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Employment in Cyprus

At a glance:

  • Cyprus is beginning to make steady progress as it comes out of the recession that struck in 2013.
  • The tourism and energy sectors are vast and growing parts of Cyprus’ economy.
  • The majority of Cyprus’ GDP comes from the services sector, with the shipping industry forming a large part of this.
  • Cyprus is very open towards international businesses.
  • The island has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, at 12.5%.

Cyprus: A Resilient Economy

Expats interested in working in Cyprus can look forward to entering a work environment with all the assets of a modern economy that focuses heavily on the service sector. While there is still some agriculture and mining to be found in Cyprus — the name itself has its roots in the Greek work for ‘copper’ — the national economy is firmly based on its tertiary sector. Indeed, the service sector currently accounts for more than 47% of the GDP  in the Republic of Cyprus.

However, the country has been struggling from the economic and financial crisis in the last few years. Since Cyprus’ banking sector has been extensively exposed to Greek debt, the economic growth rate shrank severely. As of January 2017, the growth rate is 0.6%. Cyprus came out of recession in 2015 — one year earlier than originally assumed. Now, the Republic of Cyprus is one of Europe’s fastest growing economies and has shown great resilience since the financial crisis in 2013.

A Tourist Hotspot

Many an expat working in Cyprus today probably got to know the island through one of its main assets. With its beautiful location right in the Mediterranean Sea, its virtually uninterrupted, year-long sunshine, and plentiful cultural treasures to boost, it should not be very surprising that Cyprus is a popular tourist location. In fact, the tourism sector is one of the country’s most important economic pillars, contributing to about one-fifth of the national GDP. Cyprus’ hotels, restaurants, bars, sights, and other parts of the hospitality industry benefit directly and indirectly from tourism and, thus, have provided safe employment opportunities for many Cypriots for decades.

The economic crisis had a tremendously negative impact on Cyprus’ tourism industry, but tourist arrivals have experienced substantial growth in the past five years, which is due to an increasing demand in international tourism, among other things. Thus, working in Cyprus’ tourism industry today is becoming all the more interesting. While the percentage of tourist arrivals from Europe is slightly decreasing, a larger number of Russian and Asian tourists have been making their way to the picturesque island.

However, while Cyprus has made major steps towards diversifying its economy, the tourism sector has also been going through a major overhaul, with a record number of tourists expected to arrive in 2017. Industry representatives hope to further increase the number of visitors and to secure growth and future opportunities for working in Cyprus — in this field at least.

Huge Foreign Investment

An incredible 81% of the national GDP is generated within the third sector. Apart from the major contributions of the tourism sector, the employees working in Cyprus’ business and financial sectors play a vital role in the country’s economy. After slowly but steadily recovering from the economic crisis and thanks to large amounts of foreign investment , Cyprus is expected to be reporting positive economic growth soon and an increase in the number of jobs in these sectors. In 2016, Cyprus received a 9.1% increase in foreign investment and has become a top foreign direct investment location. This is also true for the real estate and construction sector, which is attracting more and more people to work in Cyprus.

Another main staple of the services sector is shipping. Limassol is one of the busiest ports in the EU and the main point of entry and exit for goods of all kind, as well as one of the largest ship management centers in Europe. Working in Cyprus’ shipping industry has been well-respected for a long time. Cyprus is known for its high quality and safety standards when it comes to shipping. In order to boost the sector, which has remained quite competitive during the crisis, Cyprus plans to undertake rebranding and restructuring initiatives in the near future.

Leading the Way With Renewable Energy

Cyprus has a relatively large manufacturing industry that produces, among other things, food and beverages, clothing and textiles, plastics and chemicals. However, especially in the latter fields, Cyprus is feeling the competition of emerging markets with plenty of low-income workers.

The energy sector is growing fast in Cyprus. Not only does Cyprus hold great reserves of fossil fuels along the coastal waters, but the country is also leading the way in establishing and implementing renewable energy sources. It is currently ranked number one worldwide in using solar energy for water heating in households. So, if you are involved in the energy sector, working in Cyprus might be your opportunity to gain exclusive expat experience.

The Gateway Island

The island’s great openness towards international businesses has always been one of the most important aspects for expats interested in working in Cyprus. The Cypriot government is actively promoting the nation’s location as a gateway to three continents — Europe, Asia, and Africa — and thus attracting multinational corporations who consider working in Cyprus as a strategically smart move to expand to further markets. Also, Cyprus is famous for its highly skilled and educated workforce as well as imposing a very low corporate tax rate on companies. In 2014, Cyprus managed to attract foreign investments of 2 billion USD.

Expat Admin & Business Info for Cyprus

Work Permits for Cyprus

We have already pointed out the vital role of having a work permit not only for working but also for residing on the island in our article on moving to Cyprus. If you are a citizen of an EU country, you are in luck: Not only can you enter Cyprus without having to apply for any kind of visa, but you can also take up employment after taking care of three fairly simple administrative steps:

  • Apply for an Alien Registration Certificate (ARC) at the local Immigration Branch of the police within eight days of arrival. This only applies to stays of more than three months and/or the intent of taking up employment.
  • Apply for a social insurance number.
  • Apply for a residence permit, again with the Immigration Branch of the police, who will forward your application to the national Migration Department.

The Department of Labour has further in-depth information on this issue.

Citizens of non-EU countries, however, need to take a different route towards employment in Cyprus. The most important fact to consider is that all applications must come from outside of Cyprus. One of the main prerequisites is a signed work contract, stamped by the Department of Labour, which has to examine whether there are any suitable and qualified applicants to be found within Cyprus or the EU.

For a complete list of prerequisites, forms, and applications, please see the websites of Cyprus Visa and the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington, D.C.

The Job Search in Cyprus

If you are not in the lucky position of being offered an employment opportunity in Cyprus by the company you work for in your home country, your first option will obviously be looking for jobs online. Fortunately, Cyprus definitely has no shortage of job portals that allow you to either browse their database or create a profile and receive notifications for new openings in your trade. Your search engine of choice will direct you to an abundance of suitable sites in no time. Popular portals include Cyprus Jobs, EURAXESS Cyprus and the EURES portal.

The government also operates its own job portal. The website is available in Greek and English. The catch is, however, that most of the job offers are only available in Greek. If that is no obstacle for you, feel free to give the portal a try.

As of April 2017, the unemployment rate in Cyprus is at 11%. The groups that are affected the most by the lack of available jobs are young workers and employees under 25, high school graduates, construction workers, and service staff in retail stores or restaurants. On the other hand, people with tertiary education and professional experience have higher chances of finding a job. Chances certainly vary between which level of education you have and in which industry you work.

Taxation in Cyprus

The current corporate tax rate in Cyprus is as low as 12.5%, making it a desirable location for international business. Cyprus is among the countries in Europe with the lowest corporate tax rate.

Personal taxation is handled on the basis of whether or not a person is a tax resident of Cyprus. The method of determining this is very straightforward; you might even be familiar with it from many other countries. Everyone who spends at least 183 days of any given tax year in Cyprus is generally considered a tax resident.

The government of Cyprus has signed double taxation treaties with several dozen countries, most importantly those in the European Union. A full list of countries and the details of the respective treaties can be viewed on the homepage of the Tax Department of the Republic of Cyprus.

Business Etiquette in Cyprus

Both age and status are key parts of everyday life and social etiquette in Cyprus. This also extends to the workplace. Respecting elders and higher-ups in your company is absolutely vital.

When scheduling a meeting, you should make sure to verbally confirm the date in person, even if you have previously set it up in writing. If you are made to wait before a meeting, you should not see this as an invitation to switch to a lax interpretation of punctuality yourself — as a sign of respect towards your counterpart, try to be on time no matter what.

While your professional skills and achievements are important without a doubt, having an extensive and beneficial network of business contacts will prove even more important in Cyprus. Get to know your counterparts and socialize outside the office, as strong, long-term relationships are highly valued here.

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  • Fjodor Andersen

    I can't wait for Cyprus expat events to take off in the InterNations Community!

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    I was happy to meet a couple of fellow Africans in the Cyprus expat community.

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