COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Cyprus is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided between a government-controlled area, comprising the southern two-thirds of the island, and a northern third administered by Turkish Cypriots. The United States does not recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” nor does any country other than Turkey. Facilities for tourism in Cyprus are highly developed. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Cyprus for more information on U.S. – Cypriot relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Cyprus, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local Embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Nicosia
Metochiou & Ploutarchou Street
Emergency after-hours telephone: 357-22-393939; wait for the recorded message and press 0.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport valid for three months to travel to Cyprus. You also need a visa, unless you are staying for less than 90 days and have a return or onward ticket from Cyprus. You may be asked to show proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay and documents required to travel to your next destination. For stays of longer than 90 days, you need a temporary residency visa; read the “Special Circumstances” section of this fact sheet for more information on this document. Be mindful that the Government of Cyprus does not recognize the residence permits issued by Turkish Cypriot authorities for the portions of the island under Turkish Cypriot administration. The Government of Cyprus does not issue residency permits to individuals who live in the areas outside government control. On occasion, U.S. citizens who resided in the areas which are not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus for more than 90 days have been detained by officials at Larnaca airport and denied entry into Government-controlled areas.
Read the “Special Circumstances” section of this fact sheet for important additional information about entry requirements into the Turkish Cypriot-administered areas. For further information on entry requirements for the Republic of Cyprus, contact the Embassy of Cyprus at 2211 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008-4082, tel. (202) 462-5772, or the Cypriot Consulate in New York at 13 East 40th St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10016, tel. (212) 686-6016/17.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Cyprus. Legislation mandates that aliens known to have certain communicable diseases and HIV be denied entry into the country. If you think you may be included in this restriction, check with the Embassy of Cyprus before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to enter the U.N. buffer zone at any place other than a designated crossing point. This area is mined and militarized. Never photograph military installations or anything that could be perceived as being of security interest (especially in the areas not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus). Pay particular attention to areas marked with “no photography” signs. Police on both sides strictly enforce these restrictions.
The Embassy has received reports of instances of discrimination and sexual harassment against U.S. citizens of Eastern European or non-European descent, particularly against U.S. citizens of Asian descent.
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CRIME: Although the crime rate in Cyprus is low, visitors in any urban areas should take the normal precautions they would take in any large city. Be alert and always vigilant of your surroundings and of your personal belongings. Criminals often target persons who are distracted, alone in an isolated area, or impaired. There has been a reported increase in the rate of home break-ins, particularly in Nicosia. Although most home break-ins take place overnight, this type of crime can take place at any time of day or night, as perpetrators seek targets of opportunity whenever available. As in any major metropolitan area, all travelers and residents should exercise care by locking all doors and windows to their homes, offices, and cars, and not leaving any valuables unattended or out in public view.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are these items illegal to bring back into the United States, by purchasing them you may also be breaking local law.
Avoid so-called “cabarets” or topless bars, as they reportedly employ women brought to Cyprus for sexual exploitation. These establishments can also present foreign patrons with grossly inflated bar tabs, and customers who refuse to pay may be threatened.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in the Republic of Cyprus are 199 and 112. Emergency assistance is available in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots by calling 155.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Cyprus, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods while traveling overseas. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Cyprus, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
If you are arrested in Cyprus, authorities of Cyprus are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should ask the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. You also have the option to request communications from you be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Since 1974, the Republic of Cyprus has designated Larnaca and Paphos international airports, and the seaports of Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos, as the only legal points of entry into and exit from Cyprus; these ports are all in the government-controlled southern part of the island. Entry or exit via any other air or seaport is considered an illegal act by the Republic of Cyprus. Formerly, visitors choosing to arrive at non-designated airports and seaports in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots were not allowed to cross the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone to the government-controlled area in the south. Since 2004, when the Republic of Cyprus implemented new EU-related crossing regulations, U.S. citizens (and citizens of other non-EU countries not requiring visas) have been able to cross regardless of their port of entry into Cyprus.
Cypriot officials at the buffer zone checkpoints or at airports and seaports in the government-controlled areas may detain and prosecute U.S. citizens who have been present for more than 90 days in the areas which are not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus if they do not possess a residency permit issued by the relevant authorities of the Republic of Cyprus.
For visits of less than 90 days, U.S. citizens may enter the Turkish Cypriot-administered area by displaying a valid U.S. passport. Stays for 90 days or longer require a “temporary residency visa” issued by Turkish Cypriot authorities. Turkish Cypriot authorities have deported foreigners who violate this law. Turkish Cypriot authorities emphasize that the requirement to obtain a temporary residency visa within 90 days of arriving in the Turkish Cypriot-administered area cannot be avoided by periodically visiting the southern part of the island controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.
Policy and procedures regarding travel across the buffer zone are subject to change. More information on current procedures may be obtained at the U.N. buffer zone Ledra Palace checkpoint at 357 22 451 944 in Nicosia.
If you plan to get married in Cyprus, national authorities may request a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, attesting that you are single and free to marry, issued by an official in the United States and certified by an apostille. For further information and assistance regarding marriage in Cyprus, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Cyprus customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Cyprus of items such as firearms.Cyprus also restricts the export of Byzantine period ecclesiastical material and all archaeological material, including ancient coins. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. There are no restrictions on contemporary religious materials and medication for personal use. You should contact the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements or visit their online Customs information. Also see our Customs Information.
Dual nationals may be subject to laws that impose special obligations on citizens of Cyprus. For example, U.S. citizens whom the Republic of Cyprus considers to be Cypriot citizens may be subject to compulsory military service and other aspects of Cypriot law while in Cyprus. Male U.S. citizens between the ages of 16 and 26 years who reside in the United States and whose parents or grandfather were Greek Cypriots or have Greek Cypriot names should get written confirmation that they reside permanently outside of Cyprus from the Cypriot Embassy in Washington, DC before they travel to Cyprus. After their arrival in Cyprus, they should present their foreign residency confirmation statement to the Cypriot National Guard Registration office to obtain an exit permit. Those who believe they may be affected should inquire at the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington, DC regarding their status. U.S. citizens whom the Turkish Cypriot authorities consider to be "citizens" may also be subject to compulsory military service in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. The U.S. Embassy in Nicosia is unable to exempt dual nationals from such service. For additional information, please see our dual nationality information.
U.S. citizens who buy or lease property, particularly in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, may find their ownership challenged by people displaced as a result of the 1974 conflict. Prospective property buyers should always seek legal advice before buying. It is a felony in the Republic of Cyprus to buy, rent, or sell property in Cyprus without the consent of the registered owner. Cypriot courts have used the law to prosecute people involved in the sale or purchase of property in the area administered by the Turkish Cypriots. The Government of Cyprus has also attempted to enforce Cypriot legal judgments in property matters in other EU countries. Cypriot customs authorities routinely detain anyone arriving in Cyprus or crossing the buffer zone found to be in possession of documents relating to property purchases in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots.
Accessibility: While in Cyprus, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation to be very different from what you find in the United States. The People with Disabilities Law mandates that public buildings and tourist facilities built after 1999 be accessible to all. However, older buildings frequently lack access for persons with disabilities. Narrow or nonexistent sidewalks and lack of transport, parking spaces, accessible toilets, and elevators all pose problems for persons with disabilities. Cypriot law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services, and in practice the government generally enforces the provisions. For information on accessible travel in Cyprus, visit "Accessible Cyprus: Information for Visitors with Special Access Needs."
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care is available both at government hospitals and private clinics. Emergency rooms offer adequate care to stabilize patients, most of who are then transferred to private hospitals. Many of the private-sector doctors have been trained in the United Kingdom or the United States. While fees are generally lower than those in the United States, medical supplies are often more expensive. Paramedics do not staff ambulances. The standard of medical care in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots is improving, but still falls below that found in the government-controlled area. The World Health Organization considers Cyprus to be one of the healthiest areas of the Mediterranean. Water supplies are potable, and the refuse collection/sewage disposal system is adequate. Communicable diseases such as typhoid are rare. Respiratory ailments and allergies are sometimes exacerbated by the dry and dusty climate.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Cyprus, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Driving conventions and practices in Cyprus differ from those you may be used to in the United States. Speeding, tailgating, overtaking, and the running of caution lights are commonplace and major causes of accidents. Emergency assistance is available in the Republic of Cyprus by calling 112 or 199. Emergency assistance is available in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots by calling 155.
There are few public buses and no rail lines in Cyprus. Taxis are widely available. Traffic moves on the left side of the road, British style, and modern motorways link the major cities. Secondary roads, especially in mountainous areas, tend to be narrow and winding, and not as well maintained as major highways. Traffic laws, signs, and speed limits are consistent with the standards used throughout Europe. Traffic circles (roundabouts) are often utilized at major intersections.
The use of seat belts (in front seats) and child car seats is required. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets and the use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited unless used with some form of hands-free kit. Liability insurance is mandatory.
Road safety conditions in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots are similar to conditions in the south, except that the road network is less developed. Insurance purchased in the government-controlled area is not valid in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, but insurance for that area may be purchased near the U.N. buffer zone checkpoints.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Cyprus, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Cyprus’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
CHILDREN’S ISSUES: In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated strict identification procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian, if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure. Although Cyprus is party to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you cannot use the Convention effectively to recover a child abducted to the northern area administered by Turkish Cypriots.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Cyprus dated February 27, 2013, to update all sections.