Cyprus

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 26 March 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. The overall level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Cyprus.

Cyprus overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks.
  • There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Various measures, including restrictions on withdrawals, have been implemented in the Republic of Cyprus to protect its banking sector. You should contact your bank for up-to-date information on the situation.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Information on entry requirements and visa conditions for the Republic of Cyprus, including for travel between the southern and northern sectors of the island can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Republic of Cyprus Government has designated the airports of Larnaca and Paphos and the seaports of Larnaca, Limassol, Latsi and Paphos as legal ports of entry into and exit from Cyprus. Despite the partial lifting of restrictions on crossing between the north and the south, entry or exit via any air or seaport in northern Cyprus, including Tymbou (Ercan) and Lefkoniko (Gecitkale) airports and the seaports of Kyrenia (Girne) and Famagusta (Gazi Magusa), is still regarded by the Republic of Cyprus Government as an illegal act. The Republic of Cyprus government authorities reserve the right to impose legal sanctions on Australians entering Cyprus via northern airports and seaports.

Australians residing in northern Cyprus for longer than three months who travel to the southern sector should be aware that Turkish Cypriot 'residence permits' might not be recognised by the Republic of Cyprus authorities, and that they might be deemed to have breached immigration regulations.

Australians in possession of 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' identity cards should be aware that the Republic of Turkey no longer accepts these as valid travel documents for entry into or transiting Turkey. You should use your Australian passport for all travel into or out of Cyprus and Turkey.

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) who are carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

In Cyprus we advise you to exercise normal safety precautions. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media for information about possible safety or security risks.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Civil unrest/political tension

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus is the sole internationally recognised authority in Cyprus but its control, in practice, is exercised only in the southern part of the island which is predominantly Greek Cypriot. The northern part of Cyprus is controlled by the so-called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' ('TRNC') which is only recognised by Turkey. There is also a Turkish military presence in the north. A United Nations peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) patrols the buffer zone between the two sectors.

There have been occasional violent incidents along the UN Buffer Zone (also known as 'The Green Line').

You should avoid public demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent, especially around the UN Buffer Zone.

You should take care if discussing sensitive issues in public, such as the problems surrounding the continued division of Cyprus.

Incidents of hooliganism have occurred among fans at local soccer and basketball matches. You should avoid potential trouble spots.

Crime

The incidence of serious crime in Cyprus is low, but has been rising slowly. Petty crime, particularly in urban areas, has risen significantly in recent years.

You should check prices prior to ordering drinks at certain bars and "cabarets". Some establishments charge exorbitant prices. Discussions about overcharging have been known to lead to threats of violence. Security guards may compel you to pay.

Money and valuables

Various measures, including restrictions on withdrawals, have been implemented in the Republic of Cyprus to protect its banking sector. You should contact your bank for up-to-date information on the situation.

Before you go, organise a variety of ways of accessing your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques and cash in Euros. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

The Euro is the legal tender in the Republic of Cyprus. The principal currency in the north is the Turkish Lira, although Euros can be used in many establishments. (The Turkish Lira is not accepted in the south.)

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving in Cyprus can be hazardous due to poor driving practices. Road traffic accidents are common. Most roads are of a good standard but some secondary and mountain roads are poorly maintained. For further advice, see our road travel page.

You are advised against unauthorised entry into the UN Buffer Zone. This is a restricted militarised zone and parts of it are still mined.

You should take careful note of laws and regulations concerning travel to the north of the island. If you are arriving through designated ports of entry in the Republic of Cyprus you are normally able to cross into the north. You may cross at the Ledra Street, Ledra Palace (pedestrians only) and Ayios Dhometios checkpoints in Nicosia, and at the Astromeritis, Limnitis, Pergamos and Strovilia checkpoints outside Nicosia. All checkpoints operate 24 hours.

Checkpoint operating times may change at short or no notice. You must present your passport and a completed white 'TRNC Visa Card' (which must be resubmitted when leaving the north). You may take private vehicles or hire cars through checkpoints (except Ledra Street and Ledra Palace) from the south to the north, but may face difficulty taking hire cars from the north to the south. All drivers must ensure they have 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' third party car insurance as insurance from the south is not recognised in the north. You should carefully check the terms of your car insurance to ensure that you have adequate coverage for the sector in which you are travelling.

Items purchased in the north, including alcohol, cigarettes and imitation/pirated brand-name products are subject to strict controls, may be inspected by Republic of Cyprus police or relevant customs authorities, and may be confiscated. Fines may also be imposed. Turkish Cypriot ‘customs authorities’ are enforcing strictly a limit of Euro 260.00 on the purchase of goods in the south. Both sides may enforce quarantine rules on foodstuffs.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Cyprus, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and can lead to life imprisonment. Possession of even small amounts of any illegal drugs can result in imprisonment.

It is illegal in both parts of the island to photograph military camps, facilities, personnel or equipment (even inadvertently) and to enter restricted military zones. Photography in the buffer zone is also prohibited. Pay attention to 'no photography' signs.

If you are contemplating purchasing property in the north you should be aware of the uncertainty of legal titles given the claims to ownership of persons displaced during the conflict of 1974. The Republic of Cyprus has made it a crime to buy, sell or rent property anywhere in Cyprus without the consent of the owner. The Republic of Cyprus has successfully sought to enforce judgements in such cases through courts in other EU countries. You should seek independent qualified legal advice before signing any property contract. For further information see the Australian High Commission website.

Official authorization is required to export cultural and archaeological artefacts.

If you are planning to get married in Cyprus, you should check the legal requirements before you travel, either through the Australian High Commission in Cyprus or the Cypriot High Commission in Canberra.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Male Australian/Cypriot dual nationals or Australians deemed to be Cypriot nationals under Republic of Cyprus laws aged 15-50 years may have a military service obligation if they stay in Cyprus longer than three months. Those aged 16-26 years are required to have an exit permit obtained through the High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia or from the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Defence. Female Australian/Cypriot dual nationals aged 18-50 years may have civil defence obligations if they become permanent residents of the Republic of Cyprus. For further information on military service obligations see the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Male Australian/Cypriots of Turkish Cypriot background over 18 years of age who stay longer than three months in northern Cyprus may incur a military service obligation. Australians who fall into this category are advised to check with the relevant authorities before travel to Cyprus.

Dual nationals who have not completed their military service obligations and are intending to stay longer than three months are advised to obtain a copy of their movements into and out of Australia (Request for International Movement Records) from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. In some circumstances, periods of military service can be reduced by providing evidence of long-term residency in Australia.

Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Adequate public and private medical facilities can be found in the Republic of Cyprus's main cities. Hospital costs can be expensive. Medical services in northern Cyprus are more basic and less well-resourced than in the south. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate medical facilities might be required. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

Decompression chambers are located at the Larnaca General Hospital and at the British Sovereign Base Area Hospital at Akrotiri.

If you are travelling to the countryside and archaeological sites, you should be wary of coming into contact with rodents, bats and other vermin which may be carrying communicable diseases.

Where to get help

In Cyprus, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission - Nicosia

7th Floor, Block A
Alpha Business Centre
27 Pindarou Street
1060 Nicosia CYPRUS
Telephone: (+357) 2275 3001
Facsimile: (+357) 2276 6486

Email: nicosia.ahc@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.cyprus.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Cyprus, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Cyprus is in an active earthquake zone. It also is subject to occasional violent storms and high winds in coastal regions. Winter snowstorms in the Troodos Mountains can block roads or create hazardous driving conditions.

Many parts of Cyprus, particularly the heavily forested and mountainous regions, are prone to forest fires and grass fires during the long dry season from May until October.

Be aware of strong seas and undertows and take note of warning signs on beaches.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.

For Emergency assistance

For emergency assistance in the Republic of Cyprus, dial 112. For police or roadside assistance dial 199. In the Turkish Cypriot area of northern Cyprus, dial 155 for emergencies.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.