is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Cyprus.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Cyprus country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Cyprus at Level
1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Do not attempt to
enter the United Nations buffer zone at any place other than a designated
crossing point. Police and UN forces strictly enforce this restriction. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Nicosia as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Cyprus is generally a safe country that experiences
less violent crime than other European countries. However, crimes of
opportunity do occur. Most street crimes are non-violent and
non-confrontational, ranging from scams to petty theft. Street criminals are generally
unarmed and not prone to gratuitous violence. Criminal activity in the northern
part of Cyprus is reportedly low. The highest number of robberies in the
Turkish-Cypriot administrated area occurred in Kyrenia, Famagusta, and northern
Nicosia. Nationwide, tourist areas can experience petty crime. Rates of street
crimes (e.g. pickpocketing, purse snatching) remain steady. Muggings and armed
robberies are uncommon, but stories about these incidents have appeared in
local media. Thefts of valuables left in plain sight in unattended vehicles do
occur. The number of opportunistic crimes (e.g. pickpocketing, purse snatching,
car break-in, robbery, home burglary) rises during the holidays and the summer
when many homes are vacant. Sexual assaults are uncommon, but have occurred. Review
OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
residential burglaries occur infrequently, police sources reported a noticeable
increase in attempted burglaries during 2018. Burglars are more likely to
target empty residences and homes without an alarm or other security
precautions (e.g. shutters, additional locks on doors/windows). Burglaries of
commercial establishments (e.g. jewelry shops, convenience stores, and sometimes
banks) have also occurred.
linked to organized crime are a concern. Criminal incidents involving
improvised explosive devices (IEDs), incendiary devices, and small arms,
primarily attributed to organized crime, occur infrequently. Online gambling is
the originating cause of many crimes, including loan sharking, threats,
blackmail, and even kidnapping. Sporadic bombings, shootings, and arson have
occurred since 2010. These incidents typically involve conflicts between rival
organized crime groups and are not associated with terrorism. The attacks
usually mean to send a message to an intended recipient, but occasionally cause
injury or fatality. These incidents have normally occurred in the late evening
or early morning hours, but may occur at any time. Most of the reported IEDs
did not result in an explosion.
is a trafficking destination for persons subjected to forced prostitution and
labor. The government-controlled Republic of Cyprus (ROC) is a destination for
sex trafficking, which occurs in private apartments and hotels, on the street,
and within commercial sex outlets. Domestic laborers, agricultural workers, and
foreign migrants are vulnerable for trafficking for forced labor. In the
unrecognized “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” (“TRNC”) sex trafficking is
a significant problem. While prostitution is illegal under “TRNC” law, a
trafficking “law” does not exist; nightclub workers, who live at the clubs,
regularly report that employers seize their passports, leaving them little
freedom of movement. Groups vulnerable to forced labor include domestic
workers, asylum seekers, and foreign migrants working in the construction and
agricultural sectors. There are currently 319 foreign women working on “barmaid
visas” in the north. “TRNC” authorities issued approximately 1,600 “barmaid
pre-permits” to nightclubs in 2019, which then convert into “permits” after the
prospective employee arrives and undergoes a health examination. Night clubs
have also presented foreign patrons with grossly-inflated bar tabs, threatening
customers who refuse to pay with bodily harm.
crimes remain low in relation to population size, but cybercrimes are
increasing. Cybersecurity should be a priority for any organization operating
in Cyprus. OSAC cannot overstress the importance of using only legitimate
crimes conducted over the internet have increased as scammers attempt to
convince you to send them money. These fraudulent schemes can include claims
that make it appear you are helping a loved one or a friend who has been
injured or is in trouble, online dating/social networking services, inheritance
notices, work permits/job offers, and claims of bank overpayments. Review
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
is on the left. A combination of human factors, poor road designs, and a
general disregard for safe driving practices result in hazardous conditions for
both pedestrians and motorists. Defensive driving is essential, as many drivers
do not adhere to traffic regulations and are extremely aggressive. Incidents of
reckless driving and road rage (e.g. tailgating, honking, shouting)
occasionally result in traffic accidents and physical altercations.
traffic accidents are a regular occurrence throughout Cyprus. Motorcycles and
scooters normally drive between lanes and weave in/out of traffic at high
speeds. Cyprus’s traffic fatality rate is among the highest in the European
Union, primarily due to aggressive driving.
should take particular care, as sidewalks are frequently absent or narrow, and filled
with potholes and tripping hazards. Where sidewalks do not exist, people walk
and bike on the road, causing serious safety issues. Pedestrian crossings at
intersections designated by zebra stripes are difficult to see. Drivers often
ignore a pedestrian's right of way.
roads in the larger cities are in relatively good condition, and street signs are
usually written in both English and Greek. In most cases, secondary roads are
narrow two-lane strips with little/no shoulder. Street signs (when present) are
small and offer little navigational value. Most drivers learn locations by
landmarks rather than street signs.
the north, two-lane roads are mostly narrow, with little/no shoulder. Street
signs mostly contain Turkish wording, with some in English. Street signs and
most GPS offer little assistance in navigation.
opening and closing of businesses and schools also affects traffic in Nicosia.
Many stores close for one to two hours at lunchtime, and public schools let out
at about 1300, causing midday traffic. Rush hour is from 0700-0830, during
lunchtime, and again from 1500-1800. Rush hour begins even earlier on Wednesday
afternoons, when many offices close at approximately 1330.
to the lack of public transportation, traffic is particularly problematic in
Nicosia, where there are too many cars for the road system to handle. Traffic
accidents often coincide with rush hour, and parking is difficult in congested
use of seat belts (in front seats) and child car seats is mandatory. The use of
cellular phones while driving is prohibited unless used with some form of
hands-free kit. Motorcyclists must wear helmets, and all drivers must carry
the event of a car accident, immediately contact the vehicle insurance company
or the car rental agency to file a police report. Although you do not have to
file a police report in a minor fender bender where both parties’ car insurance
companies can handle the situation, you must file a police report if there is
serious damage or bodily injury involved. It is common for the police to
request that a driver accompany them to the nearest police station to complete
an accident report. In the “TRNC,” immediately contact the vehicle insurance
company or the car rental agency and file a police report.
OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
transportation consists of bus service that travels throughout the island.
Buses are safe and inexpensive, but service is limited in the ROC and the “TRNC.”
Taxis are widely available. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
ROC has two major international airports: one in Larnaca (LCA) and another in Paphos
(PFO). Both airports meet international standards for safety and security. Ercan
International Airport (ECN), which is not an ROC-recognized entrypoint into
Cyprus, serves the “TRNC;” entering via Ercan can create issues for travelers who
plan to visit the ROC.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Nicosia as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. International terrorism continues to be a
concern, as authorities only lightly scrutinize movement between EU member
countries. Cyprus has vulnerabilities associated with the de facto political
division of the island and the relative ease with which people can move across
the buffer zone undetected.
information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term
attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to
attacks from transnational terrorist organizations, although there have been no
recent terrorist attacks in Cyprus. Terrorist groups, including their
associates, and those inspired by such organizations, are intent on attacking
U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated
methods of attack -- including edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles – to more
effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets.
2012 and 2015, ROC authorities disrupted two Lebanese Hizb’allah operations. In
both cases, suspected targets were never determined or made known, but these
incidents highlighted the ability of the Cypriot National Police to detect and
deter terrorist operations.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Nicosia as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests.
prospect of violent demonstrations and large-scale civil disorder is unlikely. Demonstrations
in support of international movements such as world peace and the environment
are common, largely peaceful, and focus on government buildings. Protesters
tend to occupy streets and block the flow of traffic. Economic conditions in
the north have also led to demonstrations, primarily by public sector workers.
Overall, in 2019, demonstrations were largely non-violent and resulted only in
a few minor injuries and a small number of arrests.
uncommon, incidents of ethnic violence have occurred in the ROC. There were a
few incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriots traveling to ROC-controlled
against the United States in recent decades have been non-violent and focused
on the U.S. foreign policy in the region. None of the demonstrations hindered the
activities of U.S. private-sector organization.
possibility of earthquakes is a concern, as Cyprus is located in the world’s
second most earthquake-prone zone. Minor tremors occur regularly, but most are
imperceptible. There are 8-10 moderate quakes per year, with the risk of a
major quake ever-present. Most houses are constructed accordingly. The Earthquake Country
Alliance provides information on earthquake preparedness.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
has a good track record in industrial and transportation safety, and follows EU
guidelines. The lead ROC agency overseeing industrial and transport safety is
the Department of Labor Inspection,
which works closely with the private sector to ensure that best practices are
followed in all sectors. Located at Apelli 12, 2nd Floor, 1480 Nicosia, Tel.
+357-22-405700, +357-22-405630, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
espionage concerns are on par with other EU countries. The private sector
should take care to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data by
following normal best business practices, including use of authorized IT
ROC has robust Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation, including on
copyright, allowing the sampling of evidence and facilitating prosecution of
violators. Merchandise piracy has decreased significantly in recent years,
largely due to aggressive enforcement by the Department of Customs and the
IPR situation in the “TRNC” is far worse than in the ROC. IPR legislation is
antiquated, and the authorities have shown little initiative to combat piracy.
and banking information processing tends to be professional. The Embassy is not
aware of any particular privacy concerns arising from widespread misuse of such
information. Contact the Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data
Protection to obtain information on addressing privacy concerns at 40,
Themistokli Dervi str., Natassa Court, 3rd floor, 1066 Nicosia, Tel: +357-22-818456,
Personal Identity Concerns
most travelers do not encounter problems, a few instances over the last few
years noted travelers had faced discrimination due to race, sexual orientation,
are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of
LGBTI+ events in the Republic of Cyprus or in the “TRNC.” Despite broad legal
protections, LGBTI+ individuals sometimes face societal discrimination, and few
are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although public
attitudes tend to be socially conservative in Cyprus, the U.S. Embassy has not
received reports of violence against LGBTI+ travelers.Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
ROC’s People with Disabilities Law mandates that public buildings and tourist
facilities built after 1999 be accessible to all. Older buildings frequently
lack access for persons with disabilities. Narrow or nonexistent sidewalks and
lack of transport, parking spaces, accessible toilets, and elevators all pose
problems for persons with disabilities. ROC law prohibits discrimination
against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care,
or in the provision of other state services. For information on accessible
travel in Cyprus, visit Accessible
Cyprus. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
number of drug-related crimes has decreased slightly over the last few years.
While illegal drug activity is low by most standards, immigration and customs
officials continue to report increases in the amount of illegal drugs (e.g. hashish,
marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine) detected at ports of entry. With the
opening of the crossing points through the UN-patrolled buffer zone in 2003, it
became easier to smuggle drugs from “TRNC” to the government-controlled areas.
Penalties for the importation and/or sale of illegal drugs, even in small
quantities, are severe. Incidents of drug-related violent crime are sporadic.
UN must authorize access to the UN-controlled buffer zone. Crossing into the
buffer zone between the north and south is illegal outside of the authorized
crossing points. Never photograph military installations or anything that could
be perceived as being of a security interest. Pay particular attention to areas
marked with “no photography” signs. Police on both sides of the island strictly
enforce these restrictions. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
emergency line in the ROC is 199. Additionally, 112 is also available in an emergency; this is a
pan-European number that can reach emergency services – medical, fire, police –
from any landline, pay phone, or cellular phone in Europe. In the “TRNC,”
emergency contact number for the police is 155.
For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Divisional Police Headquarters:
Nicosia: +357-22 80 20 20
Limassol: +357-25 80 50 50
Larnaka: +357-24 80 40 40
Paphos: +357-26 80 60 60
Ammochostos: +357-23 80 30 30
Police/Citizens Communication Line: 1460
Cyprus National Police is a centralized, national organization under the
Ministry of Justice and Public Order. Headquartered in Nicosia, it is headed by
a Chief of Police. The organizational structure has four main departments:
Training, Administration, Support, and Operations. Under that structure, the
police department has seven regional divisions covering the ROC. All areas of
policing and law enforcement (i.e. immigration, emergency response, airport
security, seaport police, criminal investigations, drug enforcement) fall under
the Cyprus National Police, which is capable and sufficiently trained. The
emergency response unit (MAAD), responsible for riot control, major events, and
counterterrorism, is highly trained and maintains a solid reputation.
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the U.S.
traveling with prescription medication, check with the Republic
of Cyprus to ensure the medication is legal in Cyprus. Always carry your
prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
You should similarly confirm with authorities in the “TRNC” to ensure any
medication you are carrying will not present problems. Contact the “Drug and
Pharmacy Office” at +90392-2284156 or +90392-2284001.
dry air on the island may aggravate respiratory ailments and allergies.
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Cyprus.
OSAC Country Council
Nicosia Country Council currently meets once a year and has approximately ten
members. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for
more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Metochoiu & Ploutachou Streets,
2407 Engomi, Nicosia
Regular hours: 0800 – 1300, Monday
Regional Security Office:
American Citizen Services (during
business hours): +357-22-39-3353.
Marine Post One: +357-22-39-3300.
you travel, consider the following resources: