On 25 May 2013, the Council of Ministers laid down new criteria and conditions for the naturalisation of foreign investors and entrepreneurs by exemption. The new Citizenship by Investment scheme of the Republic of Cyprus aims predominantly to entice and incentivise foreign investors, entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals to invest in Cyprus in return for an alternative citizenship and a Cypriot (EU) passport.
The increasing popularity of the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment scheme in China has much to do with its unique features. With the review of the complete application by the Council of Ministers taking four to six months, this means that the applicant acquires a Cypriot (EU) passport fast. Once Cyprus citizenship has been acquired, it is for life. Not only the applicant, but his dependants, may enjoy full Cypriot (EU) citizenship for life.
As dual citizenship and passport are permitted under Cyprus law, this means that the applicant does not need to relinquish any other citizenships and/or passports he or she may have. Further, the applicant is not obliged to sit any language aptitude or other local knowledge tests.
The eligibility requirements for the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment scheme are equally applicant and investment orientated. Any prospective third country applicant would need to have:
- a clean criminal record. Confirmation will further be sought that the applicant’s name is not included on the list of persons whose property is ordered to be frozen within the boundaries of the EU; and
- a permanently privately owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, the value of which must be at least €500,000 (US$667,000) plus VAT at current prices.
As far as the investment side of the scheme is concerned, a prospective applicant may elect any one of the available six investment mediums, depending on his or her commercial/financial fluency:
(a) Investment and donation
The applicant must have made an investment of at least €2 million for the purchase of shares and/or bonds of the state-owned investment company to be formed and provide an amount of €500,000 as a donation to the research and technology fund of the Republic of Cyprus.
(b) Bank deposits
The applicant must have personal fixed-term deposits for three years in Cypriot banks or deposits of privately owned companies or trusts (in which he or she is the beneficial owner) in the Republic of Cyprus of at least €5 million.
(c) Direct investments
The applicant must have direct investments in the Republic of Cyprus of at least €5 million including any of the following:
- purchase of properties (i.e. houses, offices, shops, hotels – excluding undeveloped land)
- purchase of businesses or companies based and active in the Republic of Cyprus
- purchase of companies registered in the Republic of Cyprus
- purchase of financial assets (i.e. bonds, securities) issued in the Republic of Cyprus
- participation in a company or consortium of companies that has undertaken to carry out a public project
Provided that with regard to conditions (i) to (iv) above, the applicant shall retain the said assets in his or her possession for a period of at least three years. In the case of a share or bond portfolio, it is to be ensured that the amount of the value of the portfolio for the said period will not fall below the amount specified.
The minister of interior shall have the right, for the period ending on 30 June 2014, to reduce the amount required for direct investments to €2 million for non-Cypriot citizens who demonstrably participate in a special collective real estate purchase scheme, which will comprise the purchase of property in the Republic of Cyprus with a total value of at least €10 billion.
(d) Combined investments
The applicant is required to have a combination of the investment mediums (a), (b) and (c) above amounting to at least €5 million.
(e) Business activities
The applicant must be a shareholder or beneficial owner of a company, or companies, the management of which is in the Republic of Cyprus and that over the last three years prior to submitting the application has paid to the public purse − by way of corporate tax, VAT or other fees and charges − and remuneration for the purchase of business services (legal, accounting, auditing, etc.) at least €500,000 per annum.
Alternatively, in the case where the applicant is a shareholder or beneficial owner of a company or companies active in Cyprus, has established its central offices in Cyprus and:
- employs at least five Cypriot citizens, the said amount is reduced to at least €350,000 for the last three years preceding the submission of the application
- employs at least 10 Cypriot citizens, the said amount is reduced to at least €200,000 for the last three years preceding the submission of the application
For every such company or companies, applications for naturalisation may be submitted by a maximum of two shareholders who preferably hold the majority of the share capital. In the case where the applicant has paid into the Cyprus economy direct revenue or fees of an amount less than the above-mentioned amounts, a combination may be made with investment medium (a), (b) or (c). The total payments to the public purse and remuneration for services in the last three years shall be deducted from the required investment to satisfy investment mediums (a), (b) or (c).
(f) Bank of Cyprus or Cyprus Popular Bank depositors impaired by the measures implemented after 15 March 2013
The applicant has incurred impairment in his or her deposits in one or both of the said banks amounting to a total of at least €3 million.
In the case where the applicant has incurred an impairment of deposits in one or both of the said banks under €3 million he or she may apply having made an additional direct investment or mixed investment or a donation to a state fund for the balance of the required amount of the said investment medium.
Nick Tsilimidos is an associate at L Papaphilippou & Co in Cyprus
17 Ifigenias street
2007 Strovolos, P.O. Box 28541
2080 Nicosia, Cyprus
电话 Tel：+357 22 27 10 00
传真 Fax：+357 22 27 11 11