Anyone who has been to Cyprus as a tourist, on holiday or for work will know that despite its much publicized Greek and Turkish divisional and recent economic issues, it remains a beautiful island full of positive, happy people, and right now thanks to its economic upturn, is a great place to invest for the future. With that in mind, Passport Reviewer took a good look at the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program.
Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island nation located in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, behind the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. There are only two independent island nations in the Mediterranean Sea, and they are Cyprus and Malta. Cyprus, Malta and the UK are the only countries in the world that are members of both the EU and the British Commonwealth, although thanks to Brexit, the UK is set to leave the EU in the near future. In order of nearness, Cyprus’s neighbors are Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Greece. Turkey is 456 km from Cyprus, while Greece is 1,117 km away.
After almost a century of British rule, Cyprus was granted independence from the UK in 1960. As the ethnic population of the country was made up of Greeks and Turks, both countries laid claim to the island. In 1974 Cyprus was invaded first by Greece and soon after by Turkey. When peace was restored, the island was split in two, with Greek Cypriots living in the government controlled area to the west of the island, and the Turkish Cypriots living in their own area situated in the Northeast of the island. While this situation is far from satisfactory, there exists an uneasy detente between both factions, and the country remains united under the banner of the Republic of Cyprus, with Nicosia as its capital.
The Cyprus economy relies on tourism and its spinoff industries (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels, plus the resulting construction industry) as its main source of income. Cyprus attracts almost three million tourist arrivals every year, and while this makes it only the 40th most popular destination in the world, as it attracts almost three times its own population, per capita it actually ranks 6th.
Almost one million of those tourists hail from the UK, with another half a million coming from Russia. There are also large numbers of Germans, Scandinavians and Israelis who choose Cyprus as their holiday destination. Cyprus offers holidaymakers beautiful beaches and bays, five-star hotels, top class restaurants and vibrant nightlife, but tourists also choose to explore the island’s ancient churches, monasteries and caves. Cyprus has been a full member of the World Tourism Organization since 1975. It became part of the EU in 2004, and joined the Eurozone in 2008.
- Official Language: Greek/Turkish
- Capital City: Nicosia
- Largest City: Nicosia (Pop; 240,000)
- Surface Area: 9, 251 km2
- Religion: Easton Orthodox (Christian) 78%, Islam 20%
- Population: 1,142,000
- Government: Unitary bi-communal presidential constitutional republic
- Legal system: Local law based on English legal system
- Currency: Euro
- GDP per capita: $30,882
- Climate: Subtropical climate with very mild winters and warm to hot summers
Cyprus Citizenship By Investment Program
Via the Cyprus Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Program, foreign nationals with the necessary capital and with no criminal background can invest in the Republic of Cyrus and receive full Cypriot citizenship and its passport.
In order to qualify for the Cyprus CBI program, an applicant must meet one of the following investment requirements:
- The capacity to invest in a Cyprus real estate, land development or infrastructure project (minimum €2 million); OR
- The capacity to invest in established Cyprus businesses or companies (minimum €2 million); OR
- The capacity to invest in Alternative Investment Funds or financial assets of Cyprus-based companies or organizations licensed by CySec (minimum €2 million); OR
- The capacity to invest in a combination of the above options, with a minimum total amount of €2 million
In September 2016, Cyprus announced it was to make significant amendments to its citizenship by investment program, the most significant being a reduction of €3 million in the overall cost, cutting the original figure from €5 million to €2 million.
Benefits of the Cyprus CBI Program
While still expensive, there are multiple benefits of the Cyprus CBI program.
- EU Citizenship – the right to live and work anywhere within the European Union Western without restriction
- Commonwealth Citizenship – the right to live and work in the UK (will prove invaluable when the UK leaves the EU)
- Cyprus Passport Visa-Free Travel – the Cypriot passport will grants its holder visa-free access to 159 countries worldwide, including all Western Europe, Canada, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Australasia and much of Africa
- Passport Within Three Months – the processing time for a Cypriot passport is only three months, which makes it the one of the fastest CBI programs on the market
- No Physical Residency Required – the Cypriot CBI program does not require an applicant to physically reside in Cyprus at any time, during or after they have applied for and received their citizenship
- Health and Education – as citizens of Cyprus, the applicant and their family will be entitled to EU standards of education and health care
- Increase in Property Value – the Cypriot economy is booming, as is its property industry, making a real estate investment in Cyprus a solid financial move
Pros and Cons of Living In Cyprus
Cyprus has rebounded remarkably well from its economic/banking crisis of 2013 when it was bailed out by the EU, and is now boasts one of the strongest economies in Europe. Although small, Cyprus packs almost as much within its coastal borders as a country the size of Spain, with the added bonus that most of the locals speak English.
There is no escaping the divide in the island, and while tension between the two sides is minimal and rarely flares up, it is still a factor. Cyprus, while beautiful, is a small island with a total population of just over a million, and that won’t suit everyone.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B
The Cyprus CBI program would definitely score an A if it wasn’t so expensive. Although its price has been slashed by more than half, at €2 million it is still one of the most expensive EU CBI programs. That said, if you are an investor with that kind of collateral, Cyprus is certainly a location that is on the up and up, and any real estate purchase will surely increase in value significantly in the coming years.
In the meantime, the Cyprus passport is plenty powerful, especially if you hail from one of the more restrictive countries in Asia, Africa or the Middle East, and if the island becomes claustrophobic, there are another 27 EU nations one can choose to live and work in.