General Matters in Cyprus
Compared with Western Europe, travel in southern Cyprus is moderately inexpensive; compared to the Middle East, you’ll find it pricey. The cost of tourist commodities in the Republic and in the North are similar, though the North is better value when it comes to eating out and at the budget end of accommodation options. Accommodation is more expensive in July and August on both sides of the Green Line.
Cyprus, in both the North and the South, has a 15% value-added tax (VAT), which is automatically added to the cost of more or less all services. An additional tax rate of between 2% and 10% is added to goods and services in Northern Cyprus. This tax and the VAT are not refundable to travellers upon departure.
In both parts of the island, a 10% service charge is sometimes added to a restaurant bill; if not, then a tip of a similar percentage is expected. Taxi drivers and hotel porters always appreciate a small tip. Bargaining is not normally part of the shopping scene in Cyprus, neither in the North nor the South.
The Republic’s unit of currency is the Euro (€). Euro notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. It is often difficult to get change for a €500 note. One euro is divided into 100 cents. Coins of 1, 2 and 5 cents are copper-coloured; coins of 10, 20 and 50 cents are gold-coloured; 1 and 2 euro coins are gold-and-silver coloured.
Banks in Cyprus exchange all major currencies in either cash or travellers cheques. Most shops and hotels in Northern Cyprus accept Cyprus pounds, and hard currencies such as UK pounds, US dollars and euros.
The Cyprus pound was replaced by the euro as official currency of the Republic of Cyprus on 1 January 2008 at the irrevocable fixed exchange rate of CYP 0.585274 per EUR 1.00
The unit of currency in Northern Cyprus is the new Turkish lira (Yeni Turkye Lira; YTL). Exchange rates for the new Turkish lira are subject to fluctuations due to a high inflation rate, check an up to date exchange website like www.xe.com for the most current rates.
ATM’S are as popular among Cypriots as they are among international visitors. ATMs are generally a convenient way to get cash at any time of the day, and the safest way to store your hard-earned dollars, pounds or Euros until you need them.
Most banks now allow you to access your regular bank account directly from an overseas ATM, although in some cases you may have to use your credit card to access cash. It is a good idea to transfer some money to your credit card before you leave home. Be aware that your bank may levy a hefty charge each time you withdraw money from an overseas ATM.
It is important to remember that sometimes communication can break down between banks especially between different countries. therefore a transaction via a ATM can result in temporarily blocked funds, also you should tell you bank you are going abroad before using your cards so they allow overseas transactions.
Also to minimize the possible loss of access to funds it is better to have a least 2 cards when aboard. A debit card and a credit card is preferable so you have a fall back position. In addition make a separate note for the telephone numbers on your card for help if lost or stolen or you have a problem and use the international number versions as some numbers may not work abroad.
You will find ATM’S in most towns and in most larger villages throughout the Republic of Cyprus. In Northern Cyprus, ATMs are currently limited to North Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia.
In the Republic, you can get a cash advance on Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Eurocard and American Express at a number of banks, and there are plenty of ATM’S. In the North, cash advances are given on Visa cards at the Vakiflar and Kooperatif banks in North Nicosi and Kyrenia; major banks (such as Is Bankasi) in large towns will have ATM’S.
Having cash is a fail-safe way to carry money around from one country to another. It is also the least secure method. Once you lose it, it’s gone. It’s a good idea to only carry as much cash as you need for three days or so. However, a safety stash of about €100 sewn into your backpack or suitcase will see you through a temporary cash-flow problem.
Foreign-currency notes may be OK to use in major tourist centres in Cyprus, but are not much use in Troodos Massif villages. In the North, foreign currency is more likely to be widely accepted in lieu of new Turkish lira.
Currency-exchange bureaus in tourist centres operate over extended hours and most weekends. It is a good idea to check the rates at a few bureaus, especially be careful with the ones near the main tourist areas as they can be expensive.
Just as popular as ATMs, credit cards can be used in stores, restaurants, supermarkets and petrol stations. In the latter, you can even buy petrol after hours with your credit card from automatic dispensers.
The Republic of Cyprus is more credit-card friendly than Northern Cyprus, though the main restaurants, hotels and car-hire companies in the North will happily take plastic.
If you need to access your funds, international transfers are possible from your home bank to any of Cyprus’ major banks. While this method is reliable, it is usually slow – taking a week or more – and not helpful if you need a cash infusion quickly. Telegraphic transfers are nominally quicker (and cost more) but can still take up to three working days to come through.
Private financial agencies such as Western Union are usually the best bet, as you can often obtain your transferred money the same day.
These are not as popular as they used to be, but are a good stand-by in an emergency. Restrictions on their use are naturally greater, though many hotels and larger establishments accept them readily. Always keep the receipts listing the cheque numbers separate from the cheques themselves, and keep a list of the numbers of those you have already cashed. This will reduce problems in the event of loss or theft.
Other Practical Info
Drinking Age Limit
The legal drinking age in Cyprus is 17. Drivers should exercise due care over the amount of alcohol consumed. The legal limit in breath is 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath. The legal limit in blood is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
Water is safe to drink in Cyprus. Water pollution is negligible and every home has fresh running drinking water. Tap water in hotels, restaurants, public premises, etc., is also safe to drink.
The electricity supply in Cyprus is 230 volts, a.c. 50 Hz. Sockets are usually 13 amp, square pin in most buildings. More than one low current rating appliance may be operated from the same supply point by using an adaptor (i.e. radios, electric clocks etc.). The use of adaptors for operating high current rating appliances is not recommended (i.e. electric heaters, toasters, irons etc.). Many hotels provide adaptors upon request from the reception. Adaptors can be purchased from electricians, supermarkets, grocery shops, etc.
Cyprus uses the metric system of weights and measures. Temperatures are reported in degrees Celsius, petrol is sold by the litre, grocery items are in grams and kilograms, fabric lengths in meters, and road speeds and distances posted in kilometers.
Procedure of Filing a Complaint
If you have a complaint concerning an establishment or a service, you can contact the manager of the hotel or tourist establishment. If for whatever reason you are not satisfied and wish to take your complaint further, please contact the Cyprus Tourism Organization.
Working in Cyprus
The employment of European citizens is regulated by the “Law on Free Movement and Residence of Nationals of the Member States of the European Union and their Families”. Some professions are regulated by local legislation setting out the qualifications and procedures needed to acquire the right to pursue a specific profession. The employment of non-European citizens is subject to the approval of the Department of Labour which examines applications submitted by employers seeking to hire foreigners in order to meet pressing, short term needs in the labour market in certain economic fields and occupations.
Further detailed information can be obtained from the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance .