The Financial Times Professional Wealth Management group's recent study of CBI programmes, around the world, ranked Cyprus ahead of other European countries Austria, Bulgaria and Malta, for its highly attractive travel and residency requirements.

A primary objective of the CBI Index was to isolate factors or "pillars" satisfactorily measuring the CBI programmes features and desirability in the various jurisdictions. Research was based on the "reliance on official sources from institutions of the highest international standing and on the specialised input of industry experts", as confirmed by Professional Wealth Management.

The Caribbean jurisdiction led the research rankings with Dominica in first place, with one of the longest running CBI programmes, with a score of 90 per cent overall, followed by St. Kitts & Nevis with 88, and Grenada, with the relatively new CBI programme re-launched in 2013, in third place with 85 per cent.

Other close contenders were Antigua & Barbuda with 78, St Lucia and Vanuatu scoring 76 respectively.

Cyprus scored 67 overall, ahead of Covoros and Malta who scored 66 and 64 respectively; with Bulgaria, Austria and Cambodia ranking last.

The rankings were based on the aggregate of 7 measurable factors, scored on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest:

  • Freedom of Movement;
  • Standard of living;
  • Minimum investment outlay;
  • Mandatory residence or travel requirements;
  • Citizenship timeline;
  • Ease of process; Due diligence.

Cyprus ranked highly with 9 in Freedom of Movement, just behind Austria and Malta who both received top marks. The Cyprus passport allows for visa free travel to over 160 countries worldwide without restrictions. Freedom of Movement is of paramount importance for individuals when selecting a second citizenship, hence a very important score for Cyprus.

Cyprus also scored 8 for the highest standard of living, with Austria and Malta topping the rankings. The minimum investment outlay was led by Comoros, St Lucia and Dominica.

The Cyprus CBI programme was first introduced at a premium investment of €15m as early as 2002, (showing the robustness of the programme over the years), the current scheme became more competitive in 2013, and even more so in the recent Council of Ministers' revisions of September 2016, where the minimum outlay was further reduced to a total of €2m for the residential property option, and a total of €2.5m for the combination of real estate and other investments option (both options inclusive of a €500,000 investment for a permanent residence), gaining popularity as a leading European programme, with investment requirements in line with other leading European jurisdictions.

The Caribbean jurisdictions Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and Grenada, led the mandatory travel or residence pillar with a 10 rating, with no requirements whatsoever to travel or enter the respective countries at any time, prior, during or after citizenship.

Cyprus also faired highly with a respectable score of 7, with no physical residency requirements prior, during or after the citizenship application; other than an initial visit to obtain biometrics as part of the permanent residency application process. This is required if the applicant is not already a resident at the time that the citizenship application is lodged.

The citizenship timeline ranking was led by the St Kitts & Nevis and Vanuatu with a one month timeline, followed by other Caribbean jurisdictions with just under 3 months, then Cyprus as the fastest route to citizenship in the EU, scoring a high of 8.

Cyprus also ranked with a respectable 7 for ease of processing, and clear procedures for citizenship application and no additional language or health requirements.

Cyprus scored a 6 in the due diligence pillar, with Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis and Malta leading with 10 for their data collection and due diligence features. Austria remains lowest on the list, according to the level of due diligence it performs on applicants, primarily relating to the history of source of funds.

The CBI Index summary reflects the popularity of the Caribbean jurisdictions for their stability and longevity in CBI programmes, however there is also a current trend of people looking into acquiring citizenship in most robust jurisdictions within the EU.

Cyprus has distinguished itself as the most attractive European Citizenship by Investment programme as ranked by the index, reaffirmed, further to a previous top ranking of 5th best relocation destination in the world, by international lifestyles review Knight Frank, a leading independent, global real estate consultancy firm, in 2014.

This article was authored by Jenny Tryfonos as Private Client Advisor for Savva & Associates Ltd.

Savva & Associates Ltd has long established itself as a leader in the field of immigration services, and are well positioned to assist all newcomers to Cyprus when exploring dual citizenship.

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.