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Cyprus Flag of Cyprus

Still current at: 19 May 2009
Updated: 07 May 2009

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary (Swine Flu).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
 

Travel advice for this country


General

Insurance
 
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  For more general information see Travel Insurance.
 
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Water Shortage


The Republic of Cyprus has cut the supply of water to water boards by 30% since March 2008 because of water shortages on the island.  State hospitals will not be affected and the Government has stated that hotels will receive water “when needed”.  For information on specific areas please contact the relevant water board:

Nicosia (+357) 22 69 80 00
Limassol (+357) 25 83 00 00
Larnaca (+357) 24 82 24 00
Paphos (+357) 26 93 23 74
Famagusta (covering Ayia Napa and Paralimni) (+357) 23 82 13 23

For the towns in northern Cyprus below please call the following numbers:

Nicosia (Lefkosa/Lefkosia) (+90 392) 228 5221 x 137
Famagusta (Gazi Magusa/Ammochostos) (+90 392) 366 5332
Kyrenia (Girne/Keryneia) (+90 392) 815 2118
Tricomo (Yeni Iskele/Trikomo) (+90 392) 371 2299
Morphou (Guzelyurt/Morfou) (+90 392) 714 2018
Lapitos (Lapta/Lapitos) (+90 392) 821 8327
Pergamos (Beyarmudu/Pergamos) (+90 392) 379 9390
Lefka (Lefke/Lefka) (+90 392) 728 7347

Purchasing Property

You are advised to proceed with caution and to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from anyone else involved in the transaction, particularly the seller, before purchasing property anywhere in Cyprus. You should also note that the Cyprus legal system is not the same as that in the UK and that the process of achieving legal redress in Cyprus can be very protracted compared to the UK.  A list of English speaking lawyers is available on the High Commission's website.

There are risks involved with purchasing property on the island of Cyprus. Many British nationals, who have purchased property either in the north or south of Cyprus, face problems caused by; misleading advertising, the failure of developers to complete properties that have been purchased off plan, illegal construction or double selling.  Most of these problems can be avoided by taking proper independent legal advice.  In addition, both Cypriot and foreign owners of around 100,000 properties have not been able to obtain their title deeds. Some people have been trying to obtain them for over 30 years. There are many cases of people without title deeds finding it difficult to sell their property, or whose developer has imposed a sales fee, high property taxes or service charges.  As developers are able to take out mortgages on property for which they hold the title deeds, there is also a risk that a developer could go bankrupt with an outstanding mortgage on the property, rendering it liable to repossession by the mortgage holder.

You should take at least the same steps to protect your interests as you would do at home, and instruct an experienced, reputable lawyer who is totally independent to act on your behalf and ensure that your interests are adequately safeguarded. For further information, please consult our property FAQs.  Attempting to save money on professional fees by cutting corners, or by using the seller's lawyers, is a false economy that can result in severe problems later.

The ownership of many properties is disputed in northern Cyprus, with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced during the events of 1974. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a number of cases that owners of property in northern Cyprus prior to 1974 continue to be regarded as the legal owners of that property.  Purchasers could face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as attempts to enforce judgements from these courts elsewhere in the EU, including the UK. Property owners and potential purchasers should also consider that a future settlement of the Cyprus problem could have serious consequences for property they purchase (including the possible restitution of the property to its original owners). In particular, prospective purchasers should consider the implications of any future settlement on land / property:

  • in the north that was Greek Cypriot owned
  • that was subsequently classified as exchange land / property by the Turkish Cypriot "authorities".

The leaders of both communities started settlement negotiations in September 2008. Property issues forma key part of these negotiations. Until those negotiations are concluded and a comprehensive settlement agreed, the issues and risks identified above will continue to apply.

If you have purchased a property and are encountering difficulties, you should seek qualified independent legal advice on your rights and methods of redress. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British High Commission do not offer legal advice nor become involved with property disputes between private individuals, although we may be able to direct British nationals to organisations who may be able to help.

The website of the British High Commission in Nicosia contains information about purchasing property in Cyprus, including frequently asked questions, and information for people who are experiencing difficulties with a property purchase.  This can be accessed via the following link:  http://ukincyprus.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-cyprus/buying-property.

On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner’s permission. The maximum prison sentence is seven years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment.  Any enquiries about the full implications and scope of this legislation should be made to the Republic of Cyprus High Commission in London.

Time share and property salespersons tout for business in Cyprus, especially in the Paphos area. You should read the fine print very carefully and seek legal advice before signing any kind of contract. Under Cyprus law, purchasers of time shares are entitled to a 15-day “cooling off” period during which they should receive a full refund of any money paid if they change their mind.

Money

Cyprus adopted the Euro on 1 January 2008.

New legislation on the controls of cash entering or leaving the EU applies in all Member States.  Any person entering or leaving the EU will have to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 euros or more; this includes cheques, travellers' cheques, money orders, etc.  This will not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country - as long as the original journey started outside of the EU, nor to those travelling within the EU.

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contacts

Cyprus, Nicosia, British High Commission

Address:

British High Commission
Alexander Pallis Street (PO Box 21978)
1587 Nicosia or
BFPO 567

Telephone:

+357 22 861100

Fax:

(357) (22) 861125 Information
(357) (22) 861175 Management
(357) (22) 861200 Consular
(357) (22) 861150 UKTI
(357) (22) 861315 Chancery
(357) (22) 861325 Defence

Email: brithc.2@cytanet.com.cy

Office hours:

Mon-Fri: 0530-1230 GMT
Mon-Fri: 0730-1430 Local Time

Website: http://ukincyprus.fco.gov.uk/en



 

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