NOTICE: read the Amendments To The Cyprus “Citizenship By Investment” Programme made in September 2016
Europe happens to be one of the most attractive destinations for high net worth individuals and wealthy families from emerging countries. The Cyprus citizenship program has been recently ranked among the five best in the world. The Cypriot government has started a number of incentives geared to attract foreign investments in the country. The nation’s citizenship arrangement is open to non-EU applicants who are looking to obtain a Cypriot passport. Applicants are required to put in, at least, EUR 2.5 million in the country’s real estate industry, in addition to other requirements. Successful applicants get the right to live, study and work in Cyprus, as well as in all 28 countries that are members of the European Union.
Cyprus is a beautiful island located in the Mediterranean Sea’s Eastern basin. It’s the 3rd largest Mediterranean island after Sicily and Sardinia (Italian Islands). The country is strategically located proximate to Northern Africa, Western Asia, and Southern Europe. It has been a member of the EU since 1st May 2004.
Like its history, the island of Cyprus is multilayered. There’s compelling landscape, culture, hospitality, and lifestyle. Cyprus has two different capitals. The country’s tumultuous past is evident through its Roman ruins, historic sites, dusty urban streets and multifaceted museums. Characterized by warm beaches, Cyprus has dry hot summers and mild wet winters. The service sector accounts for roughly four-fifths of the country’s GDP. Traditionally, the real estate, tourism, and financial services industries have been the most important. Nearly half of the country’s population are between the ages of 25 and 54 years.
Benefits of Cypriot Citizenship
The Cyprus citizenship program was ranked the second best in the world, according to the Global Citizenship Program Index (2015) report. The country’s economic citizenship arrangement is home to the following benefits:
- Involves investing, rather than donating your wealth.
- Freely travel, work and residence within the European Union.
- Considers an applicant’s family (spouse of the applicant, children under the age of 18, and adult dependents).
- Cyprus citizens can offer services within the entire EU member states without obstacles.
- Easier investment or transfer of funds to any EU member country.
- No physical residency requirements, before or after obtaining citizenship.
- Favorable tax system and strategic location that’s central to three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa.
- Visa-free travel to the entire EU, and over 50 non-EU destinations.
- Notably high approval rate, and relatively easy application process.
- Basic documentation required.
- Approvals within 3 months after application.
Qualification may either be on a personal basis or through a company/business where the applicant is a shareholder or ranking senior manager. Applicants for Cypriot citizenship must first buy real estate worth at least EUR 500, 000 on the island. This property must be retained even after citizenship is granted, and should be declared as the applicant’s main residence.
Additionally, any of the following economic investment options can be pursued:
- Option 1: Invest in Financial Assets
The primary applicant is required to invest a minimum EUR 5 million in financial assets (e.g. bonds, debentures, and securities) of Cypriot entities.
- Option 2: Invest in Real Estate
The primary applicant is required to invest a minimum EUR 5 million in the country’s real estate, or other developments (e.g. commercial, residential or infrastructure projects).
- Option 3: Local Business Activities
Applicants who choose this option are required to invest a minimum EUR 5 million in the acquisition, incorporation or participation in corporate entities operating within Cyprus. Qualifying companies need to have a physical presence in Cyprus, and must employ at least 5 Cypriot nationals. This option additionally provides for the compulsory conversion of deposits into shares.
If the company is headquartered in Cypriot and employs more than 5 nationals, the yearly government fee is trimmed down to EUR 350, 000. If the company employs over 10 citizens, the government fee (annual) is reduced to EUR 250, 000. For this option, a three year period must be allowed before the application is made.
- Option 4: Local Bank Deposits
The main applicant, company or trust of which the primary applicant is the main beneficiary needs to make a minimum EUR 5 million deposit in a local Cypriot bank, over a period of time spanning the last three years.
- Option 5: Mixed (Combination) Option
The primary applicant is allowed to fulfill the necessary minimum investment by combining options 1, 2, 3, and 4.
- Option 6: Impaired Deposits
If the applicant had deposits in Laiki Bank or Bank of Cyprus cut by a minimum EUR 3 million since March 15th, 2013, then they would be eligible for naturalization. If the funds were cut by less than EUR 3 million, then the applicant could combine it with any other options.
- Option 7: Group Application (Minimum 5 Investors)
A group application under any of the first five options above provides the lowest possible cost for applicants/investors. Each candidate must invest a minimum EUR 2.5 million so that the total amount invested by all group embers exceeds EUR 12.5 million.
Applicants must conclude their selected investment during the 3 years preceding the application date for citizenship, and keep it for a minimum period of three years after naturalization.
Note: Under the Individual Scheme, the minimum required investment is EUR 2.5 million while under the Collective (Group) Scheme, the minimum investment amount is EUR 5 million.
To qualify for the Cyprus citizenship program, the main applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Possess a clean criminal record.
- Provide documents supporting his or her source and origin of funds for investment.
- Visit Cyprus at least once after approval (no residency requirement though)
- His or her name must not be listed among persons whose property the EU has ordered to be frozen.
The Cyprus citizenship program allows the main applicant to include his or her spouse, and dependents (e.g. children) in the application.
Application Procedure & Timeline
- Evaluation – the Cypriot Ministry of Finance makes an evaluation to establish whether the candidate meets the financial requirements as set out by the Council of Ministers.
- Investigation – at the same time, the Cypriot ministry of Interior carries out thorough investigations to find out whether the candidate satisfies the other conditions necessary for granting of citizenship, including having a clean criminal record, and acquisition of residential property in the country.
- Processing – if the applicant meets the financial requirements and all other criteria necessary for granting of citizenship, the Cypriot Ministry of Interior presents his or her case to the Council of Ministers, where the final decision is to be made.
- Approval – if the application is approved, the Cypriot Civil Registry and Migration Department grants a Certificate of Naturalization.
This whole procedure takes about three months. Government and attorney fees must be paid in addition to the minimum investment amounts.
|Submission Fee||Certificate Issuance Fee||Total|
|Investor/Main Applicant||EUR 2, 000||EUR 5, 000||EUR 7, 000|
|Spouse||EUR 2, 000||EUR 5, 000||EUR 7, 000|
|Financially Dependent Child||EUR 2, 000||EUR 5, 000||EUR 7, 000|
|Minor Child||EUR 80||–||EUR 80|
Conditions for Applicant’s Family Members
The Cyprus citizenship by investment program admits the applicant’s spouse and financially dependent adult children (over 18 years of age) without requiring them to meet the economic/investment requirement.
a) Financially Dependent Persons
The adult children of the applicant reconsidered to be financially dependent if they happen to be students up to the age of 28, and are attending college hoping to acquire a diploma, undergraduate or master’s degree. Children who are studying to acquire a professional qualification and those who are studying to acquire a second or third diploma or degree are excluded. Investor’s children who have severe mental or physical disability and are unable to work are also considered to be financially dependent.
The applicant’s minor children (those below the age of 18) also qualify for Cypriot citizenship.
b) Applicant’s Spouse
The applicant’s spouse can be included along with the application of the candidate in order to be granted Cypriot citizenship as well. The required documents are:
- Application Form that has been fully signed before a consular officer or Registrar of a Cypriot court.
- A copy of the main applicant’s Certificate of Naturalization (if the spouse application is submitted after the investor’s application is approved).
- A copy of main applicant’s Cypriot passport (if spouse application is made after investor’s application has been approved).
- A copy of Spouse current Passport.
- Birth Certificate.
- Marriage Certificate.
- Certificate of criminal record.
- Curriculum Vitae.
- Two passport size photos.
- Copies of advertisements in a daily newspaper – 2 consecutive posts.
c) Applicant’s Adult Children
The applicant’s adult children (above the age of 18) need to provide the following documents:
- A fully completed application form that has been signed before a consular officer or Cypriot court registrar.
- Copy of investor’s (main applicant’s) Certificate of Naturalization.
- Copy of main applicant’s Cypriot passport.
- Birth certificate.
- Copy of existing passport.
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Certificate of criminal record
- Two passport sized photos
- Copies of advertisements in a daily newspaper – 2 consecutive posts.
- Curriculum Vitae
- Original certificate of attendance at a Higher Education Institute
- Copy of undergraduate degree if the applicant is studying for a master’s degree
- Alternatively, a medical certificate providing evidence of disability should be provided.
d) Applicant’s Minor Children
Minor children below the age of 18 years need to provide the following documents:
- Application form that has been completed and signed before a Cypriot consular officer or court registrar.
- Copy of main applicant’s Certificate of Naturalization.
- Parent’s marriage certificate.
- Child’s birth certificate.
- Copies of child’s and parents’ passports.
- Written consent of the non-Cypriot parent.
- Certificate of criminal record.
- Two passport sized photos
- EUR 80 fees.
How can I apply for the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment Program through Cyprus government bonds?
It’s only possible to buy Cyprus government bonds or debentures directly from the Cypriot Ministry of Finance, and through the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
Can I earn Cypriot citizenship through a residency permit?
Holders of the Cypriot Permanent Residency Permit can earn citizenship after legally residing in the country for 7 consecutive years. Following this period of time, it’s possible to apply for Citizenship by naturalization (which is different from the Citizenship by Investment route).
How long does it take to process an application?
Typically, applications for the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment arrangement are processed in three months’ time.
I’m I required to live in Cyprus before or after citizenship has been granted?
No. There’s no residency requirement either before or after filing for Cypriot citizenship. This is one of the many benefits of the Cypriot citizenship program, especially when compared to citizenship programs in other EU countries.
If I’m Successful, when do I receive my Cyprus Passport?
Successful applicants get their Cyprus passport on the same day when the naturalization certificate is granted. The applicant needs to deliver a sworn statement accepting Citizenship, after which he or she pays an acceleration fee of EUR 120 to get Cypriot passport on the same day. If Cyprus passport is obtained later (up to two weeks later), a lower fee of EUR 70 is charged.
Is there any expiry date for the Cyprus citizenship by investment program?
As of now, there’s no expiry date on the Cyprus citizenship program.
What are the eligible banks for the EUR 5 million fixed deposit investment option?
The Central Bank of Cyprus keeps a list of all eligible banks for this option here – http://www.centralbank.gov.cy/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=8154&lang=en
Cyprus branches of foreign banks are excluded from this list.
Is real estate property purchased in the past eligible under the Real Estate financial criterion?
Any real estate property purchased 3 years before applying for Cyprus citizenship are eligible. More properties may be acquired in order to satisfy the total minimum investment amount of EUR 5 million (or EUR 2.5 under a group application).
Does Cyprus recognize dual citizenship?
Yes, which is another major benefit of the program.
Can residential property be sold or rented out after citizenship has been granted?
Since Cyprus doesn’t require successful applicants to reside in the country, privately-owned residences can be rented out.
What is the government fee to apply for Cyprus citizenship?
The submission fee for applying for citizenship is EUR 2, 000. Upon issuance of the certificate of naturalization, an additional fee of EUR 5, 000 must be paid, per applicant.