If you’ve retired or perhaps taken early retirement and moved to North Cyprus with no intention of working ever again, and you just want to spend your time relaxing, taking up a hobby and socialising, there’s something you need to do before you sit down by the pool with your feet up. You need to ensure that you have obtained permission to do so on a permanent basis in the form of a residency permit!
PLEASE NOTE – PROCESS CAN CHANGE FROM YEAR TO YEAR – please seek updated process information from local authorities.
The process of securing your temporary resident’s permit has been streamlined and made much easier over the last few years, so it should not be too much of a stressful process to undertake, although it does require some running around, form filling and visits to various government departments along the way! The visa you will obtain is referred to as a ‘temporary’ permit because permanent residency requires a person to have lived in North Cyprus for six years at the time of writing.
You can also only be issued with permanent TRNC residency status if you do not spend more than 90 days outside the TRNC in any one year. This can be difficult for those who need to spend time abroad for any number of reasons, thus most people choose to continue to be temporary residents on this basis, although they will not attain benefits such as being able to vote for example.
On arrival into the TRNC you will automatically be given a 30 day visa, (check that this is the case with the immigration official checking your passport at the port of entry, and you can also ask if there is any possibility of an extension being given as they do sometimes grant incoming residents with a 3 month visa). From the start of this visa you should then have plenty of time to start the process of obtaining residency. The first words of advice are don’t panic – you will soon find other people in the same situation as you and as you all end up going through the process together you can give each other support and advice!
Please note – at this point we have to offer a word of warning – if you stay over the expiry date of your visa you are liable to fines incurred on a daily basis, so in our opinion you should start the residency visa process as soon as you possibly can after arrival as it can take a few weeks to secure the visa you need!
Firstly you will need to visit your local police station’s immigration department to inform them of your intention to stay, and they will then issue you with an application form to fill in and make a note that you have started the application process. This is very important because if you only have a 30 day stamp and the process takes 5 weeks, you don’t want to be liable for fines on the days in between your 30 day visa running out and your residency visa kicking in!
Once you have this form you then visit your local village Muhtar who will require passports and copies of your property sales contract or lease, depending on the type of property you live in. He will then provide you with a letter confirming your residential address. You will probably have to pay him a small fee, and you may require a few government stamps. These can be bought in advance from the post office.
For your first residency permit you will be required to provide a medical report confirming that you are not a carrier of certain diseases and conditions such as Hepatitis or AIDS. With the application form and Muhtar letter in hand, medical tests can be carried out for around 120YTL at a number of clinics, and they will know which tests are required for the different permit types. Normally test results are issued within 4-5 days, and they will be given to you in a sealed envelope which you must not open! Ask at the police station when you first visit it for the names of clinics in the area which can carry out these tests.
You will need copies of bank statements and/or pension payouts to prove that you have enough funds to cover living expenses for the foreseeable future – this proves to be a somewhat grey area as there are no guidelines on the set amount required apart from government officials stating that you should not be a burden to the state. People are unsure as to whether UK bank statements can be provided or if you need to have monies available in the TRNC. Many do provide UK bank account statements though, so we believe these to be acceptable. But you need to have a sum on deposit which is equivalent to a years worth of living costs, and immigration have apparently started questioning people with proof of less than £10,000, so the sum needs to be fairly substantial!
The final items required are at least 3 passport photos, copies of the picture portion of your passport, (subsequent applications for permits require copies of your previous permit also), and around 20YTL worth of government stamps available at post offices. This is probably more than you will need, but just to be on the safe side have this value of stamps with you!
Once you have all of these documents together you will then need to pay another visit to your local police station’s immigration department, and these are generally at the large city stations in Kyrenia, Lefkoşa and Famagusta. Here you will need to obtain an ‘in and out’ paper which details your trips in and out of North Cyprus to date.
The police official will then go through all your documentation to make sure that you have everything in order. It is then their responsibility to transport your documents to the main Immigration Department in Lefkoşa. They will give you a timeframe, but it usually takes around three weeks before you are required to visit Lefkoşa to obtain the stamp in your passport.
Once this is done then you are entitled to reside legally in North Cyprus for one year, and you will be furnished with a little registration/record book which you need to keep safe for subsequent permit applications. Every year you will then need to repeat the majority of the process, thankfully without repeat medical tests, but each time it should in theory get easier! Rules do change though, so checking with the police station before you apply is advisable.
So, if you have gone through the process then you should feel relaxed that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be! There are different rules for some people, for example those who are living with parents and don’t own their own property. In this situation they are required to have their parents as guarantors, requiring different papers to be authorised at a local notary’s office, and then depending on their age they may also be required to produce individual bank statements too! We can’t mention every permutation to the process here, so it’s worth checking with the authorities if you are not the standard resident!
It is also important to mention that if you are retiring to North Cyprus with children under the age of 18 (yes, early retirement for some is a reality!), then children do not have to go through the residency process.
It is prudent to ensure that you do go through this process if you intend to reside in North Cyprus permanently. The authorities these days are taking a more proactive approach in ensuring that the rules are adhered to, and there have been instances of fines and even deportations of those people who have failed to ensure they have obtained temporary residency or have been found to be working without the relevant permit.
Just a final pointer, there are people who will take care of the majority of the process for you if you really can’t face it! The British Residents’ Society can advise for example, or you’ll often find so called ‘runners’ at one of the expat markets that are held regularly. These runners can also help with getting you a TRNC driving licence, business and work permits and even importing goods.