The Cypriot passport is one of the top 20 most powerful passports in the world. A few years ago, Cyprus granted its citizenship for large investments in the local economy, but this initiative was later shut down. You can still become a citizen of Cyprus through investment, though not as quickly as was possible previously. It now takes seven years, which is still a reasonable time frame compared to other European states. Luckily, getting a residence permit requires far less time. Scroll down to learn about three routes to move to Cyprus and obtain local citizenship.
Advantages of a Cypriot Passport
According to the 2023 Passport Index published by international consultancy Henley & Partners, a Cypriot passport ranks 16th in the world. The ranking is based on the number of visa-free travel destinations open to passport holders of each country. Cypriots can travel visa-free or with a visa on arrival to 178 countries.
Cypriot tax residents also have a number of tax benefits. For instance, they do not have to pay property, inheritance or gift taxes. You can become a tax resident in Cyprus by staying here for 60 days a year, but under certain conditions. One of the conditions is to avoid being abroad for more than 183 days a year. Tax residency in Cyprus is a good option for digital nomads and travellers. However, Cypriot tax residents must also have property in Cyprus (owned or rented) and run a local business or work in a Cyprus-based company. Otherwise, you will have to spend at least 183 days in Cyprus to get tax residency here. The same rule applies to most countries in the world.
Cyprus allows dual citizenship, so there is no need to give up your first passport. However, it is better to check how your home country treats people with dual citizenship and get a lawyer's advice, if necessary. Some countries forbid dual citizenship, but there are usually no legal consequences for dual citizens.
Limassol. Photo: Igor Starkov (Unsplash)
Cypriot Citizenship by Marriage or Birth
The options listed below may not be suitable for everyone, but they are the fastest and easiest route to Cypriot citizenship. Specifically, we are talking about getting citizenship by marriage or birth. The latter works for people who were born in Cyprus or have at least one parent who was a Cypriot citizen at that time or is now.
Marrying a Cypriot Citizen
Being married to a citizen of Cyprus is one of the fastest routes to Cypriot citizenship. You can apply for it after three years of marriage provided that you have lived at least two of them in Cyprus on a residence permit.
In fact, you may choose to live abroad, but then you will have to explain in your application the purpose of getting Cypriot citizenship. However, if you have a child and have been married for five or more years, you can get citizenship without any explanations. Moreover, you may spend this time living abroad.
The list of required documents to apply for Cypriot citizenship by marriage is quite long. In addition to standard things like birth and marriage certificates, IDs and police clearance certificates, you will have to prove that you have a harmonious and serious relationship with your partner. Unfortunately, providing a marriage certificate is not enough. Firstly, you need to submit a certificate of cohabitation issued by local authorities. Secondly, you must also provide a declaration of couples harmonious cohabitation signed by both spouses in front of a civil worker of a town hall, an embassy, or a consulate.
Finally, you must pay a €300 fee. Your application will be processed within two years, while you can stay in the country on a permanent residence permit.
Paphos. Photo: Secret Travel Guide (Unsplash)
Cypriot Citizenship by Descent (If at Least One Parent Is a Citizen of Cyprus)
If you have Cypriot parents, you can apply for citizenship by descent. This route can also help you to get citizenship for your children, if you did not add them to your application. For example, if you have adopted a child after becoming a Cypriot citizen.
Check out who can use this route to obtain citizenship by descent.
- People born after August 16, 1960 if their father was a citizen of Cyprus at time of their birth.
- People born after June 11, 1999 if they were born to a Cypriot mother.
- Underage applicants if their parents obtained citizenship by naturalisation or marriage.
The fee for applying for Cypriot citizenship by descent varies from €20 to €80. The document list includes a birth certificate, copies of IDs of the parents, and their marriage certificate.
If one of the parents is a Cypriot, they must sign the application for citizenship for children under 18 in front of a town hall employee or a civil servant in an embassy or consulate.
Larnaca. Photo: Secret Travel Guide on Unsplash
Citizenship by Investment
Previously, you could get Cypriot citizenship in two months after investing a large amount of money (for example, €2,000,000) in the country. However, the European Union did not approve this initiative and the Cypriot government later cancelled it. Investors can still get permanent residency in Cyprus and take the first step towards citizenship.
Luckily, it does not take long to get the permit (about two months). You can wait for your residence permit abroad, but you will have to come to Cyprus for at least one day to provide biometrics.
The minimum amount of money you must invest in Cyprus to acquire residency is €300,000. There are several options for investing your money. The best one is to buy a flat or a villa, especially if you plan to live in Cyprus. If you do not want to stay in one place permanently, you can rent your property out, gradually paying off for the investment.
Here are other options that the Cypriot government offers for investors:
- investing in commercial properties, such as hotels, offices, or warehouses, and renting them out;
- buying a share in a Cypriot-based functioning company with at least five employees;
- buying a stake in one of the country's private investment funds.
This programme allows you to live abroad after getting a permanent residence permit in Cyprus. You will not have to extend the permit if you visit Cyprus at least once every two years. Nevertheless, to apply for citizenship you need to spend more time in the country to prove your intention to live in Cyprus.
There is debate in Cyprus at the moment about making applicants pass a Greek language test in the future, so applicants should be prepared for this possibility.
Larnaca. Photo: Datingjungle (Unsplash)
Who Can Get Permanent Residency for Investment in Cyprus
According to the rules of the investment programme, the residence permit is granted both to the investor and their close relatives. One application can include the investor's spouse, children under 18, and parents if they are financially dependent on them. The same applies for unemployed children aged 18 to 25 who are financially dependent on their family. For instance, they may be studying at university while getting a permanent residence permit.
As on any other route to citizenship, the Cypriot government pays great attention to the investor's biography and background. Apart from investing the required €300,000, there are three more factors that the authorities take into account. All applicants must have
- no criminal records (you must submit a police clearance certificate),
- no interest in working in Cyprus and this must be supported by a signed waiver (you can still receive passive income from dividends or renting out a property), and
- a stable source of income outside Cyprus (from €30,000 for the main applicant, €8,000 for a spouse, and €5,000 for a child).
Naturalisation: A Seven-Year Route to Citizenship
After living in Cyprus on a permanent residence permit, you can apply for a passport. This route is called getting citizenship by naturalisation.
Luckily, you are not required to live all seven years in the country. It is enough to visit Cyprus every once in a while, even just for a holiday. However, you must reside permanently in Cyprus for the last 12 months before applying for citizenship.
Here is a list of requirements for obtaining citizenship by naturalisation:
- statement of your arrivals and departures to and from Cyprus to prove how long you stayed in the country,
- birth certificate,
- police clearance certificate,
- copies of all the pages of your passport,
- two photos, and
- a CV and employment references.
Do not forget to pay the fee of €500 to process the application and €500 later if your application is approved. The process may take up to two years.
Petra tou Romiou, Kouklia. Photo: Datingjungle (Unsplash)
How to Get Cypriot Citizenship without Investments
Getting citizenship by descent or investment may not be suitable for everyone. Fortunately, there are other ways to gain your first residence permit.
Despite cancelling the programme of instant citizenship for big investors, the Cypriot government managed to sustain the inflow of investments and, more importantly, skilled workers. So, now it grants residence permits to two groups of applicants:
- skilled self-employed expats, and
- skilled professionals officially hired by a Cypriot company.
In a Nutshell
The fastest route to obtain Cypriot citizenship is to use your Cypriot origin or to marry a Cypriot. Investing €300,000 in the economy of Cyprus is another popular way to naturalise in the country. You can also get a residence permit if you are a skilled hired or self-employed worker. All these options require a seven-year residency in the country before submitting an application, which is processed within two years.
Cover photo: Larnaca. Hert Niks (Unsplash)