A passport of a European country provides a plethora of opportunities for business development on the international arena. It guarantees a comfortable life, security and stability for the whole family. Several EU countries have their own citizenship by investment programs, and, perhaps, some of the most attractive options are offered by Cyprus.
What opportunities open before Cyprus passport holders? How much does it cost to take part in the program? What are the investment options? Below, we’ll talk about all the details that are well worth your attention.
What is there in a Cypriot passport that is so attractive for foreign investors?
The number of participants in the Cyprus’ Citizenship by Investment Program is growing annually, and the reasons aren’t that supernatural, but rather, pretty obvious: Cyprus offers favourable conditions for comfortable life and business development. We know at least 8 advantages of the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program:
- Prompt application processing. It only takes 3 to 6 months from the day of application submission to passport issuance. In contrast, obtaining Maltese citizenship takes up to 14 months.
- There are no residence (physical presence) requirements. You are not obliged to stay in Cyprus before, during or after obtaining your passport. Moreover, it’s possible to purchase housing and obtain a residence in any European country with the freshly-issued passport.
- You are investing in real estate or business, which means you can gain profit or get your investment back. Cyprus doesn’t offer non-refundable government fund donations as an option.
- One must withhold the investment for at least 3 years. After that, the real estate may be leased or sold to return the investment amount.
Attention! Note, however, that to retain one’s status of a citizen of Cyprus, one must own real estate there worth at least 500,000 Eur.
- A wide selection of investment options. Foreign investors can choose to purchase commercial or residential real estate, establish or purchase a local company, or combine these options.
- Benefits of tax system. The participants of the CBI program are exempt from paying dividend, inheritance and wealth taxes. For tax residents, the tax rate on income is the lowest among all EU countries, at 12.5%.
- No need to pass state exams on language and history knowledge.
- Dual citizenship is allowed in Cyprus. You won’t have to renounce the citizenship of your native country. Applying and document processing is completely confidential from start to finish.
The program was launched in 2014. Within the first 3 years, foreign fund inflow has amounted to over €3 billion. The latest changes in program conditions on reduction of the minimum investment amount were introduced in 2016. This move has resulted in a serious surge of interest in the program on the part of wealthy individuals who are seeking to obtain a second citizenship.
The cost of Cyprus’ passport
The minimum investment amount stands at €2 million. There are several investment options:
- By buying real estate. Any real estate category will do, residential, commercial, or development projects. The property retention period is 3 years.
Attention! Please note that the applicants are expected to purchase and own indefinitely a property worth at least €500 thousand. This means that, after a three-year retention period, you can opt to sell the real estate you’d previously purchased to qualify for the program and get back €1.5 million out of the €2 million “entrance fee”.
- Investing in business. You can choose to invest in the development of an existing local company or establish your own. In this case, you’ll be obliged to create at least 5 new jobs for Cyprus residents.
- The combination of the above options. A foreign investor may choose to invest €500 thousand in government bonds and €1.5 million in other assets.
Which option is the most popular? According to our own and overall statistics, the majority of foreign investors tend to gravitate towards purchase of real estate. This can be explained by the fact that investors must purchase and own property regardless of which investment option they choose.
Attention! In case you have purchased a real estate object not earlier than 3 years prior to applying for Cyprus citizenship through the Citizenship by Investment Program, you can list the said property as an existing investment.
European alternatives to the Cyprus CBI program
It is also possible to obtain a Maltese, Austrian, or a Bulgarian passport.
Malta’s CBI program is Cyprus’ strongest competitor. The main advantages of the Maltese passport program are affordable cost (starting at €816,000), visa-free entry to 160+ countries, benefits of tax planning. Maltese passport holders can freely live and work in any EU country. To take part, you’d have to:
- purchase government bonds or securities worth at least €150,000;
- сontribute at least €650,000 to the National Development & Social Fund;
- purchase real estate worth at least €350,000 or rent real estate for the cost of at least €16,000 per year.
The whole family is eligible to apply. Processing of applications takes from 6 to 14 months.
Austria. The Austrian passport program has been in place since 1985. Its principal advantages are the opportunity to develop business in the environment of economic stability; visa-free travel to 150+ countries; having a safe country as a backup plan. To qualify for the Austrian Citizenship by Investment Program, one must make a significant contribution to the host country’s economy, and direct the investment at creating new jobs for Austrian citizens and making stable tax deductions to the state budget. There is no real estate investment option. Application processing takes from 12 to 18 months.
Bulgaria. To participate, one is expected to invest at least €1 million in government bonds. First, the applicant obtains a permanent residence permit, and a year later, is granted the status of a citizen. The minimum investment amount is the same for individual applicants and for families of up to 4 people.
In 2016, the government of Montenegro announced the upcoming restart of their own passport program. It is expected that foreign investors will be given several options to choose from, including a donation of at least €150,000 to a government fund, or purchase of real estate worth at least €300,000, or investing at least €500,000 in a government-approved business project.
The time to invest in Cyprus citizenship is now
The European Union authorities are pressuring the Cypriot government into introducing changes into the conditions of their CBI program. The officials are of the opinion that potential investors should at least have a residence permit.
Investment immigration experts note that this requirement may soon be realized, which will lead to a significant expansion of the application processing timeframe.
If you have set a goal of obtaining a second passport and are planning to become a full-fledged citizen of the European Union, Cyprus’ CBI program may be your answer.
We can help you weigh your options and choose what’s right
We urge our clients to compare conditions of the various CBI programs. This helps them make up their minds and opt for what suits them best. Speaking of Caribbean nations, we can name at least three reasons to strongly consider one of the countries in the region as your second home:
- Antigua and Barbuda passport: visa-free entry to over 136 countries; passports are issued within 3-5 months.
- Saint Kitts and Nevis passport: visa-free entry to 132 countries; no residence requirements; passports are issued within 3-5 months. The program has been active since 1984!
- Dominican passport: visa-free entry to 91 country; passports are issued within 3-6 months; no residence requirements; no personal interview.
Have more questions? Want to know the total cost of obtaining the Antiguan citizenship through investment for the whole family? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and get a free consultation.