A Complete Guide To Cyprus Residency-by-Investment
Cyprus is a European tax haven that has long been a quick and cost-effective way to obtain European citizenship.
Cyprus is undeniably one of the hottest and most famous investment immigration destinations in the world. With the EU Commission cracking down, it’s no longer a tax haven and it’s no longer the cheapest European passport available (Bulgaria has snatched that title right up). However, what if you don’t have more than $2 million to spend on Cypriot citizenship? Don’t be concerned. The Cyprus residency-by-investment (RBI) program is an excellent alternative. Cypriot residency by investment could be yours for only €300,000 and two months.
There aren’t many jurisdictions that can give you a better RBI deal than an island full of (ultra) high-net-worth individuals living the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle in a country on the verge of entering the Schengen Area. Are you ready to go through the motions of the bureaucracy? We will walk you through it all and make it as easy and painless as possible for you. We’ll explain why you should choose Cyprus, how its residency-by-investment program functions, and what steps you’ll need to take to make it all a reality.
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Cyprus Residence-by-Investment Program
For those who are unaware, RBI programs are administered by countries that want to draw foreign capital and therefore provide residency in return for a capital infusion. RBI programs exist in various countries around the world, but Europe’s so-called “Golden Visas” are among the most coveted. These programs, which grant a “golden ticket” to the European Union and enable people to travel throughout the union freely, are among the most common in the investment immigration world.
This is due to the fact that they require less financial investment than European citizenship programs and are typically processed very quickly (approximately two to three months). Furthermore, investment applications will add family members to them, giving whole families a “Plan B” – a secure and comfortable location to fall back on if living elsewhere becomes difficult for any reason. Overall, residency-by-investment initiatives provides a fantastic opportunity for international investors to live in Europe. They also provide a plethora of investment opportunities and a plethora of reasonable offers.
Why Should You Choose Cyprus?
A Mediterranean island dotted with luxury villas and crisscrossed by exorbitantly priced vehicles and Europe’s sunniest nation – that’s Cyprus for you. Its laid-back culture and high-quality lifestyle have long drawn foreign investors to the region. Limassol, the capital, is also known as the “Moscow of the Mediterranean” due to the large number of Russians who have made Cyprus their home, either by residency or citizenship.
So, what is it that draws Russians and others to Cyprus? First and foremost, in terms of politics and economy, Cyprus is a remarkably stable nation. Tourism, gambling and financial services are its only sources of revenue. But the island country has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It is, for example, a longtime member of the European Union, and its application to join the Schengen Area is about to be accepted at any moment. Needless to say, Cyprus will become ever more deeply integrated into the EU apparatus, which isn’t necessarily a good thing in terms of taxation and legislation but is a good thing in terms of stability.
Cyprus is also in a strategic location. It’s a perfect country to do business because of its links to the EU, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. It also has a tax system that is favorable to businesses, with low corporate tax rates. It’s also one of the safest countries on the planet. If you have family who would enjoy safety and security in a new home, Cyprus may be the answer.
It is important to note that an influx of foreign capital has sparked a real estate construction frenzy in Cyprus, and prices have risen significantly as a result. But it also means that a wide range of luxury condos and beachfront villas are available. Why not seize one of them and gain the opportunity to live freely in the European Union?
What are Alternatives to Cyprus' Residency-by-Investment Program?
Like most anything else, the Cyprus’ residency-by-investment (RBI) program isn’t going to be the ideal solution for all. There have to be alternatives out there. Fortunately, you don’t need to look any further because there are five more Golden Visa program options that will grant European residency and potential citizenship.
One of the most common Golden Visa options, Portugal’s residency requires a slightly higher investment than becoming a resident of Cyprus – €350,000. What’s the difference between investing in real estate in Cyprus and Portugal to qualify? Portugal only allows temporary residency and makes citizenship more difficult to obtain. Although applying for naturalization in Portugal takes just five years rather than seven, there are more hoops to jump through.
Ireland, like Cyprus, is not a member of the Schengen Area, but unlike Cyprus, it has no plans to join. It appears to be pleased with its decision, as it has attracted many of the world’s largest corporations due to its favorable tax regime. A minimum investment of €500,000 would enable you to enter Ireland, and the best part is that you can remain a permanent resident even if you sell your assets.
Would you like to see some Eastern European action? If the ultra-modern lifestyle of Cyprus is not for you, €250,000 could get you into Latvia. It’s a done deal: Buy real estate or start a company and become a citizen, with access to the entire Schengen Area.
The Hellenic Republic takes the top spot as one of the most affordable RBI services currently available. If you have €250,000 to spare and want to invest it in beautiful real estate in Greece, you can do so while also obtaining a resident permit. With its common past, culture and environment, Greece is an ideal alternative to Cyprus in terms of investment choices.
How Can You Get Residency in Cyprus By Investment?
The Cypriot residency program is one of Europe’s oldest and most well-known RBI programs. Cyprus is a renowned destination in the investment immigration world, having long been known as an offshore tax haven (although it has since lost some of its appeals). The Cyprus Golden Visa, like almost any other investment program, emerged from a desire to increase foreign investment and aid the country’s economic growth and development. Cyprus now relies heavily on the money it receives from its wealthy residents and people.
Although purchasing Cypriot citizenship outright is no longer available, becoming a permanent resident for a fraction of the price remains a viable option. By investing a minimum of €300,000 (plus VAT) in real estate, you and your family will become residents of Cyprus. After that, your application will be processed and you will receive your residency permit in two months.
Who Should Consider the Cyprus Residency Program?
The Cyprus residency-by-investment option, as previously mentioned, is not for everyone. Some people would simply not find it appealing for various reasons, such as the scale of the investment or the fact that Cyprus has a bad reputation in the offshore industry.
Who will we suggest it to?
There are four groups of people who should consider settling in Cyprus permanently.
- Americans Looking To Renounce Their Citizenship
If you’ve come to the end of your rope and want to give up your American citizenship, a residency in Cyprus might be a perfect way to broaden your horizons. Many people who renounce their American citizenship opt for a Caribbean passport because it is less expensive, but they are then unable to travel to those regions and countries. A Cypriot address solves this issue. You may apply for residency in Cyprus, allowing you to live and travel freely across Europe. This is not to mention the possibility of obtaining a Cypriot passport, which would enable you to live and work freely in the European Union.
However, every coin has two sides. Running from the American government only to fall into the hands of the European Union might not be the best plan for anyone attempting to implement a strategy, so you should seek professional advice before taking such a drastic move.
- Visa-Free Access
It’s no surprise that Russian and Chinese nationals make up the bulk of European Golden Visa applicants. Other nationals can also apply, but they all have one thing in common: a shaky passport. In today’s world, the disparity between the number of countries to which one can travel visa-free might not be significant, but it is the nature of those countries that counts. If you have a Tier B or Tier C visa, you won’t be able to fly to the world’s most developed economies. We’re talking about the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Western European nations.
Obtaining visas on a regular basis can be a real pain, particularly if you’re a busy entrepreneur or investor. Don’t worry; living in Cyprus will help. With its upcoming Schengen membership, it will be possible to fly freely across Europe. Cyprus is also likely to be added to the U.S. ESTA travel authorization program in the future. Furthermore, holding permanent residency in Europe makes obtaining visas for many other countries much simpler. Officials can see that you’ve been thoroughly vetted, so there are procedures in place that allow you to enter the country simply because you live in Europe.
- Cyprus Permanent Residency Status
Cyprus is one of the few investment-based residency countries that provides permanent residency to investors. Temporary immigrants whose permits must be renewed – often on an annual basis – can be revoked more quickly and have more benefits and allowances.
Two groups of people would be attracted to a European permanent residency in Cyprus. First is those seeking a permanent residency program with little to no physical presence in the country. Cyprus is highly welcoming to the jet-setting lifestyle because you only have to visit once every two years to maintain your permanent resident status. Second, on the other end of the continuum are those who want to live in Cyprus and enjoy the year-round sunshine.
Cyprus, whether for singles, couples or families, provides an incredible quality of life. This is an obvious draw.
If you want to become a European citizen but cannot afford to invest the millions needed for faster citizenship, residency-by-investment might be the best option. Sure, you’ll have to wait at least seven years for a Cypriot passport, but if you don’t have any other options, it’s still a good deal. Unlike other RBI nations, Cyprus allows you to remain in the country for one year before applying for naturalization.
Other countries, such as Portugal, Spain or Ireland, would require you to live and pay taxes in the country for at least five years before applying for naturalization. So, if you want European citizenship, you can become a resident for only €300,000 and then play the waiting game.
How Can You Obtain Cypriot Residency-by-Investment?
What’s nice about Cyprus is that the mandatory expenditure to acquire residency is precisely that. In other words, there is no need to make any extra donations or make any additional unrecoverable “investment.” In other words, at the end of the necessary holding period, you will be able to keep or even get back everything you invested in Cyprus, or if you want to leave Cyprus before the time limit expires. Furthermore, with the same investment, you and your family can become residents of Cyprus.
Your legal spouse or civil partner, children under the age of 25 (who must be unmarried), and parents/parents-in-law may all be added to your application for free. However, the provision that parents and in-laws do not need additional expenditure is set to shift in the near future (we estimate in 2021). In order to be qualified for residency in Cyprus, you must meet two conditions.
- Real Estate Investment
To begin, you must purchase a new property in the country with a minimum market value of €300,000 (plus VAT). You are not required to invest as a person if you do not wish to. You can also buy real estate with the help of a legal party, but it must be registered under your (and possibly your spouse’s) name. There can’t be any other owners. And there’s more good news: You have some flexibility in terms of the types of real estate you can invest in.
You can put your money into one of the following:
- One or two residential properties
- One residential and one commercial (e.g., a shop) property of up to 100 square meters
- One residential and one commercial (e.g., an office) property of up to 250 square meters
There is one stipulation, however: All of the properties must be bought from the same developer. So, if you want to mix and match, you’ll need to find a developer that can provide you with both residential and commercial real estate. We also strongly advise you to diversify your real estate holdings in order to reduce risk. If tourism demand declines, your residential rentals will become less liquid. If, on the other hand, the nation experiences a financial downturn and office space is no longer in demand, your residential property rental will help you make up the difference.
When applying for residency-by-investment in Cyprus, the property or properties you buy must all be brand new; there is no resale allowed. And do you know what it takes to purchase new real estate? Taxes, indeed. VAT is paid at a rate of 19% on top of the minimum investment sum. You may, however, qualify for a reduced VAT rate on real estate purchases of up to 200 square meters. This means that the first 200 square meters will be taxed at 5%, while the remaining square meters (if applicable) will be taxed at the standard 19% VAT rate.
- Show That You Have Solid Financial Footing
Second, in order to gain residency in Cyprus by savings, you must demonstrate that you have a minimum of €30,000 in foreign funds coming in each year to support yourself. Pensions, deposits, rent, stocks, real estate and other sources of income all count. If you’re introducing a spouse and/or children, add €5,000 to the number and €8,000 if you’re adding parents or parents-in-law to your residency-by-investment application.
The main goal of the international income provision is to make sure you won’t be working in Cyprus. It’s a tactic used by the government to keep you from stealing jobs from the locals. In either case, residence-by-investment should imply just that – residence rather than jobs. However, Cyprus does allow you (and your spouse) to own and earn dividends from a locally registered company. You’ll also need to put €30,000 in a Cypriot bank as a kind of insurance policy. However, you won’t be able to touch the money for three years. The bank deposit and the annual income must be transferred to Cyprus from outside the country.
The Application Process of Cyprus' Residency-by-Investment Program
You must first determine if you are qualified to apply for residency through investment in Cyprus. You need to be:
- A non-EEA citizen
- At least 18 years old
- A non-criminal offender
- Not under any EU sanctions or restrictions
Make the Investment
First and foremost, you must decide on the type of real estate in which to invest. Will you invest your whole portfolio in residential real estate? Or two, perhaps? How about a warehouse and a short vacation home? While we’ve given a general overview of investing in Cyprus above, speaking with an experienced immigration investment advisor is the best way to learn more. Our team will assist you in determining which real estate investment or combination of real estate investments is best for you.
We will also assist you in completing the legal transaction once you’ve made your decision. This usually entails a trip to Cyprus to look at properties that we’ve pre-arranged for you (although you can also opt to buy without visiting). According to the application criteria, you must also open a local bank account and deposit €30,000. If necessary, this can also be done remotely.
Submit Your Application
Actually, giving power of attorney to a lawyer will handle the entire investment and application filing process, allowing you to avoid unnecessary travel. The application needs the following documents:
When applying for residency-by-investment in Cyprus, you must have the following documents:
- A certified copy of your passport (and all family members, if applicable)
- If applicable, marriage certificates and birth certificates
- A criminal record certificate (you and your spouse), translated and certified
- Your curriculum vitae (CV)
- A title to a Cypriot property or a contract for the sale of a Cypriot property with a minimum value of €300,000. You’ll need to provide proof of payment for at least €200,000 if the transaction isn’t final
- Proof of foreign earnings of at least €30,000 a year
- Proof of another €30,000 promised for three years in a Cyprus bank
- Statements from you (and/or your spouse) indicate that you will not work in Cyprus
- Evidence of medical coverage (for yourself, all dependents, if applicable)
To be eligible for residency in Cyprus, you must complete the lengthy application.
It can take up to two months for your application to be processed after all of the paperwork is sent to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (along with a €500 fee).
Get Your Permanent Resident Permit
If you’ve been accepted for residency in Cyprus you will be given a resident permit that will allow you to enter the country. To receive your permanent resident permit, you (and possibly your family) must move to Cyprus within one year. This entails paying a €50 fee to have your biometric data taken at a central migration office. Once that is completed, you will be given your permanent resident permit, which you will only need to renew every two years. If you sell your investment property or if you become a permanent resident of another country, your permit will be revoked.
Apply For Naturalization
Typically, citizens who have made an investment in Cyprus are interested in eventually obtaining a Cypriot passport. If you want to do so, you’ll need to be a permanent resident for at least seven years before you’re eligible to apply. Cyprus is unique because it does not require you to be a tax resident for those seven years, only for the year before filing your naturalization application. That’s fantastic news; no other RBI country provides such a service.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cypriot Residency-by-Investment
There are plenty of reasons why the Cyprus residency-by-investment program is so successful.
Here are some of the key advantages you will get if you move to Cyprus and become a citizen.
- The application process is lightning fast. With the speedy application process, you can get your residency permit in as little as two months.
- Approval is almost inevitable. If you meet all of the criteria, you have a good chance of being accepted.
- There is no requirement to live in the country. While it is known as a residency program, you do not need to live in Cyprus to gain and maintain permanent resident status. All you have to do is visit the country every two years and you’re good to go.
- There will be no donation. Cyprus does not need a contribution, unlike many citizenship-by-investment programs. That’s money that’s been spent and is no longer available. Instead, you’ll maintain control over your cash.
- Residency is permanent. In contrast to other European Golden Visa programs, investors in Cyprus are given permanent residency rather than temporary residency. This carries more weight and offers more advantages. Permanent residency is often more difficult to revoke.
- Investing choices are flexible. While you must invest in real estate to become a resident of Cyprus, you can mix and match residential and commercial properties to meet the requirements.
- It’s almost time for Schengen. Cyprus is currently not a member of the Schengen Area. However, it is on the verge of becoming a member of the EU, which means that you will be able to fly to almost all of the EU without a visa once it does.
- The resident permit does not expire. For as long as you own your investment property, your permanent resident permit will not expire. You may also sell your property and replace it with one of equivalent or more excellent value right away, and then still keep your permit in the process.
- You can bring the whole family. You and your entire family are welcome to apply. Your spouse or civil partner, minor children, and unmarried children age 18 to 25 may all be added to your application for residency. Furthermore, parents and in-laws are welcome to attend.
- Cyprus is one of the world’s safest and most prosperous nations. This is the country for you if you don’t like surprises and want to see the sunset over the Mediterranean while sipping wine.
- People communicate in English. Not everybody desires to live in a country where they must learn a foreign language. Despite the fact that Greek and Turkish are the official languages of Cyprus, almost everyone speaks English.
- Education is of the highest standard. If you have children, you’ll be pleased to learn that Cyprus has some excellent educational institutions, ranging from kindergarten to college. It’s also all in English.
- It has one of the most affordable European passports. Sure, you’ll have to wait at least seven years, but the Cyprus passport is the best offer available for a mere €300,000. With a Cyprus passport, the entire European Union becomes your sandbox, allowing you to live, fly, work freely and study.
- You can own a Cypriot business. You won’t be able to work in Cyprus if you become a citizen through savings, but you will be able to buy a local business and earn dividends.
- It has high standards of living. Cyprus is a world-class nation with world-class infrastructure, world-class medical facilities and world-class educational opportunities.
- It has a good tax system. There is no tax on global income, interest or dividends. There is no inheritance tax, and the overall tax structure is favorable to businesses.
Inevitably, the Cyprus RBI program has some flaws. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Before you make any decisions, speak with a specialist to ensure you avoid the ordinary risks of immigration investment.
- You cannot travel to the Schengen Area with this visa. Cyprus is on the verge of gaining Schengen membership, but it isn’t quite there yet. The deal is almost over, but the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in the works.
- Only new property can be purchased. Real estate must be brand new and cannot be a resale property when you buy it. The government ensures that it raises some additional funds by levying VAT on foreign investors.
- It’s a small island. Being an island has its appeal, but it also comes with the drawback of isolation. If you want to visit some of the other European countries, you’ll have to leave the island. It also means that Cyprus’ economy is dependent on a small number of industries, which may restrict investment opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Cyprus residency-by-investment program?
Cyprus’ residency-by-investment is a program that allows non-EEA nationals to spend a certain amount of money in Cyprus in return for becoming permanent residents and potentially citizens. Individuals who want to acquire European residency, move freely around Europe, and work toward eventual European citizenship can invest in Cyprus as part of a comprehensive strategy.
How long does it take to become a Cypriot resident?
Since obtaining residency in the country takes just two to four months, the country’s residency-by-investment program is also referred to as a fast-track program. Although it is a concise time frame, other European residency programs follow a similar pattern.
Is it possible to gain Cypriot citizenship via the residency program?
Yes indeed. After you’ve lived on the island for at least seven years, you’ll be able to apply for Cypriot citizenship. It is important to note that you must physically reside in Cyprus for at least 365 days before filing your application to become a tax citizen of the country.
Is there a way for me to obtain Cypriot citizenship more quickly as a resident?
Unfortunately, there are no arrangements in place for Cypriot citizenship to be processed more quickly. As a result, if you’re a residency-by-investment program participant, you’ll have to wait at least seven years to apply for a passport.
Will I have to live in Cyprus in order to become a resident?
No, it’s not true. You rarely have to live in a country that offers a residency-by-investment program. They understand that you probably don’t want to live in the region but just want to take advantage of the travel benefits that come with having a residence there, such as the ability to travel freely across Europe. To maintain some kind of tie to Cyprus, you must visit the country at least once every two years.
Is there a time limit on the Cypriot investor residence?
If you retain your real estate investment, your permanent residency will not expire. But what if you get tired of your home and want to replace it? You will do so if you sell your current home and buy a new one for at least €300,000 while keeping your residency permit.
Is the Cyprus residency-by-investment program subject to any taxes or fees?
Yes, especially the VAT that you must pay when buying a new home. The current VAT rate in Cyprus is 19%, but you can apply for a reduced VAT rate of 5% on up to 200 square meters of your total purchase. On the other hand, any remaining meters would be taxed at the usual 19% VAT rate.