Open Letter on Brexit to Brits in North Cyprus

British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie has issued a Brexit update for UK nationals living in the northern part of Cyprus. As follows:

North Cyprus News - Stephen Lillie
British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie

“ As you will know from the media, the UK Government and the EU have agreed new dates for our exit from the EU. The Government’s wish is to leave the EU on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement at 11pm on 22 May UK time. However, if the Agreement is not approved and no other arrangements are made, our exit would happen at 11pm on 12 April, UK time.

“ We will be keeping the community across the island informed of developments but I want to set out now what we anticipate happening if we leave without a deal on 12 April, so that you can prepare. I am sure you will appreciate that anything involving north-south issues in Cyprus is politically sensitive, and that there are some legal grey areas. We have been talking to the authorities in the Republic about this, but it’s difficult to say exactly what will happen in practice in all situations. As High Commissioner, however, my hope is that we can work with the authorities to minimise the disruption to the lives of Britons in Cyprus, wherever you are resident.”

The main part of the text says that although Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, EU law is suspended north of the Green Line, as the island remains divided. Therefore local residency rules and regulations for Britons in the north should remain the same before and after Brexit. In the south, the situation will be different as the residency rules are different there for EU and non-EU nationals.

“In a No Deal Brexit, Britons should still be able to cross the Green Line. The EU’s Green Line Regulation allows non-EU nationals to cross the line provided they have a valid travel document and, if required, a valid visa for the Republic. We’re not anticipating British nationals needing a visa to visit Cyprus, so that means you should be able to cross with a valid British passport. Please note, however, that as non-EU nationals, Britons will no longer have an automatic right to work in the Republic.

“Another practical issue in this respect concerns driving licences. At present we are still discussing arrangements for recognition of driving licences with the Republic authorities. Our advice for now is that visitors to the Republic wishing to drive with a UK licence should consider applying also for an international driving permit.

“The other important change that could follow in the case of a No Deal Brexit is the imposition of immigration controls on British nationals at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

“The current practice in the Republic is for non-EU nationals who do not require a visa – for example Americans or Australians – to be admitted for 90 days, and for passports to be stamped accordingly. The Republic of Cyprus authorities may count time spent in the north of Cyprus towards the 90 day visa free total. If this happens, you would need to exit from the Republic again through Larnaca or Paphos within 90 days or potentially face difficulties at the airport on exit or re-entry.

“We recognise that this could cause inconvenience for the community, and we are exploring with the authorities of the Republic how we can manage this. We will keep you updated. On a related note, you will already be aware of the issues around using Ercan airport, and the complications this can cause with the Republic authorities. This is expected to remain the case after Brexit.”

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