This post was most recently updated on March 22nd, 2020
Whenever we start a discussion about Cyprus, sooner or later in the conversation, the term “Schengen” always pops up.
When I was applying to Cyprus on a student visa from Nepal, the first thing I asked the agent was, “Is Cyprus a Schengen country?”
I am sure; it’s not only me who might have asked the same question.
At that time, I looked on the internet to find the answers. Unfortunately, the articles on the internet weren’t informative enough.
After spending more than 6 months in Cyprus now, I believe I have gathered enough information to write an article regarding Cyprus and Schengen.
In this article, I will try to explain most of the questions that you have in your mind as regards to Schengen.
What is Schengen?
Before moving on to the main question, the first thing we need to know about is the term “Schengen”. So what Schengen really is?
Schengen is a visa agreement between 26 European States to abolish border control at their mutual borders.
In simple terms, if you are in one of the countries in the Schengen area, you can travel to another country in the Schengen area with a common visa. No new visa is required.
Most of the people thing “Schengen” is a country. When asked, where do they want to go, they say “Schengen”.
Let me tell you something. There is no country called “Schengen” in this world. Schengen is the name of the agreement and not the name of a country.
History of Schengen
The Schengen Agreement was signed on 14th June 1985 in a small town in Luxembourg called Schengen. Hence they named the agreement as “Schengen”.
At that time the European Union had only 10 member states and only 5 of them signed the Schengen agreement. The five countries were Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.
Is Cyprus a Schengen Country?
No. Cyprus isn’t a Schengen country.
I am writing this article on 3rd December 2019. As of today, Cyprus isn’t recognized as a country in the Schengen zone.
Will Cyprus become a Schengen Country in 2020?
Well, there are chances, but no one can say for 100% that it will.
How many countries are there in the Schengen Area?
There are currently 26 countries in the Schengen Zone.
In 1985 when Schengen was created there were only 10 countries in the European Union, and now the number has increased to 27.
So the European Union has 27 countries now. Out of that 22 countries are recognized as Schengen countries.
But hey, you just said there are 26 countries in the Schengen.
Yes, I did.
There are 4 countries that are not members of the European Union but have signed agreements in association with the Schengen Agreement.
These are the 4 countries that are not members of the EU but are recognized as Schengen Countries.
Remaining 22 Schengen countries which are the member of the European Union are as follow:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
As we all know now, that 22 countries out of 27 European countries are in the Schengen zone.
Now, the remaining 5 countries are as below.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, and Ireland.
What is a Schengen Visa and how does it work?
Schengen is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished all passports and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.
The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
Imagine Cyprus as a group of 5 different Countries, i.e. Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, and Paphos.
Suppose you wanted to go from Nicosia to Larnaca. You should cross the border, wait in long queues and then you will reach Larnaca. When you reach Larnaca you would again have to wait in the long queues.
It’s boring and tiresome, isn’t it?
So, one day the Government decided to cancel the borders, so people could go in and out much easier without waiting in the queues and wasting their time. They created a single visa policy and that policy is called Schengen Visa.
Likewise, you can travel from France to Germany, and any other Schengen countries without going through any sort of border, same as you are traveling from Nicosia to Larnaca.
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
What’s delaying Cyprus to Join the Schengen Area?
How many of you know that the Republic of Cyprus was part of the European Union since May 1st, 2004?
Cyprus is legally bound to join the Schengen Zone but because of the Cyprus Dispute, the implementation has been delayed.
Now, what is the Cyprus Dispute?
The Cyprus dispute, also known as the Cyprus conflict is an ongoing dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus is divided into 2 parts i.e Southern Part and the Northern Part.
The southern part is mainly inhabited by Greek Cypriots , and the Turkish Cypriots are residing in the Northern part. The northern part is recognized as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
The problem is Turkish Cypriots like to call themselves Turkish and be a part of Turkey and the Southern Greek Cypriots want the north and the south part to be a single nation like before.
The dispute isn’t only about the border but also economy, culture, ethnicity and many more.
Until these issues are resolved, we may not see Cyprus as a Schengen Country.
Will Cyprus ever be a Schengen country in the future?
Mr. Louis Koutroukides, the President of Housemaids Association of Cyprus says, “It’s totally a wrong question. The question shouldn’t be presented as if Cyprus would ever be a Schengen country, but it should be asked as, when will Cyprus be a part of the Schengen Area?
He adds, In the future, near or far, Cyprus would obviously be a member of Schengen.”
According to the European Union agreements, Cyprus has to join the Schengen Area.
4 EU country members that are not currently a part of the Schengen area are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. They are legally obliged to join the area in the future.
So the 4 countries including Cyprus must join Schengen. It’s not a choice of the Cyprus Government, it’s strict orders from the European Union.
So to sum up, Will Cyprus ever join the Schengen area?
Yes, it will. It’s just a matter of time.
What benefits can you get as a student or a worker in Cyprus if it becomes a Schengen Country?
- You can travel to other Schengen countries freely.
- Cyprus might implement a better and affordable Permanent Residence policy for migrants.
- Your salary structure might get better.
- You will be able to bring your family on a dependent visa.
Related article: Why choose Cyprus for your higher studies?
Unfortunately, refugees won’t be able to travel from Cyprus to other countries, even though Cyprus becomes a Schengen country.
The exact meaning of Refugee is that the applicant doesn’t want to return to their country in fear of being arrested, thrown into Jail, and even shot to death.
If they leave Cyprus, their life might get in danger. So, refugees will be excluded from the Schengen Visa agreement.
As we all know now, Will Cyprus ever be a Schengen country is a wrong question to ask.
Let’s hope, Cyprus fulfills all the requirements soon to become a Schengen zone and make our life easier by providing us with “Schengen” benefits.
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