Entering and leaving Cyprus and border crossings from the northern to the southern part (May 2023)

Visiting Cyprus with your own car can be pretty interesting. Here is some info based on my stay and personal experiences from January to May 2023 with my in Germany registered car:

  • You can enter the northern part (aka Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, TRNC) from the Turkish mainland (most likely via ferries from the harbors Tasucu or Mersin to Girne or Farmagusta) with your own car.
  • Once you are on the island, your car is only allowed to leave the island via the northern part. The southern part considers your car as illegally imported and would not let it go off the island from a port on the southern part. You as a person may leave and come back without problems via the southern or northern part.
  • After leaving the ferry on the northern part, you have to get a customs document and a car insurance for the northern part. Both are easy to get at the harbor passport and customs control. For the insurance you can choose between several time spans and they are not very expensive. The customs document for my car was only valid for three months. They would not give me more. But when crossing to the southern part and then back to the northern part, you’ll most likely get another/ fresh three months. Or you can extend it at the “Department of Customs and Excise” (see on Google Maps). And it seems that the customs document for the northern part can run out when you are in the southern part without getting penalties for that.
  • On Cyprus you can cross the border between the northern and southern part (aka The Republic of Cyprus) in your own car. But because for the south the northern part is an occupied area, they don’t see it as a crossing between two countries.
  • When you cross the border. Make sure that you keep the customs documents you have received before. Only when leaving the south the last time, give the officers the customs document for the south. And only when leaving the north for the last time, give the customs officers the customs document for the north.
  • When crossing in your own car, I would not recommend taking the crossing “Deryneia Border Crossing” (see on Google Maps) because this one was the most complicated for me. But maybe just because I got to the most motivated border officers. The “Farmagusta Border Crossing” (see on Google Maps) is normally not allowed for foreigners. I made it through from the southern part once nevertheless. The other crossings are possible to take. But the “Yesilirmak Crossing” (see on Google Maps) is pretty small and I guess it could be complicated to get a customs document for the south at this one.
  • When crossing from the northern to the southern part, you need a car insurance. For EU citizens their homeland car insurance most likely covers the southern part. And you get a customs document for the southern part. You can have it valid for three months. When you cross from south to north and back you most likely get a new/ fresh three months. Or you can extend it in the customs office in Limassol (see on Google Maps). There should be a customs office in Nicosia as well.
  • If problems occur while crossing a border, I recommend just going to the crossing in Nicosia (see in Google Maps). It seems like everything is easier and less bureaucratic at that crossing.

Apart from these standard procedures there are some things that seem to happen pretty randomly to travelers.

  • I had to pay a road tax of about 400 Euro in the northern part. Only two out of ten other travelers had to do that. This procedure includes visiting the “Department of Customs and Excise” (see on Google Maps). I had to get a printed visa info which is only possible to get at the “Nicosia Police Headquarter” (see on Google Maps). After that Rosinante had to go through a technical inspection at this place (see on Google Maps). During this inspection a guy from that department first refused to give Rosinante the necessary permission. He pointed in the direction of the winch and just said they won’t accept that. I did not know which part he was talking about but me and a nice Turkish guy who came along thought that maybe he was talking about a metal guard which is mounted directly to the winch. We tried to remove it but did not succeed. So we just hid the part next to the engine. The guy from the department did not even check again and so I got the certificate… After that back to the first place, then to the “Vehicle Registration and Licensing Branch” (see on Google Maps) to pay the road tax and then back again to the first place to get the necessary stamp on the customs document. Easy.
  • When crossing from north to south for the first time the officers of the south forgot to register the car of a friend. When she wanted to go back to the north there was some confusion where her car had come in the first place. She nearly had to pay a big fee but refused and drove to the border crossing in Nicosia. There it was no problem, her car got registered, she had to pay nothing and was allowed to cross.
  • It’s not allowed to bring living animals from the south to the north. But a lot of travelers manage to hide and bring their dogs or cats.
  • The north considers some cars as military cars. If they do so, they will escort you to the border crossing in Nicosia to cross to the south but won’t let you drive around on the northern part. When you want to leave the island, they will escort you from Nicosia back to the port.

So if you want to spend some months on Cyprus in your own car, you can easily do this and it is a wonderful island.

And especially for car travelers it’s super nice because the island is not so big and most likely you will meet the same people several times.

But if you want to reset or extend your visa days with your stay on Cyprus, be aware that the calculation of your visa and customs days most likely will not be done in the way you expect it. More on another post.

I almost screwed up very hard when taking the ferry from Turkey to Cyprus (January 2023)

Upon my arrival at Tasucu, my first priority was to purchase a ferry ticket from there to Girne, located in the northern part of Cyprus. To ensure that I would arrive at the correct port location, I kindly asked the friendly lady at the ferry office to mark the appropriate spot on my Google Maps. After spending some time at a lovely natural spot next to the town, nestled amidst sand dunes and the Mediterranean, I made my way to the designated location.

The friendly guards at that location informed me that it was not the correct spot for the ferry and directed me to another location, which they marked on my Google Maps. Upon my arrival at the new spot, I found it very packed with people and cars. It appeared to me that many people were unaware of the proper procedures to board the ferry, resulting in chaotic traffic and cars parked haphazardly. I parked Rosinante and approached the port’s gate to confirm the correct location and get to know what I was supposed to do. Once I verified that I was indeed in the right place, Rosinante and I navigated through the crowded area and entered the port.

As I entered the port area, I noticed several other camping cars parked nearby and decided to park next to them to confirm that I was in the correct location and to talk with them about their travels. After an hour had passed, the ferry finally arrived. However, the unloading of cars did not begin as expected. There was an occasional rumbling sound emanating from the vessel but nothing else happened. More and more workers gathered around the large, still-closed hatch at the front of the ship.

While conversing with the other travelers and observing the workers’ actions, a couple arrived in their large off-road truck and informed us that they still needed to visit the customs office to obtain stamps for their passports and vehicle. This turned out to be fortuitous for me as I had completely forgotten about the passport control and customs process. I shuddered to think what might have happened if I had boarded the ferry without the necessary stamps for myself and Rosinante. I likely would not have been permitted to enter the northern part of Cyprus and would have been forced to return to Turkey to obtain the stamps before taking another ferry to Cyprus. Fortunately, everything went smoothly and I was able to obtain the required stamps at the Turkish harbor.

After waiting for several hours, the large hatch finally opened and the unloading process began. As I boarded the ferry with Rosinante, I pondered the reason for the lengthy loading time. It wasn’t until I had settled in that I realized that all the cars and trucks had to drive onto a massive elevator that transported them to another deck of the ship. It was quite exhilarating to ride the elevator and watch as the larger vehicles “rose from the ground” to the upper deck of the ferry.

It was already 4:30 AM, so I decided to turn in for the night in Rosinante. The next morning, I explored the ship and spoke with the other travelers I had encountered earlier. For some reason, I still felt a sense of disconnection. I wondered why this was the case. Before leaving Germany, I had imagined that I would easily connect with guys like them. Those who embarked on long journeys to distant locations in their off-road vehicles. However, conversing with them felt rather distant and uninviting, a far cry from the warmth and kindness I had experienced with the lovely people I had met along the way. While I didn’t feel upset, it made me curious and pondered what influences human connections. I thought about what I was projecting on them that might prevent me from being open towards them.

Edit 03.03.2023: It’s amazing how things come together. Just a few hours after publishing this post, I ran into the guys from the ferry for the first time since we were on it. This time, meeting them felt entirely different to me. Much warmer and more connecting. It’s crazy how my perception of myself and others can be highly varying/ being delusional. And experiencing this over and over again strengthens my belief that trying to feel the true nature of things is always a healthy thing to do. By that I mean trying to perceive things and beings as they are in that moment I am encountering them with less delusions generated by my small mind.

At about 10:30, we arrived at Girne in the northern part of Cyprus, and I embarked on my first real border crossing. Firstly, I went to the passport control, where I informed the officer that I intended to visit the southern part of Cyprus as well. In turn, I received a visa for 30 days, and instead of a stamp in my passport, I received a separate small piece of paper with the stamp on it. Then, I acquired car insurance for six months because it was only 5€ more than the one for three months, and I thought it would be more convenient to avoid having to renew the insurance at any time. With the insurance, I was permitted to obtain customs papers for Rosinante, which were valid for 30 days. Having all the required documents, I joined the next waiting line of people to have Rosinante’s documents checked. Afterward, I was permitted to have Rosinante inspected, and once I had cleared that process, I was good to go!

Edit 03.03.2023: The other travelers from the ferry told me that just after Rosinante and I left the internet of the whole port broke down and that they had to wait for five hours to leave the port. And the lorry drivers had to stay for the night because the port closed at some point.

Finally, I was on Cyprus, driving Rosinante on the left lane of the road and ready to explore.