Jessica Hand, the British Consul in Turkey, is currently touring the consulate offices in South West Turkey and www.fethiyetimes.com was given the chance to talk to her on Tuesday this week.
Jessica Hand is the British Consul in Turkey, an important role in which she oversees not only the various consulate offices, such as the one in Fethiye, but also visa applications by Turkish people wanting to visit the UK and UK trade and investment interests in Turkey.
She started her four year posting almost a year ago and is currently visiting all of the consulate offices in south and west ofTurkey and talking with key community leaders in the towns and cities in which they have offices.
She took time out from her busy schedule on Tuesday to talk to www.fethiyetimes.com along with her team.
Jessica had just returned from a meeting with the Chief of Police when we met and she was planning to visit the Fethiye Governor that afternoon.
The meetings were designed to strengthen the links between the key local authorities and the British Consulate which often have shared issues to deal with.
We discussed a wide range of topics during our time with Jessica.
In our first question we asked if the British Consulate knew how many British Citizens were living in the Fethiye area as we hear so many estimates ranging from two thousand to seven thousand.
The answer was as expected – no, not really.
It seems that British Citizens just don’t register with the consulate and therefore they cannot confirm the varying estimates that are quoted from time to time.
Jessica added that registering with the consulate is in everyone’s interest so they can keep people up with the latest information issued by the consulate.
www.fethiyetimes.com will provide more information on the pros and cons of registration shortly.
We then asked about the type of support the Consulate could offer the British visitor or “expat” living in our area.
She said that a range of standard services is offered by consulates worldwide including our own in Fethiye.
These services include issuing replacement passports, providing details of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors and funeral directors, contacting friends and family in the event of accidents or arrest and making arrangements in the event of natural disasters.
However, she said the Consulate cannot provide legal advice, investigate crimes or negotiate special treatment if you have broken the laws of Turkey.
They also cannot give you money if you run out whilst on holiday or living aboard.
Know Before You Go
We discussed the issue of the large number of complaints we receive at www.fethiyetimes.com from British Citizens who have bought property in Turkey and the varying problems they have encountered including those people who have lost everything.
Jessica sympathised with those people who encountered problems but re-iterated that the Consulate cannot get involved in such cases and that the citizen has to deal with them according to the laws of Turkey.
This “Know Before you Go” campaign, or put it another way “prevention is better than cure”, is how the consulate is really trying to help people.
They aim to inform British Citizens of the need to plan, check and prepare when they travel abroad to reduce the potential risks.
The same mantra is also aimed at people who get involved in business or property transactions abroad.
The British Consulate offices in Fethiye have a wide range of printed material that British Citizens can pick up including advice for victims of crime, going to live abroad, death overseas, rape and sexual assault and checklists for travellers.
Many of the documents are also available on line at their website here.
Passport Renewal Costs More Than the UK
The cost of renewing a passport in Turkey is 124 GBP but the same service in the UK is only 72 GBP.
We asked Jessica why the cost of renewing a passport via the British Consulate offices in Turkey is 72% more than the UK.
She said that fees for passport renewals and other services are set to cover the costs of providing services and in the case of passport renewals documents have to be sent to Istanbul for checking and processing.
Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement
We asked how the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Turkey works for British Citizens living in Turkey as the Consulate website is vague on the matter.
We were told that they would look into improving the information provided on the website.
We finished our interview by asking what recourse British Citizens had if they thought they had received a poor service from the Consulate.
Jessica said that the consulate operates a complaints and feedback process and anyone who has received poor service can complete a form either online or at the offices.
All complaints are investigated and feedback is given. They understand that no service can ever be perfect, so feedback from users is vital to helping them improve systems – equally they are always happy to hear from people who have received a good service.
If you need to visit the British Consulate in Fethiye the contact details are as follows:
Likya İş Merkezi
Kat: 2 No: 202
Summer working hours:
08:45 – 13:00 hrs and 14:00 – 17:00 hrs Monday to Friday
Open to public only:
09:00 – 12:00 hrs and 14:15 – 16:15 hrs Monday to Friday
Phone: (0252) 614 6302
Fax: (0252) 614 8394