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Living In Cyprus, A Guide For Expats

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The beautiful island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean is popular with expatriates from around the world owing to comfortable living standards, a low cost of living and the warm, pleasant climate.

However, moving abroad requires considering the practicalities, such as healthcare, visa requirements and tax exposure implications.

Knowing what day-to-day life is like, the rules around buying property, and the complications of travelling between the north and south of the island without an EU passport is essential to ensure your international relocation is smooth and successful.

Cyprus – Quick Facts

  • The flag of the republic of Cyprus (South Cyprus)
  • Population: 1.244 million
  • UK expat population: 70,000
  • Capital: Nicosia
  • Main cities: Limassol, Larnaca, Stróvolos, Famagusta and Paphos

North And South Cyprus Explained

The island of Cyprus consists of two territories:

The Republic of Cyprus, or South Cyprus, is an independent state and member of the European Union. This guide to living in Cyprus is about this part of the island.

Northern Cyprus, or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, comprises the north-east of the island and is a state recognised by Turkey,

Visas And Residency

Cyprus is part of the European Union and offers a permanent residency programme open to non-EU applicants buying property worth at least €300,000 (£263,304). Several other routes end in residency, including short-term visas for work and study. Still, permanent residence lets expats live in Cyprus without a visa expiry date.

If you intend to visit Cyprus for more than 90 days, you need a valid visa for the duration of your stay.

Expats with permanent residency can apply for full citizenship after five years of living in Cyprus, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Further information about visas and residency is available through the Civil Registry and Migration Department.

Proof of vaccination

The Cypriot authorities lifted requirements for travellers to present proof of vaccination, a recovery certificate or a negative COVID-19 test result in June 2022.

Passport validity

Cyprus follows the passport requirements applicable across the EU, which means your passport should have been issued no more than ten years before your entry date and be valid for at least three months after the planned departure date.

If you have a permanent visa or long-stay visa, it is advisable to bring all your documentation and renew your passport before you travel.

Taking medicines to Cyprus

Foreign nationals can take medication to Cyprus, if they are for personal use. You must have a letter from your doctor explaining your medicines, how they are used, and the dosage.

It is best practice to have a letter formally translated into Greek or Turkish if you are moving to northern Cyprus. Local doctors and pharmacies may not have the same brands available and will need to understand the drug within the medication.

Some pharmacies will refuse to accept any foreign prescription because, officially, a prescription issued anywhere outside of Cyprus is not recognised. Register with a local doctor as soon as possible to ensure you can renew your medication.

Police certificates

You may need a police certificate to comply with the terms of your visa. The High Commission of Cyprus in the UK can assist. A certificate costs €20 (£17.70).

Safety And Security

Cyprus is one island with a divide between the north and south called the Green Line. The Republic of Cyprus is an EU full member recognised by the UN. However, Turkey recognises the north, above the Green Line, as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – the UK government does not recognise this as a separate nation.

While you may have difficulties travelling to northern Cyprus without an EU passport, the island is generally safe, and crime is rare. Tourists and expats are advised to keep valuables, cash and passports in a safe place.

Personal attacks are not frequent, but in tourist areas and clubs, foreign nationals should never accept drinks from anyone due to issues around spiking.


If you move to Cyprus, you can continue driving with your UK licence for up to six months, after which you must exchange it for a Cypriot licence through your nearest Citizen Service Centre.

Cost Of Living

Cyprus is slightly more affordable than the UK, with an average cost of living 8.3 per cent lower than Britain and rents of around 6.2 per cent less. A single person normally needs a budget of roughly €768 (£679) a month to live comfortably, excluding rent, and a four-person family €2,668 (£2,359).

Restaurants are reasonably priced, and rental costs do not vary dramatically, although they are inevitably higher in city centres, high-demand tourist locations and beachfronts.

Buying Or Renting A Home

As a non-EU national, expats can buy property in Cyprus but are limited to one house, apartment, or an acre of land – you cannot buy multiple properties and will need approval from the Council of Ministers before you can proceed with a transaction.

Once approved, you have varied choices, depending on whether you are investing in a property to meet the minimum thresholds to qualify for the residency by investment programme, whether you intend to work after moving to Cyprus, and where you would prefer to live.

Northern Cyprus is generally considered a Turkish region. In contrast, southern Cyprus is Greek and part of the EU. Purchasing a home in the north is a much higher risk since there are ongoing disputes around politics, ownership of land, and rights to sell.

Most expats live in the major cities in the south, including Larnaca, Paphos, Limassol and Nicosia. You can review properties to let or buy through multiple sites, including Home CY, Pafilia and Buy Sell Cyprus.

Cost of renting and buying a home

Property TypeAverage Monthly Rent
One-bedroom city centre apartment€880 / £778
One-bedroom apartment elsewhere€684 / £605
Three-bedroom city centre apartment€1,692 / £1,496
Three-bedroom apartment elsewhere€1,362 / £1,204
Property TypeAverage Cost Per Square Metre
City centre apartment€2,193 / £1,939
Apartment elsewhere€1,531 / £1,354

Where Do British Expats Live In Cyprus?

Southern Cyprus is more attractive to expats due to the lack of political tension and the possibility of complications over property ownership. The most popular cities are Paphos and Limassol, which are also the most populated cities on the island.


Foreign nationals will need to take out comprehensive health insurance before moving to Cyprus – this is almost always a non-negotiable condition of applying for a visa. Exceptions might apply if you have a work visa and your employer is a Cypriot company that provides good health insurance coverage as an employment benefit.

The public healthcare system will cover you if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You are a UK national working in Cyprus with a legally valid visa or permit.
  • You have permanent residency status and can produce a residential medical card.
  • You have a UK Global Health Insurance Card and temporarily reside in Cyprus.
  • You have registered an S1 form with the General Healthcare System and qualify for coverage.

More information about applying for an S1 form as a registered resident and finding healthcare services in Cyprus is available through the UK government portal.

Working In Cyprus

Cyprus has a fast-growing economy, and there are often opportunities to relocate, start a business, carry on a profession or take up an employment opportunity. The EU member state offers tax benefits and an international business landscape.

There are three requirements for any foreign nationals hoping to work in Cyprus:

  • A work permit: you must have an offer of employment, and a potential employer must apply on your behalf before you travel.
  • A work visa: a visa is separate from a permit and allows you to travel to Cyprus. The permit will enable you to work and register for applicable taxes or social security benefits.
  • A residence permit: you must have a residence permit if you plan to remain in Cyprus for 90 days or longer, in addition to your work visa and permit.

The employer will usually manage the application for a work permit, and you must have a permit registered via a Cypriot organisation before applying for a work visa.

Other routes include applying to the Department of Labour for a work permit – after finding a prospective employer and agreeing to the terms of an employment contract. The department will issue a recommendation letter to the employer that they can then use to process the permit.

You can also apply via the Migration Department. Once the recommendation letter is issued to the employer, they can proceed with a work permit application.

Professionals that fill a skills shortage area will be fast-tracked through the process. Current shortages include health, ICT, finance, university and business services professionals.


If you are living in Cyprus as a tax resident, you will be liable to pay taxes on all your income worldwide, although tax rates and double tax treaties often provide efficiencies and a lower tax exposure than you would expect in the UK.

Cypriot taxes work on a similar progressive scheme, with a tax-free income threshold of €19,500 (£17,245). From there, tax bands increase to a maximum of 35 per cent for taxpayers earning over €60,000 (£53,061) a year. Tax bands for 2023 are as follows.

IncomeTax Band
Up to €19,5000 per cent
€19,501 to €28,00020 per cent
€28,001 to €36,30025 per cent
€36,301 to €60,00030 per cent
Over €60,00035 per cent


The HMRC Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme approved list does not include any pension funds in Cyprus. However, although professional advice is strongly advisable, you could transfer a UK pension fund to the EU-wide scheme.

British nationals remain eligible for the UK State Pension after moving to Cyprus. Because they live in an EU member state, they will continue to receive an annual uplift in pension benefits.

Need Help with your Finances?

Local Laws And Customs

  • Cypriot drug-related laws are very strict, and any banned substance, including an unauthorised medication, will result in a prison sentence or a large fine.
  • Foreign nationals are advised not to take photographs near areas that may be sensitive, such as military zones or government buildings.
  • Homosexuality is legal, although not accepted in all communities. The legislation changed in 2014 and again to allow civil partnerships in 2016, but some areas are less inclusive.
  • Cyprus has a mandatory military service requirement, and expats with Cypriot heritage should verify whether they are eligible for service – if so, they may not be able to leave the country or may be required to prove that their primary residence is outside of Cyprus.
  • Travellers cannot bring milk or meat products into any EU country, with some exceptions applied to items such as powdered milk for children.

Education And Schooling

The Cypriot education system states that primary and secondary schooling is mandatory. Children begin school from age five and study until they are 15 – although many continue their education until age 18.

Most schools teach primarily in Greek. Although English is taught as a second language in nearly all schools, expats tend to send their children to private or international schools where there isn’t any issue with learning a language.

Permanent residents and citizens can send children to free public sector schools, although colleges catering to ages 15 to 18 may charge attendance fees.

Parents might be eligible to claim a state-funded nursery space for preschool children, but places are limited and depend on your area and the available facilities. Most nurseries are privately owned and run and prioritise children of age five who are expected to be in education.

There are numerous private schools for both primary and secondary age, and many follow the British curriculum or international baccalaureate. Fees vary but tend to be around €7,000 (£6,190) annually on average. Some private schools require applicants to sit an entrance test, similar to a British grammar school.

More details about Cypriot education are available through the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth.

Living In Cyprus FAQ

What is the currency in Cyprus?

Cyprus is a full member of the EU and uses the Euro as its currency. One Euro is currently worth approximately £0.88.

Is Cyprus a safe place for foreign nationals to live?

Yes, Cyprus is considered a safe place to live, and violent or serious crime is rare. More common crimes include pickpocketing and bag snatching, especially in tourist areas. Expats are advised to be cautious about scams and cons around timeshare properties and drink spiking in busy bars.

Can you travel from north to south Cyprus and vice versa?

The Green Line is safe to pass, although there are several checkpoints, and you may be refused entry if you do not have an EU passport. If you have applied for Cypriot citizenship and have a passport, you can travel freely between the north and south.

What language do people speak in Cyprus?

Cyprus has two official languages; Greek, primarily spoken in the south, and Turkish, used in the north. However, English is fairly widely spoken and is commonly used in bigger cities and tourist areas.

What is the weather like in Cyprus?

Cyprus is a warm, dry, Mediterranean country, and the most pleasant temperatures are outside of July and August when the heat can get extremely high. The seas around Cyprus remain warm enough for swimming from May to October.

Summer lasts from around the middle of May to the middle of October, and winter can last until mid-March when higher rainfall is normal. The average temperature in Cyprus sits at around 17.5°C.

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