Cyprus property opens avenues to EU residency
Luxury residences bundled with citizenship schemes appeal to realty investors from the Middle East
Known as a favourite tourist destination with its idyllic beaches and crystal-clear Mediterranean waters, Cyprus has also attracted attention for its citizenship-by-investment programme, which fits well with the property sector there.
In a nutshell, the Cypriot government in the past has established a number of investment incentives for foreigners, but the citizenship programme is especially designed for property investors. It grants citizenship to those who invest in real estate and who meet certain other requirements, and successful applicants gain the right to live, work, study and invest in all 28 EU member countries. Normally, €2.5 million (Dh9.9 million) had to be invested in property, but in September the minimum investment was reduced to €2 million and parents of the main applicant could be included provided that an additional €500,000 was invested in the purchase of a private residence in Cyprus. For those not wanting to part with as much money, an investment of €300,000 grants them Cypriot residency.
The programmes are accessible for any foreign passport holder, but particularly target Middle Eastern clients since Cyprus is perfectly situated halfway between Europe and the Gulf and is connected by a number of direct flights between the regions.
“The Cyprus residency and citizenship by investment programmes have become increasingly popular in the Middle East and Northern Africa,” says Raheel Shaikh, Managing Director of Mahandru Associates, a Dubai law firm whose specialisation includes multinational immigration and residency law. The firm recently tied up with Cyprus-based Aristo Developers, one of the largest property developers in the country with more than 250 projects nationwide and 50 new projects in the market, including coastal villas, town houses, apartments and golf properties.
“We had discussions with multiple reputable law firms in Cyprus to ensure the smooth residency process of the upcoming real estate investment projects, and Aristo is doing a great job in making the procedures as simple and straightforward as possible,” Shaikh says.
Aristo is not the only developer offering the citizenship programme. Another notable project is the huge Ayia Napa Marina, a €220-million mixed-used residential and commercial development at the eastern tip of southern Cyprus. It comprises luxury residences, including marina and island villas, yachting facilities with private berths, retail boutiques, waterfront restaurants, recreation and nightlife and is the brainchild of Cypriot entrepreneur Gerasimos Caramondanis, who is backed by Egyptian investor Naguib Sawiris.
The development is designed as a new premier yachting destination with a club character, and it is easily accessible from the island’s major highways and a short drive from Larnaca International Airport. “Apart from being a luxurious marina development, Ayia Napa Marina offers an opportunity for investors from the UAE and the GCC to gain European citizenship,” Sawiris says. “The citizenship incentive, along with the luxury residences, offers a compelling appeal for investors.”
Cyprus citizenship-by-investment requirements
- Cyprus and with it EU citizenship may be obtained through a secure property investment of €2 million (Dh7.93 million), provided the property or properties are residential.
- The investment can be a single property or combined property portfolio.
- The main investment may be sold after a period of three years, however, the investor must always maintain or purchase a property with a value of at least €500,000.
- A clean criminal record is required.
- The investor’s parents are entitled to apply for Cyprus citizenship by exception provided that they have purchased a permanent residence of at least €500,000, plus VAT.