Due to the benefits of EU citizenship, residency within European countries is becoming an increasingly competitive commodity. Several EU member countries offer residency by investment programs, known as Golden Visas, to take advantage of the immense demand for EU citizenship.
While these programs do not provide citizenship in and of themselves, approved residents can eventually apply for citizenship after several years of residency. There is one program that stands out from the pack.
Cyprus is the only EU country offering direct citizenship by investment program. International investors can obtain EU citizenship in just six months by investing at least €2,200,000.
What Are the Benefits of Cyprus Citizenship by Investment
The two primary benefits of Cyprus’ citizenship by investment are the possession of EU citizenship and the speed with which it is granted. Benefits of EU citizenship through Cypriot investment include:
- Visa-free travel to 173 countries worldwide, including the entirety of the EU.
- The right to live, work and study in any EU member country.
- Eligibility for the applicant’s entire family, including parents and parents-in-law.
- No residency is required, just a one-time visit to Cyprus.
- Valid for life.
- Expedited process.
Living in Cyprus
While Cypriot citizenship, and therefore EU citizenship, is granted regardless of residency, there are several reasons why investors might choose to live in Cyprus anyway.
Cyprus is widely regarded as one of the EU’s tax havens. Resident investors can enjoy such benefits as:
- No tax on dividends, royalties, or interest received or earned outside Cyprus.
- Zero inheritance and immovable property tax.
- No income tax from foreign-sourced income.
- Corporate tax for local companies is only 12.5%.
The General Healthcare System
Cyprus is home to an affordable, often free, public healthcare system that is well regarded as maintaining high standards of practice.
Under Cyprus' residency by investment program, investors and their families are covered under the general healthcare system.
This makes Cyprus an excellent option for investors financially responsible for their children, parents, and parents-in-law's healthcare.
Quality of Life
In addition to the range of tax and healthcare benefits residents enjoy, Cyprus is a beautiful island nation that attracts tourists from around the world. Known in Greek mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, Cyprus is home to stunning shorelines, a laid-back way of life, and 320 days of sunshine per year.
On top of all that, Cyprus has very low crime rates and an affordable cost of living. Cyprus is also an excellent destination for English speakers, as over 90 percent of the population speaks fluent English.
Requirements for Cypriot Citizenship by Investment
The Cypriot Government has made it easy to understand how one can obtain citizenship by investment. There are two ways in which an investor can meet the minimum requirements.
- A total investment of €2,200,000, comprising a €2,000,000 investment in residential real estate and a €200,000 donation
The minimum investment period is five years, after which the investor can sell all acquired assets. To retain citizenship, the investor must keep a residential property of at least €500,000.
- A total investment of €2,700,000, comprising €2,500,000 in any combination of
- Real estate, including residential, commercial, infrastructure, or land
- Creation, participation in, or acquisition of a Cypriot company
- Investments in shipping investment sectors
- Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) or Cyprus entity of financial CySEC regulated financial assets, with activities in Cyprus
Similar to the first option, the minimum investment period is five years, after which assets can be sold.
For both options, of the €200,000 donation, half goes to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation. The other half goes to either the Research and Innovation Foundation, Renewable Energy and Energy Saving Fund, Service of Industry and Technology, or the National Solidarity Fund.
Applications for such investment programs are often made with the help of a specialized investment firm, such as Astons. The application process is as easy as:
- Discuss the process and options with an immigration advisor.
- Choosing an investment option.
- Visiting Cyprus to evaluate properties and other investment options.
- Signing a contract of sale and submitting biometrics at the Civil Registry of Migration Department (CRMD).
- Submitting a citizenship application, which includes:
- Recent utility bill
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Authentic Copies of the applicant’s valid passport
- Investor’s CV with a brief description of investment substance
- Investor’s application in the standard format and translated to English
- Birth certificates
- Marriage/civil partnership certificate
- Certificates of criminal record
This process will take approximately 180 days, and the applicant will receive their Cypriot passport.
What Is the Difference Between Citizenship and Residency
Several other countries offer a residency by investment program, often known as Golden Visas, in which investors can obtain residency by investment. Such programs allow investors to establish residency long enough to apply for citizenship.
Cyprus’ unique citizenship by investment program is much different. Investment in this program directly results in citizenship, something no other country offers. Residency by investment programs only directly results in residency, not citizenship. Citizenship can then be applied for after several years of established residency.
Cyprus offers a program that may be more attractive to investors looking for a lower minimum investment.
Cyprus Residency by Investment
While this program does not directly result in citizenship, it can be a streamlined path to citizenship. Several benefits separate Cyprus’ residency by investment program from similar offerings by other countries.
- The ability to enter and remain in Cyprus with no limitations.
- Unlimited validity period as long as the approved investor visits Cyprus once every two years.
- Additional residency for the approved investor's spouse, children, parents, and parents-in-law.
- Right to healthcare under the General Healthcare System.
- Tax benefits.
Among the several outstanding benefits of Cyprus residency is the limited stay requirement. For reference, Portugal’s Golden Visa program requires a stay of seven days for the first year and 14 days for the next two years.
Cyprus requires nothing more than a one-day visit every two years. This even beats Ireland’s residency by investment program, which requires just one day every year.
Cyprus’ program is also very generous in its residency extension to the applicant’s family. Residency can be extended as far as the applicant’s parents-in-law, an excellent benefit that few other countries offer. Furthermore, resident investors will enjoy the same tax and healthcare benefits as citizens.
While Cyprus’ residency by investment offers a host of outstanding benefits, there are some limitations that interested investors should be aware of.
- Applicants can not be employed in Cyprus unless as directors of the company in which they invested.
- Resident investors can apply for citizenship after five total years of residency within a seven-year period, which is higher than some Golden Visa programs.
- As Cyprus is not a member of the Schengen Area, resident investors cannot travel visa-free throughout the European Union.
It should be noted, though, that Cyprus has applied to join the Schengen Area.
Requirements for Cyprus Residency by Investment
On top of the variety of benefits offered by Cyprus residency, their residency by investment program offers some of the lowest investment requirements in Europe. There are two ways to meet the minimum investment:
- Residential real estate purchase of €300,000 (excluding 19% VAT)
- Commercial real estate purchase of €300,000 (excluding 19% VAT)
How Does ETIAS Affect This?
ETIAS is an incoming visa-waiver program requiring non-EU travelers to pre-register before entering Europe. Until this point, many non-EU citizens, including U.S. citizens, have been able to travel visa-free within the Schengen Area. To further protect EU borders and citizens, the implementation of ETIAS will change this.
However, investors who are granted citizenship under Cyprus’ citizenship by investment program will not need to register for ETIAS. As Cyprus is an EU member nation, all Cypriot citizens can travel and live freely in the EU.
However, investors under the residency by investment program will need to register for ETIAS. This will change if Cyprus is accepted into the Schengen Area.