07 Nov What third world passport holders should know before visiting Cyprus
This article is relevant to Philippine passport holders and all other citizens who require a visa to enter Cyprus or Schengen visa to visit countries in Europe.
Visa facts to Cyprus:
- If you’re planning to go directly to Cyprus (and/ or) only Cyprus, you would need a Cyprus visa. See Cyprus tourist visa guide.
- Cyprus is not part of Schengen but if you are a holder of valid multiple-entry Schengen visa, you don’t need to apply for a separate visa to Cyprus. Your Schengen will gain you access to Cyprus for a maximum stay of 3 months for every 6 months provided that your visa and passport is valid for the intended duration of stay AND;
- – that your first entry is any Schengen country. For example, you can fly to Greece (Schengen country) from Philippines. You would actually have to enter Greece and not just transit to secure the entry and exit passport stamps. From Greece, you can then fly to Cyprus later on. Only with that stamp proving you have first entered a Schengen country will you be allowed to enter Cyprus using your Schengen visa.
Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus:
- Wikipedia will tell you that Cyprus is divided into two territories- the southern area often referred to as the Republic of Cyprus or simply “Cyprus” and the northern side occupied by Turkish citizens called the “Northern Cyprus”. The Republic of Cyprus is what you want to visit when going to this country although the northern side also has its own charm and not to be missed if you have enough time.
- One can simply drive for an hour or so and cross the border from Cyprus to the northern side of Cyprus
- If you read further in wikipedia, you would know that these two territories have a dispute stemming from years ago. Simply put, they don’t like each other but for tourism, they co-exist and one can still visit both by following the guidelines I will discuss in this article.
Where to enter in Cyprus:
- The north side only has one airport called ERCAN and only flies to Turkey. From Turkey, you can get to anywhere in the world.
- Whereas, Cyprus has 2 operational airports: Paphos and Larnaca. Larnaca is the more commercial one.
- Paphos and Larnaca airports in Cyprus do not have flights to Turkey but have flights to almost all destinations in the world just like any other airport
- Holders of 3rd world passports are NOT ALLOWED to enter the Republic of Cyprus from the northern side. Hence, either with your Cyprus visa or Schengen visa, you can enter Cyprus ONLY from Larnaca or Paphos airport.
- Once in Cyprus, you can cross the border by land to go to the north side if you want to visit that area.
Bus or car from Cyprus to Northern Cyprus:
- You can rent a car from Cyprus and cross to the north side. However, you would be required to have an insurance for it before you are allowed to cross. You can buy it in the border. Just drive to the border pass and there is a place to buy the insurance there. Costs 20 euro for 3 days. I don’t know if the other way is allowed as I haven’t tried (rent a car from Turkish side and cross to Cyprus)
- The areas where you can cross to the north side by car:1. In Nicosia at Dimokratias street
2. Crossing in the town of Pyla near Larnaca
3. Via vrysoules near Farmagusta
4. I would assume you can cross at Kato Pyrgos through the main road there but I have not yet tried this
5. I would also assume you can cross at Astromeritis near Troodos mountains but I have not yet tried this either
You take any of the intercity buses from Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos or similar to Nicosia main bus terminal in the city centre. From there, you walk into the main walking and shopping street called Ledras street – Its 5 mins walk from the bus station. At the end of the walking street there is a border crossing that you can cross by foot. You need to show your passport to pass over. On the other side you can then walk around the centre of North Nicosia to see the various sights.
If you want to take a bus from North Nicosia to any of the other main cities in North Cyprus, you have to walk or take a taxi to Lefkosia Bus Terminal. Walking would take you 20-30 mins depending on your pace. To find it, walk from the border to the Girne Kapisi, which is the main wall that surrounded the city in the old days. At this particular place, there is a statue of Atatûrk, the old and famous president of Turkey. When you reach this statue and “Exits” through the wall, you turn right following the big main road called Cemal Gûrsel Caddesi. After 6-700 meters, make sure to follow the road turning slightly to the left. From there you need to walk another around 1.5 – 2 km and you will reach the bus terminal on your left side. From that bus station you can easily take a bus to Kyrenia, Farmagusta, Ercan Airport and plenty of other destinations.
· Intercity busses in Cyprus
· Airport bus in North Cyprus from various locations Warning: it’s in Turkish
Flying out of Cyprus:
- After visiting the north side, you can go back to Cyprus by car and fly out from there.
- You can also fly out from the north side to Turkey and from Turkey to any onward destination but this has disadvantages for 3rd world passport holders IF you plan to go back to Cyprus via Paphos or Larnaca in the future. See below why.
- When flying out from the Northern side, make sure they check your passport in the border from both sides. In one of my experiences, I crossed the border by car and forgot to present my passport in the border (happens sometimes especially during wee hours). In the immigration at Ercan, I was not allowed to fly out because they could not find the record of me crossing that border. Simply put, I missed my flight and had to go back to the border to present my passport, go back to Ercan, and buy another ticket.
- Note that you need a Turkish visa to enter Turkey. You can apply online for the said visa if you hold a Schengen visa. Cost is 30 euro and the process is completely online. They will email you the visa on the same day.
Disadvantage of flying out from the North side
Citing from my personal experience, I flew out from the north side to Turkey and Turkey to Philippines. Why? I found a cheap ticket with that itinerary. That was in February and I nearly exhausted my allowable stay of 3 months when I left. So left, I did.
In June of that same year, I came back entering from the Cyprus side in Larnaca. I was held in the immigration because their records show that I have overstayed in Cyprus. It did not show that I left the country (in general) last February. This is because the two territories have nothing to do with each other. They don’t consolidate records etc… It did not show in theirs that I flew out from the north side. Anyway, I just had to prove to the immigration officer that I flew out from the Turkish side and only then did they let me out. Good thing I have a good travel history with all my passport stamps and that it was my 5th or 6th time going back to Cyprus so they were easy on me. I can imagine they can easily use this against someone to not let that person in.
Before I left, I asked how this issue can be avoided in the future. He simply said, “don’t fly out from the north side”. K fine.
Other things to know when going to Northern Cyprus
- Northern Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira as their currency. They accept euro but will give you Lira if you have a change. Oftentimes, the exchange rate is not good so it’s best to use Lira.
- If you buy a sim card in Cyprus, it will not work when you cross the northern side
- In the border, they just check your passport and record your entry in their system, they don’t actually stamp your passport
- Cypriot citizens are sensitive about this issue. For example, do not use “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” when checking in on Facebook or simply do not use that term around Cypriots. Stick with “north side of Cyprus”
You might also ask:
If you’re nearing the 3 months deadline for your allowable stay in Cyprus, can you cross to the north side to stop the count/ go on a visa run?
No. Your stay in both Cyprus and Northern Cyprus is both counted in the 3 months allowable period