The first ever car to be imported and driven in Cyprus was a two-seater red Peugeot on Saturday 8th December 1907, arriving by steamer to Larnaca port. Owned by 29-year-old Cypriot doctor Ioannis Pieris who drove the car for the three-and-a-half hours journey, whilst attracting many onlookers.
Driving in Cyprus is on the left side of the road. It is compulsory to wear seat belts in Cyprus, even in the rear of the vehicle. Infants must be seated in child seats, and children in booster seats with seat belt. It is also compulsory for motorcyclists to wear crash helmets. It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving (except with hands-free device), and there are strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood/alcohol level limit is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (0.5 grams per litre), and the BAC level limit (breath alcohol level) is 22 (or 0.22) microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Since May 2015 the law was changed so that the alcohol level is lowered for certain categories, from 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath to 9 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The categories of driver included in the new law are:
Drivers under 25 years old
Vehicles carrying dangerous and heavy loads
There are speed limits on all motorways of minimum 65 Km and maximum 80km or 100Km, with built up areas having a maximum speed limit of 50 Km, except in certain areas such as near schools, where the maximum is 30 Km.
There are numerous care hire companies in Cyprus with many offering online booking. You can also arrange to have your hire car waiting for you at your arrival airport or port, or delivered to your hotel accommodation.
Prices for car hire do vary, so it is best to check out several companies before making your final booking, as shopping around will enable you to find the best car hire deal. Also check on exactly what your insurance covers, be sure that you have Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). UK driving licences are acceptable for car hire in Cyprus, however most car hire companies require the driver to be minimum of 25 years of age. Anyone under that age wishing to hire a car must have held a clean driving licence for at least 3 years. If hiring motorbikes, the minimum age is 20 years, but for buggies and quad bikes the minimum age is 25 years.
The standard and types of hire cars available is generally good. Any vehicles with more than 7 seats must have a taxi license and so you will not be able to hire a vehicle with more than 7 seats with a regular licence. There are also numberous motorbike / moped hire companies in the tourist areas.
Most Cyprus car hire companies charge for a full tank of petrol when you first collect the car, however there is no refund for any unused petrol at the end of the rental period.
If you plan to live in Cyprus, you will need to obtain a Cyprus driving licence after 6 months of residence from your district Department of Road Transport. All privately owned cars must have Cyprus insurance for all drivers, road tax (annual) and MOT certificate (period is currently two years).
Road Tax is payable every year, in January. As of 2014, the new calculation of tax payable is by engine emissions, so those with higher emmissions will pay more. You can pay for a full year, or for 6 months at a time. As of 2015, a new law was passed whereas an extension was given for paying road tax every year. Now road tax must be paid be 9th March each year. Your car must have a valid MOT certificate before you can get road tax renewed. You can renew your road tax at the road transport department's office, or any Citizen's Service Centre, at banks or financial institutions, or online at the Road Transport Departments Official Road tax licence renewal website.
Car tax discs, or any other discs / stickers should not be displayed on the car windscreen as this can cause visual obstruction and this practice is now prohibited by law. Police can check thier computerised system to tell whether or not your car has tax and insurance, without having to view your actual tax disc, but from viewing your licence plate number. Read here the official letter from the Cyprus Police relating to displaying tax discs on windscreens.
All vehicles and motorbikes must have number plates. As of 1st October 2010, a new law allows Cyprus police to confiscate any vehicle found with missing or unreadable number plates, whether the vehicle is moving or parked.
There are many petrol station chains all around Cyprus, most are not open 24/7, however the majority now have vending machines for buying petrol, some accept cash notes only, whilst others also accept credit / debit cards. Please be aware that many of these vending machines require your bank card to have a minimum of 60 euros in it, regardless of how much petrol you wish to purchase. If your account does not have that amount it will be rejected. The amount of 60 euros is temporarily blocked from your bank account. After a few days the correct amount that you purchased is debited from your account and the block of funds is removed.
Many of the bigger petrol stations offer car wash facilities, tyre pressure check, oil change etc during opening hours. Petrol stations close for half day on Tuesdays, but many auto-pay petrol pumps remain in operation.
There are numerous taxi companies and individual taxi drivers throughout Cyprus. Taxi’s can be booked by phone, waved down on the street, or you will see plenty of available taxi’s at airport and port terminals. It is common for taxi drivers to hoot the horn at just about every pedestrian they pass in the hope of getting a fare. It is compulsory for taxi’s to use a government approved tariff machine and to display their Taxi Driver ID number. If you will be requiring a taxi during major holiday times such Easter or Christmas you must book in advance as very few taxi drivers will be on the streets at these times.
Prices for private taxi’s are not cheap, however there is a cheaper option in shared taxi’s (service taxi’s) or mini buses which are operated by relevant taxi companies. However as this will be dropping other people off at different points, it will take longer than the normal taxi. All main towns are covered, but the operating times are somewhat limited. Private taxi tariff prices increase for late night fares, and for Public Bank Holidays. Taxi drivers must by law have a table of charges in a prominent place in the taxi.
There is also a network system of automated 3rd generation bike sharing which is similar to the ones used widely in major cities across the world. The idea is that you can hire a bike from any one point and drop it off at any other point, it does not need to be returned to the same point of hire. There is usually no attendant present as the whole process is done via vending machine, using your credit/debit card. You will find the bike sharing kiosks in most major cities and seaside areas.