Acquiring a Cyprus passport; obtaining Cypriot citizenship by exemption

Posted on 23 Sep 2014, by Esme Palas

By acquiring Cypriot citizenship a person is entitled to live and work without any restrictions in Cyprus, among other benefits, and travel without any formalities within the European Union.

Obtaining Cypriot Citizenship by Exemption:

The government of Cyprus has implemented a new immigration initiative, a fast track citizenship scheme, aiming to motivate non-EU high net worth individuals, migrant entrepreneurs and investors to invest in Cyprus in return for the Cypriot citizenship. The new scheme has been established pursuant to the amendments to the Cyprus Civil Registry and Migration Law.

The scheme is based on a fast track process so that it operates efficiently and avoids bureaucracy and any unnecessary documents. The investment eventually allows the applicant and their family to obtain a Cypriot passport and have the benefits of a Cypriot citizen.

A non-Cypriot citizen is entitled to apply for the acquisition of the Cypriot citizenship provided that certain criteria are met. First, the applicant must have direct investments in Cyprus that reach the amount of €5.000.000 (Euro five million) minimum. The investments must be in real estate, in Cyprus companies by buying shares, in government bonds, in local businesses, in infrastructure or in development projects. The investments also include the purchase or the construction of buildings, the creation of other land developments, either residential or commercial, or investing in the tourism sector. The eligible investment is not limited to properties purchased for the first time.

Necessary criteria that need to be met before an application is submitted:

  1. Investment in real estate for the minimum amount of €5.000.000,00 (Euro five million), excluding VAT. Any property purchased by the applicant during the last three years will count towards the above mentioned investment figures. In the opposite case the applicant must proceed with additional investments in order to reach the total required amount. The three-year period counts at the time of submitting the application for citizenship.

  2. Purchase of a permanent residential property the market value of which must be €500.000 (Euro five hundred thousand) minimum, excluding VAT. The remaining investment may be sold after 3 years.

The applicant is required to submit the following documents:

  1. Proof of investment in real estate of €5.000.000,00 (Euro five million), excluding VAT.

  2. Proof of purchase of a residential property not less than €500.000 (Euro five hundred thousand), excluding VAT.

  3. Birth Certificate.

  4. Passport copy.

  5. Passport photos.

  6. Certificate of clean criminal record from the country of origin as well as the country of residence if it differs.

  7. Marriage certificate if applicable.

  8. Application duly completed and signed before a Registrar of a Cypriot Court or a Consular Officer.

  9. Curriculum Vitae.

All documents that are issued by a foreign authority should be translated to either Greek or English and be duly authenticated. They should bear the stamp «APOSTILE» if they are issued in a country that signed the Hague Convention. Otherwise, they should be sealed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the issuing country and the diplomatic mission of the Republic of Cyprus in the issuing country.

Examination procedure for an application:

The application is submitted at the Ministry of Interior along with all the necessary documents and the amount of €2.000 Euro (two thousand) must be paid.

First, the documents relating to the business activities and investments of the applicant in Cyprus are sent to the Ministry of Finance for evaluation on whether the applicant meets any of the criteria established by the Council of Ministers.

Simultaneously, the Ministry of Interior investigates whether the applicant meets the other conditions of the abovementioned decision of the Council of Ministers. If the applicant meets the criteria and conditions of the decision, the Minister of Interior presents the case to the Council of Ministers for the final decision.

Provided that the investor meets the criteria and conditions of the decision of the Council of Ministers the time frame for the completion of the process is approximately 3 months from the date of submission of the application.

Once the application is approved the Civil Registry and Migration department issues the Certificate of Naturalization following the payment of the naturalization certificate issuing fee, i.e. €5.000 (Euro five thousand).

Applicant's spouse:

The decision of the Council of Ministers dated 19.03.2014 stipulates for the grant of Cypriot citizenship to the spouse of the investor. The spouse of the non-Cypriot investor has the right to apply for the citizenship simultaneously with the investor. The spouse is not obliged to meet any financial criteria.

The spouse needs to present the same documents as those presented by the applicant with the exception of proof of an investment in real estate and of a purchase of residential property.

Once again, all the documents issued by any foreign authority should be translated to either Greek or English and be duly authenticated as described above.

Once the application is approved the Civil Registry and Migration department issues the Certificate of Naturalization following the payment of €5.000 (Euro five thousand).

Applicant's adult children (18 years old or above):

The decision of the Council of Ministers dated 19.03.2014 also stipulates for the grant of the Cypriot citizenship to the adult children of the applicant provided they are in full time education. The adult children are not obliged to meet any financial criteria.

The adult children of an investor are considered as financially dependent if they are students up to the age of 28 and are attending an institution of higher education aiming to obtain a diploma or an undergraduate degree or a master’s degree.

The decision excludes individuals who are studying for the acquisition of a professional qualification (e.g. chartered accountants or barrister) or individuals who are studying for the acquisition of a second, third etc. diploma or degree (either undergraduate or master’s).

Additionally, an investors’ child with severe physical or mental disability that makes them unable to work is also considered as financially dependent.

Unlike the case of a spouse, the application is submitted to the Ministry of Interior after the applicant has acquired the Cypriot citizenship. The amount of €2.000 (Euro two thousand) has to be paid as fees along with the submission of the application.

The adult child needs to present the same documents as those required to be presented by the applicant's spouse as well as:

  1. Copy of the applicant's Certificate of Naturalization.

  2. Copy of the applicant's Cypriot passport.

  3. Copy of the undergraduate degree (if the applicant is studying for a master’s degree).

  4. Original Certificate of attendance at a Higher Education Institute.

  5. In the event of an adult child with disabilities a medical certificate attesting to the disability.

All the documents issued by a foreign authority should be translated to either Greek or English and be duly authenticated as described above.

Once the application is approved, the Civil Registry and Migration Department issues the Certificate of Naturalization following the payment of €5.000 (Euro five thousand).

Applicant's minor children (under the age of 18):

The minor children of an applicant have the right to acquire the citizenship according to the provisions of section 110 (3) of the Civil Registry Law.

The application is submitted after the investor had acquired the Cypriot citizenship to the Civil Registry and Migration Department, where it is also processed.

Benefits of acquiring Cypriot Citizenship:

  1. A Cypriot passport is a gateway to Europe! It is especially useful for an individual of a country outside the European Union to hold a passport and citizenship of an EU member state country.

  2. Cyprus citizenship lasts for a lifetime.

  3. The applicant's family could be granted with a Cypriot passport.

  4. Cypriot citizens enjoy the freedom to live, work and travel throughout Europe.

  5. All Cypriot passport holders are entitled to travel visa-free to more than 140 countries.

  6. All Cypriot passport holders can quickly and cost-effectively obtain visas for other countries, such as the USA.

  7. A Cypriot passport gives access to the excellent education and healthcare institutes.

  8. Cyprus allows dual citizenship. Dual citizenship offers an effective tool for international tax planning and provides financial privacy.

  9. A Cypriot passport offers an insurance policy against political instability.