A large expat community, 80% of the population speaking English, one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, and first-class EU healthcare and infrastructure…there are so many reasons to choose Cyprus as your next home abroad.
Situated in the eastern Mediterranean (south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon), Cyprus enjoys a high-income economy and security of being an EU member nation (joined in 2004, though not part of the Schengen Area).
Cyprus was under British control starting in 1878, finally gaining independence in 1960. While this independence was a positive step forward in Cyprus, what followed was eleven years of struggle involving Turkish invasion and Greek Cypriot coups. The result is a country that is theoretically broken up into two segments. The first segment (just over 60% of the island) is controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, while the northern area of the country is Turkish-occupied. This area refers to itself as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, though only Turkey recognizes this distinction.
Residency Options in Cyprus
Qualifying for a residency permit in Cyprus can be done through 6 main paths. These categories highlight the methods used to stay for longer than 90 days in Cyprus, whether that be for working, studying, or retiring:
- Category A: Self-employed in agriculture. Applicants will need to be able to prove that they have adequate land or a permit to buy said land, with at least 430,000 euros in capital at their disposal. Work must not negatively affect the economy of Cyprus.
- Category B: Self-employed in mining. Applicants must have at least 350,000 euros in capital and acquire the necessary permits and documentation to mine in the country. Work must not negatively affect the economy of Cyprus.
- Category C/D: Self-employed in trade or professions. Must have all relevant permits and qualifications, with 260,000 euros in capital.
- Category E: Offered permanent employment in Cyprus, which must not create undue local competition. This is the standard form of work visa in Cyprus, in which you will receive a job offer or employment contract after spending time interviewing in the country during the 90-day tourist visa.
- Category F: This category of residency permit is for those you will receive in Cyprus, but without working in the country. This is primarily for retired expats receiving foreign pensions or generating income through international investments.
Once this form of temporary residence permit is received, it is valid for five years and is able to be renewed. After this initial five-year period, permanent residency in Cyprus can be obtained. With two years of valid permanent residency (7 total years from receiving temporary residency), expats living abroad in Cyprus can file for a second passport and Cypriot citizenship.
Retiring in Cyprus
Expats who hold the Category F retirement permit in Cyprus will pay little income tax on their pensions, while double-taxation treaties with many other countries means that these pension aren’t subject to withholding tax at source. Canadian and U.K. expat retirees in Cyprus can have their state pensions remain index-linked when while they are residents in Cyprus. You will also receive duty-free importation of a car and many other personal items into Cyprus.
The entire process of obtaining this retirement permit in Cyprus will take around 5-12 months. There is a fast-tracked path, though, that can obtain an overseas retirement permit in Cyprus in less than two months, if you buy a property in the country for at least €300,000.
Investing in Cyprus
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of moving abroad to Cyprus is the investment opportunity. The country offers both permanent residency through investment and immediate citizenship through investment programs. What’s so great about receiving investment residency or citizenship in Cyprus as an expat, especially through real estate investment, is that there are a long list of financial perks associated with this method.
For expat investors, Cyprus has very low property taxes and a reduced VAT on property of just 5%. Obtaining a second passport in Cyprus doesn’t make you a tax resident in the country unless you spend 183 days in a single calendar year there. There is no language requirement for obtaining citizenship through investment in Cyprus, and dual citizenship is allowed – so long as your home country allows it, you won’t have to give up your home passport to gain a Cypriot one.
The following methods can be used to attain immediate citizenship through investment in Cyprus:
- Investment in real estate, developments, and infrastructure
- Applicants will need to invest €2 million towards the purchase or construction of a new real estate property in Cyprus.
- Purchase, establish, or participate in Cypriot businesses
- Applicants must invest €2 million towards the purchase or creation of a company in Cyprus. Must have a visible presence in the country and employ at least 5 Cypriot citizens.
- Investment in Alternate Investment Funds or financial assets of Cypriot enterprises licensed by the Securities Exchange Commission
- Applicant will purchase €2 million worth of units from Alternative Investment Funds (AIF). Or, investment must cover the purchase of financial assets of Cypriot business organizations valued at €2 million in the form of bonds, securities, and debt securities.
- Combination of the above investments
- Applicant can invest abroad in Cyprus in a combination of efforts, so long as the total investment amounts to at least €2 million.
- Trade Organizations: European Union, WTO
- GDP: $29.666 billion (PPP)
- GDP by Sector: Services (87.1%), Industry (10.6%), Agriculture (2.4%)
- Labor Force: 356,700
- Unempoloyment: 10.8%
- Average Gross Salary: $24,660 per year
- Main Industries: tourism, food and beverage processing, cement and gypsum, ship repair, textiles, metals, wood, paper, stone and clay products.