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Importing a car into the Republic of Cyprus

The question of how to go about importing a car into Cyprus is one which we are frequently asked by our clients, so we've produced an introductory guide on the subject for 2012.

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The Aphrodite Guide to importing your car into Cyprus

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Firstly, it has to be said that there is an awful lot of conflicting, and often outdated, information strewn all over the Internet on this particular topic.

As a result, one of the things we encounter frequently with questions about bringing vehicles to Cyprus, is massive confusion with regards to import duties, registration fees, customs procedures, and more. Consequently, the information in this section has been compiled citing Cypriot government sources and EU legislative directives.

There is no simple way to convey the necessary information, so what follows might be considered a bit of a lengthy read. However, if you're serious about importing a new or used car into Cyprus for personal use, we would strongly suggest that you get a beverage of your choice and take the necessary time to inform yourself properly.

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This does unfortunately include following the enclosed links to the Cypriot and European government resources provided, and believe us when we say that those are nowhere near as fun-packed or entertaining as ours...

Until not so long ago, the Republic's Ministry of Finance still imposed import duties on all vehicles, whether shipped from within the EU or from without. For vehicles originating from within the European Union, this practice is actually in direct contravention of the Free Movement of Goods within EU borders, one of the corner-stone principles of the European Economic Community .

Consequently, there's not really an awful lot anyone can do in real terms, if you decide you're moving to the Republic of Cyprus from another EU member state, and you want to bring your car with you. Now (Jan. 2012), the Ministry of Finance's website finally reflects this fact, with an update that details the steps necessary if you're looking for 'relief from duty' on your imported car.

  Mitsubishi Pajero off-road in the hills above Larnaca

In a nutshell, the government has basically abolished import duties and replaced these with a set of excise duties payable upon registration of the vehicle. Essentially, you can import your car into Cyprus for free, but if you actually want to use it on the Republic's roads, it's going to cost you a substantial amount of money. They've even been nice enough to create calculator so you can gauge how much duty your car wil incur under normal circumstances (Click here).

Given the fact that the calculator puts the amount of hypothetical excise duty payable on one of our company vehicles (Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8 Turbo-Diesel) at a staggering €18,474.40, which is substantially more than its resale value, it's easy to see that we're not talking about peanuts here. The cynical among us might even possibly say that this calculator was provided to the public in an effort to actively discourage people from actually bringing their own vehicles into the country, but far be it from us to claim this within the confines of this website...

Fear not; relief from excise duties is at hand! Sort of...

In all fairness though, these exorbitant levels of duty are in all probability not so much aimed at fleecing foreign nationals moving to Aphrodite's Isle, as they are in place to stop the ever enterprising Cypriots from turning into car importers en-masse, flooding the Republic with an eclectic assortment of vehicles from around Europe, and thus ruining prices for legitimate auto-traders... probably...

Constantinos Palaeologou Avenue in Nicosia  

But of course that is of only minimal interest to you. What you're really looking for is a way to get around paying out large chunks of cash when bringing your own car to the island. This is where 'Relief from Excise Duties and VAT under the Transfer of Normal Residence Scheme' enters the frame.

As previously mentioned, there is really no legitimate way for the Cypriot government to stop you from importing your own car into the country without incurring any additional cost. This is why the Ministry of Finance has published the above web page detailing the steps required to gain relief, applicable for European Union residents who are moving to Cyprus only.

Listed below you will find the criteria which you need to meet in order to qualify:

  • You must be an European Union resident
  • You must be moving to Cyprus, i.e. you must be transferring your permanent residence to the Republic
  • The car must have been owned by you for at least six month previous to being imported
  • Any person must not import more than one vehicle
  • The car must not enter the Republic of Cyprus any more than twelve months after you transfer your residence
  • You must not sell, gift or otherwise dispose of the car without prior approval from the Director of Customs

And... as if that's not enough; here's what the import car needs in order to qualify:

  • Motor Vehicle Registration Document from country of origin
  • Previous Certificate of Insurance from country of origin
  • Sales Invoice or Receipt of Purchase from country of origin
  • Documentation of Shipping (Shipping Manifest, Bill of Lading, Freight Receipt, etc.)
  • Any other evidence you can supply*

In order to get the whole process started, you'll need to pick up a Form Απ. 1, which is available from any Customs Station, or from the Cyprus Customs and Excise website (Click here). You should also be aware that, once having filled out the aforementioned form and presented it to a Customs Station together with your proof, you may be asked some questions.

As you can see, the Ministry hasn't exactly made importing a car into Cyprus an easy task, and there is a substantial amount of paperwork involved in getting the job done. They might not be able to stop you from bringing your vehicle, but they can make the job as difficult as possible. Doubtlessly, the European Union will ultimately have something to say on the subject, but given the glacial speed with which anything is done at the EU government level, this is likely to take a while.

On the up-side, there are a number of specialists operating in the Republic of Cyprus who, for a nominal fee, will handle the pile of bureaucracy on your behalf and make sure you don't get blindsided by any unwanted duties. Given the pitfalls involved in the process, the few hundred Euros these specialists charge is more than a fair trade for the money they're likely to save you.

This is especially true in view of the fact that your vehicle is likely to be worth more than double its UK value in the Republic of Cyprus. This fact alone makes overcoming the obstacles thrown in your way more than worthwhile.

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* This one's more than a little ambiguous, and we're currently trying to find out what they actually mean from the Ministry of Finance.

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Disclaimer. Please note that the information given on this website is displayed for guidance purposes only. It does not replace the need for professional advice, either legal or otherwise. E&OE

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