Country Facts – Cyprus
This information is provided to offer guidance to those seeking to live and work overseas. For more information we recommend that you speak with your national government Foreign Office (or equivalent).
Living and working in Cyprus
A stunning island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus became independent from Britain in 1960. Today, Greek and Turkish Cypriots share the island and it is split into two distinct regions, although both the EU and the UN recognise the island as one single country.
The island is a lovely location with picturesque beaches, sapphire water and historic ruins dating back thousands of years. Indeed, due to the mesmerising beauty of the area, ancient Greeks believed that the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, was born on the seashore at Paphos.
With its temperate weather and stunning surroundings, it’s easy to see why anyone considering relocating abroad would consider Cyprus as a destination.
Local laws and customs
Although there is ongoing turmoil in Cyprus due to the country being unofficially split between the Greeks in the south and the Turks in the north, the country is gradually working towards a resolution and most visitors and expatriates don’t experience any problems.
There are a number of entry points in both regions, but depending on your nationality, it’s generally better to enter through the south. This is because you could encounter difficulties if you enter through the north and then try to cross into the south. EU citizens generally do not experience problems with this, but if you aren’t sure, it’s best to contact your nearest consulate before travelling.
For those who wish to explore both parts of Cyprus, there are a number of checkpoints through the UN-protected buffer zone. In the capital city of Nicosia, for example, travellers have two options: Ledra Palace for pedestrians and bicycles and Metehan, which is the busiest vehicle crossing point.
If you choose to drive in Cyprus, be aware that not all insurance policies will cover you in the two regions. It’s also generally agreed that driving standards in Cyprus are fairly poor, so you should always exercise caution when behind the wheel.
Heavy fines are in place if you are found to not be wearing a seat belt or if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Drink driving and using mobile phone while operating a vehicle also carry steep penalties.
There are two official languages in Cyprus: Turkish and Greek. The predominant tongue will depend on where you are on the island.
In addition, there are a number of minority languages such as Armenian, Romani and Cypriot Maronite Arabic. It’s also estimated that more than three-quarters of the population speaks English, while French and German are also commonly spoken.
If you’re thinking about buying a property in Cyprus, it is essential to get qualified and independent legal advice. Some British nationals in the past have experienced problems when buying properties, so be sure you are working with a legal estate agent – one who is a member of the Cyprus Real Estate Agents Association.
EU citizens who are purchasing a property in the southern part of Cyprus will find the process to be relatively easy, as you won’t need to worry about obtaining permission first. However, there are strict regulations in the north and you will need to obtain permission to purchase a property.
Cyprus has a good healthcare system and, as a whole, the country has high life expectancies and low infant mortality rates. Preventative treatments are actively promoted throughout the country and many of the doctors and nurses are trained abroad – often in the UK.
In fact, the combination of high levels of care and low costs has led to many foreign nationals coming to the country just for healthcare reasons. The local weather and environment – known for mild temperatures and clean air – also make the region attractive for those who have underlying medical conditions.
Of course, just because the medical care is inexpensive doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in international health insurance if you’re living in Cyprus. On the contrary, non-emergency treatment will still incur charges for those who do not qualify for free medical benefits.
Schooling for kids
Cypriot children are entitled to nine years of compulsory free education. This begins at age six and ends during the third year of secondary school, when kids are 15 years old.
In most cases, the school day for primary levels ends at lunchtime. However, longer school hours are being trialled in different parts of the country and the extra hours are used to cover other subjects and give the youngsters time to complete homework.
These so-called all-day schools operate on a voluntary basis for grades four to six and classes usually run until 16:00 four days a week.
Meanwhile, the school day for secondary schools is generally 7:30 to 13:35 and runs from September to June.
Of course, if you’re planning on travelling to Cyprus please ensure you have adequate expat travel insurance.
For more information on moving abroad visit www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo.