The Cyprus government offers non-Cypriot applicants an opportunity to be stakeholders in the country’s growth in exchange for citizenship. This is in accordance with the government’s economic policy of attracting foreign direct investment and facilitating high-net-worth individuals to stay and conduct business in the country. This citizenship by investment program was first established in 2002 and has been streamlined most recently during May 2019 to attract foreign direct investment. Applicants must meet predefined Cyprus citizenship requirements with regards to investment thresholds and personal conduct as outlined here to be eligible for citizenship by investment.
Cyprus Passport – A Gateway to Europe and the World
Citizenship of Cyprus provides holders the right to live, work, conduct business, and study in any of the 28 European Union member countries. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, its citizens have free and easy access to other EU members. Once obtained, such a citizenship is relevant for life for the applicant as well as his dependents. The citizenship is also transferred to the applicant’s direct descendants.
A Cyprus passport offers myriad other benefits like visa-free travel to EU member states, access to undergraduate and certification programs from EU member states, free undergraduate studies in public universities, freedom to work and live with families in EU member states, and low corporate tax rates.
A majority of the Cyprus population speaks English, and course lectures are in that language as well. It offers excellent education facilities, and boasts of a low crime rate, having been ranked the 5th safest country in the world. Geographically, Cyprus is a Mediterranean island nation enjoying connectivity to Europe, Asia and African continents alike. The residential property tax rates are capped at 5%. There is also visa-free access to almost 171 countries.
The following criteria outline the Cyprus citizenship requirements which an applicant must fulfill to obtain citizenship by investment. As a foreign national, the first major criterion is to own a residential home in Cyprus worth €500,000, before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Although the applicant is not required to necessarily reside in Cyprus full-time, the applicant will, however, have to visit the Republic of Cyprus during the application process for the purpose of biometric data collection, such as fingerprint and iris scan.
Applicants must further make investments of at least €2 million to fulfill the foreign direct investment criteria established by the Council of Ministers in exchange of Cypriot citizenship. If the applicant is a high-ranking senior manager in a Cypriot company, he must earn a salary generating tax revenue of €100,000 for the country and this tax should be pre-paid in full. The detailed requirements are enumerated below:
- The main applicant’s age must be 18 years and above
- Must possess a valid passport
- Should not have a history of criminal complaint or record, to ensure a good character
- Must hold a valid Schengen Visa. This requirement is void for applicants who are EU citizens or whose current citizenship allows them visa-free travel to the Schengen Area
- Should have had no citizenship application rejection from any other member state of the EU
- Main applicant’s property has not been frozen by any EU member countries as a result of sanctions
- A visit to Cyprus is required to obtain biometrics and receive a Permanent Residency Permit at least six months prior to being granted citizenship
- Investment in a private residence purchased at a minimum of €500,000 (plus VAT) to be considered as an applicant’s permanent place of residence in Cyprus
- In addition to residential investment above, applicants must invest a further €2 million in approved investments
- Investments to be made during the three years preceding the date of application for citizenship, and should be held for five years
In addition to the points above, the applicant’s dependents also stand to benefit from the application. The main applicant’s spouse and children, who are financially dependent on the applicant, are also considered for citizenship. An additional €500,000 investment in a residential property needs to be undertaken to include the parents of the main applicant in the same application.
For an investor’s minor children to be granted citizenship, the application for the same needs to be submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department. The application needs to be accompanied by all relevant documents including birth certificate of the child, form M126 complete in all respects, copy of the child’s and parents’ passport and written consent of the non-Cypriot parent.
For an investor’s financially dependent adult children, who are either under 28 years of age and pursuing an undergraduate/diploma/master’s degree or are unable to work due to a severe physical or mental disability, Cyprus allows application for citizenship. Such an application needs to be filed using form M127 to the Ministry of Interior.
Investment Options Available to Applicants
The applicant needs to undertake the following mandatory investments:
- A €75,000 investment towards the Cyprus government’s Research and Development Fund, becoming stakeholders in the country’s research fabric
- A €75,000 investment towards government Land Development Corporation to help further efforts for affordable housing
In addition, an investment of €2 million (plus VAT) should be made in either of the following ways:
- Investment of €2 million in residential properties as follows:
- Invest in a permanent place of residence for €500,000. This will serve as the applicant’s place of residence and needs to be held by the applicant for life
- A further investment of €1.5 million in residential properties. Such an investment may be diluted over a period of 5 years from the date of grant of citizenship with consent and prior approval from the Ministry of Finance
Popular cities in which to invest in Cyprus include Limassol, Pafos, Agia Napa, and Larnaca. The tourist towns of Pafos and Agia Napa often witness significant fluctuations in population between summer and winter months.
Citizenship investors also have new investment options in the form of 3 large marina projects, each undertaken in an effort to regenerate their respective areas. These include the Limassol Marina, Ayia Napa Marina, and Pafos Marina.
Above investment can be undertaken in either of the following ways:
- Investing €1.5 million in land parcels or villa projects approved by Cyprus Land Development Corporation, investing the remaining €500,000 in residential property and selling off the land parcel/villa after a 5-year holding period.
- Investing €2 million in a villa project and selling it off after holding it for 5 years in exchange for an equivalent residential home for €500,000.
- Purchase or establishment or participation in Republic of Cyprus company or business
The applicant should invest at least €2 million in companies or organizations established and operating in the Republic of Cyprus. These companies must have a tangible business within Cyprus. The invested funds should solely be used by these companies for financing investment objectives within Cyprus, based on a predefined investment plan.
Such companies must also have a physical presence in the country in the form of offices that employ at least 5 Cypriot nationals. These citizens should have resided in Cyprus for at least 5 years preceding the date of application.
- Investment in Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission licensed Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) or financial assets of Cypriot companies or Cypriot organizations
The applicant should have bought units for a minimum of €2 million from alternative investment funds (AIF). Such funds must be established in the Republic of Cyprus and must be licensed and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. The investments should be made exclusively in the Republic of Cyprus and must be in areas approved by the Minister of Finance.
These investments can be in the form of bonds, bills, and securities, issued by the companies with approval from the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. The investments must be held for a period of 5 years and the fund manager or auditors must keep the Ministry of Finance and Interior informed in that regard on an annual basis.
- Any combination of the investment options outlined above
The applicant may proceed with a combination of the above investments, provided that the total investment will amount up to a minimum of €2 million.
As such, an applicant may choose to invest €500,000 in residential property and the remaining €1.5 million:
- In shares of an established Cypriot company or organization.
- In AIF of companies licensed by Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission
The following list provides an insight on the set of documents applicants need to furnish to fulfill the Cyprus passport requirements. The documents required are across personal, residential, and financial categories.
- Proof of birth in the form of Birth Certificate
- A copy of a valid current citizenship passport
- Certificate of Clean Criminal Record to indicate good character from the country of origin and the country of residence
- Copy of Marriage Certificate/Civil Partnership Certificate
- Updated M127 application form to be obtained from Civil Registry and Migration Department. This is needed for the citizenship grant request. It should be signed before a registrar of a Cypriot court or consular office
- Two recent passport size photographs
- Copies of latest updated resume
- Copy of Cyprus Residence Permit valid for 6 months if available. Or application to that effect along with the application for citizenship by investment request
- Copy of the employment contract and receipt from the Department of Inland Revenue also need to be submitted, If the applicant is a high-ranking senior manager in a corporation
- Copy of the sale agreement of current residence
- Copy of the title deeds to indicate registration with Cypriot Lands and Surveys department
- Copy of payment for the property at the agreed purchase price
- Copy of payment done to the property seller in the form of, for example, wire transfer to a Cypriot banking institution.
- Copy of the Cypriot Registrar of Companies provided company registration certificate in case applicant’s citizenship application is through a Cypriot company
- Copy of the Cypriot Registrar of Companies provided shareholders certificate listing the applicant as an existing shareholder
- Last three years’ company audited accounts before the year of application
- All other relevant documents with reference to financial investments undertaken by the applicant as per the €2 million mandated by Cypriot Council of Ministers. Such documents may include but are not limited to the below:
- Copy of sale agreement, proof of registration, and proof of payment to a Cypriot nationalized financial institution, for residential investment
- Copy of the investment plan document, unit declaration document, and confirmation document by Cypriot Securities and Exchange Commission, for investments in alternative investment funds
- Copy of the employment contracts of Cypriot nationals employed in the company wherein the applicant is a shareholder by purchase, for the establishment of participation
Application Review Procedure
The application review procedure is initiated once an application for citizenship by investment is submitted. The Cyprus Ministry of Finance reviews the documents related to the investments and business activities of the applicant and vets if these match the Cyprus citizenship requirements criteria, as formulated by the Council of Ministers. The Ministry of Interior acts to establish that all other criteria related to personal conduct and residence are met. It then presents the applicant’s case to the Council of Ministers which takes a final decision.
If the application is submitted correctly – fully complete, without errors and omissions, and with all supporting documents – the entire review process takes 6 months from the date of submission of application. Here, the date of application submission is referred to as the date when the application submission fee of €2,000 is paid.
The acquisition of Citizenship and the issuing of a Cypriot passport generally follow after an application is deemed to have fulfilled the Cyprus passport requirements and thus approved. If the applicant holds a residence permit for a period of 6 months, the acquisition of Cypriot citizenship will be completed. If not, there will be a waiting period until the 6-month criteria are met. Following this, a Certificate of Naturalization is issued by the Cyprus Civil Registry and Migration Department, contingent on payment of €5,000 as issuance fee. This is followed by the applicant taking an Oath of Faith to the Republic of Cyprus typically before a Registrar of a Cypriot court or a consular office of the Cypriot Republic. Subsequently, the applicant can acquire a Cypriot passport and Identity Card.
Recent Amendments To The Citizenship Program
The Cyprus government through its Council of Ministers brought in the following changes effective May 15th, 2019 to help streamline and regulate Cyprus passport requirements.
- Applicants should not have been previously rejected for citizenship by another EU member country
- The investment should be maintained for 5 years following the date of citizenship being granted, as opposed to the earlier requirement of 3 years
- Investors may dilute their investment during the 5-year period, subject to obtaining consent and necessary approvals from the Ministry of Finance;
- Applicants should be in possession of a valid Schengen Visa
- Investing in resale property would raise the investment threshold from €2 million to €2.5 million
Exhaustive due diligence and background checks by external foreign agencies have been proposed in light of the reputation and security of Cyprus’ citizenship by investment program. An annual budget of €1.4 million was set aside for three years to ensure due diligence checks for all applicants under the citizenship by investment program. A tender was also floated to select organizations providing due diligence.
Cyprus Citizenship By Investment Program History
Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program was first established in 2002. Up to 2013, applicants had to invest €10 million for a passport. This threshold was then brought down to €3 million during the global financial crisis. Most recently, in 2016, the investment criteria were further lowered to €2 million.
The Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program offers the fastest access to second citizenship, in a period of 6-8 months. Cyprus is strategically located and offers visa-free access to 122 countries and access to 28 European Union member countries.
High net-worth individuals and investors considering a second citizenship will be well-served from Cypriot citizenship provided they meet the Cyprus passport requirements. Dual citizenships offer significant advantages, especially for high-net-worth individuals. The Cypriot citizenship by investment program is ideal for applicants who can afford it.
Let our experts guide you through the Cyprus citizenship requirements and help you secure a second citizenship that suits your needs. Register with us now.