Moving to Cyprus: Ultimate Guide

Are you moving to Cyprus? Nestled between Turkey and Greece, Cyprus is one of the greatest jewels of the Mediterranean. With gorgeous weather, beautiful beaches, and a laid back culture, this small island is popular with international tourists and ex-pats alike. 

In fact, did you know that an incredible 16 per cent of the population in Cyprus was born abroad? While the country has a relatively small population of just 1.2 million residents on the island, the percentage of foreigners is higher than you’d find even in immigration hotspots like the US and the UK. 

While it attracts dreamers from around the world, nearly half of those born in Cyprus live abroad. That means that as the approximately 13,000 migrants move from Cyprus each year, an even higher number of immigrants, refugees, and ex-pats arrive. This movement creates a truly international atmosphere, where nearly every home has at least one immigrant or emigrant.

Ready to find a home for yourself in this melting pot? Here is everything that you need to know about moving to Cyprus.

Living / Lifestyle

Is Cyprus a Good Place to Live?

Cyprus is centred between Europe, Asia, and Africa. This strategic location has changed hands between Britain, Greece, and Turkey; and it is now coveted as one of the greatest tourist hotspots of Europe

With endless beaches, fascinating ruins, and rich cultural history, it is easy to see why the world is in love with Cyprus. Famous for its cheese and claims to the oldest winery in the world, this island is also renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites and incredible diving sites. 

Thanks to international tourism and its colonial past, a full 90 per cent of the native population speak a fluent level of English. This makes everyday life easy for international residents while the foreigner-friendly government has made it attractive with a range of programmes. With tax incentives, property offers, and programmes that fast-track EU passports for ex-pats, moving to Cyprus, means you can expect an expat’s paradise. 

What Is It Like to Live in Cyprus?

After Sardinia and Sicily, Cyprus is the third biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Though relatively small still, the country packs an impressive geographical variety. Cypriots often brag about the fact you can ski and swim in the ocean on the very same day

While it’s an adventure lover’s paradise, it is laidback island through and through. One of the first phrases you will learn from the locals is “Siga, Siga”, which means “Slow, Slow” and reflects the local pace of life. Like many islanders, the people of Cyprus believe it is truly essential to savour each and every moment and never rush.

Moving to Cyprus - Aphrodite's Rock, Paphos in Cyprus

On top of incredible natural beauty and laid back culture, the country boasts a low crime rate. Despite the conflict between the Greeks and Turks, life on the island is secure with little more than the occasional tourist getting pickpocketed taking headlines.

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Cost of Living

What Is the Cost of LIving in Cyprus?

As you begin looking at prices in Cyprus, you will notice a distinction between the northern part of the island and the southern part of the island. While they are indeed the same country technically, you will find two different currencies.

Officially, the Republic of Cyprus uses the euro as its currency. In practice, you will find that the Turkish lira is the common currency in the occupied north. While the rates fluctuate, you will typically find that the Turkish lira offers a more favourable exchange rate than the euro. For this reason, living and travelling in the south tends to be more expensive.

Limassol, the most expensive city, is located on the southern end of the island. The capital and the most populated city is Nicosia, however, which is located directly on the border between the north and south. From an international perspective, the capital city is relatively affordable, particularly for its rent prices. 

Compared to Dubai, you can save considerably on your everyday expenses. For example, a family spending 4000 euros per month in Dubai would only need 3000 euros per month to maintain the same lifestyle in Nicosia. In fact, rent places in Dubai are 160% higher on average than in Nicosia. Those everyday consumer prices, however, are only about two per cent lower. 

Moving to Cyprus - House in Nicosia

Since housing is most people’s biggest expenses, this could be a great destination for ex-pats looking to save money. To give you a clearer idea of what to expect, you will be able to find a one-bedroom flat in or around the city for 700 to 800 euros per month. For a three-bedroom home in the centre of the city, you will pay around 1400 per month or 1100 euros per month outside of the centre. 

Moving to Cyprus

What Moving Documents are Needed For Moving to Cyprus?

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects
  • Original passport
  • Original T2L (page 4) signed by Customs at origin (shipments from European Union (EU) countries, including diplomats)
  • Packing list
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / express waybill / air waybill (AWB) (must show C status for EU countries)
  • Sale agreement / termination of rental agreement in origin country (non-EU countries) 
  • Copy of ticket / boarding pass of flight to Cyprus (non-EU countries)
  • Utility bills (non-EU countries)
  • Exemption form from the local embassy (diplomats from non-EU countries)
  • Form 1002 signed and stamped by the local embassy
  • Letter of employment (non-EU countries) (diplomats from non-EU countries)
  • Registration of your children at local schools (non-EU countries)
  • Bank statement confirming you have any funds in Cyprus (non-EU countries)
Motor Vehicle
  • Copy of passport
  • OBL / express waybill / C status AWB
  • Packing list
  • Exemption certificate from the local embassy (diplomats)
  • Form 1002 stamped and signed by the local embassy (diplomats)
  • Original registration  (owner of the goods must attend LIMASSOL Customs if shipping a car, bike, or boat) (diplomats) 
  • Sale agreement / termination of rental agreement in origin country (non-EU countries) 
  • Letter of employment
  • Registration of your children at local schools
  • Bank statement confirming the owner of the goods has an account in Cyprus
  • Proof of insurance for the 6 months prior to entry may be required 
Pets
  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate

For more information on restricted and prohibited items and a more in-depth look at documentation please check the International Association of Movers.

Legal / Visas

How to Get a Residency Visa in Cyprus

The country of Cyprus is very welcoming to foreigners and typically makes the process of obtaining a residency visa fairly straightforward. While you arrive, you will find a range of different visa options available for working ex-pats and immigrating families.

Visa Options for Canada

When it comes to Cyprus immigration permits, you will have several options available for you. The best choice for getting residency in Cyprus depends on you, your unique skill set, and your current working circumstances. 

In Cyprus, you will find the following types of ex-pat residency visa:

  • Category A: The visa option for ex-pats who plan to be self-employed in the agricultural sector within the cattle, fish, or bird breeding in Cyprus. Note: You must have landed in Cyprus or be in the process of purchasing agricultural land on the island.
  • Category B: The visa option for ex-pats who plan to be self-employed in the mining sector and can prove sufficient financial means. 
  • Category C: The visa option for ex-pats who plan to be self-employed in a profession or trade not listed elsewhere (science, agriculture, or mining). 
  • Category D: The visa option for ex-pats who plan to be self-employed in a high-demand scientific field or a profession.
  • Category E: The visa option for ex-pats who have already been offered a permanent work contract in Cyprus. This is the most common visa. 
  • Category F: The visa option for ex-pats who have an independent annual income who can show that they have means to support themselves. 

Of course, as you find with visa permits in all countries around the globe, each residency permit in Cyprus comes with the clause that ex-pats and immigrant’s working “activities must not negatively affect” the local economy.

Moving to Cyprus - Visas

Getting a Work Permit in Cyprus

Before you arrive in Cyprus, it is critical to be organised and have all of the paperwork prepared for your application. Keep reading here for more details on what to expect.

How to Apply for a Cyprus Residence Permit?

Before moving to Cyprus, you will want to be fully familiar with the immigration process. Figuring out how to get residency in Cyprus will depend on your country of origin so start at home. The first step is to contact the Cyprus embassy or consulate responsible in your country. They will work with you directly to arrange your entry into the country. 

When you arrive on the island, you will have seven days to apply for your Cyprus Temporary Residence Permit. If you are moving to Nicosia, you can visit the Civil Registry and Migration Department. If you will be living elsewhere on the island, you will want to visit the District Immigration Unit.

For any migrant looking to get a Cyprus Permanent Residence Permit or an Immigration Permit, you will need to make your application at the central office for the Civil Registry and Migration Department, regardless of your location on the island.

Of course, if you have an offer of employment from a local company in Cyprus or are planning to attend an educational facility in the country, they will have a local team or HR person who will walk you through much of this process.

How Long Does a Cyprus Residence Permit Take?

The government currently has the following timelines in places for Cyprus Residence Permits:

  • For employment visa, expect a decision within four months
  • For study visas, you will have an answer within three months
  • For family reunification visa, you will have your application processed within nine months
  • For permanent residency, your application takes up to twelve months. Do note however that there is a two months fast-track option

As with all government immigration processes around the world, it is important to note that these are just guidelines and every application will indeed follow its own unique timeline.

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Money & Taxes

How Can I Open a Bank Account in Cyprus as a Foreigner?

One of the first steps after moving to Cyprus is to open a local bank account. This will ensure that you always get the best exchange rate as well as avoiding ATM and transaction fees. While any bank account from an EU country will generally get you by on the island, it is more convenient to have a local bank account.

How to Open a Cypriot Bank Account: The Required Documents

There is very little required for opening a Cypriot bank account beyond collecting the required documents. If you already have your home in Cyprus, you will find it easy to get started with the process. 

Cypriot residents looking to open a personal bank account in Cyprus will need to the following:

  • copy of your valid passport or identity card (do be sure to ask if this must be Cyprus as some banks require this while others don’t)
  • a utility bill with an address in Cyprus that is in your name and less than six months old 
  • an application form from the bank


Still living abroad? While you can open a bank account in Cyprus, you will be requested to have a few different documents 

  • Copy of your passport (again check to see if this must be Cyprus) 
  • Utility bill from your current address abroad (translated to English if needed)
  • A certificate of income (translated to English if needed)
  • A statement from your current bank (translated to English if needed)
  • A copy of your criminal record (translated to English if needed)
Moving to Cyprus - money

How Do Taxes in Cyprus Work?

When moving to Cyprus, you become a tax resident when you spend more than 183 days a year in Cyprus. After this point in time, you are required to pay local tax your income earned both locally and overseas.

When it comes to income taxes, you can expect a tax rate with the following, rates depending on your income and, of course, subject to exemptions.

Annual Income Tax Rate
From €0 to €19,500
0%
From €19,500 to €28,000
20%
From €28,000 to €36,300
25%
From €36,300 to €60,000
30%
Over €60,000
35%

Be aware that certain taxes like capital gains can depend considerably on the country where you are from. British passport holders, for example, will get particularly favourable rates.

Ultimately, the best way to plan for taxes is to talk with a local professional who specialises in expat tax matters.

Climate & Weather

What’s the Weather like In Cyprus?

Famous for its gorgeous weather, Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate. For daily temps, you can expect to find incredibly hot summer days with mild and sunny winters. In fact, you will often hear the local Cypriots bragging about their 340 days of sunshine in a year.

The year is marked by the long and steamy summer. Typically the summers begin in early April and last until the end of October. During this long period of heat, you can expect temps in the low 30s near the coast with the mercury rising to 40 degrees C and beyond in the centre of the island.

Buying & Renting a Home

How Does Renting Work in Cyprus?

You will find a wide range of letting options all over the island. Since there is such an array of tourist hotspots around the county, you will find many short and medium-term rental options, but also some great bargains if you are willing to make a long term commitment.

In both short and medium-term housing, it is common to find furnished or partially furnished options. Unlike many Northern European countries, ex-pats will be pleased to see that kitchens are almost universally fully fitted and there are built-in cupboards and wardrobes throughout most apartments.

Moving to Cyprus - Villa compound in Cyprus

How Do Rental Contracts Work in Cyprus?

You will find that most apartments and houses offer a one to two-year lease that includes the possibility for renewal.

When you find the place you would like to live, most landlords will ask you to pay the equivalent of one’s month’s rent as a deposit along with one month’s rent to be paid in advance. In total, this means you will be handing over two month’s rent on the day that you sign the contract.

Most property owners ask that the tenant pays for utilities. You will find that the cost of water, electricity and heating is not included in the rental price. One exception, however, would be for short lets of fewer than six months where the price you pay tends to include everything.

How to Find a Place to Live in Cyprus

Foreigners are often attracted to the low price of housing across the island. In particular, you will find many British ex-pats who have left the UK to find significantly more affordable options throughout the island. 

The average home on the island costs less than 100,000 euros and you will find that local and international banks offer financing options of up to 70 per cent of the total value. While the terms are attractive, do be prepared for a wait. The process of buying a home can take more than three months.

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Healthcare

How Does Healthcare Work in Cyprus?

Healthcare in Cyprus is up to a high international standard. As you will find in most countries, ex-pats in Cyprus can opt to use public or private healthcare.

The National Healthcare System in Cyprus provides free medical care for everyone on an emergency basis. When it comes to long-term care, those with a low income receive free or subsidised healthcare treatments.

In the cities, you will find a network of government-run hospitals and clinics. Large private hospitals are readily available as well and, in both cases, you will find a high level of care from English-speaking doctors

When you arrive, be sure to register with the General Healthcare System (GESY) and get set up with a local GP. As soon as you have your residency permit in hand, this will guarantee that you always receive government care. Most ex-pats who opt for private insurance do so via their employer so, if you are interested, chat with your HR department.

Education

Moving to Cyprus with Children

Moving to Cyprus is a dream for many ex-pat families. Local residents often brag about being able to let their kids play outside year-round, thanks not only to the incredible weather but the overall safety of the county. 

Another perk is that the education system uses English as the primary language and is integrated with the wider European system

Moving to Cyprus - multicultural children at school

How Does Schooling Work in Cyprus?

From age three to six, children attend what is called pre-primary education. They then move onto primary education from ages six to 12. Finally, they attend secondary school from ages 12 to 18. 

After completing secondary school, many young people continue to higher education after age 18. Legally, however, this is not a requirement as full-time education in the county is only required for children aged from five to 15 years.

Is Schooling Free in Cyprus?

Primary and secondary state schooling, as well as higher education, is paid for by the government. As soon as your family has their residency permits, your kids will be able to obtain a free education in the local system. 

Likewise, for ex-pats looking to continue their education, you will find great options for a four-year bachelor’s degree as well as options for postgraduate degrees include master’s degrees and doctorate accredited by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education

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Final Thoughts

It is easy to see why moving to Cyprus is a dream for so many ex-pats. With a gorgeous climate, fascinating history, and laidback way of life, you will feel like you are on an extended holiday every day of the year. At the same, living in Cyprus gives you all of the benefits of living in a well-run yet the affordable country of the European Union.

Ready to make your Cypriot dreams a reality? For more in-depth info, check out our blog best place to live in Cyprus

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