How to buy a Cyprus Citizenship

Cyprus, the Mediterranean’s third largest island, is known for its warm climate, mineral wealth, rich culture, and natural beauty. Apart from this, the country stands out due to its high quality of fast-growing life and economy. The economy is mostly service-oriented, with finance and tourism accounting for the largest industries. Moreover, its location in the East Mediterranean enables easy entry into the rest of Europe. This has left many wondering as to how to get Cyprus citizenship.

On the basis of this global interest, the country has given many people the opportunity to acquire citizenship and own a Cypriot passport, ranked 4 in terms of passport power by the Passport Index. There are many ways of getting Cyprus citizenship but since 2016 it has become even simpler to apply for citizenship through investment.

Cyprus Citizenship Benefits

Apart from being able to live in a beautiful country, the benefits of getting Cyprus citizenship are many. Visa-free travel, residence, and work within the boundaries of the European Union for the citizen and his/her family, an easy process of obtaining of the Cypriot citizenship for the spouse, children or parents, and the ability to acquire property and invest in any EU country are only some of them.

Ways Of Getting Cyprus Citizenship

Apart from the standard means of procuring citizenship, namely by birth or parentage, Cyprus offers, like many others, additional ways of acquiring citizenship.

1. Citizenship through naturalization

For this, the applicant must have lived in Cyprus for longer than 7 years (or 5 years if parents or children also live in Cyprus). Further, it is required that the applicant live continuously in Cyprus for the 12 months prior to the application.

2. Citizenship through marriage

At least 3 years of marriage and residing legally in Cyprus are the requirements.

3. Citizenship by investment

Citizenship by investment is the most interesting option since it now offers anybody with the means a chance of getting Cyprus citizenship at an accelerated pace. The option to buy Cyprus citizenship is available through the “Scheme for Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by exception”.

Cyprus Citizenship by Investment

The Cyprus Investment Programme works differently from most of the economic citizenship programs other countries offer as it requires a long-term financial commitment.

To buy Cyprus citizenship, an investment of a minimum of €2 million is required, which can be invested in construction, a company, investment funds, or building projects, as well as direct real estate purchase. These investments are required to be made within a three year period prior to the application and are expected to continue for at least three years past citizenship acquisition, while the real estate component has to be maintained indefinitely. The main requirements for the application are a clean criminal record and a residency permit in the Republic of Cyprus. Further required documents include contracts of sale, investment plans, and proofs of payment. This in a nutshell is the answer to the question posed by many interested individuals as to how to get Cyprus citizenship.

By acquiring a Cyprus passport by investment, visa-free access to many countries, and the possibility of relocating to other EU member states – as well as various other benefits – are granted.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the key factors making Cyprus an attractive investment destination are “highly specialized human capital, the reliable legislative and regulatory framework, the stable tax system and the safety and stability conditions prevailing in the country.” Cyprus has achieved successful economic performance that can be seen in the country’s rapid growth, stability, and full employment conditions. The country’s economic potential is impressive enough to convince a high number of interested candidates to apply for the citizenship programme through investment. The process of how to get Cyprus citizenship is also straightforward, making it easier for interested individuals.

On the basis of this, investor interest and the above-mentioned framework, the council of ministers decided to revise their “Scheme for Naturalization of non-Cypriot investors by exception” as part of their economic policies. Consequently, new criteria have been established for non-Cypriot investors and entrepreneurs to buy Cyprus citizenship since the 13th of September 2016.

The direct aim of the new scheme is to increase and encourage Foreign Direct Investment and encourage high net worth individuals to increase business activities and settlements within Cyprus.


Advantages Of Getting The Cyprus Citizenship Through Investment Program

There are plenty of advantages of securing a Cyprus citizenship through the investment programme.

  • Dual nationality is permitted
  • Cypriot nationality can be granted to the whole family
  • No health checks required
  • No requirements to learn the local language
  • Visa-free travel to 122 countries and visa on arrival to 39 countries with a prior visa requirement for only 37 countries
  • Freedom to travel to, reside, work, and study within Europe
  • 6 months approval period (approximate)

Since the changes, the scheme gives the basis for non-Cypriot citizens to apply for the Cypriot citizenship through investment (naturalization by exception) if they meet certain criteria. The applicant has the right to apply individually, through their company in which he or she plays a significant shareholder-role, through joint investment with their spouse, or even as a high-ranking senior manager of a company if certain economic criteria are met.

A high-ranking senior manager is allowed to apply given that he/she generates a minimum remuneration of €100,000 over three years. Furthermore, what is required is the proof of payment or prepayment of the tax.

For all applicants, the necessary investment must be made within the three years prior to the Cyprus citizenship application and this investment has to be retained for at least three years from the date of acquired citizenship.

Terms and conditions, as well as the selection criteria, apply for all applicants. If these are not met or are breached, the granted naturalization can be revoked.

Investments Required

  • Investment in infrastructure projects, land development, real estate:

 

  1. An investment of at least €2 million must be made by the applicant in the form of a purchase or construction of land development projects or other infrastructure projects. These may be commercial, tourist, or residential land development projects.
  2. Included in this criterion are investments in land under development, but not investment in land that is in a zero-development building zone.
  • Acquisition of Cypriot Businesses or Companies:

 

  1. Another way to meet the investment criterion is to purchase or participate in Cyprus-established or operating organizations or companies that have an investment cost of at least €2 million. An investment plan and consequent investment funds have to be directed at their investment objectives that are required to be focused exclusively on Cyprus.
  2. Verification of the following factors is required for the application process: the company or organization’s physical presence in Cyprus, the employment of at least five (5) persons from EU member-states or Cyprus citizens, and significant turnover and activity.

 

  • Investment in CySec licensed Cypriot organizations, financial assets of Cypriot companies or in Alternative Investment Funds (AIF):

 

  1. A minimum of €2 million is required if the investment of the citizenship application is based on the purchase of financial assets of Cypriot organizations or companies. Required for the application using this form of investment is a proof of the physical presence of the company or organization, evident substantial economic activity within Cyprus, approval of the CySec (Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission), and the sole purpose of financing the company or the organization’s investment plan exclusively in Cyprus.
  2. The purchase of Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) requires a minimum investment of €2 million to grant the applicant access to Cypriot citizenship. These have to be established in the Republic of Cyprus, have to be supervised and licensed by the CySec and are required to make investments exclusively in Cyprus. Further required is annual written information with reference to the initial investment’s value by the fund manager or auditor to the Ministries of Finance.

 

  • Combination of the investments mentioned above

 

  1. Lastly, it is possible to apply for naturalization by combining the above-mentioned ways of investment given that these will give a total amount of at least €2 million.
  2. As part of this criterion, the applicant may acquire special government bonds of the Republic of Cyprus. These can go up to €500,000, have to be issued by the Public Debt Management Office of the Ministry of Finance, and are required to be retained by the investor for three years. The terms and characteristics of these special bonds are determined by the General and Special Issue Terms to the Government Bonds of the Republic of Cyprus.

General Requirements

For a successful application for the “Naturalization of Investors in Cyprus by Exception”, several general requirements need to be met in addition to the above-mentioned criteria.

  • The applicant is required to present a clean criminal record. Part of this is furthermore that the applicant’s name cannot be included in a list of individuals whose assets have been frozen on the basis of sanctions within the European Union.
  • Residence in Cyprus: Also required for the application process is the proof of residency in the Republic of Cyprus of which the purchasing price must be at least €500,000. This residency is required to be a possession of the applicant for life.
  1. In the case of a simultaneous application of family members who apply as separate investors, a collective residence can be mentioned given that the total value of the property amounts to a minimum of €500,000 per applicant.
  2. If the purchase price of the Cyprus-based residence owned by the applicant exceeds the required amount of €500,000, the additional amount may be used to count towards the total amount of required investment needed (as described in the criteria above).

An exception to the above-mentioned terms is given when the applicant has invested in housing units as part of their above-mentioned investment criterion. This applies only of the housing unit is worth at least €500,000 plus VAT and remains the applicant’s possession for life.

  • Residence Permit: The applicant has to provide proof of a residence permit in Cyprus that is valid before the naturalization as a Cypriot citizen.
  1. In case the applicant is unable to comply to these requirements and is not holding a residence permit prior to the naturalization application, he or she is given the possibility of applying for a residency permit simultaneously to the naturalization application. No further conditions apply if the aim of the residency permit is only to comply with the Cyprus citizenship requirements of acquisition.
  2. If the application of naturalization, however, is for any reason not accepted, the residency permit or immigration permit that has been applied to for the purpose of the naturalization acquisition will be canceled.

Documents Required

For the application process, several documents are required, of which some are independent of the various investment processes while others are directly related to the form of investment.

Documents required of all applicants:

Clean criminal record:

Certificate of a clean criminal record from the country of origin (or the country of residence in case that differs).

Proof of residency:

  • Sale Contract.
  • The Title Deeds or Proof of Registration of the contract submitted with the Lands and Surveys Department.
  • Payment proof for the agreed purchase price.
  • Copy of the wire transfer to a commercial banking institution in Cyprus in the name of the person or company who is selling the property.
  • An independent registered land surveyor’ evaluation to be produced if the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Finance so requires it.

Investment-specific documents required:

  • The applicant needs to produce his/her company’s Certificate of Registration with the Registrar of Companies.
  • The applicant needs to produce evidence that he/she is the beneficiary owner of a company or companies by producing the Certificate of shareholders given by the Registrar of Companies.
  • Audited accounts of the applicant’s company for the three years preceding the year of the application.
  • In case the applicant is a high-ranking senior manager,the employment contract and the Department of Inland Revenue’s receipt are additionally required.
  • If it’s a joint investment with the applicant’s spouse or even if the spouse has made the investment independently, furnishing the marriage document is mandatory.

 

Furthermore, the following documents are required based on the investment chosen:

  • Investment in infrastructure projects, land development, real estate

The applicant needs to furnish the following documents to show evidence that he/she has indeed made the requisite investment in real estate, land development, and infrastructure projects:

  • Sale Contract.
  • The Title Deeds or Proof of Registration of the contract submitted with the Lands and Surveys Department.
  • Payment proof for the agreed purchase price.
  • Copy of the wire transfer to a commercial banking institution in Cyprus in the name of the individual or the company from whom the company is being bought.
  • An independent registered land surveyor’ evaluation to be produced if the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Finance so requires it.
  • If the land purchased is one under development, then the applicant needs to produce the Investment Plan for its development.

 

Acquisition of Cypriot Businesses or Companies

If the applicant wishes to purchase or establish a company or business in Cyprus, then apart from the general documents, the following documents might be required:

  • Specific investment plan in the company
  • The applicant has to employ citizens of Cyprus or the European Union and has to furnish copies of their employment contracts.
  • The applicant needs to show the Confirmation from the Social Insurance Department as to the insurable income of the company’s employees who are citizens of Cyprus or the European Union.
  • The applicant needs to produce copies of the company’s contribution to the above insurance.
  • For those employees who are citizens of the European Union, the applicant needs to furnish their Registration Certificate (MEU1) or Permanent Registration Certificate of Union Citizen (MEU3).

Investment in CySec licensed Cypriot organizations, financial assets of Cypriot companies or in Alternative Investment Funds 

The applicant could also choose to make the required investment, needed in the citizenship planning process, in Alternative Investment Funds i.e. invest in the financial assets of companies that are licensed by CySec:

  • Title/Titles deeds for the financial assets/units purchased.
  • Copy of the wire transfer to a commercial banking institution in Cyprus in the name of the company from whom the assets are being purchased.
  • Specific investment plan in the company.
  • CySec’s confirmation.

 

Investment in Cyprus government bonds:  

  • The applicant can purchase special government bonds and provide proof for the same from the Public Debt Management Office.
  • Copy of the wire transfer to the Treasury’s bank account in the Republic of Cyprus.

Apart from these, the Ministry of Interior or the Ministry of Finance might require further documents. Moreover, the Cabinet of Ministers taking the decision for the application holds the right to decide independently if the naturalization is accepted or not.

Revokement of Cyprus Citizenship

Even though the programme sounds solid, there is always a risk that the application of citizenship might be canceled, or the citizenship gets revoked – though in most cases a significant ground is needed for that.

The revoking of the citizenship would directly be enforced if, for instance, the requirements of holding the €2 million investment and €500,000 residential property investments are not met.

It is important to keep in mind is that while Cyprus allows dual citizenship, the country of the applicant’s origin may not.

Furthermore, the applicant should keep in mind the possible consequences for family and assets that might be affected by the choice to buy Cyprus citizenship.

How To Get Cyprus Citizenship?

  • The website for the Ministry of Interior of Cyprus provides most information online on their website. Local embassies in foreign countries similarly offer information

The name of the specific application for the “Scheme for Naturalization of non-Cypriot investors by exception” is the form M127

  • For the actual application, however, an authorized agent has to be chosen, who will  then guide the applicant through the due diligence process.
  • Once this process has started, the waiting time of approximately six months begins.

The process of preparing a comprehensive application may be rather time-consuming and confusing due to the various required forms and the different immigration authorities. Professional assistance and help are not only required and helpful but essential for a successful application.

Let our experts help guide you through the process of securing a second citizenship that suits your needs. Register with us now!