Expats applying for a visa for Cyprus should be aware of the political situation in the country. The Republic of Cyprus does not recognise the secessionist north and, consequently, its visa rules only apply to the south of the island. It also views all ports of entry in the Turkish-occupied north, including the airports, as illegal and advises that valid visa holders enter Cyprus through the south to avoid any problems.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cyprus, the legal points of entry into the country are the airports of Larnaca and Paphos, as well as the ports of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos and Latsi.

Passports are required to enter the country, regardless of the visa held, except for members of EU states, and citizens of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, who can enter with their national identity card. Despite Cyprus being in the European Union, it is not part of the Schengen Area.

Expats wanting to move to Cyprus to work should also keep in mind that the financial situation in the country has made it difficult for most foreigners to find employment on the island.

Tourist visas for Cyprus

Visas are issued by Cyprus embassies and general consulates or, in cases where these diplomatic missions aren’t accessible, they are obtainable at honorary consulates.

Some nationalities don’t need a visa to stay in Cyprus for up to 90 days, as long as they are only visiting the country. This is true for the European states listed above, as well as citizens of the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Residents from non-EU countries such as South Africa and India require a visa for Cyprus.

Business visas for Cyprus

Business visas have similar requirements to standard tourist visas, although an employer’s letter dated within one month of the entry into Cyprus is required to attest to the applicant’s salary. Self-employed expats can provide a solicitor, accountant or bank manager’s letter. If travelling on a business trip, applicants must produce an official letter of invitation from the company in Cyprus.

Residence and work permits for Cyprus

While visas allow expats into the country, they will have to apply for a long-term residence permit to stay for an extended period. Residence and immigration permits in Cyprus are administered by the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD).

Immigration permits for Cyprus

According to legislation, only expats who fall within certain categories can apply for an immigration permit upon arrival. The success of an application is determined by the Immigration Control Committee. The most popular categories that expats qualify under require that the applicant: 

  • Has enough money at their disposal to allow them to have a decent living in Cyprus without having to work. The Immigration Control Board determines what these amounts are. This is the most popular category and includes pensioners and retirees.

  • Has been offered permanent employment that won’t create undue local competition

  • Intends to be self-employed, has the relevant permits and has adequate funds at their disposal

Temporary residence and employment permits for Cyprus

The two-in-one Temporary Residence and Employment Permit for Cyprus is generally submitted by an employer to the CRMD or the police’s Aliens and Immigration Unit. In addition, the Ministry of Employment and Social Insurances has to certify the employment contract, proving that there are no Cypriots or EU citizens who are available or qualified to fill the post, before recommending that a third country national be employed.

Once they pass this first stage, nationals from non-EU countries must then register at their local Aliens and Immigration Unit or CRMD office within seven days of arriving in the country.

Under this permit, expats can stay and work in the country for four years unless: 

  • They are a highly skilled employee in a company with a significant turnover 

  • They are at least middle management or a key worker in a company with foreign activities

  • They are a qualified and registered nurse or medical professional

  • They are an athlete, coach or painter of religious icons 

Even non-EU citizens who are married to a Cypriot national must apply for a working residence permit if they want to work, which makes getting into Cyprus on a long-term basis quite challenging for many expats.

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