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Cyprus

If you’re travelling to Cyprus, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Latest Travel Alert

Given recent terrorist attacks in European cities, Irish citizens are advised to follow the advice of police and local authorities and to exercise increased vigilance, especially if attending large public gatherings or other crowded locations. Attacks could occur at any time and could target tourist attractions, restaurants, transport hubs or other public areas.

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. 

You can contact the emergency services in Cyprus by dialling 112 or 199. Directory enquires is 11892.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

 

Safety and security

Social unrest

The political situation in Cyprus is reasonably stable but there can be occasional outbreaks of social unrest. These demonstrations and public gatherings can sometimes turn confrontational so avoid them if possible. Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Cyprus is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Cyprus but you should take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Cyprus, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact the Irish Embassy in Nicosia if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Cyprus, remember to drive on the left, as in Ireland. Driving regulations are similar to Ireland but be aware that lane discipline is not always a strong point with Cypriot drivers, and watch out for cars changing lanes without using their indicators. Many traffic lights display a priority right-turn when the lights change, but not all of them - so pay particular attention. Observe lane discipline at roundabouts.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, heavily fined or banned from driving if caught.
  • Be aware of Cyprus’s traffic laws, such as speed limits. On motorways, the limit is 100km/hour.
  • You can be heavily fined if you drive without wearing a seat belt or while using a mobile phone, or if you ride a motorbike without wearing a crash helmet.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
  • Be vigilant at traffic-light junctions as there’s a tendency to jump red lights.

Vehicle hire

Rental cars and scooters are widely available and carry distinguishable red number plates. If you’re hiring any vehicle, whether it’s a car, moped, boat or jet ski, check that it is road, or sea-worthy and that you have appropriate insurance cover and safety equipment. You should also read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

If you intend to take a hire car to the occupied north, the main crossing in Nicosia is Agios Dometios. Many cars hired in the Republic of Cyprus are not insured for use in the occupied north. Check this with the insurance company as you will not be allowed through a crossing without the correct insurance documents.

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

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.

 

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it’s your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality is legal in both parts of the Island but discretion in public is advised.

Health

Vaccinations

Check with your doctor a minimum of eight weeks in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Cyprus.

Emergency assistance

If you need emergency medical assistance during your stay in Cyprus, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment, you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

There are several private hospitals and clinics in Cyprus that operate private ambulances. We recommend that you always check with the ambulance drivers if they are taking you to a private or state hospital to prevent any potential queries over hospital charges. Your EHIC card will not cover you for private hospitals or clinics.

European Health Insurance Card

We advise you to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel to Cyprus. This card replaces the E111 form and entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Cypriot nationals.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. You can apply for an EHIC online at www.ehic.ie

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

You must hold a valid passport to visit Cyprus. However, Irish passport holders don’t require an entry visa into the Republic of Cyprus. You should ensure that your passport is valid for the full duration of your stay.

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay, you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times and should never give your passport as security for car, motorbike or quod bike rentals.

Entry to Occupied Northern Cyprus

It’s possible to travel to the occupied (by Turkish Military) north of Cyprus from the Republic of Cyprus by crossing at several checkpoints, including the Ledra Palace and Ledra Street checkpoints in central Nicosia where you can cross by foot. One or both police checkpoints may scan your passport as you enter or leave.

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

Time Zone

Cyprus is two hours ahead of Ireland; i.e. when it’s 9.00am in Ireland it’s 11.00am in Cyprus.

Electrical equipment

Cyprus uses the same electrical infrastructure as Ireland, so adaptors are not required.

Language

English is widely spoken throughout the island.  Road signs in the Republic of Cyprus are normally written in both Greek and English.

Mobile phones

Irish mobile phones with a roaming facility will operate on the Cypriot network.  The international code for Cyprus is +357.

Buying property in Cyprus

Many Irish citizens have bought properties in the Government-controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus. As with property transactions in general, you should seek local, independent legal advice to ensure that the title deeds are clean and that there are no outstanding mortgages on both the property in question and on the land on which it’s built.

There have been reported cases where, unbeknownst to the purchaser, the land on which the purchased house was built was mortgaged to a bank and when the landowner defaulted on the loan the bank sought possession of the land.

Property in Occupied Northern Cyprus

If you’re considering buying property in the occupied northern part of Cyprus, which is not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, we strongly advise you to get qualified, independent legal advice. This is due to potential claims related to title and ownership from Greek Cypriots displaced from that area in 1974 following the Turkish army invasion, which may lead to serious financial and legal repercussions.

Potential buyers may face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, decisions of which can be executed elsewhere in the EU, including Ireland. In this respect, the European Court of Justice has recently issued a judgment whereby a Greek Cypriot land owner of property in the occupied north, which was bought by an EU citizen from a third party without his consent, can have judgments by a Cypriot court against those who purchased his property enforced in another EU Member State. In January 2010, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales upheld this judgment against a British couple who purchased a property in the occupied north and now must demolish their home and return the site to the original owner.

Furthermore, there is a Cypriot law making it a criminal offence, with penalties of up to seven years imprisonment, to purchase, sell, rent, promote or advertise the sale of property in the occupied northern part of Cyprus owned by Greek Cypriots. Any attempt to undertake such a transaction is also a criminal offence under Cypriot law.

Money

The currency of Cyprus is the Euro. Cyprus takes seriously the possession of fake euro banknotes and checks are made at the majority of retail outlets. If you’re found to be in possession of fake Euro banknotes, the police will be called and you may be prosecuted.

All major credit cards are accepted in Cyprus. If you have a Maestro or Cirrus symbol on your debit cards, you should be able to withdraw money from your Irish bank account.

Other countries’ Travel Advice on Cyprus