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Travel & living abroad

Europe

Cyprus

Flag of Cyprus
Still current at: 05 May 2011
Updated: 27 April 2011


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary and the Safety and Security - Terrorism section (removal of reference to possible terrorist attacks against Israel nationals and Jewish interests during Passover). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Cyprus.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
 

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary

  • There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • Around 1.3 million British nationals visit Cyprus every year (Source: Cyprus Tourist Organisation). Most visits are trouble-free. See General - Consular Assistance Statistics. If you need to contact the emergency services in Cyprus call 112. Most of the consular cases occur in the coastal resorts of Ayia Napa, Paphos and Limassol.

  • Cyprus has a strict policy of zero tolerance towards drugs. See Local Laws and Customs.

  • Driving standards are poor. You should drive with care and caution. See Safety and Security - Road Travel.

  • Many British nationals have experienced serious problems associated with the purchase of property in Cyprus. Before purchasing property anywhere on the island, you are advised to seek independent qualified legal advice and read our property FAQs. You should also bear in mind that the possibility that a settlement of the Cyprus problem could have an impact on property issues. See General - Purchasing Property.

  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Please note that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in northern Cyprus. See General - Insurance.

Safety and security

Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. 

See our Terrorism Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Crime
Crimes against tourists are uncommon; however, safeguard passports, money and other valuables. The number of passports reported stolen to the British High Commission continues to be high. Be aware that room safes and hotel safety deposit boxes have been targeted, particularly in the Paphos area. Be aware that alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
It is possible to travel to the north of Cyprus from the south by crossing at several checkpoints, including the Ledra Palace and Ledra Street checkpoints in central Nicosia.

Cyprus immigration authorities have confirmed that EU passport holders with a “TRNC” stamp in their passport will not experience difficulties when entering the Republic of Cyprus. You may take a hired car through the checkpoints, except at Ledra Palace and Ledra Street, which are for pedestrians only. Many cars hired in the south are not insured for use in the north. Check this with the insurance company - you will not be allowed through a crossing without the correct insurance documents. There are controls on the quantities and types of goods that can be purchased in the north and brought into the south, including from the bicommunal village of Pyla located in the buffer zone. Goods, including cigarettes, may be confiscated at the checkpoint and heavy fines imposed. The Republic of Cyprus currently imposes a limit of 40 cigarettes per person on crossing the ‘Green Line’ from northern Cyprus.

Anyone in possession of documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus when crossing the Green Line could face criminal proceedings under the a 2006 criminal code amendment. Please see the property section below for more information.

British and other foreign nationals who have entered Cyprus through the north are considered by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to have entered Cyprus through an illegal port of entry. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus reserves the right to fine EU (including British) citizens for illegal entry if they cross into the south. In practice, their current policy is not to do so.


Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Short-term visitors and tourists are permitted to drive on UK driving licences. Cypriot driving regulations are similar to those of the UK and driving is on the left-hand side of the road.  However, driving standards are poor.  In 2009 there were 71 road deaths in Cyprus (source: DfT). This equates to 8.9 road deaths per 100,000 of population compared to the UK average of 3.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2009.

You may be heavily fined if you drive without wearing a seat belt or ride a motorbike without wearing a crash helmet. Heavy fines also apply if you use a mobile telephone or are under the influence of alcohol while driving. When hiring a car, moped, boat, jet ski or other vehicle, check that it is road or sea worthy and that you have appropriate insurance cover and safety equipment. See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
For general information see the Airline Security page on the Department for Transport website.

Safety and Security - Swimming
Bathing is generally safe, but you should be aware of strong seas and undertows. Always comply with warning signs and swim only from approved beaches.

Safety and Security - Political Situation
Cyprus Country Profile

The Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the EU. But the country remains divided by the 'Green Line' which separates the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' from the rest of the island. The 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' is not recognised by the British Government.

Local laws and customs

Cyprus has a strictly enforced zero tolerance policy towards drugs. If you are caught in possession of any type of narcotic you will receive either a prison sentence or a hefty fine. 

Do not make fraudulent claims on your insurance policy. The police investigate such claims and if proven you will receive either a prison sentence or a heavy fine. 

Avoid taking photographs near potentially sensitive areas such as military establishments in order to avoid any misunderstandings. 

Homosexuality is legal in the Republic of Cyprus, although it is not generally as openly accepted as it is in the UK. In the north of Cyprus homosexuality is illegal.

See our Your Trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
Cyprus is a full member of the European Union. Holders of full British passports do not, therefore, require visas. 

Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
British nationals may stay in Cyprus as a visitor for up to 90 days; ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your proposed stay. For longer stays, you will need to apply for a residence permit by contacting the Civil Registration and Migration Department. 

For more information, please see Travel Information for Foreign Visitors page of the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact the Republic of Cyprus High Commission in London.

Entry Requirements - Travelling with Children
For information on exactly what will be required at immigration, please contact the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in London.

Health

There are a good number of public and private sector hospitals and clinics throughout Cyprus. In general, the care and facilities in private hospitals and clinics are better than public hospitals. If you do not have private medical insurance, make sure you are taken to a state hospital (where emergency treatment for European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders is free), and not taken to a private clinic.

You should obtain an EHIC before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Cypriot nationals in public sector hospitals only. Medical treatment received in private hospitals and clinics is not covered by the EHIC. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. The EHIC is not valid in northern Cyprus and we advise all travellers to this part of the island to take out private medical insurance. See our EHIC page. 

Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

Seek medical advice before travelling to Cyprus and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention check the websites of NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel, or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health page.

Natural disasters

Cyprus occasionally experiences earth tremors, but these are almost invariably very mild.

General

General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Purchasing Property
Proceed with caution and to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from anyone else involved in the transaction, particularly the seller, before purchasing property anywhere in Cyprus. The Cyprus legal system is not the same as that in the UK and that the process of achieving legal redress in Cyprus can be very protracted compared to the UK.  A list of English speaking lawyers is available on the High Commission's website.

There are risks involved with purchasing property on the island of Cyprus. Many British nationals, who have purchased property either in the north or south of Cyprus, face problems caused by; misleading advertising, the failure of developers to complete properties that have been purchased off plan, illegal construction or double selling.

Both Cypriot and foreign owners of around 100,000 properties have not been able to obtain their title deeds. Some people have been trying to obtain them for over 30 years. There are many cases of people without title deeds finding it difficult to sell their property, or whose developer has imposed a sales fee, high property taxes or service charges. As developers are able to take out mortgages on property for which they hold the title deeds, there is also a risk that a developer could go bankrupt with an outstanding mortgage on the property, rendering it liable to repossession by the mortgage holder.

Take at least the same steps to protect your interests as you would do at home, and instruct an experienced, reputable lawyer who is totally independent to act on your behalf and ensure that your interests are adequately safeguarded. For further information, please consult our property FAQs. Attempting to save money on professional fees by cutting corners, or by using the seller's lawyer, is a false economy that can result in severe problems later.

The ownership of many properties is disputed in northern Cyprus, with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced during the events of 1974. Purchase of property in the north that was Greek Cypriot owned or that was subsequently classified as exchange land/property by the Turkish Cypriot 'authorities' carries a risk of serious financial and legal implications.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a number of cases that owners of property in northern Cyprus prior to 1974 continue to be regarded as the legal owners of that property. The case of Apostolides v Orams established that a judgment of a court in the Republic of Cyprus, ruling in favour of the original Greek Cypriot owner of land in northern Cyprus and against subsequent British purchasers, could be enforced against them under EU law in the UK.

Property owners and potential purchasers should also consider that a future settlement of the Cyprus problem could have serious consequences for property they purchase (including the possible restitution of the property to its original owners).

The leaders of both communities started settlement negotiations in September 2008. Property issues form a key part of these negotiations. Until those negotiations are concluded and a comprehensive settlement agreed, the issues and risks identified above will continue to apply.

If you have purchased a property and are encountering difficulties, you should seek qualified independent legal advice on your rights and methods of redress. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission do not offer legal advice nor become involved with property disputes between private parties, although we may be able to direct British nationals to organisations who may be able to help.

The website of the British High Commission in Nicosia contains information about purchasing property in Cyprus, including frequently asked questions, and information for people who are experiencing difficulties with a property purchase. On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner’s permission. The maximum prison sentence is seven years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to five years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment.

Any enquiries about the full implications and scope of this legislation should be made to the Republic of Cyprus High Commission in London.

Time share and property salespersons tout for business in Cyprus, especially in the Paphos area. Read the fine print very carefully and seek legal advice before signing any kind of contract. Under Cyprus law, purchasers of time shares are entitled to a 15-day “cooling off” period during which they should receive a full refund of any money paid if they change their mind.

General - Money
New legislation on the controls of cash entering or leaving the EU applies in all Member States.  Any person entering or leaving the EU will have to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 euros or more; this includes cheques, travellers' cheques, money orders, etc.  This will not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country - as long as the original journey started outside of the EU, nor to those travelling within the EU.

General - Registration

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Around 1.3 million British nationals visit Cyprus every year (Source: Cyprus Tourist Organisation). Most visits are trouble-free. 736 British nationals required consular assistance in Cyprus in the period 01 April 2009 - 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident; 323 deaths; 112 hospitalisations; 201 and arrests, for a variety of offence. During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (345 cases).

Contacts

Cyprus, Nicosia, British High Commission

Address:

British High Commission
Alexander Pallis Street (PO Box 21978)
1587 Nicosia or
BFPO 567

Telephone:

+357 22 861100

Fax:

(357) (22) 861125 Information
(357) (22) 861175 Corporate Services
(357) (22) 861200 Consular
(357) (22) 861150 UKTI
(357) (22) 861315 Chancery
(357) (22) 861325 Defence

Email: brithc.2@cytanet.com.cy

Office hours:

Mon-Fri: 0530-1230 GMT
Mon-Fri: 0730-1430 Local Time

Website: http://ukincyprus.fco.gov.uk/en

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