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Moving to Cyprus

Surrounded by the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean, Cyprus offers a unique experience of sun-soaked island living. The country has many cultural influences, having been part of the Roman Empire, a British colony and, most recently, being divided between the North and South following the Turkish invasion.

Tradition runs strong through the island’s sun-kissed villages, but Cyprus is open and welcoming to expats – even more so if they make an effort to adapt. Indeed, how expats approach Cypriot culture and whether they want to be part of its local communities will have a significant effect on how they are received by locals.

Expats accustomed to smooth and efficient administration may find the Cypriot system frustrating. Most systems and processes are not executed with the greatest of haste, especially when dealing with government. Infrastructure in Cyprus has developed considerably over the past decade or two, but expats should remember that it still operates at a laid-back pace.

When it comes to eating and entertainment, however, Cypriots are as passionate as they come. The cuisine caters for different tastes and is often described as a fusion of cultural flavours. Traditional food is strongly and unsurprisingly linked to that of Greece and Turkey, consisting of slow roasts, stews, kebabs and assorted appetisers commonly known as mezze. Whether dining out or in, the authentic quality and homemade feel add heart and warmth to the ritual of daily eating.

While the Cypriot dialect of Greek is still the most widely spoken language, English is spoken and understood by many locals, particularly in the younger generations. English is also prevalent on signage, making both communicating and getting around Cyprus manageable for non-Greek visitors and residents.

Expats old and young will find most of their wants and needs met, being able to experience hot summers on the beautiful beaches, drives through the mountains and winding forests, or visiting the island’s various monuments and ancient monasteries.

From its unique and quaint villages to the orchards and vineyards that stretch boundlessly over its hilltops, to ancient architecture which inspires a sense of a mystical past, Cyprus is a tiny treasure in vast waters. The Mediterranean island is an option well worth considering for those looking for somewhere to retire or start a new chapter.


Fast facts

Population: 1.2 million

Capital city: Nicosia (also the largest city)

Other major cities: Limassol, Larnaca

Neighbouring countries: Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus shares land borders with Greece to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Syria and Lebanon to the east, Israel to the southeast and Egypt to the south.

Geography: Cyprus is an island nation located 47 miles (75 km) south of Turkey. The island is dominated by two mountain ranges: the sprawling Troodos Mountains and the comparatively smaller Kyrenia Mountains. A central plain known as the Mesaoria lies between them.

Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Orthodox Christianity

Main languages: Greek and Turkish are the island's official languages, but English is widely spoken

Money: Cyprus uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Cyprus, but require proof of identification (passports are acceptable) and proof of residence. ATMs are widely available.

Tipping: A service charge of 10 percent is sometimes added to bills, but no additional tip is necessary

Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from March to October)

Electricity: 240V, 50Hz. Plugs with three flat blades, as used in the UK, are standard.

Internet domain: .cy

International dialling code: +357 

Emergency contacts: 112 (European); 199 (local)

Transport and driving: Traffic in Cyprus drives on the left-hand side. There is no railway system, so almost all transport on the island makes use of its road network. Public transport in Cyprus almost exclusively consists of buses.

Weather in Cyprus

The climate in Cyprus is perfect for sun-worshippers and those looking to live out their twilight years in warm weather.

The island enjoys typically Mediterranean weather patterns complemented by consistently sunny days. In fact, on average, the sun smiles down on Cyprus for around 320 days a year.

From mid-May to mid-October it's summer in Cyprus. The climate is hot and dry, and only occasionally punctuated by sporadic showers. Cloudless skies are the order of the day and, in Nicosia, the average maximum temperature throughout July and August can easily reach 95°F (35°C) and higher. Expats should take care to stay hydrated and limit their exposure to direct sunlight in the day's hottest hours.

December to February is winter in Cyprus, when it receives most of its annual rainfall. Though Nicosia's average minimum 41°F (5°C) and maximum 61°F (16°C) temperatures are considerably lower than their summer counterparts, this brief bout of relatively chilly weather doesn't last long.

Many expats find that the period between September and October is their favourite time of year; a second spring of sorts, marked by pleasant temperatures and little rainfall.

 

Embassy contacts for Cyprus


Cyprus embassies

  • Cyprus Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 462 5772

  • Cyprus Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7321 4100

  • Cyprus Consulate General, Toronto, Canada: +1 416 944 0998

  • Cyprus High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 2 6281 0832

  • Cyprus High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 346 3298

  • Cyprus Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 676 3060


Foreign embassies in Cyprus

  • United States Embassy, Nicosia: +357 2239 3939

  • British High Commission, Nicosia: +357 2286 1100

  • Consulate of Canada, Nicosia: +357 2277 5508

  • Australian High Commission, Nicosia: +357 2269 7555

  • South African Embassy, Athens, Greece (also responsible for Cyprus): +30 210 617 8020

  • Irish Embassy, Nicosia: +357 2281 8183

  • New Zealand Embassy, Rome, Italy (also responsible for Cyprus): +39 6 853 7501

Public Holidays in Cyprus

  

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Epiphany

6 January

6 January

Green Monday

15 March

7 March

Greek Independence Day

25 March

25 March

Greek Cypriot National Day

1 April

1 April

Greek Orthodox Good Friday

30 April

22 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Greek Orthodox Easter Monday

3 May

25 April

Orthodox Pentecost Monday

21 June

13 June

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

15 August

15 August

Cyprus Independence Day

1 October

1 October

Greek National Day

28 October

28 October

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Boxing Day

26 December

26 December

*If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday becomes a holiday. 

Working in Cyprus

Expats may find that working in Cyprus is made complicated by a large population of pensioners with a penchant for rest and relaxation, and the year-round almost perfect weather. Neither factor encourages a strong work ethic nor a thriving economy – but nonetheless, expats determined to live and work in Cyprus can still find opportunities.


Job market in Cyprus

The tourism industry accounts for a large part of Cyprus’s GDP. The market in the south is generally stronger than in the north. The holidaymaker’s market remains relatively secure overall and expats tend to be most successful at acquiring jobs in the hotel and hospitality sectors. That said, opportunities are inconsistent throughout the year as there are more positions available in the summer months during peak tourist season.

Adventurous expats who are after a more modest way of living may find work picking fruit in the agriculture industry. Teaching English is also a possibility, although competition is fairly high and spaces are limited.

Aside from tourism, the economy in Cyprus relies on shipping, the service industry and energy. Expats with specialised skills relating to finance, manufacturing, and mining have the best chance of getting a job in Cyprus.


Finding a job in Cyprus 

The employment of foreigners in Cyprus is overseen by the Department of Labour. According to law, non-EU nationals have to register with the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD), while EU citizens can work in Cyprus without any restrictions. All expats intending to stay longer than three months have to apply at the CRMD for a registration certificate as soon as they find a job.

Regardless of whether expats speak the language, the best method of finding employment opportunities is through networking. Tapping into the right word-of-mouth channels is often more effective than poring over the island’s English-language newspapers, the Cyprus Mail and the Cyprus Weekly. These publications are still a good starting point, while District Labour Offices in major cities and the internet can also provide valuable information.

When applying for a job in Cyprus, expats should take any face-to-face meeting with potential employers very seriously. Family and relationships are important to Cypriots, and even the most basic interpersonal relationship may be the deciding factor in securing a job.


Work culture in Cyprus

The work culture in Cyprus may differ quite markedly from that of an expat's home country. The working environment can be quite rigid with few perks for employees. Punctuality and adherence to company rules are highly valued and it often takes Cypriot colleagues a while to warm to new people in the workplace. However, with a little patience, effort and tolerance, expats should be able to make some headway in building trust and a good reputation for themselves.

Doing Business in Cyprus

Expats doing business in Cyprus will find themselves in a relaxed and internationally minded working environment. The island has a long history of doing business with foreigners, so locals are generally open to and welcoming of expat business partners. Trust and personal relationships are at the core of business in Cyprus.

Cyprus ranked 54th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Survey, scoring particularly high in the areas of protecting minority investors (21st), paying taxes (29th) and resolving insolvency (31st). The island fell short, however, in categories such as enforcing contracts (142nd) and dealing with construction permits (125th).


Fast facts

Business hours

8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm.

Business language

English is largely spoken in the business world, but proficiency in Greek is highly useful.

Dress

Conservative dark suits for men, while women should wear a conservative dress or business suit.

Gifts

Gifts are not expected in a business setting. Expats who are invited to a colleague’s house should present a consumable gift, like chocolates or wine.

Gender equality

Women are treated as equals in the workplace, although there are proportionally fewer women than men in many senior positions.

Greeting

A handshake with direct eye contact is appropriate. Some devout Muslim Cypriots do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex, preferring a simple nod of the head. 


Business culture in Cyprus

Business culture in Cyprus is characterised by its laid-back attitude and value of strong personal relationships. This casual Mediterranean approach may take some getting used to for expats from a fast-paced business background, but it definitely has its advantages.

Trust and loyalty

Trust is a cornerstone of doing business in Cyprus. Because things move at a slower pace on the island than in many other destinations, there is enough time for a strong sense of trust to develop between partners. This usually means that both sides are reliable, which improves the chances of a successful partnership. 

Loyalty in the Cypriot business environment is typically to the person and not their company. Expats should keep this in mind when considering changing jobs or retrenching staff.

Business meetings 

Business meetings in Cyprus have a tendency to go off-topic and may be completely free of concrete decisions. Expats should view meetings more as an opportunity to get to know their business associates. Only after a strong relationship has been established will actual business proceedings take place.

Bargaining is commonplace, negotiations can be lengthy and proposals should be designed to leave room for concessions. That said, finalised contracts are generally followed to the letter.


Dos and don’ts of doing business in Cyprus

  • Do be patient and allow time for business relationships to develop

  • Don’t bring up politics, religion or other sensitive issues while getting to know business associates

  • Do be prepared to bargain – this is common practice in Cyprus and the locals are adept negotiators

  • Don’t lose composure or show excessive emotion in a business meeting

Visas for Cyprus

Expats applying for a visa for Cyprus should be aware of the political situation in the country. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognise the secessionist north and, consequently, its visa rules only apply to the south of the island. It also views all ports of entry in the Turkish-occupied north, including the airports, as illegal and advises that valid visa holders enter Cyprus through the south to avoid any problems.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cyprus, the legal points of entry into the country are the airports of Larnaca and Paphos, as well as the ports of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Latsi.


Tourist visas for Cyprus

Some nationalities don’t need a visa for visits of up to 90 days, including residents of EU countries and citizens of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Residents from non-EU countries such as South Africa and India require a visa for Cyprus.

Those applying for tourist visas must be able to show that they have access to sufficient funds for their stay and must present proof of a round-trip ticket. If the purpose of the visit is to see family and friends, a letter of invitation must also be submitted.


Business visas for Cyprus

Business visas have similar requirements to standard tourist visas, although an employer’s letter dated within one month of the entry into Cyprus is required to attest to the applicant’s salary. Self-employed expats can provide a solicitor, accountant or bank manager’s letter. If travelling on a business trip, applicants must produce an official letter of invitation from the company in Cyprus.


Residence and work permits for Cyprus

While visas allow expats into the country, they will have to apply for a long-term residence permit to stay for an extended period. Residence and immigration permits in Cyprus are administered by the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD).

Immigration permits for Cyprus

According to legislation, only expats who fall within certain categories can apply for an immigration permit. The success of an application is determined by the Immigration Control Board. These are the three categories most popular among expats:

  • Indviduals who have enough money at their disposal to allow them to have a decent living in Cyprus without having to work. The Immigration Control Board determines what these amounts are. This is the most popular category and includes pensioners and retirees.

  • Individuals who have been offered permanent employment that won’t create undue local competition

  • Individuals who intend to be self-employed, have the relevant permits and have adequate funds at their disposal

Residence and work permits for Cyprus

The two-in-one Temporary Residence and Employment Permit for Cyprus is generally submitted by an employer to the Civil Registry and Migration Department via their local District Aliens and Immigration Branch of the Police.

In addition, the Ministry of Employment and Social Insurances has to certify the employment contract, proving that there are no Cypriots or EU citizens who are available or qualified to fill the post, before recommending that a third-country national be employed.

Cost of Living in Cyprus

An enviable island lifestyle combined with an all-around low cost of living make Cyprus an appealing destination for expats, particularly those looking to make their pensions from home stretch.

As a whole, the cost of living in Cyprus is comparable to European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania. Limassol is generally regarded to be the most expensive city on the island, ranking 166th out of 209 cities worldwide assessed for the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey.


Cost of accommodation in Cyprus

The low cost of rent in Cyprus is one of the main benefits of life on the island. There's a wide range of types of accommodation, leaving expats with plenty of choice when it comes to the size, style and budget bracket of their ideal Cyprus home.


Cost of food in Cyprus

Groceries in Cyprus tend to be cheaper than in the UK, especially when it comes to fruit and meat. Restaurants are generally cheaper as well. If expats opt for smaller, local establishments they will be able to save quite significantly and sample some of the fine cuisine on offer in Cyprus, which is a cosmopolitan blend of Greek, European and Middle Eastern cooking.


Cost of transport in Cyprus

With no rail network in Cyprus, buses are the only viable option for public transport. Though available and fairly inexpensive, they are not always reliable and routes can be limited. Most people on the island opt to own a car or use private taxis.


Cost of living in Cyprus chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Nicosia in October 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,400

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 1,100

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 800

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

EUR 700

Shopping

Dozen eggs

EUR 3.50

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.50

Rice (1kg)

EUR 1.80

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.70

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 7.50

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 4.90

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 6

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 1.40

Cappuccino 

EUR 3

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 3

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 60

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.10

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

EUR 40

Basic utilities (average per month for standard household)

EUR 150

Transport

Taxi rate/km   

EUR 1.40

Bus fare in the city centre 

EUR 1.50

Petrol/gasoline (litre)

EUR 1.20

Culture Shock in Cyprus

Expats will probably experience some degree of culture shock in Cyprus, but those moving to the island will be relieved to know that, for the most part, acclimatising to life in Cyprus is unlikely to require any drastic cultural adjustments.

Emerging from a fairly tumultuous history, Cyprus has become a wealthy country with a high Human Development Index and sound infrastructure that attracts considerable foreign investment.


Daily life in Cyprus

The Cypriot lifestyle is fairly relaxed and informal – the island's unofficial motto is 'siga, siga' – 'slowly, slowly'. While this easy-going attitude towards life often attracts expats to Cyprus, it can be frustrating when dealing with bureaucracy or administrative affairs. Expats who are used to an efficient bureaucracy are advised to adjust their expectations accordingly.

As informal as life on the island can be, the culture in Cyprus is broadly marked by respect, honour and humility. Expats from countries where self-promotion is considered a worthy personal attribute might find that they rub against the island's social grain.  


Religion in Cyprus

Religion in Cyprus is important and respecting people's religious beliefs – whether they be Greek Orthodox or Muslim – is sacrosanct. Expats shouldn't challenge Cypriots about their religious convictions, and shouldn't proselytise if they want to get along with the locals.


North vs South Cyprus

The history of conflict between the Greek and Turkish sectors of the population in Cyprus is a fairly fixed feature of the island's social fabric, both figuratively and – with the country divided between a 'Turkish North' and 'Greek South' – literally. This is bound to result in some discomfort for expats from countries with homogeneous societies. Cypriots are almost uniformly welcoming of foreigners, however, and regardless of where expats choose to live, they will find their new countrymen to be friendly and hospitable.


Driving in Cyprus

Expats often complain that Cypriots are bad drivers. This may be a relative judgement, but people who are new to the island should take some time to adjust to the rhythm of the roads in Cyprus before taking the wheel themselves.


Animals in Cyprus

Finally, animal-loving expats might be disturbed by the number of stray dogs and cats on the island, which are mostly left to fend for themselves and are largely ignored by locals. As is the case in a city such as Athens, they're a part of the country and, while Cypriots generally aren't 'pet people', cruelty to animals is certainly not a norm.

Accommodation in Cyprus

Expats moving to Cyprus will need to spend some time getting to grips with the country's property market and the options available to them. Choosing the right type of home in the right part of the country will directly affect the success of a person's expat experience in Cyprus. 

The general trend in recent years has been for foreign investors and expats moving to Cyprus to buy property rather than to rent on the island. This has influenced the property market, sending prices skywards as demand has increased.

The process of renting and buying accommodation in the 'Turkish North' and 'Greek South' of Cyprus is largely the same; with one major difference being that in the south, properties tend to be newer, fancier, more expensive and easier for foreign nationals to purchase.


Types of accommodation in Cyprus

Expats moving to Cyprus will find plenty of housing options, including furnished or unfurnished apartments, villas and traditional rural stone houses. The standard of accommodation in Cyprus is generally excellent, as a lot of the property on the island is fairly new. Air conditioning and heating are common, and most houses in Cyprus have either a shared or private pool.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Rented apartments in Cyprus are usually furnished, while houses are unfurnished. Shipping furniture to Cyprus is a viable option (especially from within the EU), but the IKEA in Nicosia makes buying new furniture highly feasible. Expats report that the second-hand furniture market in Cyprus is somewhat disappointing.

Villas

Villas are spacious, multi-roomed Mediterranean-style homes. They feature lush gardens and often come with a pool. They usually consist of one or two storeys.

Apartments

Cheaper than villas, apartments are frequently found in seaside areas, with their elevated position allowing for great ocean views from the upper floors. Though they offer less space than freestanding houses, they are also much easier to maintain.

Traditional stone houses

Towards the centre of the island, in its more rural areas, traditional stone houses can be found. These are often somewhat dilapidated when purchased but are cheap, full of character and make for a fantastic home makeover project. 


Finding accommodation in Cyprus

Expats looking to rent accommodation in Cyprus will find that newspaper advertisements and online searches are good places to start. Real estate agents can be helpful, but will charge a fee.

Looking for accommodation in the low season can be a good strategy – not only will there be more options for short-term accommodation to stay at while house hunting, but expats may be able to negotiate a longer stay at a good rate.


Renting accommodation in Cyprus

Making an application

Potential tenants will need to apply via the estate agent, if one is involved, or directly to the landlord. Expats may need to submit documents such as their passport, visa and proof of income.

Length of lease

Leases can either be short term (lasting six months or less) or long-term (typically 12 months).

Deposits

Before moving in, tenants are required to pay a deposit equal to one month's rent upfront. If the property is returned in good condition at the end of the lease, the deposit should be returned to tenants in full.

Utilities

Expats will usually be responsible for their own utility bills. These can be quite costly, and should be factored into the housing budget.

Buying Property in Cyprus

Buying a home in Cyprus is an alluring propsect for many, particurlarly retirees looking to spend their twilight years in a sun-soaked climate among friendly people, good food and a slower pace of life.

There are, however, pitfalls that expats should be aware of if they want to ensure that their dream home doesn’t become a nightmare played out in courtrooms and endless piles of legal papers.


Where to buy property in Cyprus

Ever since Turkish troops invaded the north of Cyprus in the 1970s, the country has been governed by two administrations, with only the primarily Greek Cypriot south recognised as having a legitimate government. The violence has passed but tensions remain – even in the real-estate market.

Potential homeowners in Cyprus should be aware that many properties in the north of Cyprus belonged to Greek Cypriots who were forced to flee as a result of the division. Since then, many title deeds have been falsified and, as a result, documentation can’t always be trusted at face value.

Expats buying property in northern Cyprus run the risk of facing counter-claims to the property from Greek Cypriots and possibly court action, especially if the island ever reunifies. Extra precautions should therefore be taken to ensure that all documents relating to the sale are legitimate – especially in the north.

That aside, both north and south boast beautiful properties with the potential to make any expat a happy homeowner.


The purchasing process in Cyprus

EU nationals can purchase real estate in Cyprus without any restrictions, while non-EU nationals are allowed to buy up to around one acre of land or one house or apartment. 

Getting permission

Expats buying property in Cyprus must apply with the Council of Ministers for permission to purchase a home. Though approval is most often given, the process for obtaining it can prove tedious and time consuming.

Applications require:

  • The submission of property details

  • Information about the current owner and contract

  • The buyer’s personal history, current residence and means of income

It is highly recommended that expats employ a lawyer who is experienced in navigating the complex channels of permission, paperwork and tracking down the property’s title deed.

Real-estate contracts in Cyprus

Expats who have honed in on their future home should make an offer to the current owner. After negotiations, a formal contract of sale should be drawn up in writing and translated into all the languages necessary. It should then be deposited with the relevant District Lands Office within two months of being signed by both parties.

The purchaser also normally puts down a deposit of roughly 10 percent of the sale price.

The title deed can only legally be transferred, however, once the government has given the appropriate permissions and the imported funds have been certified. The estate agent or lawyer will then register the property in the name of its new owner.

Property taxes and transfer fees in Cyprus

Expats will have to pay property tax in Cyprus, and will be responsible for transfer fees, stamp duties and legal levies. Expats should also allow for at least 15 percent over and above the buying price to cover registration costs and legal fees, while the seller usually covers estate agent costs.


What to consider before buying property in Cyprus

The most common complaints in Cyprus real estate arguably relate to title deeds and mortgages. 

A reliable solicitor who is proficient in English and is, crucially, independent of all the other parties involved in the transaction, is probably the most important consideration for buying property in Cyprus. A good lawyer makes all of these potential pitfalls easier to navigate.

Ground rules for buying property in Cyprus

  • Get a lawyer

  • Ensure that the property isn't the subject of an ownership dispute

  • Have a broker or another authority source conduct a full examination of the property

  • Make an inventory of any necessary repairs or damages

  • Check access to utilities and services, especially when planning on future renovations

Healthcare in Cyprus

Healthcare in Cyprus is cheap and effective, and is another reason many expats relocate to the island. 

The Cyprus healthcare system is divided into public and private sectors. Public healthcare is cheap and subsidised, and even private healthcare costs can be quite affordable.

Both state-funded and private hospitals can be found in all of Cyprus's major cities. Healthcare facilities in the south of Cyprus are generally considered to be better than those in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.  

Doctors working in both sectors of the medical industry are often trained overseas and most, if not all, speak an acceptable level of English. It's nevertheless a good idea to take a notepad to appointments, in case it’s necessary to write down the doctor’s response for later translation. Expats shouldn't be afraid to ask their new doctor questions or have them repeat themselves.


Public healthcare in Cyprus

Public healthcare in Cyprus is administered by the Ministry of Health and is largely financed by taxes and mandatory social services contributions.

Access to public healthcare is determined via residency status. Anyone staying in Cyprus for three months or more is considered a resident, allowing them to register with the General Healthcare System (GHS) and select a local doctor. This can be done online.


Private healthcare in Cyprus

Many expats choose to take out a private healthcare policy to access a wider variety of hospitals and facilities, and to skip the public sector's occasionally long waiting lists. An assortment of schemes are available to expats in Cyprus, each tailored individually based on certain criteria.

There are two main private health insurance options available to expats. Some choose the stability and flexibility of international private medical cover, while others opt for considerably cheaper premiums with a local private medical insurance company.

Treatment is often paid for upfront by the patient and is reimbursed within the month. Depending on the policy, it shouldn't be necessary to notify the provider before receiving treatment, although most companies do offer a 24-hour toll-free number should patients have any issues or queries.


Pharmacies in Cyprus

There are many pharmacies in Cyprus, especially in highly populated areas such as Paphos, Larnaca and Limassol.

Cyprus pharmacies are typically open from 9am until noon or 1pm, when they close for a few hours and reopen from 3pm to 6pm or 7pm. Night pharmacies are open from 8am to 10pm but can be contacted 24 hours if medication is needed.


Emergency services in Cyprus

There are nationwide emergency services in Cyprus, but they can be inconsistent and relatively slow. Expats often rely on neighbours and friends to drive them to hospital in non-critical situations.

Some private hospitals have their own ambulance services, but charge for transporting patients.

Emergency numbers in Cyprus

  • 112 – General emergency number for EU countries
  • 199 – Local emergency number in Cyprus

Education and Schools in Cyprus

Cyprus has state-sponsored education as well as private and international schools. The public and private systems are both open and accessible to expats, and parents usually decide according to their expectations surrounding cost, language and curriculum.

Education in Cyprus is mandatory for all children aged 5 to 15, and is separated into primary school, gymnasium and lyceum – secondary school is composed of the latter two levels.


Public schools in Cyprus

State-school standards are inconsistent and expats generally describe the system as 'hit or miss'. That said, it is certainly possible to find good public schools on the island.

Many expat parents find that the main drawback to sending their children to state schools in Cyprus is the language barrier. Younger children have the ability to adapt quickly, but older kids – and parents themselves – often struggle to succeed and communicate fluently.

That said, those who intend to stay for the long-term often prefer their children being immersed in Cypriot culture.

There is no fee for expat children to attend state schools in Cyprus. 


Private and international schools in Cyprus

Most expats living in Cyprus, especially those whose first language is English, send their children to private international schools. The most obvious benefit of these institutions is that children will be surrounded by others who speak their language, and will often have a better selection of extra-curricular activities to take part in.

Private schools are present in all of the country's larger cities (Paphos, Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca), but the curriculum taught and the standard upheld in each of the institutions vary considerably. 

Private schools in Cyprus can be costly, with tuition depending on the age of the child and the requirements of the school. Parents should also anticipate supplementary costs such as registration and enrolment fees, books, uniforms, lunch and school bus expenses.


Special needs education in Cyprus

In Cyprus, special education policies favour inclusion and integration into mainstream schools as far as possible. The goal is for special needs students to attend mainstream classes, following the same curriculum as the other students with accommodations being made for their needs. If more support is required, special needs students may receive part-time or full-time tuition in a separate unit within a mainstream school, where classes are limited to few students. If neither of these options is suitable, students may attend a dedicated special school.


Tutors in Cyprus

Tutors can be highly useful for new arrivals to Cyprus, particularly those whose children need to adapt to a new curriculum or language.

Expat parents with older children often employ tutors to help with exam preparation. The Cyprus school-leaving certificate does not always equate to certain levels of testing in the UK and the US, and students who wish to attend tertiary schools in these countries may need to sit for additional exams.

Transport and Driving in Cyprus

With one of the highest car-ownership-per-capita rates in the world, driving will most likely be an expat's primary mode of transport in Cyprus. The island has no operational railway network, and public transport is largely restricted to private bus services and taxis, so options are limited – especially when travelling between urban centres.


Public transport in Cyprus

Buses

There are several kinds of bus services in Cyprus. Rural buses between villages and cities are the most limited, since they only leave once or twice a day. Inter-urban buses link larger cities and towns with each other and are far more frequent, while bus services that run within cities are generally the most frequent and reliable public transport service in Cyprus.

Different bus companies operate in each part of the country, such as the OSEL buses that run in Nicosia and OSYPA’s buses in Paphos. Because of this variation, buses in Cyprus don’t all look the same but most of them have their destination displayed on the windscreen.

Because buses in Cyprus are independently operated, expats should check the bus routes of individual operators with their respective companies or at tourist offices. Services often cease in the early evening and are limited on weekends, while some are extended in tourist season and run until midnight. 


Taxis in Cyprus

There are several taxi services in Cyprus. Urban taxis are the most widespread and offer 24-hour services in all major cities. While expats are recommended to book in advance, taxis can be hailed from the street. 

Inter-urban share taxis provide a cost-effective link to other towns. Taxis are shared between a number of people with the cost being evenly split between all passengers.


Driving in Cyprus

Driving in Cyprus is the most effective way of getting around. The distance from Paphos to Nicosia, for instance, can be driven in two hours. Road signs in Cyprus are often in English and Greek, roads are generally well maintained, petrol stations are widely available and traffic is less congested than in other European cities. Cars are also easy to hire and readily available.

About a third of the roads on the island are unpaved, however, and while normal passenger vehicles should be able to drive on most of them, it may be best to ask locals before going for a drive through the country.

EU drivers can drive until their foreign licence expires, while licensed drivers from a list of pre-approved countries can legally drive for up to six months. These countries include the US, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Non-EU expats can drive for a maximum of 30 days, or with a valid international driving licence.


Cycling in Cyprus

Cycling in Cyprus is practical, considering the short distances between places. It isn't allowed on major motorways, but there are usually ordinary roads running parallel to them. Nicosia is one of the friendliest cities for cyclists, with its smartbike-sharing scheme and dedicated cycling lanes. There are more than 40 stations across the city in an effort to get residents to use bicycles as an alternative form of transport.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Cyprus

With a sophisticated financial infrastructure, expats should find banking in Cyprus to be a relatively easy process. The island is home to several reputable banking institutions, both local and international.


Money in Cyprus

The official currency of Cyprus is the Euro (EUR), subdivided into 100 cents.

The following denominations are available:

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c and 1 EUR and 2 EUR


Banking in Cyprus

ATMs are widespread in Cyprus and can be found in most towns and large villages. Online banking is widely available. Banks in Cyprus are generally open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 1.30pm.

Opening a bank account in Cyprus

Opening a bank account in Cyprus is easy, even for expats. The process can be started from abroad, though expats must visit a branch in person to finalise the account.

Expats will need numerous documents to open an account, including:

  • Proof of identity, such as a passport

  • Proof of address, such as a recent utility bill or bank statement

  • A reference letter from the applicant’s previous bank giving information about their credit rating


Taxes in Cyprus

Expats are considered residents if they reside in Cyprus for 183 days or more in a calendar year. Tax residents pay tax on both locally and globally generated income, while those not considered tax residents pay tax only on income derived from within Cyprus.

Cyprus has double-taxation agreements with a number of countries, meaning that expats from these countries won’t have to pay tax in their home country in addition to taxes in their new host country.

Taxation is a complex issue – especially for expats in Cyprus. As such, they should seek the advice of a qualified tax advisor or accountant in Cyprus.

Expat Experiences in Cyprus

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Cyprus and would like to share your story.


Christy Fisher is an American expat living in Paphos. She moved to Cyprus with her husband when he got a job as a brewer at a new microbrewery on the island. Although she enjoys the sunshine and relaxed pace of life in Paphos, Christy says it can feel very isolated at times, and she misses having her own career and access to more art and cultural activities. Read more about her expat experience in Cyprus.

Asproulla, a British expat living in Cyprus, met and married a local Cypriot and mothered her kids on this small island. Though English by birth, her allegiances lie neither with the Queen nor with the Greeks or the Turkish. She merely recommends expats moving to Cyprus learn the local language and give her blog, Little White Donkey, the occasional glance. Read more about her expat life in Cyprus.


 

Emma, a British expat living in Cyprus, gave up the push and pull of county Kent for a peaceful, pastoral island life. She moved with her husband and six-month-old infant, and has great advice for young mothers relocating and looking to make friends. Read what she has to say about her expat experience in Cyprus.