Long-term Importation of Vehicles

Understand how to go about importing vehicles for the long term, including information on customs duty and VAT...

Importing a foreign car to Cyprus for long-term use is a complicated process that can take more a few months to complete. Many new residents choose to use an agent to assist with the formalities. It is important to understand that all long-term vehicle imports from outside the EU are subject to Customs Duty. While there are exceptions to this rule, applying for duty relief can be a lengthy process and there is no guarantee that an exemption will be granted. It is also important to be aware that there is a difference between Customs Duty (Import Duty) and Excise Duty. Vehicles imported from within the EU are automatically exempt from Customs Duty (Import Duty) and VAT as long as the owner can show that the vehicle was registered in an EU country before arriving in Cyprus. Left-hand drive vehicles may be imported if the applicant has owned the vehicle for at least 180 days before the vehicle's arrival in Cyprus and if the applicant has not lived in Cyprus for more than five years before arrival.

Entry and declaration for EU (duty free) vehicles

Upon entry, vehicles brought from EU countries may leave the port of entry with no Customs procedures. The exception to this is if the vehicle is brought in by ship: this form must be produced declaring that the vehicle is imported from within the EU. Regardless of how the vehicle arrived a declaration-of-presence must be made within 24 hours of arrival. This can be made at the nearest Customs Station. In the event of an arrival on a public holiday or weekend, the declaration must be made on the first working day after the 24-hour deadline.

Excise Duty, VAT and waivers for EU vehicles

Vehicles from EU countries are automatically exempt from Customs Duty. However, to apply for an exemption from Excise Duty, Customs will give the vehicle owner Form C104O, a temporary import registration document. This form should be kept in the vehicle, as Customs officials or the police may request to see it at any time. Form C104O is valid for one month. Within that month, register the vehicle or visit the local Customs office in order to receive a two-month extension which is intended to provide the applicant with enough time to apply for the duty and VAT waiver if applicable. Further extensions will likely be needed until the process is complete. When requesting extensions, further documentation may be required to prove ongoing residency status in Cyprus. Any vehicle imported from another EU country which is over 6 months old and has more than 6,000kms on the clock is considered used and will not have to pay tax (VAT) at Limassol customs. Even if the owner can prove that VAT has previously been paid in another EU country, VAT will be charged in either of the following two circumstances:
  • The vehicle is new (6 months old or less)
  • The vehicle has less than 6,000kms on the clock
In order to avoid paying VAT, it is recommended to bring only slightly older cars to Cyprus.

Entry and declaration for non-EU (duty paid) vehicles

Upon entry, the shipping agent will inform the owner that the vehicle has arrived. After paying the local agent charges, the owner can then collect the shipping documents from the agent. These documents (including a receipt from the shipping agent’s fees) should be taken to the port along with proof of ownership and the bill of sale if applicable. A port authority fee is paid (less than €100) and the clearing process begins. The clearing process can take a couple of days. During this time the duty is calculated by Customs and paid by the owner. After the clearing process the car is released and can be registered in Cyprus. A shipping agent may also be authorised by the owner to handle the import process on his or her behalf.

Customs Duty and waivers for non-EU vehicle imports

Customs duty must be paid for vehicles imported to Cyprus unless the vehicle is eligible for exemption. Non-EU residents wishing to take up residency in Cyprus may be eligible for a waiver of Excise Duty and VAT on an imported vehicle for personal use if the vehicle is part of the household’s normal property. Certain conditions must be met and full information is available on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

How to apply for customs duty and VAT relief

An application may be made to any Relief Section of the Customs Office for duty and VAT relief. While the application is being processed, the vehicle may be driven if it has been declared to the Customs authorities and a Form C104O has been obtained. Applicants for customs duty and VAT relief must prove that they resided in another country for at least 12 continuous months prior to moving to Cyprus. As goods in free circulation in the EU can move from one EU country to another without payment of Customs duty, proof of EU Community status is required if applicable. Required documentation may include and is not limited to:
  • A completed Form P17
  • A T2L or T2LF document to prove EU Community status (obtained from the Customs Service in the origin EU country or from the shipping company responsible for the vehicle)
  • Shipping documents for shipped vehicles
  • Valid and expired passports going back at least five years
  • Alien Registration Certificates for applicant and family
  • Residence Permit for applicant and family members
  • Driver's licence
  • Sales contract or evidence a foreign residence is being rented out
  • Proof of employment outside Cyprus in the form of tax returns, insurance records and/or pay slips
  • For applicants with school-age children, proof the children were enrolled in school
  • Proof of residential situation in Cyprus in the form of a sales contract or rental contract for an apartment or home
  • Utility and/or telephone bills
  • Employment contract for work in Cyprus
For details visit the Customs and Excise Department website Other documentation may be requested. Some applicants report being required to provide 2 years' worth of proof of the above. Provide originals as well as at least one photocopy of required documents to leave with the Customs Department. Required vehicle documentation includes but is not limited to:
  • The registration documentation
  • Insurance certificate
  • Bill of sale
  • Arrival documentation, including bill of lading, freight receipt and/or sailing ticket
It is suggested to apply for a Cyprus Residency Card immediately upon entering Cyprus as final approval for a waiver of customs duty and VAT is dependent on the applicant having received a Residence Certificate. This commonly takes more than six months. If liable, duty must be paid using a form called a SAD. This is a Single Administrative Document designed to streamline the import/export process within the EU. Payment and the SAD must be submitted within 10 days of the vehicle's arrival in Cyprus unless the vehicle is placed in a Customs warehouse or exported from Cyprus. Payment can be made at local Customs and Excise offices. If approved for duty/VAT relief, Form SAD must be completed and submitted to any regional Customs Office, along with Form C104O. The Customs office will issue Form C72A indicating the vehicle has been released from Customs. This must be taken along with supporting documents and the vehicle to the Inland Transport Department for an inspection.
With contributions from Andreas Andreou of Cyprus Global Logistics Tel: +357 7000 1002 email Website