Invest a minimum of €300,000
Get residence in the EU in 2 months
No physical residence requirement
Ahh, Cyprus… The European tax haven that’s long been the fastest and cheapest way to buy your way into European citizenship.
Cyprus is, undeniably, one of the hottest and most popular destinations in the investment immigration world.
It’s not much of a tax haven anymore with the EU Commission clamping down, and it’s no longer the cheapest European passport up for grabs (Bulgaria has snatched that title right up).
But perhaps you don’t even have over $2 million to splurge on Cypriot citizenship?
Worry not. There is a perfectly good alternative: the Cyprus residence by investment (RBI) program.
For just €300,000 and in two short months, Cypriot residence by investment could be all yours.
An island filled with (ultra) high-net-worth individuals living the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, in a country that’s on the cusp of joining the Schengen zone – there aren’t many other jurisdictions that’d be able to offer you a better residence by investment deal.
Are you willing to go through the bureaucratic motions? We can guide you through all of it and make it as quick and painless as possible.
In this article, we’ll tell you why you should choose Cyprus, how its residence by investment program works, and what steps you need to take to make it all a reality.
Let’s jump right in.
⤅ Who the Program Is Best For
⤅ Alternatives to the Cypriot RBI
⤅ Invest in Real Estate
⤅ Prove You Have Solid Financial Footing
What is Residence by Investment?
For all those not aware, residence by investment (RBI) programs are run by countries that want to attract foreign capital and thus offer residence in exchange for a capital injection.
All sorts of countries around the world run RBI programs, but some of the most coveted ones are the so-called European Golden Visas.
Offering a ‘golden ticket’ to the European Union and allowing people to freely travel all over the region, these programs are some of the most popular ones in the investment immigration world.
That’s because they require smaller sums of money to be invested than the European citizenship programs and are usually very fast to process applications (approximately two to three months).
Plus, family members can be added onto residence by investment applications, thus giving entire families a ‘Plan B’ – a safe and stable haven to fall back on if living elsewhere becomes impossible for whatever reason.
All in all, residence by investment programs offer a great way for foreign investors to live in Europe. They also open up numerous investment opportunities and throw many good deals your way.
A balmy island in the Mediterranean – the sunniest country in Europe – dotted with lavish villas and crisscrossed by outrageously expensive cars. That’s Cyprus.
Its laid-back culture and the high-quality lifestyle that it offers foreign individuals have long been attracting investors to the country.
Limassol, the capital, is also known as the Moscow of the Mediterranean because so many Russians have made it their home, either via obtaining residence or citizenship in Cyprus.
So, what’s attracting Russians and so many others to Cyprus?
First of all, Cyprus is an incredibly stable country in terms of its politics and economy. Sure, it’s an island-state, which limits its economic options to tourism, gambling, and financial services.
But Cyprus has got a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Most notably, it’s been a member of the European Union for a while now and its application to join the Schengen zone is about to be approved at any time now (2020).
Needless to say, Cyprus will become even more deeply integrated within the EU apparatus, which isn’t always a great thing from a tax and regulation standpoint, but is a positive factor when it comes to stability.
Cyprus is also strategically located. With ties to the EU, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa, it’s a great country to do business in any or all of these regions. It also has a business-friendly tax regime with low corporate tax rates.
And did you know it’s one of the safest countries in the world, if not the safest? If you have family that you would like to relocate or you yourself like knowing that you’ll be safe and sound in your new place of residence, then Cyprus might be just what you need.
Sure, the surge of foreign investment has caused a real estate development frenzy in Cyprus, and has grown the prices considerably too. But it also means there is a huge variety of luxury condos and beachside villas up for grabs.
Why not snatch one of them up and get a chance to live and travel freely in the European Union?
Alternatives to the Cyprus Golden Visa
Just as with everything else in life, the Cypriot RBI program will not be the perfect solution for absolutely everyone. Certain factors might not be that appealing, prompting you to look for alternatives.
Well, look no further because here are five other Golden Visa programs that can help you become a European resident, and an eventual citizen too.
- Portugal. One of the most popular Golden Visa programs out there, it takes a slightly larger investment than in Cyprus – €350,000 – to become a resident of Portugal. You can qualify by investing in real estate in both Cyprus and Portugal, so what’s the main difference? Portugal only offers temporary residence and makes it harder to obtain citizenship. While you’ll only have to wait five years to apply for naturalization in Portugal as compared to seven, there are more hoops to jump through. Learn more about Portugal’s Golden Visa.
- Ireland. Similar to Cyprus, Ireland is not part of the Schengen area, but unlike Cyprus, Ireland has no plans of ever joining it. It seems happy with its decision, attracting many of the world’s biggest companies with its attractive tax regime. A minimum investment of €500,000 will get you into Ireland and the really great thing is that you can stay a permanent resident of the country even if you divest your money. Learn more about Ireland’s Golden Visa program.
- Latvia. How about some Eastern European action? If you don’t think the ultra-modern living of Cyprus is for you, then €250,000 could get you into Latvia. Purchase real estate or start a business and become a resident, gaining access to the entire Schengen area too – it’s a done deal. Learn more about Latvia’s Golden Visa program.
- Spain. Spain’s residence comes at a considerably higher price. You will have to invest a minimum of €500,000 to become a resident and it will take you a minimum of ten years to become eligible to apply for citizenship. Learn more about Spain’s Golden Visa program.
- Greece. The Hellenic Republic takes the crown as one of the cheapest RBI programs available at the moment. If you had €250,000 laying around and wanted to invest it in picturesque real estate, you can do so in Greece and get a residence permit out of the deal. Extremely flexible in the way that it has structured its investment options, Greece is a real alternative to Cyprus because of its similar history, culture, and climate. Learn more about Greece’s Golden Visa program.
Cyprus Residence by Investment
The Cypriot residence program is one of the longest standing and most popular RBI programs in Europe.
Long known as an offshore tax haven (although it has since lost some of its appeal), Cyprus is a well-known destination in the investment immigration world.
Like pretty much every other investment program, the Cyprus Golden Visa arose from the need to boost foreign investment and help the country’s economic growth and development.
Now, Cyprus heavily depends on the money coming in via its rich residents and citizens. That’s because it doesn’t just offer a residence program but a very popular citizenship by investment program too.
While it would take you over two million euros to buy Cypriot citizenship straight away, becoming a permanent resident for a fraction of the cost is a perfectly good alternative too.
You and your family can become residents of Cyprus by investing a minimum amount of €300,000 (plus VAT) in real estate. Your application will then get processed and you’ll be issued your residence permit within two months.
Who Should Consider The Cyprus Residence Program?
As mentioned, the Cyprus residence by investment program won’t be for everyone. Some people simply won’t find it to be an attractive option for one reason or another, be it the size of the investment or the fact that Cyprus has got a bit of a reputation in the offshore industry.
However, permanent residence in Cyprus will work beautifully in some Nomad Capitalists’ holistic strategies.
Who would we recommend it for?
There are four groups of people that should consider obtaining permanent residence in Cyprus.
1. Americans looking to renounce their citizenship
If you’ve reached the end of the road and wish to renounce your US citizenship, then a residence in Cyprus could be a great way to expand your travel options.
Many people who renounce their American citizenship will normally go for one of the cheaper Caribbean passports but are then left without access to certain regions and countries.
A Cypriot residence solves that. You could obtain residence in Cyprus, allowing you to live in the country and travel freely in Europe.
And that’s not to mention that, eventually, you could even obtain a Cypriot passport, allowing you to not just live but also work freely in the entire European Union.
Every coin has two sides, however. Running from the American government only to fall into the lap of the European Union might not be ideal for someone trying to execute a Nomad Capitalist strategy, so you need to consult a professional before taking such a major step.
As always, we can help.
2. Weak Passport Holders
There is no wonder why the majority of European Golden Visa applicants are Russian and Chinese. Sure, other nationals also apply, but there is one thing that unites them all – a weak passport.
In a world that’s as interconnected as it is today, the difference between the number of countries that one can access visa-free might not be that great, but it’s the quality of those countries that matters.
If you have a Tier B or Tier C passport, chances are you won’t have access to the top economies of the world. We’re talking the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland, and other Western European countries.
The hassle of getting visas every single time, especially if you’re an active entrepreneur or investor, can be a real drag. Worry not – residence in Cyprus can help.
Its imminent Schengen membership will mean that you can travel freely in the entire European region. It’s also expected that Cyprus will be added to the ESTA travel authorization program of the United States soon.
Plus, having permanent residence in Europe makes visa processes to many other countries that much easier. Officials can see that you’ve been vetted extensively, so there are protocols that allow you entry to the country simply based on your European residence.
3. Individuals Needing Permanent Resident Status
Cyprus is one of the few residence by investment countries that offers not just residence but permanent residence to its investors.
Permanent residents have more benefits and allowances than temporary residents whose permits must be renewed – often on an annual basis – and can be revoked more easily.
A European permanent residence in Cyprus will attract two types of people.
First, those who are looking for a permanent residence program that requires minimal physical presence in the country.
Since you will only have to travel to Cyprus once every two years to retain your permanent resident status, the country is extremely accommodating to the jet setting Nomad Capitalist lifestyle.
Second, on the opposite end of the spectrum are the applicants who wish to revel in the perpetual sunshine of Cyprus and actually live there.
Whether it’s solo people, couples, or families, Cyprus offers an amazing quality of life and that’s an obvious lure.
4. Investors Who have a Better Use for the Millions Required for Citizenship
If you want to get European citizenship but don’t want to invest the millions required for immediate citizenship, then residence by investment could be the perfect way forward.
Sure, you will have to wait for at least seven years to get your hands on the Cypriot passport, but if you have no other option, it’s still a great deal.
Unlike other RBI countries, Cyprus only requires that you live in the country for one year preceding your naturalization application.
Other countries, like Portugal, Spain, or Ireland, will want you to live in the country and to pay taxes there for five years or more before you can apply to be naturalized.
So, if you want European citizenship but have better ways to invest the €2 million-plus required for citizenship by investment in Cyprus, you can become a resident instead with just €300,000 and then play the waiting game.
How to Become a Resident By Investment in Cyprus
Invest in Real Estate
Invest in residential and/or commercial properties in Cyprus for a total investment of €300,000 or more.
Proof of Income
Show proof of at least €30,000 in annual foreign income, plus €5,000 for each additional dependent.
Make a deposit of an additional €30,000 in a Cypriot financial institution and hold for three years.
How to Obtain Cypriot Residence by Investment
What’s really great about Cyprus is that the investment required to obtain residence is exactly that. In other words, there is no additional donation or any other unrecoverable ‘investment’ that needs to be made.
In essence, you will be able to maintain or even get back all that you invest in Cyprus at the end of the required holding period… or if you want to forfeit your Cypriot residence before the time is up.
In addition, not only you but also your family can become residents of Cyprus under the same investment.
Your legal spouse or civil partner, children up to the age of 25 (must be unmarried), and your parents/parents-in-law can all be added to your residence application at no additional cost.
However, the rule about parents/parents-in-law not needing additional investment is due to change soon, (we estimate in 2021).
There are two requirements that you must fulfill to become eligible for residence in Cyprus.
1. Invest in Real Estate
First, you will need to purchase a new property with a minimum market value of €300,000 (plus VAT) in the country.
If you do not want to, you don’t have to invest as an individual. You can also use a legal entity to purchase real estate, but that entity must be registered in your (and potentially your spouse’s) name. There cannot be any other shareholders involved.
And the good news continues: you have some freedom as to what kind of real estate you’re allowed to invest in.
You can invest in one of the following:
- 1 or 2 residential properties
- 1 residential and 1 commercial property (e.g., shop) of up to 100sqm
- 1 residential and 1 commercial property (e.g., office) of up to 250sqm
However, there is one notable restriction: all of your properties must be purchased from a single developer. So, if you want to go mixing and matching, you better find a versatile developer who would be able to offer you both residential and commercial real estate.
We also strongly recommend that you consider diversifying your real estate portfolio to diminish risk. If tourism demand falls, your residential rentals might not be as liquid anymore.
On the other hand, if the country experiences a financial slump and office space is no longer in demand, your residential property rental can help cover the losses.
The property, or properties, that you buy must all be brand new; there is no resale possible when you’re applying for residence by investment in Cyprus.
And you know what buying new real estate entails? Yup, tax. VAT is charged on top of the minimum investment amount at a rate of 19%.
You can, however, apply to get a reduced VAT rate applied to your real estate purchase of up to 200sqm. This means that 200sqm will be taxed at 5%, and the remaining square meters (if applicable) will be taxed at the regular 19% VAT rate.
2. Prove You Have Solid Financial Footing
Second, in order to obtain residence by investment in Cyprus, you will need to show proof that you have a minimum of €30,000 coming in from abroad every year to sustain yourself. Income from pensions, deposits, rent, shares, real estate, and others, all count.
Add €5,000 (per person) to the total sum if you’re bringing a spouse and/or children, and €8,000 if you’re adding parents or parents-in-law to your residence by investment application.
The main point of the foreign income requirement is to ensure that you will not work in Cyprus. It’s a way for the government to prevent you from taking the jobs from the local population. And in any case, residence by investment should mean just that – residing, not working.
That said, Cyprus does let you (and your spouse) own a locally registered business and receive dividends from said business.
Additionally, you will need to park €30,000 in a Cypriot financial institution as an insurance policy of sorts. You won’t be able to touch that money for three years, however.
Both the bank deposit and the annual income must be transferred to Cyprus from abroad.
The Step-by-Step Cyprus Residence Application Guide
To apply for residence by investment in Cyprus, you will first need to ensure that you’re eligible to apply. You should be:
- A non-EEA citizen
- At least 18 years old
- A non-criminal offender
- Not under any EU sanctions or restrictions
Ready to apply? Here’s how.
1. Make the Investment
First things first, you’ll need to decide what sort of real estate to invest in.
Will you put all of your money in residential property? Or perhaps two? What about a warehouse and a small holiday condo?
Although we’ve given you a basic outline of investing in Cyprus above, there is no substitute for speaking to an experienced immigration investment advisor.
The Nomad Capitalist team can help you figure out what investment or combination of real estate investments will make the most sense for you.
And once you’ve made your decision, we can help you to complete the legal transaction too.
This will usually involve visiting Cyprus to view properties that we’ve pre-arranged for you (although you can also opt to buy without visiting).
You will also need to open a local bank account and make a deposit of €30,000, as per the application requirements. This can be done remotely too, if needed.
Actually, the entire investment and application lodging process can be conducted by giving power of attorney to a lawyer so that you don’t have to travel unnecessarily.
2. Submit Your Application for Residence
You’ll need to produce the following documents when applying for residence by investment in Cyprus:
- A copy of your passport (and all family members, if applicable).
- Marriage certificates and birth certificates – if applicable.
- A Criminal Record certificate (you and your spouse), translated and certified.
- Your resume/CV.
- Title of ownership or contract of sale of a Cypriot property, minimum value of €300,000. If the sale isn’t final, you’ll need to produce a proof of payment for at least €200,000.
- Proof of foreign income, amounting to at least €30,000 annually.
- Proof of another €30,000 in a bank in Cyprus, pledged for three years.
- Statements by yourself (and your spouse), stating that you will not undertake employment in Cyprus.
- Proof of health insurance (for yourself all dependents, if applicable).
Obviously, you will also need to fill out the extensive application to be considered for residence in Cyprus.
Once all of the paperwork is submitted to the Civil Registry and Migration Department (and a fee of €500 is paid), it will take up to two months for your application to be processed.
3. Obtain Your Permanent Residence Permit
The wait is over and you’ve been approved for residence in Cyprus; you’ll be issued with a residence permit that will make it possible for you to enter Cyprus.
You (and your family, potentially), will need to travel to Cyprus within one year to obtain your permanent residence permit.
This entails visiting a local migration office for biometric capturing (€50 fee per person).
Once that’s all processed, you will be issued your permanent resident permit (PRP) and will only have to visit Cyprus once every two years to maintain it.
Your permit will be revoked if you sell your investment property(ies), or if you become a permanent resident in another country.
4. Apply for Naturalization
Normally, residents by investment are interested in eventually obtaining the passport of Cyprus.
If you’d like to do just that, you will need to remain a permanent resident for at least seven years before you can become eligible to apply.
What’s different about Cyprus is that it doesn’t require you to be a tax resident in the country for all seven years, only the year before you lodge your naturalization application.
That’s great news; no other RBI country offers that.
Want a passport faster? Then Cyprus’ citizenship by investment program might be for you. It will take just six months to get your passport rather than seven years.
What’s that time worth to you? Is it two million euros? That’s approximately how much you’d have to spend on Cyprus’ citizenship program.
Enjoy Residence in Cyprus Like These Nomad Capitalists
Cyprus has been the perfect place to raise my family while expanding my business at the same time. I love having access to the European market and my family loves the quality of life on the island.
Living in Cyprus has been amazing. Not only do we enjoy endless sunshine but the imminent Schengen access has got us planning all sorts of European adventures.
I don’t physically live in Cyprus, but having permanent residence there has given me the peace of mind that I will always have somewhere to go in the world, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pros of Cypriot Residence by Investment
The Cyprus residence by investment program is popular for a reason. Actually, reasons.
Here are some of its main benefits that you can also enjoy if you become a resident in Cyprus.
It’s super-fast. The application procedure is extremely efficient and you can obtain your residence permit in just two months.
Approval almost guaranteed. If you fulfill all of the requirements, you’re almost certain to be approved.
No residency requirement. We know it’s called a residence program, but you don’t have to actually reside in Cyprus to obtain and retain its permanent resident status. Simply visit the country once every two years and you’re good to go.
No donation. Unlike many citizenship by investment programs, Cyprus does not require a donation. That’s basically money spent and gone for good. Instead, you’ll stay in control of your investment.
Permanent residency. Unlike other Golden Visa programs in Europe, investors in Cyprus are granted permanent residence as opposed to temporary residence. This carries with it more weight and more benefits. It’s also harder to revoke permanent residence.
Flexible investment options. Although you can only invest in real estate if you want to become a resident in Cyprus, you can mix and match residential and commercial properties to fulfill the eligibility criteria.
It’s almost Schengen. Currently, Cyprus isn’t part of the Schengen zone (2020). However, it’s admission is imminent, which means that you will get visa-free access to travel to pretty much all of the EU once it happens.
Residence doesn’t expire. Your permanent residence permit won’t expire for as long as you hold your investment property. You can also sell your property and immediately replace it with another one of equal or greater value – you will retain your permit in the process.
Bring your entire family. Your entire family is eligible to apply. Your spouse or civil partner, your minor children, as well as unmarried children aged 18-25 can be added to your residence application. What’s more, parents and parents-in-law are also welcome.
It’s a safe and stable country. Cyprus is one of the safest and most stable countries in the world. If you don’t like surprises and just want to enjoy the sun setting into the Mediterranean while you sip wine, this is just the country for you.
People speak English. Not everyone wants to reside in a country where they would have to learn a new language. Although the official languages are Greek and Turkish, pretty much everyone speaks English in Cyprus.
High-quality education. If you have kids, then you’ll be glad to know that Cyprus has some top-notch educational institutions, from kindergarten all the way to college level. It’s all in English too.
One of the cheapest European passports. Sure, you will have to wait at least seven years, but for an investment of a mere €300,000, the Cyprus passport is the best deal there is. And if you hold a Cyprus passport, the entire European Union becomes your playground – live, travel, work, and study freely.
Own a Cypriot business. Even though you can’t work in Cyprus if you’re a resident by investment, you will be able to own a local business and receive dividends from it.
High living standards. Cyprus is a world-class country with amazing infrastructure, excellent medical facilities and outstanding educational facilities.
Favorable tax regime. No tax on worldwide income, interest or dividends. There is also no inheritance tax and the overall tax structure is business-friendly.
The Cons of Cypriot Residence by Investment
Inevitably, the RBI program of Cyprus has some drawbacks. And this isn’t an exhaustive list.
If you want to make sure you avoid the common pitfalls of immigration investment, you must talk with a professional before you make any moves.
Not part of Schengen. Although Cyprus is on the very cusp of obtaining Schengen access, it’s not there yet. It’s almost a done deal by now, but the Covid-19 pandemic has made things slightly more uncertain.
Must invest in new property only. When you purchase real estate, it must be brand new and cannot be a resale property. The government ensures it raises some extra funds by way of charging its foreign investors VAT.
It’s an island. While it has its charm, being an island also means…isolation. You will have to fly if you want to get to any of the other European countries, which aren’t that close. It also means its economy hinges on just a handful of industries, which can be limiting in terms of investment.
Cyprus Residence by Investment – FAQs
What is the Cyprus residence by investment?
Cyprus residence by investment is a program whereby non-EEA nationals are allowed to invest a set amount of money in Cyprus and become its residents in exchange. Individuals who want to obtain European residence, travel freely in the continent, and work towards eventual European citizenship can opt to invest in Cyprus as part of their holistic Nomad Capitalist plan.
How long does it take to get residence in Cyprus?
The country’s residence by investment program is often called a fast-track program because it takes just 2-4 months to obtain your residence in the country. While that’s very fast, other European residence programs offer similar timelines.
Can I obtain Cypriot citizenship via the residence program?
Yes. After you’ve officially been a resident of the island for a minimum of 7 years, you’ll become eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship. Note that you will have to physically reside in Cyprus for at least 365 days preceding your application being lodged, thus becoming a tax citizen in the country.
Is there a way to fast-track my Cypriot citizenship as a resident?
No, unfortunately, there have been no provisions that were made for the fast-tracking of Cypriot citizenship. So, if you’re a resident by investment, you will have to wait for at least 7 years before applying for the country’s passport.
Will I need to actually live in Cyprus to become a resident?
No. Hardly ever do you actually have to live in a country that runs a residence by investment program. They recognize that you probably don’t want to live in the country, but only access the travel benefits that holding its residence provides you, such as traveling unrestricted all over Europe. You will, however, have to visit the country at least once every two years to keep some sort of a ‘tie’ to Cyprus.
Does the Cypriot investor residence expire?
Your permanent residence will not expire if you keep your real estate investment. But what happens if you’re bored with the house and want to replace it? You can do that: sell your current property, purchase another one for at least €300.000, and retain your residence permit.
Are there any taxes or fees associated with the Cyprus residence by investment program?
Yes, most notably the VAT that you must pay when you purchase a new property. The current VAT rate in Cyprus is 19%, but you can apply to pay a reduced VAT of 5% on up to 200sqm of your total square meters purchased. Any remaining square meters, however, will be taxed at the regular VAT rate of 19%.
Is the Cyprus Residence by Investment For You?
Are you wondering why we’re even posing this question?
Isn’t Cypriot residence the best route to acquire access to the European Union in a very short time and with no physical residence requirement?
Well, it’s not as simple as that.
On the surface, all of the so-called European Golden Visa programs sound quite good, but they always have tax planning implications that you should keep in mind.
Plus, the European Commission is continuously pushing the RBI and CBI countries to tighten their rules and regulations, or to shut down their investment programs altogether.
You have to make a move before any of that happens because residence by investment in Cyprus is actually a really good deal.
It will be the perfect place of residence for someone looking to add ‘power’ to their passport and residence portfolio, or for someone looking to renounce their US citizenship and gain a European passport instead.
Cyprus is also one of the fastest and cheapest ways to obtain European residence – that’s a fact.
It offers many benefits that can enhance your personal life and financial affairs.
Get in touch with the Nomad Capitalist team to put together a holistic plan outlining how you can legally reduce your tax burden, become a global citizen, and live the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle in Cyprus.