The British High Commission in Nicosia has issued a statement concerning new procedures from the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus affecting British nationals in North Cyprus.
From 1 October 2021, those living in or visiting the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus can cross freely across any Green Line check-point into South Cyprus as many times as they want for a period of 90 days. After that, they will not be permitted to cross for a further 90 days.
The Greek Cypriot government has announced four exemptions to this new rule. The first three are for students from the TRNC who study in South Cyprus, TRNC patients receiving medical treatment in the South, and TRNC residents working in the South. Evidence of these will be needed to allow access across the Green Line after 90 days.
The final exemption is on humanitarian grounds, which requires seeking permission in advance from the Ministry of Interior in the Republic of Cyprus (RoC).
UK nationals who live in South Cyprus and have residency are not affected by these rules. They can continue to cross as often as they want without any time restrictions, as can European Union passport holders.
For all other British passport holders, the countdown begins on their very first crossing of the border, which includes those arriving at a South Cyprus airport and crossing straight over into the TRNC.
The rules are in keeping with the RoC’s 90-day visa-free stay in the areas of the island they control. Visitors can be on the island for 90 continuous days in a period of 180 days.
It should be noted, the TRNC has its own visa-free restrictions for foreigners who do not hold residency visas. In most cases, the standard is 30 days, but can be extended to 90 days.
For those who do cross into the South, as Greek Cypriot officials don’t usually stamp passports at the checkpoints, the British High Commission advises British nationals “to keep their own records of when they first cross and work out their 90-day limit from that.”
Bizarrely, the rules have not been published on any Greek Cypriot government website. Like their ‘unofficial’ rules for PCR test results from the TRNC, it leaves these new procedures open to interpretation by RoC officials.
One aspect that is ripe for foul play is against those who breach the 90-day rule. Currently, there is no clarity on what penalties they would face. Another area of uncertainty is how these rules play out given the use of different airports on the island for entry and exit.
The High Commission said in its statement that they “are seeking further clarification from the RoC authorities on these matters and will provide a further update to the British community once more information is available.”
Main picture, top, of Ledra Palace Border Gate, Nicosia/ Lefkoşa, Cyprus, 16 Dec. 2019: crossing the border from south to north. Photo © MSelcukOner / iStock