Europe has long established itself as the most sought after region in terms of high net worth immigration, accounting for over half of the total number of global citizenship applications, with the Caribbean in second place, followed by North America in third. Also noteworthy, are recent studies conducted by global immigration experts, ranking the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program among the "top ten best in the world".

Cyprus has been ranked the 5th best relocation destination in the world by an international lifestyle review (source: 2014 report prepared by Knight Frank, a leading independent, global real estate consultancy firm). Ranked by key business and leisure indicators, Cyprus was the only European country alongside Switzerland to make it into the top five – ahead of London, Madrid and Monaco.

Certain changes to the Cypriot immigration policy and legal framework now enable non-EU applicants to obtain Cypriot citizenship on an expedited basis with the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment program, aimed at high net worth individuals and their families. This allows the successful applicant and their family to hold a Cypriot passport and enjoy all the benefits of being an EU national.

There are a number of reasons the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program is now considered to be the most attractive in Europe, including:

  1. There is no requirement to make a donation to the local government, in contrast to many other citizenship programs worldwide.
  2. Cyprus does not require applicants to live on the island prior, during or after the application process, unlike all other EU countries with citizenship programs that impose some form of residency requirements.
  3. Applicants are able to receive a Cypriot passport within 3 months of filing an application, being by far the fastest route to EU Citizenship.

With the growing realisation that second citizenship offers political and economic security enabling you to safeguard your interests, Cyprus continues to remain the preferred European 2nd Citizenship option.

Being the quickest route to a European passport, applicants are able to receive a Cyprus passport within only three months from submitting the relevant application. This is followed by the Maltese Citizenship by Investment program which can lead to passport issuance after 12 months, provided prior residency requirements have been fulfilled.

The three most common investment routes for applying for Cyprus citizenship are detailed below:

Option 1: EUR 5.5m total outlay

  1. 3 year investment of EUR 5m within any of the following:

    1. Fixed deposit account with a Cyprus bank (or Cyprus subsidiary of foreign bank);
    2. Interest bearing government bonds (current annual yield being 2.7%).
    3. Immovable property (with the exception of undeveloped land, although "off-plan" property is acceptable). VAT (0%, 5%, or 19%), if any, is not counted towards the investment of EUR 5m.
    4. Creation of Cyprus company or business, with activities in Cyprus.
    5. Mix and match any of the option above.
  2. EUR 500k (plus VAT of 0%, 5%, or 19%) in residential property. Must be held for life.

Option 2: EUR 3m total outlay

  1. Exactly as per above, with relevant investment being EUR 2.5m (as opposed to EUR 5m), and no option (a) available (i.e. fixed deposit account).
  2. EUR 500k (plus VAT of 0%, 5%, or 19%) in residential property. Must be held for life.

Option 3: EUR 2.5m total outlay

Investment of EUR 2.5m (plus VAT of 0%, 5%, or 19%) in residential property(ies). After 3 years, can liquidate the property(ies), and replace with one or more residential property(ies) with a minimum acquisition cost of EUR 500K.

Examples of above are as follows:

  1. Purchase one villa for EUR 2m, and one apartment for EUR 500k. Liquidate the villa in 3 years' time.
  2. Purchase one villa for EUR 2.5m, and liquidate it in 3 years' time, but immediately purchase residential property(ies) for EUR 500k (plus any applicable VAT, if any).

We are leaders in the area of Immigration Services in Cyprus and Malta, and well positioned to assist clients with the preparation and filing of a Citizenship application in both jurisdictions. We are frequently engaged by some of the world's largest and most reputable international law firms, accounting firms and family offices.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.