of documents, during regular office hours, by the applicant at one of the application centres of the external service provider iDATA (not at missions abroad); no appointment is needed. The visa procedure requires applicants to present proof that their most recent place of residence was located in the area affected by the earthquake, and to clearly demonstrate that they as an individual have been strongly affected.

Information on the requirements and on the documents that must be presented for submission of a visa application by individuals in Turkey who have been strongly affected by the earthquake have been published on the website of our missions abroad in Turkey, also in Turkish.

The Federal Foreign Office is currently liaising with the Turkish authorities with a view to rapidly assisting persons who have lost their travel documents due to the earthquake. Cooperation with the Turkish authorities is indispensable so that the affected individuals can leave the country. Currently, there is no special procedure in place.

We have been able to arrange simplified visa procedures for long-term stays for Syrian applicants who have been affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria:

Please note that the Embassy in Damascus remains closed. Syrian applicants can contact the German missions abroad in neighbouring countries (including the Embassy in Beirut, the Embassy in Amman, the Consulate General in Istanbul). The number of appointments available regarding family reunification for Syrian nationals eligible for subsidiary protection is being increased at the visa sections in Istanbul and Beirut, which deal with most applications submitted by Syrian nationals. More appointments are also being made available for the subsequent immigration of spouses, children, and parents seeking to join their minor children. Applicants from the regions affected by the earthquakes will be prioritised when issuing these appointments.

Furthermore, it is for example possible to forego the legally required proof of basic knowledge of the German language in the case of subsequent immigration of spouses, if individual applicants are unable to present this proof or cannot reasonably be expected to do so. Our visa sections will be pragmatic in their approach and take special account of the current circumstances.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior has informed the Länder of the possibility of issuing a general approval, as Land Berlin has done. This would mean that the foreigners authority would not need to be involved in the subsequent immigration of family members in certain constellations, thereby speeding up the process considerably.

What exactly does the simplified visa procedure mean that has been approved by the Senate of Berlin?

The “general approval” that has been issued by the Senate of Berlin for visa applications by Turkish and Syrian citizens will apply to only a very specific group of people. In most cases, the decision by the Senate of Berlin of 10 February will not have any effect.
For specific individuals, the processing time for visa applications may be shortened, provided that all of the following criteria are met:

  • You want to join your spouse or your minor child in Germany.
  • Your spouse/minor child has been living in Berlin for a longer period of time and is registered with the local authorities.
  • Your spouse/minor child is a German citizen, or holds a settlement permit or an EU long-term residence permit.
  • You can prove (e.g. by presenting confirmation of a previous appointment) that, at the time of the earthquake, your place of residence was in one of the affected provinces: Turkey – Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Hatay, Adana, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa, Adiyaman, Kilis, Osmaniye; Syria – Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Tartus.

Only if all of the above-mentioned criteria have been met will the simplified procedure apply, meaning that the Berlin Immigration Office must not be involved in the respective visa procedure and that the requirement for basic knowledge of the German language will be waived.

My family has submitted an application for family reunification to the Embassy in Ankara / registered for an appointment to apply for family reunification and is now affected by the earthquake. How can I speed up the process?

In cases of family reunification, our visa sections have to consult the foreigners authorities at the place of residence of the family member whom the applicant would like to join in Germany. To date, only the Berlin Senate has issued a special regulation for families affected by the earthquake meaning the Berlin Immigration Office no longer needs to be consulted in cases of family reunification in Berlin.

If you live in a Land other than Berlin and your family members want to engage in family reunification and move to Germany, our missions abroad still need to consult the foreigners authority at your place of residence. We cannot influence the processing times in these authorities.

At the current time, it is not possible to send passports to the areas affected by the earthquakes once the application procedure has been completed. Your family members should therefore provide the mission abroad with an address to which we can safely send the passports.

In cases where families have not yet submitted an application but have booked an appointment with iData, the missions abroad are working to offer persons on the waiting list from the affected areas priority appointments. This will happen automatically. You and your family do not need to do anything except check for incoming emails regularly. If your appointment is brought forward, you will receive an email detailing the new date.

I want to make a donation. Where can I do this?

Many organisations accept donations, e. g. ‚Aktion Deutschland hilft' , Ärzte der Welt e.V., , DRK e.V. , Franziskaner Helfen , Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V. , Humedica , Save the Children e.V.  , UNICEF , UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe e.V.

I want to arrange for a delivery of humanitarian assistance. What needs to be borne in mind? Who can I contact?

Civil-society organisations that want to offer assistance can contact the Turkish Embassy in Berlin (botschaft.berlin@mfa.gov.tr).

What is Germany doing to help people in Turkey and in Syria?

Updated information on how Germany is helping can be found in this article.


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