Can I use my Cyprus residence permit to travel to other countries visa-free? Can I travel to the European Union visa-free if I am a permanent resident of Cyprus? The short answer to both questions is no. However, as we will explain in this guide, there are exceptions concerning Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine. The guide additionally contains basic information about the residence permits and rules concerning Cyprus and Greece, Schengen, the United Kingdom (UK), and Ukraine.
Cyprus Residence Permits
The law allows Cyprus to issue residence permits to third-country nationals (non-EU nationals or TCNs) under certain conditions. Briefly, a TCN can come to Cyprus to study, work, set up a business, or as a person of independent means who will invest or retire in the Cyprus Republic. Residence permits are permanent or non-permanent (temporary permit pink slip). Note that criteria apply, and look at our firm’s specific subject guides for all the relevant information!
Travelling with a Cyprus Residence Permit
The European Commission, in the European Union (EU) Immigration Portal, explains the applicable rules when a TCN who has a residence permit from one EU country is going to another EU country:
- With a Schengen visa, the TCN can travel throughout the Schengen area for as long as the visa is valid.
- From one EU country to another for more than 90 days, the TCN needs a long-stay visa or a residence permit from that country.
For less than 90 days, that country can allow entry without a visa from your country. Check this with your country’s or the other countries’ embassy or consulate.
Cyprus is not a member of Schengen, though it accepts a valid Schengen visa.
The Schengen area is a zone where countries have abolished their internal borders. It includes 27 countries, 22 of which are EU member states.
According to the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TCNs holding a valid visa category D/ residence permit from EU countries, Schengen countries, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania, have a right to visit Cyprus under certain conditions for 90 days out of 180.
The category D visa is the so-called “long-stay visa” issued across the EU: https://handbookgermany.de/en/national-visa.
Bulgaria and Romania
As mentioned above, following Decision No 565/2014/EU, a Cyprus residence permit allows a TCN to enter Bulgaria and Romania, without a visa, for visitor purposes. That is, for a visit of not more than 90 days out of any 180. Decision No 565/2014/EU used to apply to Croatia as well, but not anymore. Since 1 January 2023, Croatia is part of Schengen and will only accept a Croatian national visa or a Schengen one.
Due to the emergency situation in Ukraine and the need to respond in a humanitarian way, the EU passed the Temporary Protection Directive on 4 March 2022. This grants collective protective status to people fleeing Ukraine and coming into the EU.
People covered by the Directive are entitled to
- Residence permit
- Access to the labour market
- Medical assistance
- Access to education for children
To get a residence permit for Cyprus, a person must apply to the Civil Registry and Migration Department within 30 days of arrival.
Ukrainian citizens with biometric passports
For Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport, visa-free travel is granted for up to 90 days in any 180. The right is valid in EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The purpose of travel can be for tourism, visiting relatives or friends, and for business purposes, but not to work.
Ukrainian citizens with non-biometric passports
Ukrainian citizens with non-biometric passports are given short-stay visas, valid for up to 90 days.
European Commission, UN Refugee Agency, the Cyprus Civil Registry and Migration Department.
Link to the Temporary Protection Directive: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/.
The Embassy of Greece in Nicosia says that, for a journey to Greece from the Republic of Cyprus, a TCN should apply either for a short-term Schengen visa or, for a stay longer than 90 days, a long-term national visa.
Holders of a residence permit from Cyprus must apply for a visa to come to the UK, depending on their country of origin. The list of countries that need a visa is here: https://www.gov.uk/.
Ukrainian nationals’ right to travel to the UK
Ukrainian nationals can come, stay, work or study in the UK if they already have family there. If they do not, they can apply under the Ukraine sponsorship scheme and get the same rights.
The details for Ukrainian nationals are here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/.
To sum up
The Cyprus residence permit will not give the right to travel visa-free to other countries, whether EU or not. However, a TCN from the Schengen area can travel across the Schengen countries. Ukrainian citizens have collective protection status and can travel across the EU in certain circumstances. Under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, they are entitled to a residence permit, work, medicine, and housing. The United Kingdom and Greece have particular requirements explained above. Come over to our office for any help you need to travel with your residence permit!