GESY / GHS - conflicting info on eligibility

I am thinking of moving to Cyprus and have some questions on who is eligible for coverage through the GESY health system.

On the GESY website, there is a page entitled “How to find your Beneficiary's Category”

Under the heading of Non-EU Citizens, it states:

        This category includes persons who are:
        ◦ Citizens of a Non-EU country and
        ◦ Ordinary residents of the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus and

        1. Have a permanent residence permit in the areas controlled by the
        Republic of Cyprus or
        2. Have the right of equal treatment in the social insurance sectors,
        in accordance with the Aliens and Immigration Law

This gives the impression that a non-EU citizen must have a permanent residence permit before becoming a GESY beneficiary. 

And yet, in another document on the GESY website, “GHS Enrollment Process – A Step By Step Guide for Non-Cypriot Nationals,” (also here) the following wording can be found on page 3:

        Working in Cyprus – I am a Non-Cypriot and I am working in Cyprus.
        Citizens who are legally working and have their ordinary residence in the areas
        controlled by the Cyprus Government are entitled to healthcare services
        under the GHS.
        Major population groups falling into this category*:
        EU citizens working in Cyprus with MEU1 permit
        3rd Country nationals, i.e. domestic workers

This gives the impression that a 3rd country national can enroll in GHS without the prerequisite of a permanent residence permit. 

If one looks at the Cyprus personal income tax return form for 2019, one can find columns labeled “GHS Contribution” throughout the form.  If someone were resident in Cyprus and had to make a GHS contribution through the tax form, it seems strange that one wouldn't be able to sign up as a GHS beneficiary.

I have called the GESY telephone call center and was told that a non-EU citizen would have to have a permanent residence permit in Cyprus to be eligible.  I had the distinct impression that the person was reading from a pre-scripted flowchart and wasn't really in a position to be able to offer sound advice on the matter.

Are there multiple definitions of permanent resident permit?  If I'm not mistaken, when it comes to EU citizens, permanent residence is granted only after five years of residence in Cyprus.  Is there a different definition of permanent resident permit for non-EU citizens that doesn't require five years of lead time?

Does anyone know of a definitive source that can conclusively define who is and who isn't eligible for GESY healthcare?  Or a law firm that has a specialist in such matters?  Or a GESY administrative/technical office where matters of enrollment are actually vetted?  Or any other source?

The reality is, as i understand it

First of all and most importantly one must be a legal resident of Cyprus to partake in the benefits of the GESY heathcare system. This means either Cypriot National OR MEU1 holder (Ordinary/temporary residency) OR MEU3 holder (permanent residency... 5 yrs provable legal residency required )... or in the case of a TCN/Non-EU national an MEU2 holder renewable annually for first 5 yrs at which point PR can be applied for

In addition to the above

As a pensioner in receipt of state pension one needs to provide the Form S1 (from the DWP in UK or MoH in other countries) on applying to join GESY in are not paying SIC you cannot join GESYorder to prove healthcare entitlement and as such no contributions need to be made as you will be given an exemption certificate issued by the Ministry of Health in Cyprus and this needs to be quoted on your online tax return... Currently tax returns are not required to be completed if income is less than €19500 per annum

As a working (employed or self employed) person one must provide evidence of paying your Socal Insurance Contributions via payslips, SIC statement etc

If one is not legally resident you cannot join GESY

If one is not paying SIC then you cannot join GESY ..... (the only exception that I have heard of is if a non working non pensioned person has 5 years of legal residency then they must be treated the same as a non working nin pensioned local national and thus allowed to join GESY) 

Currently if one is legally resident but isnt on state pension or working and thus not paying SIC then you cannot join GESY and must have had private healthcare cover to apply for legal residency and continue to have private healthcare cover until the point at which you can join GESY.

Until recently one couldnt make voluntary SIC contributions... but I believe you can do so now at the prevailing rates via the online tax return but you must still be legally resident and registered for tax.

NB once a person has achieved 5 yrs legal residency you must be treated the same as Cyprus national and thus would be allowed to join GESY ( I recall the British High Commission mentioning this point in one of their updates - if i can find the item article then I will update here)

Source … 4816193168

There will be changes to the way that UK nationals can live, travel and access services in Cyprus after 31 December 2020. The below FAQs explain the importance of obtaining or updating your residency status, the benefits that residency gives you and the difference between temporary (MEU1) and permanent residency (MEU3). Please visit the GOV.UK Living in Cyprus guide for further guidance on residence rights in Cyprus and follow our social media pages for further updates.

1.  Why do I need a residency document? I've lived here for years without one and experienced no problems.
The Withdrawal Agreement that the UK agreed with the EU in 2019, established a transition period until the end of December 2020, during which time UK nationals will continue to be treated in the same way as EU nationals in Cyprus. In order to evidence your rights to live, work, study or access benefits in Cyprus after the end of 2020 you need to apply for residency. If you have been in Cyprus for less than 5 years you should apply for an MEU1 (temporary residency permit). If you have been in Cyprus for over 5 years you should apply for an MEU3 (permanent residency). You will not be penalised if you have been living in Cyprus without residency documents.
You can find all the information on how to apply for your residency document on our Living in Cyprus page.

2. When do I need to apply by?
You should apply before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. This is because UK nationals with residency documents will then be able to continue to travel freely into and out of Cyprus on the same basis as EU nationals from January 1 2021. UK nationals who have regularised their residency will also be able to register with GESY – the Cypriot General Healthcare system and be entitled to lifelong healthcare rights for as long as they remain resident in Cyprus. After 31 December 2020, the procedure for residency applications and residency documents is likely to change. The new procedures may be different and the new residency document will have a defined validity in years. The current MEU1 and MEU3 documents do not have an expiry date.

3. Is it a legal requirement to have a residency document in Cyprus?
Yes, all UKNs who plan to stay in Cyprus longer than 90 days must register with the Civil Registry and Immigration Authorities and apply for an MEU residency document.
This includes UK nationals who have bought property in Cyprus and spend more than 90 days here, those who have lived in Cyprus for many years and never registered or have residency documents issued prior to 2004, those who work or study in Cyprus, and those who have retired and chosen to make Cyprus their permanent home.

4. I have an older residency document do I have to apply for an MEU residency document?
Yes. Examples of outdated and invalid residency documents include: a brown residency booklet, a blue slip, a pink slip, an ARC, or an old residency stamp in a UK passport.
All these residency documents and stamps in passports, issued prior to 2004, became invalid when Cyprus entered the EU and initiated the MEU residency document procedures for all nationals of EU Member States living in Cyprus. If you do not update your older residency documents you may experience difficulties re-entering Cyprus or accessing services after 31 December 2020.

5. What is the financial criteria that I need to pass in order to be able to apply for my residency document?
According to the Minimum Guaranteed income funds as provided by the Ministry of Labour (EEE), you will need to be able to provide documentary evidence that you receive a minimum income or pension of over €480 per month.

6. If I don't have a residency document and remain in Cyprus for longer than 90 days will I have difficulties leaving or returning to Cyprus?
Yes. The rules on travel to and from the Republic of Cyprus will change after 31 December 2020. If you do not have a residency document then you cannot remain in Cyprus for longer than 90 days after this date. If you exceed the 90 day limit, you could face difficulties and/or fines when travelling in and out of Cyprus. As per our Living in Cyprus guide, you are advised to carry your Cyprus-issued residency documents when travelling in/out of Cyprus.

7. What help is there for UKNs who are elderly or vulnerable to register for residency?
UK National Support Fund
On 6 March 2020 the FCO announced funding for organisations to provide practical support to UK nationals who may find it harder to complete their residency applications.
These organisations will help individuals who may find it harder to complete the necessary paperwork to secure their residency rights, including pensioners, disabled people, those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties, and those who require help with language translation or interpretation.
In Cyprus, two organisations are providing this practical support: SSAFA (specifically for armed forces veterans) and Cyprus Residency Planning Group (CRPG). If you or someone you know may find it harder to complete the paperwork, you can contact them using the details below to discuss how they may be able to help you.
SSAFA: 800 77058 (freephone)
Mon - Fri 09.00-17.30
[email protected]
CRPG: 800 09009 (freephone)
Mon – Fri 09.00-13.00
[email protected]

8. I applied for my MEU residency document months ago and still haven't received it. What should I do?
We are aware that there are currently delays in the issuance of residency documents. It is important to keep the receipt that you receive when you submit your residency application, as this receipt will enable you to look into the progress of your application by referencing the application number as it appears on the receipt. If you have not received your residency documents after several months, you can enquire into the status of your application through the SMS Service for Information Regarding Applications for Residence Permits by sending a free SMS message to 8999. Send a message with the word STATUS leave a space and add the number of your application.

9. I have been in Cyprus for longer than 5 years and have an MEU1 document, why should I apply for MEU3 permanent residency status?
The MEU3 document allows immediate registration to Cyprus' General Healthcare system known as GESY. You do not have to be an S1 holder or be contributing to the Cyprus Social Insurance Scheme to register with GESY if you have an MEU3.
If you plan to spend time both in the UK and in Cyprus during the year, an MEU1 allows you to be out of Cyprus for up to 6 months per year whereas, the MEU3 permanent residency status allows up to 5 years out of the country.

10. I have an MEU1 can I register with GESY?
If you have an MEU1, you can only register with GESY if you are an S1 holder, or if you are contributing to Cyprus Social Insurance as an employee or company owner, or if you are voluntarily contributing to the Cyprus Social Insurance Scheme.
We advise you to have comprehensive healthcare cover if you are not entitled to register with GESY. There is more information about GESY on our Living in Cyprus page.

11. I am an early retiree and do not yet have an S1 can I register with GESY if I have an MEU1?
As an MEU1 holder, you can't register with GESY unless you are currently receiving a state pension as evidenced by the S1 document, or unless you are contributing to the Cyprus Social Insurance Scheme. We advise you to have comprehensive healthcare cover if you are not entitled to register with GESY. More information about state pensions and social assistance benefits can be found on our Living in Cyprus page.

12. If I have an MEU1 or MEU3 residence document can I apply for a Cyprus issued EHIC card?
You can apply for a Cyprus issued EHIC card only if you are contributing to the Cyprus Social Insurance Scheme. Having an MEU1 or MEU3 without contributing to Social Insurance does not entitle you to apply for a Cyprus issued EHIC card.

13. If I have an MEU1 or MEU3 residency document can I apply for social assistance benefits?
Yes, both MEU1 and MEU3 holders are entitled to apply for social assistance and social welfare benefits. More information can be found on the Living in Cyprus Guide and the Department of Social Welfare Services website here.
If there are changes to residency registration processes, we will update this guidance as soon as information is available.

Toon wrote:

Until recently one couldnt make voluntary SIC contributions... but I believe you can do so now at the prevailing rates via the online tax return but you must still be legally resident and registered for tax.


Thanks very much for all of this information!

I had looked into voluntary contribution to the Cyprus Social Insurance Scheme a few weeks ago, but came across very little.

Among the information I could find was this guide published by the Department of Social Insurance.  It mentions that “Voluntary insurance is allowed to persons who wish to continue insurance after a prescribed period of compulsory insurance”.  The guide was published back in 2018, so the situation may be different now.

Do you know of a source that might be able to clarify if the basis for making voluntary contributions has been broadened since 2018?

I would suggest that you speak direct  to the Dept for Social Insurance in Paphos....  and also GESY

the last contact I had when I asked about it a 4-5 months ago.......
From: [email protected]
Sent: 10 June 2020 16:10
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Αριθμός συμβάντος/Incident ID no: [455180] #Registration question
Dear Sir/Madame,
6/10/2020 3:51:28 PM
Good afternoon
Can a person register for GESY with their yellow slip and pay voluntary contributions at the prevailing rate when they dont work and dont have a state pension in payment... – If not are there any plans to do so in the future?
[email protected]
Wed 2020-06-10 16:23
Dear Sir/Madame,
We would like to inform you that the option of voluntary contributions will be offer in the future, at the current moment this is not possible.
Thank you for contacting us, we remain at your disposal.
GHS Contact Centre
Health Insurance Organisation
Tel: 17000, calling from abroad: +357-22017000
Email: [email protected]
Beneficiary & Provider Portals: Queries and Complaints Section

When I replied to you that I believed it is possible to make voluntary contributions it was on the basis of knowing someone who said he had done so

You still need to be legally resident and registered for both social insurance and tax.

a handy summary

this is a good summary I found cut and paste from an old post.
In order to qualify for GESY if you are a UK Expat:

All applicants must have either MEU1 or MEU3 Yellow Slip.
MEU1 + paying Social Insurance = YES (contributions paid via Social Insurance)
MEU1 + E121/ S1 Form = YES (no contributions payable)
MEU3 + paying Social Insurance = YES (contributions paid via Social Insurance)
MEU3 + E121/ S1 Form = YES (no contributions payable)
MEU3 only = YES (contributions collected by Tax System or The Treasury - this to be confirmed)
If YES, then Dependants/Beneficiaries are also eligible and they do not contribute.