If you are planning to visit, holiday or buy a property in North Cyprus, you will want to know how to roam cheaply and effectively whilst in the TRNC. North Cyprus counts as part of Turkey generally for those coming from abroad.
NEWS – North-South Cyprus Local Mobile Phone Roaming
There is great news from July 2019 for all those using south or north Cyprus local mobile phone networks and who cross the border regularly. North Cyprus mobile phone users can now make and receive calls in the south of Cyprus and South Cyprus users can do so in the North, now that a new cross-border roaming scheme has gone live.
This will be a massive boon to those visiting regularly or living in Cyprus, on both sides of the border who have local phone sim cards and contracts. This has been achieved via a Swiss company who is handling the financial management, and the cleaning or charges and credit between networks. The new agreement has been hailed as a major confidence building measure by the governments on both sides of the border.
Mobile Phone Information for international visitors to North Cyprus
If you are coming from the UK, many of those from the UK who are not living full time in North Cyprus will instead choose to bring a second Vodafone or O2 sim card as Vodafone and O2 now offer unlimited call and text roaming on UK ‘phone contracts and pay as you go, in North Cyprus and Turkey. UK Vodafone account holders can also roam without additional charges in the South too.
If you have another network phone, or are not from the UK, you should check with your phone provider before travelling to see what packages they are offering. If Turkey is NOT included, you would be advised to bring a second phone and either bring a pay as you go Vodafone sim card (if coming from the UK) OR purchase a local Turkcell or Telsim sim card upon arrival.
Mobile Phone Information for those arriving in South Cyprus
If you are arriving at Larnaca or Paphos airports in the south of Cyprus – or if you wish to travel on both sides of the border– you will need to know how best to roam on both sides of the green line.
If you have a mobile phone registered in Europe, roaming is always included/free for the south (European) side of the border, whatever your network at home. UK users should check with their provider for what happens post Brexit.
However, generally charges become much higher when you cross to the north of Cyprus, unless you are on Vodafone or O2.
Using a Local Cyprus Sim Card to roam in Cyprus
If you are spending long periods of time in North Cyprus, to save money it makes sense to purchase a local sim card from either Turkcell or from Telsim, (which is part of Vodafone). There are some great offers which include pay as you go data packages as well as calls and texts. The larger supermarkets, including Lemar, generally have sim card sales stands for both networks and there is also one upon arrival at Ercan Airport so that you can purchase a sim card immediately upon arrival. There are not many actual Telsim and Turkcell offices, so you may find it easier to use the stands in the supermarkets.
Similarly, if you wish to get a south Cyprus sim card, you should head to the nearest corner shop where a wide range of south Cyprus network sim cards can be purchased very cheaply. There’s no need to visit the official Cytanet or other network stores.
Using your phone in both South and North Cyprus
Until July 2019 it was NOT possible to use LOCAL sim cards on both sides of the border. The great news for those wishing to move to live in Cyprus, is that it now is!
If are living mainly in the North and wish to use a local Turkcell or Telsim network phone in the south, until July 2019, this could not be used in the south. Now it can be, if you follow the procedure below.
Similarly, if you are living or spending time in the south of Cyprus, using a Cytanet or other south network and wish to visit the north side of the island, until July 2019 you would lose your signal as soon as you crossed the border! All this has now changed.
How to use your North Cyprus Turkcell or Telsim phone in South Cyprus
If you have a north Cyprus mobile phone, before crossing to the south of the island you need to text to a special number.
TURKCELL CUSTOMERS – should text GUNEY (which means “south” in Turkish) to 1717 – and text KUZEY (“north” in Turkish) to 1717 when you wish to stop roaming.
TELSIM CUSTOMERS – should text “AC” (which means “open” in Turkish) to 7075 and “Kapat” (which means “close” in Turkish) to 7075 to end roaming.
It’s important to remember to text before you cross the border, or you will be hit with different rates. Rates will change, so please check those with your network provider. Be particularly careful when close to the border as you could roam accidentally.
How to use your European (South) mobile phone in North Cyprus
Those with a Cytanet or other south network phone, should contact their service provider to ask if they need to activate roaming for the north of Cyprus before they cross the border to the north. It may well just be automatic. Charges for south Cyprus users visiting the north, are generally cheaper than for north Cyprus users visiting the south.
SUMMARY – Using your Mobile Phone in North and South Cyprus
- UK visitors: if you are coming for short periods to North or South Cyprus, a UK Vodafone or o2 pay as you go sim card or contract will include your usage on both sides of the border (correct as of July 2019).
- European visitors: your mobile phone will roam without additional charges in the south of Cyprus. It will incur costs in the north of the island unless your provider includes Turkey.
- Non-UK/European visitors: North Cyprus counts as Turkey. South Cyprus is Europe. Check with your provider before leaving home.
- Buying a local sim card in South or North Cyprus: These are cheap and easy to purchase from supermarkets and from July 2019 can now allow roaming on both sides of the border for a cost.
- Those with North Cyprus turkcell or Telsim sim cards need to activate the roaming before they cross the border to avoid higher charges.