Your Cyprus posting

A families’ guide to living in Cyprus

Overview

If you’re posting to Cyprus, or considering a Cyprus posting, lucky you! You’ll likely have lots of questions, which we hope to answer below.

For most of the year, Cyprus is a sunny holiday destination and a posting here can offer lots of opportunity for family time, exploring the local beaches and ancient ruins and enjoying the fabulous food and weather. Although Greek is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas, so communication is unlikely to be much of an issue. The currency used here is the Euro. Cyprus is two hours ahead of the UK, which means it is still easy to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

Whilst life here is very different to that in the UK, and the serving personnel stationed here work extremely hard, if you throw yourself into it, you’ll soon find yourself settling in and calling this beautiful island home.

Contents

01   Passports

You are responsible for ensuring that everyone in your family has a valid passport.

You can claim back the cost of your passport application or renewal for all immediate family members; your soldier’s Unit Admin Office (UAO) will be able to guide you through this process.

If someone in your family does not have a British passport, you are responsible for ensuring that they have the right travel documentation (visas and the Cyprus Treaty of Establishment Dependants Status Stamp) for the whole of your posting. Visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk for all you need to know, or alternatively, our Foreign and Commonwealth section may provide you with more information.

For spouses from other EU countries, there will be no change to your current rights under EU law until 31 December 2020, when the Brexit implementation period ends. After this point, for spouses married to soldiers, you will need to meet the requirements of the Appendix Armed Forces in the same way that Commonwealth spouses are required to do. Visit our Brexit page to find out more.

02   Dependants Status Stamp

Before moving to Cyprus, you will need to get you Dependants Status Stamp from the families’ section at Abbeywood. This entitles you to tax-free entitlements and access to the military trooping aircraft. You need to do this at the earliest opportunity by contacting 03067 981013 or emailing DSCOM-FAMSEC-GP@MOD.GOV.UK

If your Cyprus posting is extended, you will also need to extend your Status Stamp, as it must cover you for the whole duration of your posting.

03   Allowances

You are entitled to allowances such as Get You Home (Overseas) Allowance and Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) whilst in Cyprus. These allowances are there to offset some of the additional costs of living abroad as a family. It is not a second income supplement or a financial incentive for overseas Service, but it does recognise the amount by which average day-to-day living costs overseas differ from those in the UK.

The amount of LOA paid is specific to each overseas location. It is calculated by comparing the costs of a wide range of goods and services with similar ones in the UK. It is reviewed regularly, and as such, can increase or decrease throughout your Cyprus posting. For this reason, we do not publish details of the allowances available.

Please contact our Regional Manager at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk and we will get back to you with the most up-to-date rates. You will need to provide our Regional Manager with your rank, status (single, married unaccompanied or married accompanied) and how many children you have, if any.

04   Service Family Accommodation (SFA)

In Cyprus, SFA allocations are processed through the individual Housing Community and Support Offices (HCSO) at the location where you are posting to. You need to get form MOD e1132 (Application to Occupy Service Family Accommodation) from your current unit admin office, or welfare office and complete it at the earliest opportunity. This will then inform the HCSO of your current family situation and will allow them to assign suitable housing to you.

You should contact your relevant HCSO giving advanced warning of any additional needs that your family has; the earlier that your needs and preferences for SFA are known, the easier it will be for the HCSOs to accommodate you and your family appropriately.

Be mindful that:

SFA in Cyprus is not as plentiful as in other areas and whilst you will always be housed, you may not get your preferred choice. You will be allocated the highest grade of accommodation available at your time of arrival. You cannot request a lower grade of accommodation, but requests for betterment moves will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Click here for a list of all HCSOs and their corresponding contact details.

Points to note:

All SFA in Cyprus comes fully furnished, although you can request that this furniture be removed if you are bringing your own. The SFA also comes with a fridge freezer, which must remain in the house, but no other white goods are provided.

You can also request a ‘get you in pack’, which you may use for up to six weeks after your arrival. This pack contains duvets, sheets, pillows, an iron, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans and a kettle, and can be helpful if you are experiencing a delay in your own possessions arriving in Cyprus. It does not include towels.

Whilst Cyprus is mild for most of the year, in the winter, the older houses can become cold as many of them do not have central heating. Stand-alone heaters are available from the stores. Likewise, it can be very hot in summer and none of the SFA comes with air conditioning units as standard. Some families have made the decision to have units installed at their own costs, however, if you would like to do this, you will need to obtain a third-party works order from the housing office before any work is carried out. Many people choose to use smaller portable air conditioning units.

You will not have to pay CILOCT on the SFA. The cost of electricity is incorporated into the accommodation fuel and light charges that will automatically come out of your soldier’s pay. Cyprus uses the same electrical system as in the UK – standard three pin plugs. Each quarter has an electric meter. Gas is either supplied via a main feed or bottles and the majority of cookers and hot water is run on gas. You are responsible for buying your own gas bottles.

05   Moving in

For more information about the removal and storage of possessions, please click here. The average time for shipping is six weeks.

06   Insurance

We strongly encourage you to insure your belongings whilst they are in transit, in storage and whilst in use in Cyprus. You should also take out ‘licence to occupy’ insurance, which will cover you against any damage to your SFA.

Many UK household insurers will not cover your belongings overseas, so you would be wise to shop around.

07   Schools

We are very lucky in Cyprus to have such good quality schools. Many parents say that the quality of schooling is a highlight of their Cyprus posting. The education provision is managed by MOD schools; find out more here.

Primary schools

There are four primary schools, one at each of the main locations. Links to the school websites can be found below.

Episkopi Primary School

Akrotiri Primary School

Dhekelia Primary School

Ayios Nikolaos Primary School

Secondary schools

There are two secondary school options, King Richard’s School in Dhekelia, which was rated in 2017 as outstanding, and St John’s School in Episkopi, which was rated in 2017 as Good.

All MOD schools follow the same curriculum as schools in England, so there should be no gap in your child’s education. Class sizes are much smaller, particularly for children of post-16 age, and the schools have a real community feel and positive atmosphere.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

If your child has a level of SEN that you would like to be addressed by the school, if they have a statement or if they are on the SEN register, you must get in touch with the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) before you start your Cyprus posting to register your child and ensure that their needs can be catered for.

08   Childcare

Each station has an early year’s facility. There are also a number of registered child minders in Cyprus.

You can find out who is currently registered and active at www.ssafa-cyprus.org/childminder-search. For more information, contact Jill Shaw, SSAFA Childcare Coordinator, on +357 9961 8672 or at jill.s@ssafa.org.uk.

If you are about to embark on a Cyprus posting and have questions about education or childcare, please contact AFF’S Education and Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk. For more general enquiries, contact the AFF Cyprus team at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

09   School Children’s Visits (SCVs)

SCVs are a contribution towards the cost of reuniting children at boarding school with their families, wherever they are posted to, over a certain distance away. This could be for half term and/or holidays.

In Cyprus, the serving person is entitled to six return SCVs each academic year, for each child. You can choose between a trooper flight or a civilian flight. For more information, please contact your Unit Admin Officer.

10   Other information relating to non-school based education

Youth clubs

The headquarters here in Cyprus provides social and educational opportunities for young people aged 8-18 years old.

Each station has a Youth and Community Worker, who works alongside volunteers who can offer a wide variety of activities, projects and events for young people.

Adult education

There are Army Education Centres in both Episkopi and Dhekelia, with a smaller satellite location at Ayios Nikolaos.

These centres provide a range of different courses and classes to the wider community for all BFC personnel and their families. Courses usually include languages, computing, functional skills and vocational courses in addition to those based around crafts.

11   Does your child have a different surname to you?

If you have a different surname to your child, we recommend that you travel with a copy of your child’s birth certificate as both yourself and your child, depending on their age, may be asked about your relationship to each other. We recommend this for both military and civilian flights, as concerns about child trafficking have led to legislation giving UK Border Agency Officers responsibility for checking that there is a genuine and legal link between the child and the parent/guardian, where surnames differ.

For more information, contact the Joint Booking Centre (JBC) – your soldier can do this on the Army Intranet.

12   Medical care

Both you and your family must register with the medical centre on arrival in Cyprus.

The medical provision offered by British Forces Cyprus (BFC) is at least as good as the NHS. There are military GP surgeries at RAF Akrotiri, Episkopi and Dhekelia. All of these are accredited GP training practices. All hospital care is provided by a Cypriot private hospital, Ygia Polyclinic, based in Limassol.

Occasionally, your health needs may not be able to be met on the island, and in that case, you will need to return to the UK, either temporarily or sometimes on a permanent basis, to receive treatment.

If you are injured or taken ill in the Republic of Cyprus, you will most likely be taken to a Cypriot state hospital, where all costs will be paid for by BFC.

Any visitors that you have will not be entitled to free care at the Medical Centres and will need to ensure that they have their EHIC card with them, which will allow them treatment within the Cypriot healthcare system. Alternatively, if your visitors are not EU nationals, then they will need to make sure they have travel insurance to cover them should they require medical assistance.

If you are intending to travel to North Cyprus

The North of Cyprus is part of the Turkish Occupied Area and is therefore not part of the European Union. Your entitlement to medical care at BFC expense stops at the border and your EHIC card will not be accepted. You must, therefore, take out appropriate travel insurance for any trip across the border for all members of your family, in order that you will be covered if you are taken ill or injured.

13   Additional medical needs

When preparing for a Cyprus posting, it is really important that you consult your soldier’s Unit Medical Officer and complete the medical screening forms as early as possible, especially if you or a family member has any additional medical needs or are receiving treatment for an existing illness or condition. They will need to check that you can be cared for in Cyprus.

We recommend starting this process as early as possible because, for those people who have to have their Cyprus posting cancelled, it’s far worse if you have already packed up your old house, shipped your belongings and given up jobs!

An existing medical need or condition will not usually prevent you from coming to Cyprus, however, because there are some circumstances and needs that cannot be treated within BFC, it is important that you fill out the forms honestly and as accurately as possible. You don’t want to be sent back home on arrival in Cyprus if it transpires that you haven’t declared an existing medical condition or additional need and BFC cannot support you.

14   Cars

There are two types of car in Cyprus. Duty-free cars can only be sold to an ‘entitled person’ i.e. your serving person. Army family members cannot own and register a duty-free vehicle. Duty Paid cars be purchased by anyone, including Cypriots. These are normally more expensive due to the Import Duty.

A serving person can get relief from duty and VAT, subject to the following conditions.

  • That a C104A form is submitted for clearance within the Republic of Cyprus Customs. This is available from your nearest customs office. Your serving person will need to provide a copy of the vehicle log book, their driving licence and valid car insurance for the Republic of Cyprus.
  • Only your soldier and entitled family members drive the vehicle. In exceptional circumstances, permission can be sought for visitors from the Fiscal office.
  • The vehicle must be registered in the serving person’s name within 28 days of purchase, or its arrival in Cyprus. Even if your car is registered in the UK, you will still have to meet this requirement.

Your vehicle will require a Cyrus MOT. This lasts for two years. You also need to pay road tax, which is based upon the size of the engine.

The resell price of cars is generally higher than you might expect in the UK. Some people chose to ship their existing car over to Cyprus and others chose to sell their existing car and buy another one over here. If you want to ship your existing car to Cyprus and it is on a finance agreement, you will need to discuss exporting it with your finance company.

For more information on any of the above, you can speak to the Cyprus HIVEs or Sealift Ops DE&S DSCOM at MOD Abbeywood on 030 6798 1138.

15   Pets

If you want to bring your pet to Cyprus with you, then you will need to complete the pet’s section (Annex B) on the form MOD F1132. They need to have an up-to-date pet passport, which you can obtain from a vet. www.gov.uk/defra has more information on this.

On arrival in Cyprus, you need to register your dog with the Sovereign Base Area Administration (SBAA) Office, either in Dhekelia or Akrotiri. You will then receive a dog licence, which needs to be renewed annually.

One you’ve done this, you will need to register your pet, for free, with the Housing Community Support Office. They will give you a tag, which your pet wears around their collar, so it can be easily identified if lost.

16   Banking

All military personnel must have a bank account into which pay and allowances can be paid. It is recommended that you maintain your UK bank account throughout your Cyprus posting, but once in Cyprus you can also open a Cypriot account and have amounts, either main pay or allotments, paid directly into it. Opening an account is a relatively simple process and will generally be required to establish fixed phone contracts for your home. Retaining your UK bank account will be useful to meet the needs of regular UK payments such as standing orders or direct debits for insurance, mortgage repayments or hire purchase and for deposits and benefits.

Bank cards with the VISA, MasterCard, Cirrus and various other symbols may be used at Cypriot ATMs. There may, however, be a charge for using the cash point by your UK bank. Your bank can advise on any charges that you may incur. A Chip and Pin service is offered at the Forces Post Offices with the limits on withdraws set at £250 per week and a maximum of £1,000 per month per entitled person.

17   Spousal employment options in Cyprus

Under the Treaty of Establishment that granted Cyprus independence and created the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA), there is an obligation to employ Cypriot civilians where possible; therefore, opportunities for employment for spouses and partners within BFC are limited.

However, don’t let this put you off, there are a number of options for you to explore.

United Kingdom Dependant (UKD) jobs

Opportunities for UKD positions are available. Most of the roles are administrative in nature, however, some opportunities exist for other grades such as learning support assistants, nurses and a few other posts with more of an industrial focus.

To apply for a UKD post, you will need to register with Civilian HR when you arrive in Cyprus. Click here to find out more. You can normally apply for these jobs as soon as you have your Dependant Status Stamp.

Find a list of the type of jobs available, here.

Self-employment and homeworking

For some people, a Cyprus posting is a great opportunity to start their own business. One self-employment opportunity that is in high demand is childminding. If you’re a registered childminder, or you’re thinking of becoming one, please take a look here.

If you chose to be self-employed, you will require a business licence. You’ll need to speak to your local HCSO and fiscal offices for details on how to apply.

Please note: You are not allowed to use the BFPO system to send or receive mail relating to your business.

Civilian employment in the Republic of Cyprus (RoC)

Employment in the RoC is very limited for non-Cypriots and an understanding of Greek, and often Russian is preferable. Occasional work may be obtained in service industries and tourist areas – vacancies are advertised in the local press and through local labour offices.

For employment in shops, bars and clubs, you’ll need to pop in to the establishment to ask about opportunities.

Volunteer opportunities

With limited paid employment opportunities in BFC, the alternative could be to volunteer; not only will this bridge any gaps in your CV, but you’ll also be making a positive contribution to the BFC community.

There are numerous volunteer opportunities in BFC including SSAFA, Home-Start, British Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre, Victims Support and Uniformed groups (Girl guiding, Scouts, Beavers etc.) to name a few.

Want to know more?

For more information about working in Cyprus, contact the AFF Cyprus Team at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

18   Claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in Cyprus

You may be entitled to claim JSA for up to three months if you were in receipt of contribution based JSA in the UK immediately preceding your move to Cyprus. You need to let your local job centre know about your Cyprus posting prior to making the move, in order to do this.

In addition to speaking to your local Job Centre, you can also contact AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist at etam@aff.org.uk for more information.

Don’t forget to claim your National Insurance credits.

Whether you have been working in Cyprus or not, as a Service spouse or civil partner you will be able to claim National Insurance credits to maintain your National Insurance record for any time spent accompanying your soldier in Cyprus after 6 April 2010.

These National Insurance credits will protect your entitlement to the basic state pension and certain contribution-based Social Security benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

You can apply for your credits by completing the form, which can be found here and having it verified by your welfare office.

Some spouses have been led to believe that they do not have to apply for the credits if they have been claiming state benefits whilst in Cyprus, for example Child Benefit, but that is false. Whether you have been claiming any state benefits or not, you will still have to make a separate application for your National Insurance credits.

19   Staying connected in Cyprus

Telephones and internet access

Telephone and broadband packages are available, but are expensive compared to the UK; however, telephone calls are relatively cheap.

Your quarter will be fitted with a telephone port, but will not be connected to a service, or have a telephone. You can choose to bring your UK home phone with you – Cyprus uses the same telephone connections as back home, although most people choose to only use a mobile.

CYTANET or Cosmos Wireless provide fixed telephone networks and broadband. The internet connections are generally good enough to use video calling apps and messaging services, most of which are free.

Mobile phones

There are two major mobile phone networks available: Cytamobile and MTN. Both offer similar packages.

It’s cheaper to use your mobile phone in Cyprus than the UK, especially when making calls to a UK landline; however, handsets are expensive to buy. You can bring your handset to Cyprus with you, but will need to ensure that it is unlocked to all networks; this can be done in Cyprus for a small fee.

Don’t want to use your UK mobile while in Cyprus? Contact your network provider to arrange disconnection prior to arrival.

Cyprus SIM cards are not recognised in the North of Cyprus (Turkish Occupied Area), so retaining your UK SIM may be very useful if you intend to travel there. However, these calls will be very expensive as it classed as being outside of the EU!

Television

BFBS delivers TV in Cyprus. You’ll be entitled to a set-top box that enables access to various TV and radio channels. You can also record using your BFBS box and access the BFBS online player, which has more channels. To obtain the box and viewing card, visit one of the BFBS offices.

Remember to take your military ID with you. To receive the BFBS TV service you’ll need to sign a contract with BFBS and renew your licence annually. The BFBS TV and radio services are FREE – you do not need a TV licence. For more information, click here.

Radio

BFBS offers two radio channels in Cyprus. BFBS Cyprus is the live and local service with contemporary music, BFC local news and features.

Newspapers and magazines

UK national newspapers are available in Cyprus, but are more expensive than in the UK; they are normally available the same day.

There are two Cypriot national newspapers – the Cyprus Mail and Cyprus Weekly – both are written in English, inexpensive and cover UK, world and Cypriot news and sport.

Magazines are very expensive compared to the UK; if you plan on buying one regularly it’s better to take out a subscription using the BFPO postal system to save money.

Have a question?

Contact AFF Cyprus at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

20   Leaving Cyprus

Removals

Your soldier will receive a posting order outlining the process of moving through Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). Once this is received, you can then apply for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in your new location using the online e-1132 form, found on the Defence Intranet. Book your removals online through Agility Logistics.

Move-out

Once you have advised your Housing and Community Support Office (HCSO) that you are posted, you will receive a cleaning standards booklet with details of approved contractors if needed.

Travel

Flights for the whole family can be booked via the Joint Air Booking Centre (JABC); don’t forget to ask about onwards travel from Brize Norton to your new quarter.

Checklist

  • De-register with MOD schools
  • De-register with your doctor/dentist
  • Return your BFBS box
  • Call 132 to arrange disconnection of your CYTA services; this must be done at least ten days before leaving your quarter. You must settle your bill prior to leaving the island.
  • Don’t forget to claim your National Insurance credits – check out the Money Matters page for more information
  • You must arrange for your pet to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route. Visit defra.gov.uk
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