Cyprus constitutes an ideal place to live in. It is definitely not incidental that many of its millions of visitors keep coming back to the island almost every year, charmed by its natural beauty, traditional way of life, hospitality, Mediterranean cuisine, warm summer weather and crystal-clear beaches. In its long-term attempt to attract investment funds, the Cyprus government has at times implemented a series of laws that make it easier for foreign visitors from countries outside the EU to obtain permanent residence on our island. Now we are highly confident to say that out of all the countries on the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus offers the most flexible programme in order to obtain permanent residence and citizenship.
The benefits of living in Cyprus
For most Cyprus visitors, the idea of permanent residence on the island is synonymous with the image of a traditional stone-made manor surrounded by vineyards, next to light blue waters. This picturesque image sometimes overshadows the rest of the benefits of living in Cyprus.
- For as long as they retain their property in Cyprus, the person with a right to permanent residence and their family do not need to deal with the time-consuming procedure of visa renewal.
- Acquiring permanent residence status makes it easier to get a visa for the rest of the EU countries. After Cyprus joins the Schengen treaty, there will be the possibility to travel to the rest of the EU European countries without the need to issue a visa.
- Cyprus is a developing financial and business centre in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. A big portion of foreign nationals take advantage of the favourable business environment and the low tax rates to start their own businesses. In the past few years more and more foreign and Cypriot entrepreneurs have joined forces to create innovative businesses.
- A massive range of investment opportunities. Cyprus has been part of the Eurozone since 2008. Several investment funds of international repute have been consolidated in Cyprus, taking advantage of the favourable tax regime and the stability of the new currency. Many pensioners transfer their pension to Cyprus, while international investors select investment plans in Cyprus to differentiate their portfolio and to get the desired tax exemptions.
- High quality of life and a particularly developed health system. Cyprus is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world. The mild climate, the Mediterranean cuisine and the slow paced lifestyle create the ideal conditions for health and longevity.
- The possibility to live in a completely secure country with a high level of human capital.
- A developed education system with English and Russian-speaking schools.
- Organised communities of both the English and Russian minority.
- A varied cultural schedule with events in all districts of Cyprus throughout the year.
- Contemporary sport facilities and a variety of activities.
Finally it needs to be mentioned that the permanent residency holder has the opportunity to take up residence in Cyprus and file an application for Cypriot citizenship after 7 years. Obtaining Cypriot citizenship equals European citizenship and by extension access to the four freedoms the EU market is based on: free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
Procedures to acquire permanent residency through investment
There are two main procedures in order to obtain permanent residence status through investment:
- The fast track procedure 6(2)
- The procedure under category F
The fast track procedure 6(2)
This procedure allows the acquiring of permanent residence status in a short period of time (about two months), on the condition that all the required criteria are met.
The criteria in order to obtain permanent residence status through this category are:
- Purchase of a new property with market value of over 300,000 euro + VAT.
- Payment of at least 67% of the residence’s purchase value as a deposit from funds abroad, not necessarily from the applicant’s country of origin. Sufficient proof must be provided.
- The property must be bought in Cyprus and not another European Union country.
- The applicant and his dependants must provide proof of having a stable source of income.
- The sale contract must be submitted to the Department of Lands and Surveys.
To differentiate the investment, the applicant can also purchase two properties (primary market, namely houses sold for the first time) of minimum total market value of €300,000 + VAT. The only requirement in this case is for both properties to be new and for them to be bought by the same developer company.
More specifically, the following options are provided:
- Two houses
- A house and an apartment
- A house or an apartment & a shop (up to 100 m2)
- A house or an apartment & an office (up to 250 m2)
This procedure also offers the possibility for the applicant’s company to buy the property. For this to happen, however, the following requirements need to be met:
- The tax base of the company needs to be in Cyprus.
- The applicant’s dependants must be shareholders in the company for them to have the right for permanent residence.
- The applicant and his dependants need to be the exclusive shareholders of the company.
- There is the possibility for another company (e.g. based abroad) to be the shareholder of the applicant company in Cyprus, but in this company as well, the applicant and his dependants must be the exclusive shareholders.
The procedure under Category F
This procedure is less demanding than the fast track procedure 6(2), since it does not require the purchase of property. The applicant is only required to provide proof of annual income from abroad of at least €9,569 for himself and €4,614 for each dependant (wife and children). The criteria flexibility allows several interested parties to apply. The only negative aspect of this procedure is that approval is solely dependent on the wide discretion of the Ministry of Interior.
Even though no additional criteria are described, the applications of those who have already bought property in Cyprus are viewed in a particularly positive light. More specifically, applicants who have bought property with a market value of over 300,000 euro have particularly high chances of approval.
The decision as to the approval of the application takes 5 to 12 months.
Obligations arising from obtaining Permanent Residence status
- Acquiring Permanent Residence status immediately means that the applicant ceases to have the right to work in Cyprus.
- The holder of permanent residency has an obligation to visit Cyprus once every 2 years.
- In case the holder obtains permanent residence from another country (different than that of his nationality), his permanent residence status from the Republic of Cyprus is revoked.
- The applicant does not need to be in Cyprus to file an application. The application can be made through the legal department of our organisation.
- If the title deed of the property is in the name of both spouses, the application is accepted with no change in the minimum amount required.
- Dependent persons include the wife of the applicant and children under the age of 18. In case the children are students or undergraduates, from 18 to 25 years old, they can apply under regulation 6(2) in a separate application, which will be linked to that of the applicant parent at the Civil Registry and Migration Department.
- Acquiring permanent residence status does not entail an obligation for the applicant to move to Cyprus and permanently live there.
- The applicant’s participation as a shareholder (but not as an employee) in a company in Cyprus does not constitute a deterrent for submitting an application.
The documents required to submit an application based on procedure 6(2) are:
- Completed Application Form M61
- Copy of valid passport
- Curriculum Vitae (CV) for the applicant and his spouse
- Banking deposits of at least 30,000 euro that will be pledged for 3 years in a Cyprus commercial bank (deposits in the branch of a Cypriot bank abroad are not taken into consideration). It has to be proven that the said amount has been transferred from abroad.
- Sufficient proof that the applicant has at his disposal secured and stable income from outside Cyprus. Specifically, proof is required that the annual income of the applicant from sources abroad is at least 30,000 euro and an additional 5,000 euro for each member of his family. The most common documents presented in this case are:
- Certification of earnings from employer abroad
- Bank statements
- Rental agreements
- Title deed application or a sales contract in the name of the applicant and/or his spouse which has been deposited at the Land Registry Department. The market value of the new property needs to be at least €300,000 (plus the VAT) and there need to be receipts of payment of at least €200,000 euro (plus the VAT), regardless of the residence’s date of delivery. The rest of the property’s market value will be paid through an account in a Cypriot financial institution. There are only the following restrictions:
- The cost of furniture or any other equipment is not included in the €200,000.
- The amount must be proven to have been transferred from abroad.
- An official statement that the applicant does not intent to work in Cyprus.
- Clear criminal record certificate from the applicant’s country of origin.
- Health insurance policy that covers the Republic of Cyprus.
- Wedding certificate.
- Birth certificates for any children.
Documents required to submit an application under procedure F:
- Application form
- Copy of valid passport
- Copy of a valid temporary residence permit
- Curriculum Vitae of the applicant and his spouse
- Proof of stable and sufficient income from legal sources abroad. This criterion is one of the most significant for the application, which is why the higher the income amount is, the better the chances for the application to be approved.
- Bank deposits. There is no specific minimum amount the applicants and his dependants need to have in savings.
- Sales contract of immovable property. In this requirement there are no limitations as to the total market value of the property purchased, or as to the type of residence (primary or secondary market).
- Clean criminal record certificate from the country of the applicant.
- Wedding certificate.
- Birth certificate for any children.
- Health Insurance Policy.