Hiring a Car in North Cyprus

HIRING A CAR In North Cyprus. Is undoubtedly the most sensible if not the only way to see all that the North has to offer, from stretches of wild sandy beaches to scarcely populated mountainous regions with breathtaking views. In these remoter parts, it’s worth remembering that public transport options are at best limited and although in theory taxis are available in rural areas, not even air-conditioning is going to stop you getting hot and bothered about the cost of being chauffeured around for the day.

There is, of course, the guided tour option where transport is included in the price of organised trips to the main archaeological sites and castle ruins, although this idea is likely to make the more discerning traveller break into another sweat.

A hire car will not only provide you with the freedom to fully explore the North but do so at your own pace and within your own budget. So here are some useful ‘how to’ facts about both hiring and driving in the North:

In peak season it is advisable to hire a car in North Cyprus in advance as demand can be high, particular vehicles with air-con. Also make sure you select the right vehicle for your needs (an open top Suzuki, for example, to get you up windy mountainous roads on a hot summer’s day).

To hire a car you must be over 25 and you will need both parts of your driving licence. You must also be in possession of valid documents when driving at all times (driving licence, rental agreement and insurance).

Full insurance will be issued by the hire company, although collision damage waiver (CDW) is an extra albeit nominal daily charge. Any additional driver will also attract a daily charge.

Don’t waste money on a taxi to collect your hire vehicle. It is commonplace to arrange for pick up and drop off from either Ercan airport or your hotel/ accommodation although minimum hire duration of between 3-7 days may apply with a penalty charge for any shorter term.

Car hire is billed in 24 hour periods. If you are arriving at night at a hotel you should book your car from 10 am the following morning to avoid paying for an extra day. Cars are generally picked up and dropped off at around 10 am unless another specific time is requested, although requests cannot be guaranteed.

When out and about parking restrictions are marked with black and white painted kerbstones and should not be infringed.  Otherwise, you can generally park wherever you see an available space. Car parks are called Oto Parks in the North.

You drive on the left (as in the UK), and hire cars are right-hand drive unless a left-hand drive car is specifically requested.

Road signs are in Turkish but for the most part are easily recognisable, with well-placed speed limits and directions.

Speed limits on all roads are posted in km/h and are set at 100km/h on the motorway/open roads and 50km/h in towns, with a 65km/h limit on the approach to junctions (similar to the UK on conversion but make sure you check how your hire vehicle is calibrated, in mph or km/h). The use of speed cameras are commonplace and expect a hefty fine for speeding.

Driving, as in any country, can be dangerous. In the North, indicators are not widely used but horns are, so beware of cars unexpectedly pulling out and expect to get beeped.

Rental cars carry black on red ‘Z’ plates, so called because of the initial letter. Other road users normally accord a fraction more respect to ‘Z’ vehicle drivers, and the police are more likely to turn a blind eye for minor infractions but don’t count on it.

Seat belts are compulsory for drivers and front seat passengers, although children under five years of age must not sit in the front seat. Expect to be fined for any infringement.

There are strict drink-driving laws (as in the UK). Random breath tests may be carried out and if you are over the limit (0.009mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood) expect an on-the-spot hefty fine, loss of your licence and even a night in the local police station.

It is also illegal to talk on your mobile phone whilst driving or otherwise driving dangerously. Again expect a hefty fine.

You may hire a car in the South and cross the border North. However, when you enter the North, whether in a privately owned or hire vehicle, any car insurance is no longer valid and you will need to purchase Turkish car insurance at the border. This is only third party cover (for damage caused by another). You will be responsible for any damage or injury caused by yourself and you may be prevented from leaving the North until any such sum is paid. Also, note that it is not permissible to take a North Cypriot rental vehicle South of the border.

This may seem a lot to remember but in the main, it’s not too dissimilar to hiring and driving in the UK – except of course the addition of breathtaking mountainous backdrops, picnic stop-offs under warmly scented pines and scenic coastal routes to cruise along to in that open-top jeep.