Getting to Grips with the Cyprus Investment Program
When it comes to being a British expat living abroad, the ongoing issues surrounding the Brexit campaign has left many individuals feeling unsure of where they stand. With rules and regulations yet to be defined for many countries, is there any way to ensure security for those who are planning to relocate, as well as for those who are already residing on this beautiful island?
The answer is yes – and it comes in the form of the Cyprus Investment Program.
What is the CIP?
Before getting to grips with the Cyprus Investment Program, it may be reassuring to know that many experts have stated that due to the close relations between the UK and Cyprus – both parties want to make it as easy as possible to allow citizens to travel freely from country to country; especially with Brexit just around the corner.
With this in mind, the CIP was put into place to provide expats simpler options to obtain Cyprus citizenship; gaining access to full EU rights. Those meeting the criteria and achieving naturalisation should be able to enjoy:
- Visa-free travel to 173 countries
- Dual citizenship
- Simple taxation regulations
- Coverage for spouses, dependents (up to the age of 28) and even the parents of the primary investor
All nationalities are eligible to apply, successful applications are usually established within 6 months and there is currently a 5-year exit strategy in place.
How best to obtain citizenship with this program
For many, the easiest way to meet the requirements for citizenship is to purchase a residential property with the value of €300,000 (+vat) or above. If a transaction of this kind has been made within the last three years, the homeowner will have the ability to apply under the CIP. There’s no guarantee on how long this will last however, so there’s never been a better time than now to get a property purchase underway.
Generally speaking, when applying for residency through this avenue, it may be worthwhile to consider that the property in question should remain in the hands of the owner for a minimum of five years after citizenship has been granted (this has recently been updated from three years). There are instances where this rule may be adjusted, but only if there is a replacement property investment (typically in the form of a property upgrade) and with permission granted by the Ministry of Finance.
How to proceed with an application
Once a property has been selected, the purchaser will need to work with a licenced Cypriot real estate agent. From here, a purchase agreement should be drawn up, funds transferred into a secure account and a receipt issued for the purchase (this is required for a successful request to go through).
Next, the homeowner will need to gather all of the necessary information required for their application. For British applicants, documentation will be subject to certification by an apostille or stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the corresponding Cypriot embassy.
It may be worth it at this stage for an appointed lawyer to undertake a pre-clearance review to ensure that everything has been provided, signed and verified where necessary (in applicable circumstances, planning permission and a completion certificate for the purchased property should be provided by the applicant, as well as a bank waiver).
The next step involves the approval of the application, which will usually be carried out by The Ministry of Interior within six months.
Other financial investments
While relations between the UK and Cyprus have always been amicable, both parties have an understanding that Brexit has warranted changes to the standing legislations to make citizenship easier and more beneficial for all parties involved. This has led to a range of changes being made to the CIP in the last 12 months. Outside of property investment, it can still be possible for individuals to apply for residency by making an investment into the Cypriot ecosystem.
Donations of €75,000 to specific causes can ensure a successful application, such as into the Foundation for Research and Innovation and the Cyprus Land Development Corporation. This is with the understanding that the focus will be on the betterment of new and upcoming businesses and affordable housing, to ensure the ongoing growth and advancement of Cyprus in the future.
Other factors to consider
While the Cypriot government is happy to work with British expats to ensure a healthy arrangement, not everybody will be able to apply for citizenship through the Cyprus Investment Program. Those who have applied to gain citizenship in other EU states and failed will not be granted naturalisation via the methods outlined (or any others involved in the CIP). There may be other avenues for those in this situation to explore to gain access to live and work in Cyprus instead.
To learn more, or to begin your Cyprus home buying journey, simply get in touch with our friendly estate agents today.