Residency And Permanent Residency For EU Citizens: Demystifying MEU Applications In Cyprus

Elias Neocleous & Co LLC


Elias Neocleous & Co LLC is the largest law firm in Cyprus and a leading firm in the South-East Mediterranean region, with a network of offices across Cyprus (Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos), Belgium (Brussels), Czech Republic (Prague), Romania (Budapest) and Ukraine (Kiev). A dynamic team of lawyers and legal experts deliver strategic legal solutions to clients operating in key industries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, India, USA, South America, and China. The firm is renowned for its expertise and jurisdictional knowledge across a broad spectrum of practice areas, spanning all major transactional and market disciplines, while also managing the largest and most challenging cross-border assignments. It is a premier practice of choice for leading Cypriot banks and financial institutions, preeminent foreign commercial and development banks, multinational corporations, global technology firms, international law firms, private equity funds, credit agencies, and asset managers.
Cyprus presents a compelling combination of a beautiful climate, a favorable tax and judicial system, a welcoming culture and people, and a stable environment for both living and doing business.
European Union Immigration
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Cyprus presents a compelling combination of a beautiful climate, a favorable tax and judicial system, a welcoming culture and people, and a stable environment for both living and doing business. It is widely regarded as an attractive relocation destination for individuals and businesses originating from non-European Union member states. However, this article will examine the procedure that applies for EU citizens from the moment they decide to move to Cyprus.

It is a well-known fact that since the establishment of the European Union one of its fundamental freedoms is the freedom of movement. Specifically, the freedom of movement includes the movement of goods, capital, services and people throughout the whole territory of the EU. This article primarily examines the freedom of movement of people, i.e., EU citizens, with a specific emphasis on their status in Cyprus. It focuses on the EU citizens that can live, work, study and retire in any Member State of the European Union. The article also breaks down the key differences between residency and permanent residency and guides through the MEU application processes (MEU1, MEU2 and MEU3) to find the path that best suits the needs of the EU citizens.

Landing in Cyprus: What Happens on Your First Visit?

The right of residence is automatically granted to any EU national and his family members who come to Cyprus. It must be clarified that for the first three months of the EU national's stay in Cyprus there is no requirement for him to proceed with any actions. The only requirement is for the EU citizen and his family members to have valid passports or I.D. cards in their possession during their stay in Cyprus. However, if the Union citizen and his family members decide to reside in Cyprus for a period longer than three months then, in addition to their valid passports, they will also have to show the following:

  • That they are employees or self-employed persons in Cyprus or
  • They have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the Republic of Cyprus during their period of residence and have comprehensive medical insurance cover in Cyprus.

The EU citizen and his family members who have the right of residence in Cyprus or any other member state have the right to live, work, study or retire in Cyprus. They need not worry about any legal issues with the local authorities or the fear of deportation. While occasional passport checks may occur, and deportations, albeit rare, could potentially be initiated, such instances are infrequent.

Understanding the right of Residency: What happens if you decide to stay for an extended period?

In the Republic of Cyprus, an EU national and his family members that decide to stay longer than three months, must register their stay in the Population Register and receive the Registration Certificate. When applying for the Registration Certificate, the application form MEU1 must be filed at the local Aliens and Immigration Unit. After the approval of this application, the EU citizen should receive his Alien Registration Certificate (A.R.C.), also known as yellow slip, which will also state his A.R.C. number. The A.R.C. number is vital for all future activities in Cyprus and is requested by local authorities for identification purposes. It can be likened to an I.D. number for the local people of the host member state. The Registration Certificate does not expire, meaning the A.R.C number remains unchanged once issued.

Family members of the EU citizens: What applies to them?

Family members of the EU citizen that are not EU nationals themselves, commonly referred to as third country nationals, are entitled to the rights of freedom of movement in the Republic of Cyprus. Family members are defined as the spouse, children, and dependent parents of the EU citizen. Their entry into Cyprus necessitates an entry visa unless exempted. Additionally, possessing a valid residence card eliminates the visa requirement. Importantly, as we consider these family members as third-country nationals in this scenario, the registration procedure for their presence in Cyprus varies.

What is the MEU2 application and what are its implications for family members of the EU citizen?

The submission of the MEU2 to the local Aliens and Immigration Unit is obligatory for family members residing in the Republic for a period exceeding three months. This process mirrors the registration procedure for EU citizens. Upon submission of the MEU2 form with accompanying documents, the local Aliens and Immigration Unit conducts a thorough review. Upon approval, the applicant/family member of the EU Citizen is issued a Residence Card (a plastic card similar to an identification card). The Residence Card states the A.R.C. number of the family member and is valid for 5 years. The holder of the Residence Card enjoys the same rights as the EU citizen who registered their presence and received the Residence Certificate through the MEU1 application. Top of Form

The Long Haul: MEU3 and How to Apply?

The EU citizen who after his registration receives the Certificate of Registration and remains in the Republic for a period of 5 years is entitled to apply via the MEU3 application to receive his Permanent Residence Certification. To clarify the above, it's important to understand that with the MEU1 application, an EU national officially registers their presence in Cyprus, obtaining the Alien Registration Certificate (A.R.C.) and thereby securing the legal right to reside freely within the country. Subsequently, upon completion of a 5-year period, the EU citizen is automatically entitled to Permanent Residence status. Should the EU citizen opt for it, they may pursue the acquisition of their Permanent Residence Certification through the MEU3 process. This differs from the Registration Certificate which is mandatory for EU citizens to apply for and obtain.

The MEU3 application and accompanying documents are also submitted to the local Aliens and Immigrations Units. The Applicant must prove 5 years of continuous legal residence in Cyprus and a lack of dependence on the social assistance system of the Republic of Cyprus during this period. Following an examination of the application by the Authorities, a positive outcome results in the EU citizen receiving Permanent Residence Certification which retains the same A.R.C number as issued during the MEU1 application process. The Permanent Residence Certification carries no expiry date and is presented in the same format as the yellow slip, without being issued as a plastic card. However, successful applicants among the EU citizen's family members will receive a plastic card similar to the aforementioned one upon obtaining Permanent Residence Certification. It is essential to note that the right to permanent residence will be forfeited if the EU citizen or their family members are absent from the Republic for a period of two years and more.

Building a Life: What is the Right of Permanent Residency?

It is reasonable for an EU citizen who has resided in a host member state for an extended duration to question their status and consider applying for Permanent Residence Certification. This certification serves as definitive evidence of their unconditional right to reside freely, legally and permanently within their chosen member state, provided they fulfill the aforementioned criteria. The advantages associated with Permanent Residence Certification are many and can significantly enhance the EU citizen's residency experience in the host member state. Moreover, it should be highlighted that the rights afforded under the previous status remain applicable, with the new status introducing additional benefits that further streamline residency in the Republic.

Firstly, the Permanent Residence Certification serves as conclusive evidence of one's status in the Republic and can be presented to the local Authorities as required. With this certification, the need to present proof of occupation, a statement of sufficient resources or proof of health insurance, is eliminated, thereby optimizing administrative processes considerably. Apart from interactions with the local Authorities (i.e. Police, Social Insurance Department, Aliens and Immigration Unit, Municipality, Citizen Service Center also known as KEP), presenting the Permanent Residence Certification empowers EU citizens to enter into more complex and significant contractual agreements with local businesses. This is because the certification proves the individual's current and future residency status and can serve as evidence of their commitment to contractual obligations. In addition, the EU citizen has the right to vote and participate in the European elections, is eligible to hold public office under certain conditions, is entitled to social security and health benefits, and has the right to buy real estate in Cyprus without additional approvals and paperwork required for third country nationals.

In conclusion, in accordance with the laws and directives of the European Union, an EU citizen and their family members holding residency or permanent residency in the Republic of Cyprus, or any other member state, are entitled to receive equal treatment with citizens of the Republic in the areas covered by the Treaty. Thus, it is paramount for the EU citizen and their family members to formally register their stay in the Republic, obtain the Registration Certificate, and subsequently apply for the Permanent Residence Certificate. This process serves to secure their rights, avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations with local Authorities, and to generally enjoy their legal and permanent residence uninterruptedly.

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.

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