Cyprus Residency – An Expert Guide To Relocation

Cyprus is a scenically beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea, close to Turkey to the north and Syria to the west, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. Those with Cyprus residency enjoy an excellent standard of living and a lifestyle that is the envy of much of Europe. 

Since 1974 the island has been a divided nation. The north of the island falls under Turkish rule, and the south is ruled by the Greeks. There is a buffer zone that runs for 180 kilometres from east to west and occupies an area of 346 square kilometres. Moving between the two regions involves a simple border crossing.

In Northern Cyprus, the official language is Turkish, and the currency is the Turkish Lira. Whereas in the south, it's the Euro and Greek spoken. About 80% of the local population have at least some English. Cyprus has a vibrant tourist trade, and the island now gets about 4 million tourists annually.

Life in Cyprus

Living in Cyprus is very relaxed and easy. The climate and cuisine are both excellent, and the gentle Mediterranean way of life is hugely contagious. Those moving here soon settle into a more peaceful way of life. The late towns offer all that is needed by way of entertainment, retail therapy and healthcare. The country areas are less developed but offer sensational scenery.

port of kyrenia

Benefits of Cyprus Residency

The first obvious benefit is a healthy lifestyle. The warm climate, relaxed way of life, and healthy Mediterranean cuisine are incredibly conducive to healthy living. Life is just so much easier here. Everywhere is close to the sea, and a glorious golden beach is never far away. In addition, residency and a work permit in Cyprus give you full legal status and peace of mind. 

Economically the country is stable and offers those buying property in Cyprus an excellent solid investment opportunity. In Cyprus, tax rates are very favourable. Cyprus VAT at 19 %, no inheritance tax, low CGT rates (capital gains tax), and a legal system that is based on English common law make immigration to Cyprus very easy.

Challenges and Pitfalls 

Cyprus residency can be quite challenging when it comes to getting around, especially for those who don't drive. There is no rail network and no inland waterways. In addition, some outlying areas are not served by buses, so they are inaccessible without a car. 

Cyprus is not in the Schengen zone, making travel to other European countries difficult on a Cypriot passport. However, the process of joining has begun. Salaries are low here; this is, of course, offset by the cost of living but can come as a bit of a shock to those moving here. In addition, finding work can be troublesome as you are comely with the local population. Although usually, the business language is English, a command of the local language is a huge plus.

For those who cannot cope with sweltering weather, the summer months can get severely hot, with temperatures hitting more than 40ºC in August. In addition, Internet connectivity is still a lot slower than in other European countries. As a result, the older population can come across as a bit racially anxious. However, attitudes are changing for the good, especially with the young.

limassol port with yachts

Temporary Residence Permit Cyprus

A temporary residence permit in Cyprus is also referred to as a pink slip. It is issued to Non-EU passport holders who travel to Cyprus for long-term purposes. It can be issued for 1 to 2 years and extended for a further 1 to 2 years. 

Pink slips are usually issued to applicants in the following categories:

Third-country citizens applying for visa extension, who have enough funds to support themselves, or foreigners who have businesses in Cyprus.

Spouses of Cypriot citizens or parents-in-law from third countries, or underage children of foreigners who have applied for family reunification and a residence permit.

Non-EU citizens who own real estate in Cyprus qualify automatically. However, this does not grant them the right to employment.

Applicants holding temporary entry permits from consular authorities of Cyprus abroad may apply for an extension for special reasons (e.g. humanitarian reasons, property holders in Cyprus etc.) However, these need to be "FINAL" permits.

Visitor Visa

There are three types of short-stay visitor visas.

  • The Regular Short Stay allows you to stay in Cyprus for up to ninety days within any 180-day period. These can be issued as either single or multiple-entry visas.
  • Multiple-entry short-stay visas can be for between 1 and 5 years, depending on the purpose of the visit. They allow the holder to remain in Cyprus for any 90 days within a single 180-day period for the duration that the visa is issued.
  • A Cyprus Pro Visa is purely for Russian nationals travelling to Cyprus on a direct flight from Russia. Pro Visas are simplified tourist visas meaning Russians can apply for a visa online or via email. They get a visa-on-arrival letter which enables their passport to be stamped upon arrival in Cyprus.

Visa Fees

  • Regular tourist visa €20
  • Multiple-entry short-stay visa €60
  • Visa On Arrival €20
  • Airport Transit Visa €15
  • Tourist Visa Extension €30

The Cyprus Golden Visa enables non-EU, non-European Economic Area, and non-Swiss nationals who buy a property or set up a business here to qualify for legal permanent residency and therefore increase their eligibility for European citizenship and a Cyprus passport.

Student Visa

A Cyprus student permit allows entry into the country. It gives permission to stay for up to 90 days of Cyprus residency. If the study programme lasts longer than 90 days, your visa may be converted into a temporary residence permit after your arrival.

Employment Visa

Documentation

With the completed Application form, you will need; A valid passport, an employment contract with a Cypriot, proof of travel health insurance, an employer's tax clearance certificate, proof of sufficient financial means, and evidence of a clean criminal record from the applicant's country of residence.

Procedure

Send all the required documentation to the Migration department, with the application fee of €20. The procedure typically takes between 4 and 6 weeks.

newly built houses in cyprus

Restrictions and Other Conditions

There are few restrictions provided to fulfil all the documentation requirements. However, you will only qualify if it is shown that you can demonstrate your ability to adequately perform the work you seek. People also sometimes fall foul of passport expiry dates and or shortage of funds.

Permanent Fast Track Residency

Applying for Cyprus citizenship by investment is a popular route. Buying a property in Cyprus means you can obtain Permanent Residency Permit.

You will need to fulfil the following requirements: 

  1. Purchase a residential premise worth a minimum of €300,000 (e VAT). €200,000 to be paid by the date of filing of the application. In addition, the property must be a 'first-time' sale. This means it is a first-time sale by a property developer. 
  2. Open a Cyprus bank account and maintain a minimum of €30,000 for three consecutive years.
  3. Maintain a secured annual income of at least €30,000 from outside Cyprus. This amount is increased by €5,000 for each dependent and €8,000 for each parent included in the application.
  4. Undergo a 'Fit and Proper' person test. This needs to comply with due diligence procedures. The applicant must also prove that they have a clean criminal record.
  5. Visit Cyprus once within the first year to register biometrics and every two years after that.

Permanent Residence by 5 years of stay

If you have stayed and renewed your temporary Cyprus residency for 5 continuous years, you may qualify for permanent residency. 

Permanent Residency for EU citizens

EU citizens entering Cyprus to work and intending to stay longer than 3 months are required to register with the relevant authorities. The permanent residency paper after the three-month period is known as the Yellow Slip. This enables EU citizens to reside and work in Cyprus, spending more than 3 months in the country.

Cyprus residency can take just 12 working days and grants EU citizens the right to settle and work here permanently without renewing the permit. This can also include family members. If family members are non-EU nationals, they will qualify for the Pink Slip, a temporary and renewable document valid for 5 years.

Permanent Residency by marriage to Cypriot

If you are married to a citizen of Cyprus, you may apply for Cyprus citizenship by marriage and/or a Passport through Marriage. This requires you to complete 3 years of marriage and harmonious cohabitation with your Cypriot spouse.

applying for residency

Immigration Permits

Immigration permits come under one of five categories. Therefore, applicants must meet the criteria of at least one of the following categories:

Category A 

The applicant intends to work as self-employed in Cyprus in agriculture, bird breeding, cattle breeding, or fish culture. They must have adequate land or a permit to acquire such land. They are also required to have capital of approximately €430,000. Such employment mustn't negatively affect the general economy of Cyprus.

Category B

The applicant is a person intending to work as self-employed in mining enterprises in Cyprus. They must have in their possession the relative permit. They are also required to have capital of approximately €350,000. Such employment mustn't negatively affect the general economy of Cyprus.

Category C 

The applicant intends to work as self-employed in a trade or profession in the Republic. They must have in their possession the relative permit. They are also required to have capital of approximately €260,000. Such employment mustn't negatively affect the general economy of Cyprus.

Category D 

The applicant intends to work as self-employed in a profession or science in the Republic. They must have academic or professional qualifications, for which there is demand in Cyprus. In addition, they must be in possession of adequate funds.

Category E

The applicant is a person who has been offered permanent employment in Cyprus, which will not create undue local competition.

Category F 

The applicant is a person who possesses and has fully and freely at their disposal a secured annual income of an adequate amount to provide a decent living in Cyprus without having to engage in any business, trade or profession. The annual income must be at least €9568.17 for a single applicant plus at least €4613.22 for each dependent person. However, the Immigration Control Board may demand additional amounts if necessary. This is a very popular category as it suits retirees.

To apply for an Immigration Permit, the application should be submitted on form M.67 to the Civil Registry and Migration Department directly or via the District Aliens and Immigration Branches of the Police. Ensure that the application is accompanied by the appropriate documents, depending on the relevant category. Applications for Category F must be accompanied by the original documentation regarding the applicant's income. Applicants not in Cyprus may apply directly to the country, as stated above, or through their local Consular Authorities of the Republic of Cyprus.

For applications from abroad, an Immigration Permit will be revoked if the interested person fails to acquire residency in Cyprus within 12 months of the approval of the application. It will also be cancelled if the applicant acquires permanent residence abroad or is absent from Cyprus for a period of two years.

Fees

The fee for the granting of an Immigration Permit is €500, payable upon submission of the application.

Renewal

Once you have your residence permit, renewal usually is straightforward. You must apply for renewal at least one month before expiry. Apply at the same location where you received your original paperwork.

Cypriot Citizenship

When you have your residency, you may apply for citizenship when you have completed seven years of legal residence here. If you are either parents or children of Cypriot citizens, the time required to reside is reduced to five years.

Getting a Bank Account

Banks in Cyprus include; the Bank of Cyprus, the Hellenic Bank and the Cyprus Development Bank. They are safe places to deposit your money. In addition, these, in particular, are good for business accounts. It typically takes about just two weeks for a private account and four weeks to open a business account.

Paying Taxes in Cyprus

Cyprus made moves to attract talented professional talent from all over the world in 2022. To facilitate this, the country introduced new taxation incentives.

  1. Non-residents working here and earning in excess of €100,000 per year qualify for a 50% tax exemption on their earnings for the first 10 years of employment.
  2. Corporation tax is set at 12.5% of net profit.
  3. You can trade shares and securities with zero taxation.
  4. You will pay zero tax on the profits from foreign real estate sales.
  5. You pay zero tax on shareholder dividends.
  6. You pay zero tax on dividends paid to any company by other companies in which it holds shares.
  7. In most cases, stamp duty is zero.
  8. You pay zero tax on profits from establishments held abroad.
  9. You pay zero tax on the sale of company shares.
  10. Tax on IP rights or revenue is just 2.5%.
  11. Cyprus has Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties with 65 countries.

Purchasing a Home in Cyprus

It's a cliché, but location, location, location is so important, and Cyprus real estate is no different. Visit potential properties in daylight and at night. Sea views are more expensive, but the sea is never far away. Check for shopping, schools, and other amenities. 

Appoint a lawyer; they will take care of services including: 

  • Due diligence 
  • Reviewing and/or preparing the Contract of Sale
  • Negotiating the contract exchange and completion
  • Registering the Contract of Sale with the Cypriot Land Registry Office
  • Representing you at the Land Registry Office during the title transfer
  • Applying for the title transfer
  • Applying to the Tax Authorities for VAT reduction
  • Applying for permission to buy immovable property on the island.  

Your legal fees for this will usually amount to between €2,000 and €5,000 or 1% of the purchase price.

Starting a Business

Company registration in Cyprus is a relatively straightforward procedure. First, you must obtain a registered office (not a mailbox) and appoint your directors and an individual company secretary. In addition, you must meet the minimum share capital. This is zero for a Private Limited Liability Company and €25,650 for a Public Limited Liability Company. Finally, moving forward, you must hold annual meetings with shareholders.

Hiring a Lawyer

It is essential that you appoint a good lawyer to assist you. The best approach is to come to Cyprus, ask around and check their credentials. Word-of-mouth recommendations are always the best way to go. When confident, arrange an introductory appointment and discuss your business requirements. There is no shortage of reputable law firms on the island. They will help with all questions regarding how to get your Cyprus citizenship.

Final Thoughts about becoming a resident in Cyprus

Once you have made up your mind to relocate to Cyprus, it is always best to come on an extended holiday to really get the feel of life on the island. It will be very different to what you are used to, especially if coming from a large European city. Life moves at a gentle pace here. Property investment in Cyprus is a solid financial commitment. The market is vibrant. 

When it comes to tax, residency in Cyprus is a big plus. Your tax burden should be reduced. Your European long-term residence permit is the key to a new and exciting life on this glorious Mediterranean island.

FAQs

Do you need residency to live in Cyprus?

Answer: You will need either permanent or temporary residency to stay on the island for longer than 3 months. 

Can a non-EU citizen move to Cyprus?

Answer: There are three routes for a non-EU citizen to move to Cyprus. Each route offers the additional advantage of Cyprus citizenship further down the line. 

The three routes are:

A Permanent Residence Permit.

A Temporary Residence Permit gained by establishing a Foreign Interest Company.

A Temporary Residence Permit gained by establishing a Small or Medium Sized Innovative Enterprise. This is known as a Start-up Visa.

Can you retire in Cyprus?

Answer: Cyprus is a wonderful retirement home. Investing in property here is the most popular way that retirees come to spend their golden years.

Can I move to Cyprus permanently?

Answer: You can move to Cyprus permanently, providing you meet the requirements set out in this guide. 

Does Cyprus give citizenship to foreigners?

Answer: Yes, Cyprus will grant citizenship to foreigners who meet the necessary requirements. The locals are very welcoming. 

How do I get residency in Cyprus?

Answer: You can get residency in Cyprus by any of the routes laid out in this guide. The fast-track property purchase method is by starting a business and fulfilling the requirements by marriage to a Cypriot national or residing on the island for the required length of time. 

How much is a resident permit in Cyprus?

Answer: The price of a short-stay visa is just €20.00 and can be completed in a month. A residency permit will cost an additional €70.00, and you can expect a decision in three months. If you want to go down the fast-track route, you will need to invest at least €300,000 in a new property.

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