Every year, thousands of British expats are drawn to Cyprus because of its white sandy beaches, Mediterranean seas, and pine-clad mountains. It certainly beats the UK's dull, grey skies. 

If you're considering joining your fellow Brits in Cyprus, you might want to check whether its healthcare system is something you feel comfortable with before moving your possessions.

Although the Cypriot healthcare system ranks pretty well compared to other countries, it'll vary from what you're used to with the UK's NHS. 

If you've already decided that private health insurance is sensitive before your move to Cyprus, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

Cypriot healthcare: key facts

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An overview of the Cyprus healthcare system

Cyprus’s healthcare system is split into a public and a private sector. The public health insurance system is governed by the Ministry of Health and financed by taxes. It provides healthcare coverage for both employed and self-employed residents in the country, as well as civil servants.

You must be either a Cypriot citizen, an EU national, or have a residence permit to benefit from the public healthcare system here.

The state-run system, also known as the General Healthcare System (GESY), is still fairly new to Cyprus’s residents – the system received a complete revamp that rolled out in June 2019. The aims of this new system are to provide universal population coverage, improve accessibility, and address inefficiencies in service delivery.

Anyone working in Cyprus, regardless of nationality or residency, must register for social insurance with the District Labour Office. Once you've done this, the District Labour Office will then issue a medical card.

Currently, the Cypriot state health insurance scheme covers:

  • Basic medical care
  • Some specialist care
  • Hospitalisation
  • Laboratory work
  • Maternity care
  • Mammograms
  • Transportation
  • Some prescriptions

Healthcare in Cyprus for non-nationals

The first thing expats need to do when moving to Cyprus is to register as a resident and sign up for state medical insurance. Once you receive a health insurance card, the Ministry will place you under one of the following categories:

  1. Entitled to free healthcare
  2. Need to pay a small fee
  3. Must pay the full cost of treatment

These sections all depend on the resident’s income, pre-existing conditions, and whether or not they have children.

If you are working for a company based in Cyprus, you’ll be pleased to hear that your employer should sort out your insurance for you.

The emergency number to call for an ambulance in Cyprus is 199.

In an emergency, you can also go directly to a state hospital via the emergency department – just remember to present your European Health Insurance Card and identification on arrival.

Emergency clinic patients all pay a small standard fee, regardless of the type of treatment they have been given.

Standard of healthcare in Cyprus

Both the public and private healthcare in Cyprus are of a high standard. In fact, the Lancet’s healthcare ranking places Cyrus in 26th position in a global comparison – sitting higher than the likes of Portugal, Croatia, and the US, but lower than the NHS

Both state-funded and private hospitals can be found in all of Cyprus’s major cities. However, healthcare facilities in the south are generally considered to be better than those in the north of the island. What’s more, you’ll usually find that hospitals in the cities have more English-speaking staff in comparison to rural areas. 

Typically, healthcare tends to be quite affordable in Cyprus. We’ve listed a few examples of what you can expect to pay for some procedures in Cyprus below: 

  • GP visits and in-hospital care will be free of charge.
  • Up to €6 per single visit to a specialised doctor.
  • €10 per visit to other healthcare professionals (e.g. physiotherapists).
  • €10 per visit to the Emergency Department (security officers, active reserve army soldiers are excluded).
  • €6 per appointment with a nurse.
  • €10 per diagnostic examination.
  • €1 per package of medicine.
  • €1 per lab examination (with a limit of €10, e.g. if a doctor asks for 12 examinations, the patient can only pay up to €10).

Private healthcare services are also thriving in Cyprus. You can choose from 134 private facilities placed around the country (mostly in built-up areas), including for-profit hospitals, polyclinics, clinics, diagnostic centres, and independent practices.

a view of small town Paphos

View of the sun beaming down on one of Cyprus's most historical and cultural cities: Paphos

In 2018, there was an average of 245 individuals for each doctor in Cyprus, while for each nurse there were 184 individuals.

Healthcare in Cyprus for expats after Brexit

As it stands, British expats in Cyprus will still be eligible for public healthcare after the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020). As long as you’re properly registered as a resident in Cyprus, as well as registering with a healthcare provider, you’ll be covered for any medical issues. 

The UK government suggests: “Once you are registered as a resident, you may be entitled to state healthcare. You should check with the Ministry of Health or at your local citizen service centre to see if you are covered.”

For any short-term stays in Cyprus, Brits can use The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – although once your card runs out of date, it must be replaced with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

This means that Brits travelling to Cyprus, and indeed all EU countries, for a short-term stay will still be able to receive free, or cheaper, state-provided medical care. However, the UK government stresses that: 

  • If you are resident in Cyprus, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC for healthcare in Cyprus, unless you are a student or a detached (posted) worker
  • An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance
  • The EHIC and GHIC are not valid in north Cyprus

Do I need health insurance in Cyprus?

Once you are registered as a resident in Cyprus, you may be entitled to state healthcare. You should check with the Ministry of Health, or at your local citizen service centre, to see if you are covered. 

But even if you are a Cyprus citizen or an EU citizen, you may not qualify for the public system – currently, households earning more than €35,000 and individuals making more than €20,000 are not covered by the public system.

If you don’t qualify for public health insurance, you have a choice of out-of-pocket payments or private cover. To give you a rough idea of the prices you can expect to pay, we’ve listed a few examples below:

  • A one-day stay in hospital (without treatment): €150-200
  • 3-4 day hospitalisation after giving birth: €2,000-3,000
  • A paediatrician’s services (birth and 6-7 consultations): €400-500
  • Basic dental treatment: €100-200
  • Dental implants: €300
  • Cataract surgery: €1,600

As you can see, paying the costs out-of-pocket could get quite pricey. So, if you’re unable to get covered by the state healthcare, taking out private medical insurance is always a good option.

Private insurance can also benefit you in more ways than one. Cyprus’ public health system, as in most other European nations, sometimes has long waiting lists – taking out private cover means you’ll be able to dodge these queues.

If you think that private health insurance would be suitable for you and your family before your move to Cyprus, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you’re planning on staying in Cyprus temporarily before your permanent move, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can cover you – but beware, it isn’t valid in northern Cyprus. If you are resident in Cyprus, however, you cannot use an EHIC to access healthcare.

When you travel from Cyprus for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can also use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay, the EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home.

Benefits of private medical cover

  • On-demand access to a wide range of facilities 
  • Shorter waiting times 
  • Fewer language barriers
  • Access to a higher quality of care
  • Cover for ongoing expenses, such as GP appointments and prescriptions
boat on docks in sunny Cyprus

Welcome to the Kyrenia old harbour on the northern coast of Cyprus – adorned with colourful boats and crystal clear water

Cost of private healthcare in Cyprus

The price of private healthcare isn’t exactly black and white – the final figure will depend on a number of different factors. Choosing an international or local provider, as well as the kind of package you go for, will also tilt the price scale. That's why the best way to find the right insurer for you in Cyprus is to shop around.

Other key variables that alter the price of insurance include:

  • Age (the higher, the more expensive)
  • Area of cover (i.e. are other areas required in the coverage, in addition to Cyprus? If those other areas include any of the US, the Caribbean, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, or Dubai this can significantly increase the overall price)
  • Any pre-existing conditions
  • Choice of provider 

Plus, Cyprus has an incredibly competitive insurance market – making it even more challenging to give an exact amount for coverage, but there are a couple of general rules. On the lower end of the price scale, you can expect to pay around €300 per year for coverage. On average, this will include roughly €40,000 of coverage per year under a basic plan – often only covering visits to public sector hospitals and clinics.

More comprehensive plans are available for a higher price. Towards the top end of the price scale, you can expect to pay as much as €1,500 per year. These high-end plans cover visits to public and private facilities, usually covering up to around €2 million per year under a premium plan.

If you’ve already decided that private health insurance is sensible before your move to Cyprus, check out our list of recommended healthcare providers. From there, you can request free quotes from whichever company suits your needs.

Advice for people moving to Cyprus

Now you’re up-to-date on Cyprus’s healthcare system, you can figure out whether public or private healthcare will work best for you and your family. Once you’ve made this choice, you can look forward to sunny skies and beautiful beaches. 

To find out more, check out some of our other articles about Cyprus: