The effect of Brexit on UK Nationals' residency rights in Cyprus

Posted on 29 Oct 2018, by Esme Palas

There has been a great concern amongst UK Nationals currently residing in Cyprus and an uncertainty troubling those who desire to purchase property and retire in Cyprus. So many British clients have come to our law firm since the decision of the UK to leave the European Union with the same questions: How can they ensure their post-Brexit rights and how Brexit will affect their residency rights in Cyprus?

Until very recently, all we could say was that we would have to wait and see, but that we were optimistic that due to the fact that Cyprus has always shared close ties with the UK, through the Commonwealth membership and their colonial past we anticipated that British Expats in Cyprus would be in a somewhat different situation compared with those living elsewhere in Europe.

Finally, the waiting game is over. The Ministry of Interior has published, on its website, a document which gives an explanation as to how the Cypriot government intends to practically implement the Withdrawal Agreement reached between the EU and the UK on citizens’ rights, ahead of the UK leaving the EU on 29th March 2019. This document covers the residence rights of UK Nationals and their family members.

In essence, the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement will effectively mean that the free movement of UK Nationals and their family members will continue immediately after the UK leaves the EU on 30th March 2019 and will end on 31st December 2020 which will be a transition period.

UK Nationals and their family members who reside in Cyprus already or will arrive in Cyprus by 31st December 2020, will be able to continue living in Cyprus, with the same access to work, study, benefits and public services that they enjoy now, provided they have registered with the authorities. UK Citizens who wish to come to Cyprus AFTER 31st December 2020 (which is the end of the transition period) will need to meet Cyprus Immigration rules.

More specifically, according to the Ministry of Interior Website, the Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement will mean that:

  • UK Nationals and their family members who, by 31st December 2020 have been resident continuously in Cyprus for at least 5 years will be eligible for permanent
  • UK Nationals and their family members who already reside in Cyprus or arrive by 31st December 2020, but will not yet have been resident continuously in Cyprus for five years will be eligible for residence, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five years threshold, enabling them to stay until they have reached the five years threshold, allowing them to apply for permanent residence.

With respect to UK Nationals’ family members, the Ministry provides the following information:

  • Existing family members of UK nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who are living in a country other than Cyprus on 31 December 2010 (end of the transition period), will be able to reunite in Cyprus with the UK national as a family member at any time in the future. They will then be eligible to qualify for permanent residence after completing five years of continuous residence.
  • Children born or adopted after the transition period by a UK national or their spouse/partner in a civil union covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will enjoy the same rights as pre-existing family members. Future spouses and partners of UK citizens who want to come to Cyprus after the 31 December 2020 (end of the transition period), will need to meet Cyprus Immigration rules.

The Minister’s document further elaborates on the requirement of Continuity of residence and provides the following:

Continuity of residence is not affected by temporary absences not exceeding a total of six months a year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service, or by one absence of a maximum of twelve consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting. Continuity of residence is broken by any expulsion decision duly enforced against the person concerned.

Based on all the above information, the advice we currently give to our clients is that if they are presently living in Cyprus for more than 90 days and wish to enjoy the benefits associated with being a Cypriot Resident even after Brexit to legalize their status by registering with the authorities.

We also advise clients who have lived in Cyprus for five years or more and are already registered to apply for permanent residency.

To those who are contemplating purchasing a property in Cyprus we advise them to make sure they do so prior to January 2021 in order for them to be eligible to apply for residence prior to that date.

The above will entitle UK nationals to the privileges of a Cyprus resident even when the UK comes out of the EU, enabling them to be able to carry on living, working or studying in Cyprus.

This is a huge relief to the British Expats currently living in Cyprus and to those who were hoping to retire or to live in Cyprus.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. For further information and clarification please contact Esme Palas, Senior Associate, Michael Kyprianou & Co. LLC on tel ++357 26930800 or email esme.palas@kyprianou.com