Work Permits for Foreigners in North Cyprus
Initially, all visitors to North Cyprus are issued a three-month tourist visa. Before this expires, you must apply for a temporary residence permit – see our article here for more details. You will be fined for every day over the three-month visa that you remain in Northern Cyprus unless you have applied for a residence permit.
You must have a work permit to work in North Cyprus. Work permits, which are temporary, are currently only being granted to those offered a specific post, which cannot be filled by a qualified North Cypriot citizen. Furthermore, you cannot officially apply for a work permit while you are actually in North Cyprus, although this position appears to be flexible on a local level. Always check with the government before taking employment for the first time.
How to get a work permit for Northern Cyprus
You must find a North Cyprus employer who is willing to apply on your behalf to the Migration officer at the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance will advise the Migration Officer as to the current workplace position for jobs such as you are applying for, and guide the Officer through the labour laws. It is for your future employer to prove that he needs your skills, and your skills only.
Current Skills required in North Cyprus
Thanks to the boom in property development, skilled tradesmen and construction specialists such as civil engineers are in demand. There is also demand for experienced estate agents to deal with the booming property sales too! Internationally qualified teachers are required; there are five universities in Northern Cyprus already. Jobs relating to tourism, including travel reps and waiting staff, do also come up.
Finding a job in North Cyprus
Jobs are advertised in the papers such as “Cyprus Today” and “Cyprus Weekly”. North Cyprus is a tight-knit community, and once you have a job, finding the next is often a case of simply networking. Ask around and sell your skills, and see if there is any demand or local requirements. It is perfectly acceptable to approach companies direct, and ask about potential vacancies. With English as the primary language of business, any English speaker is at a distinct advantage, but a few words in Turkish will always help!
Starting a Business in North Cyprus
Most companies operating in Northern Cyprus are private limited companies, established under an act almost the same as the UK’s Company Act 1948. Whilst most operate with a majority Turkish shareholding, the Council of Ministers will grant permission for foreign ownership of TRNC registered companies. Only companies with a 51% or more majority Turkish shareholding can own property or land, however.
An accountant will guide you through the setting up of a North Cyprus limited company. The first step is an application to the Council of Ministers giving full details of nature of trading, ownership shareholders, etc. Any application from a company with Turkish involvement is viewed more favourably. In addition, an application must be made to the Immigration Department in order to secure a business permit, valid for a year, which costs 1000 Turkish lira per annum. This can only be issued once the Council of Ministers has given permission for the company to be formed. The application process involves a medical examination including a blood test for HIV and tuberculosis.
All companies must be registered with the Social Security department for health insurance payments, with the tax authorities and the provident fund. Once all these applications are made and permissions granted, you can open for business!
Businesses for Sale in North Cyprus
Alternatively, you could opt to buy an existing business in North Cyprus. Opportunities often arise to purchase estate agencies, bars, restaurantsand tourist service companies. Off the shelf existing limited companies are also available, as in the UK.
Business Incentives in North Cyprus
There are generous government incentives for foreign investment in North Cyprus, including income and corporation tax relief and generous allowances for tax deductible expenses such as travel and sales brochures, etc.
Too much like hard work?
There are North Cyprus agencies who will help you get residence permits, work and business permits, driving licences and so on.