Bellapais Abbey, Cyprus
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Bellapais Abbey, Cyprus

© 123rf.com / Vlasis Vlasidis

Cyprus Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

9,251 sq km (3,572 sq miles).

Population

1,195,204 (UN estimate 2019).

Population density

129.19 per sq km.

Capital

Nicosia (Greek: Lefkosia; Turkish: Lefkoşa).

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Nicos Anastasiades since 2013.

Head of government

South: President Nikos Anastasiade since 2013. North: President Mustafa Akinci since 2015.

Electricity

240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.

The legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, Cyprus is every inch the Mediterranean – sandy beaches, ancient monasteries, classical ruins, thyme scented mountains, terracotta pottery and, of course, the obligatory party resorts full of sun-seeking twenty-somethings.

Cyprus has always been at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. In ancient times, a succession of empires squabbled over its seaports and mountain fortresses, which guaranteed supremacy over the eastern Mediterranean. These empire-builders left behind an incredible legacy of historical relics: ancient Greek and Roman ruins, Crusader castles, mighty Venetian city walls and towering mosques and minarets left behind by Ottoman invaders.

Until the 1970s, Cyprus was a sleepy backwater, but a devastating civil war saw the island split into Greek Cypriot and Turkish states. In the south, the Greek Republic of Cyprus grew into a modern European state, while the Turkish north half of the island remains isolated, recognised only by Turkey and well off the mainstream tourist radar.

After Partition, tourist development went into overdrive in the Greek half of the island, with the emergence of Ayia Napa, Protaras, Limassol, Paphos and a string of other package holiday resorts along the southern coast. This is one face of Cyprus – whitewashed villas, sunbathers, banana-boat rides, boisterous nightclubs and hordes of young people enjoying blistering summer sunshine.

Inland, the old Cyprus endures, with beautiful villages full of UNESCO-listed churches, peaceful mountain trails and vineyards that have been producing wines since ancient times. A similar old-world atmosphere pervades in the divided capital, Lefkosia (Nicosia), where quiet lanes lined with Turkish mosques and Byzantine churches come to a sudden halt at the Green Line, the de facto border between the two enclaves.

The north is something else again, more Turkish than Greek, even down to the menus on restaurant tables, but studded with ancient ruins and dramatic Crusader castles. While rampant development is taking place along the coast around Famagusta (Gazimagusa) and Kyrenia (Girne), the remote Karpas Peninsula offers a journey back in time, where ancient ruins spill out onto golden beaches that see more sea turtles than human visitors.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

Consular assistance in the north of Cyprus

The self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is not recognised by the British government and FCDO’s ability to offer consular assistance there is limited. For more information see Regional risks

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Cyprus set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Cyprus High Commission in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to get treatment there.

You should also read TravelHealthPro’s general COVID-19 advice for travellers.

Travel to Cyprus

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Cyprus.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must be:

  • issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the Cyprus High Commission if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to visit Cyprus for up to 90 days for tourism, visiting friends or family, attending business meetings or short-term study.

To stay longer or if visiting for other reasons, check what you need from the Cyprus High Commission.

There is separate guidance on visas and permits to work in Cyprus.

Residents should carry residency documents issued by the Republic of Cyprus when entering and exiting Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus authorities will count time in the north of Cyprus towards the 90-day visa-free total. For information about the north of Cyprus, see Regional risks.

Do not overstay your visa. You could be:

  • questioned by immigration at the airport on exit
  • put on a ‘stop list’ and refused entry for up to 5 years

Schengen area

Cyprus is not part of the Schengen area, so:

  • visits to Cyprus do not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit in the Schengen area
  • visits to other EU or Schengen countries do not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit in Cyprus

Passport stamping

As a visitor, your passport will be stamped when you enter and exit Cyprus. Border guards will use the passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays.

If you enter or exit the Schengen area through Cyprus as a visitor, check that your passport is stamped. This will show border guards that you are complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for Cyprus and the separate 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If the relevant entry or exit stamp is not in your passport, border guards will presume you have overstayed your visa-free limit. If you show evidence such as transport tickets to prove when you entered or exited Cyprus, border guards should add the entry or exit date and location in your passport.

You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • prove you have enough money for your stay

If you have a Withdrawal Agreement residency document for another country, your passport might still be stamped if you are a visitor to Cyprus.

If you are a resident, read the Living in Cyprus guide.

Applying for a visa

Find out how to apply for a visa through the Cyprus High Commission.

Travel within Cyprus

You can use any crossing point to move between the north and south of the island. The crossing point at Ledra Palace and Ledra/Lokmaci Street can only be used by pedestrians.

See a list of the crossing points from the Cyprus Ministry of Finance.

Entry into the Republic of Cyprus through the north of Cyprus

If you enter the Republic of Cyprus through the north (such as through Ercan Airport), authorities will consider you to have entered illegally. You could be:

  • fined for illegal entry
  • refused entry to or exit from the Republic of Cyprus
  • prevented from crossing back into the north of Cyprus

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Cyprus guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Cyprus. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food or pet food. Check European Commission guidance on taking food and drink into the EU.

Customs rules within Cyprus

There are controls on quantities and types of goods that can be bought in the north of Cyprus and taken to the south of the island, including from the bicommunal village of Pyla in the buffer zone. Goods can be confiscated at the checkpoint and you could be fined. The Republic of Cyprus enforces a 40-cigarette per person limit on crossing the Green Line from the north of Cyprus.

You should also read Regional risks.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Terrorism in Cyprus

Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Cyprus, attacks cannot be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

Political situation

The Republic of Cyprus is a full EU member, but the country is divided by the Green Line. The British government do not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

Crime

Crime against tourists is not common but take sensible precautions. Keep passports, money and other valuables safe.

Drink spiking

Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are infrequent but do happen. Drug-assisted rape is a risk, including with drugs like GHB and liquid ecstasy. Buy your own drinks and always keep sight of them. Avoid splitting up from your friends.

Laws and cultural differences

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Cyprus has a strictly enforced zero-tolerance policy towards illegal drugs, which includes laughing gas. If you are caught with drugs, you may receive a fine or a prison sentence.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relationships are legal in the Republic of Cyprus and civil partnerships are recognised. However, they may not be as widely accepted as in the UK. Same-sex relationships are legal in the north of Cyprus, but not widely accepted. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Dual nationals

If you are of Cypriot descent, even if you do not have a nationality card, authorities may consider you eligible for military service. If this happens, you could have difficulties when exiting Cyprus, and you might have to prove that you live outside Cyprus.

Under international law, the British High Commission cannot intervene with Cypriot authorities on behalf of those considered to be dual Cypriot/British nationals. If you might be eligible for any local obligations or duties that apply to dual nationals, such as military service, contact the Cypriot authorities or a local lawyer before you travel.

The British High Commission website has lists of English-speaking lawyers in Cyprus and lawyers in the north of Cyprus.

Surrogacy

If you are visiting Cyprus to arrange an international surrogacy, consider the risks and challenges involved. Surrogacy is a complex and lengthy process. You should:

  • make sure you are fully aware of the facts and well-prepared before starting the process
  • seek specialist legal advice on Cyprus and UK laws prior to making any arrangements
  • read FCDO and Home Office guidance on surrogacy overseas including issues you might have to deal with
  • research clinics and hospitals thoroughly to ensure they are safe and reputable

The British High Commission cannot get involved in surrogacy arrangements or recommend hospitals or clinics.

Commissioning a surrogacy will not automatically mean that the child holds British citizenship. If you want to bring your child born through surrogacy from Cyprus to the UK, you must apply for a full British passport. You will need a Cypriot birth certificate to apply. The maximum period of visa-free stay allowed by the Cypriot authorities is 90 days within a 180-day period.

International parental child abduction

The authorities in the north of Cyprus do not act on British court orders. They will not share information with the British High Commission on children subject to UK court orders. This means the British High Commission cannot ensure that these children are properly safeguarded.

Using cameras in secure areas

Avoid taking photographs near sensitive areas, such as military buildings. You could be arrested for doing so.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Swimming safety

Bathing is generally safe, but there can be strong waves and currents. Always follow warning signs and only swim on approved beaches.

Adventure sports, including quad biking

If you do any extreme or adventure sports, water sports or diving, you should:

  • get the right travel insurance – if quad biking, make sure it includes quad bike rental to avoid paying costs of private healthcare or repatriation to the UK
  • always check the details of your insurance cover before you travel, including the exclusions
  • only use properly licensed and insured operators and satisfy yourself that adequate safety precautions are in place
  • never hand over your passport as a guarantee against the return of equipment

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Cyprus, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide.

Car insurance

Many cars hired in the Republic of Cyprus are not insured for use in the north of Cyprus. Check with your insurance company as you will not be allowed through a crossing without the correct insurance documents. At some crossing points it is possible to buy car insurance for the north of Cyprus. This includes the Agios Dometios.

Licences and permits

You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a UK driving licence to drive in Cyprus. The 1949 IDP is not accepted any more. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices – find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Check guidance on displaying number plates for more information.

Road safety

Driving standards are poor and there is an increased risk of road deaths compared to the UK.

If you hire a vehicle, check:

  • it is in good condition and roadworthy
  • you have the right insurance – hire companies renting mopeds and quad bikes usually only provide third-party insurance, so you will have to pay for any damage to the vehicle (and may be arrested if you do not pay)
  • you have appropriate safety equipment

Rental companies often ask for your passport as a deposit, which is illegal. Never hand over your passport in this way.

Driving rules

You could be heavily fined if you:

  • drive or are a passenger without wearing a seat belt
  • ride a motorbike without a crash helmet
  • use a mobile while driving
  • are found to be drink driving

Extreme weather and natural disasters

The Department of Meteorology of Cyprus issues warnings for severe weather, especially during summer. Weather can sometimes cause travel disruption. Monitor local and international updates and severe weather warnings from the Cyprus Department of Meteorology or European meteorological services, and check with your travel provider if necessary. Always follow the advice of local authorities.

Forest fires and wildfires

Forest fires and wildfires often occur during the summer months due to dry and hot weather.

Wildfires are dangerous and unpredictable. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas. Put out cigarette ends properly, and do not light barbecues outside of designated areas. If you see a fire, call the emergency services on 112 or 1407.

Get more information on wildfires from the Department of Forests website.

Earthquakes

Cyprus experiences earthquakes and tremors. Make sure you know safety procedures and follow advice given by the local authorities.

This section has safety advice for regions of Cyprus. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read the safety and security advice.

Travel to the north of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus is a full EU member, but the country is divided by the Green Line. The British Government does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

Consular assistance in the north of Cyprus

FCDO can only provide limited consular support to those visiting areas in the north that are not under control of the Republic of Cyprus. The authorities in the north of Cyprus do not share information with the British High Commission regarding the location, wellbeing or treatment of British nationals. This means you may be more vulnerable and at greater risk.

Recognition of documents from the north of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus does not recognise residence permits issued in the north of Cyprus.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Cyprus

You can view a list of English-speaking doctors in Cyprus.

There is additional guidance for people living in Cyprus.

COVID-19 healthcare in Cyprus

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be advised to self-isolate for 5 days from the date of a positive test. You do not need to test negative after 5 days.

Check the latest COVID-19 guidance from the Press and Information Office.

The Cypriot authorities recommend that you:

  • self-isolate in your private accommodation and do not use public facilities (you will need to pay any additional accommodation costs during the isolation period)
  • get medical attention if you are concerned about your COVID-19 symptoms (there are COVID-19 hospitals in most cities)

If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are advised to take a test on days 3 and 5 from your contact with a positive case.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Cypriot nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. A GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Cyprus

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.