Cyprus received more than €2bn over the past two years from the property-for-residency scheme according to Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos. The scheme allows third country nations to obtain permanent resident in Cyprus if they buy property costing at least €300,000.
"This plan amongst others has brought the Republic €2bn and more these past two years," Hasikos said on Tuesday.
Other schemes offering citizenship for foreign investment in Cyprus include making a deposit of €2m into the treasury to buy shares or bonds with the state-run investment company and also donating €0.5m towards the government's Research and Technology fund.
Alternatively applicants can invest at least €5m in projects ranging from the purchase of houses, offices, shops and hotels provided the real estate is put to use. Foreign nationals buying companies that were founded and active on the island or else bought shares in companies registered in Cyprus are also eligible for citizenship.
A further option requires applicants to have deposits of up to €5m in a local bank or own a company of which they are the main beneficiary for at least the last three years.
Recent studies conducted by global immigration experts rank the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme among the “top ten best in the world” and the country is also the 5th best relocation destination in the world according to an international lifestyle review.
Ranked by key business and leisure indicators Cyprus was the only European country alongside Switzerland to make it into the top five – ahead of London, Madrid and Monaco. Cyprus ranks highly because of its favourable tax regime for new residents, particularly high net worth individuals.
The scheme was introduced by the Cypriot government two years ago to attract high net worth individuals, investors and entrepreneurs with all the benefits available to a Cyprus and EU national.
There are a few reasons the Cypriot Citizenship programme is so attractive:
- There is no requirement to make a donation to the local government unlike the Maltese citizenship scheme which requires a donation of €650,000.
- Applicants are not required to live on the island prior to or during the application process or even after citizenship is granted. Again, other countries including Malta require applicants to physically live in the country one year prior to filing an application for citizenship.
- It is the fastest application process for EU Citizenship currently available with passports issued within 3 to 4 months of filing.
- Investors are able to take advantage of Cyprus' attractive financial centre due to its highly favourable tax system and strategic location at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Africa and Asia.
- Cyprus enjoys a high standard of living with good access to reputable private schools and medical facilities. It also has one of the lowest crime rates in the EU.
The sentiment among real estate agents in Cyprus is that opportunities for foreign investors will increase during 2105, particularly in the apartments market in Famagusta, Nicosia and residential areas within towns. Foreign investment has already picked up in the commercial property market; with the most transaction activity in grade A office buildings offering mid-term tenancies of around 8-12 years and yielding an average 6% annually. Rental demand for good quality office premises has risen in Nicosia and Limassol, with residential property also gaining traction as Cypriot business districts continue their expansion.