James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, discusses citizenship through investment options in Cyprus
Steeped in ancient mythology, Cyprus or as it is officially known, the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country located in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The third largest and third most densely populated island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a member state of the European Union (EU).
Archaeological findings on Cyprus suggest that human activity has been on the island since the tenth millennium BC and it is home to some of the world’s oldest known water wells. Originally the island was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves during the second millennium BC, but due to its strategic location in the Middle East, it has been occupied by several powers such as the Assyrians, Egyptians and the Persians, from whom the island was seized by Alexander the Great during 333 BC.
Cyprus was placed under British administration in 1878, however the island gained its independence from the United Kingdom and established a constitutional republic in 1960, going on to become a member of the Commonwealth the following year.
In 1974, after seven years of inter-communal violence, Cyprus was divided de facto into the government-controlled two-thirds of the island in the south and occupied by the Greek Cypriots; and the remaining one-third of the island, which is administered by Turkish Cypriots. Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many customs but maintain distinct identities based on religion, language, and close ties with their respective "motherlands." Greek is predominantly spoken in the south, Turkish in the north. English is also widely spoken.
The northern portion is under Turkish control and is called "The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" but is only recognized as legitimate by Turkey itself. The southern portion is an independent republic called the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus entered the EU on May 1, 2004 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2008.
According to James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, a market leader in facilitating citizenship, property and investment options, the island of Cyprus is as welcoming to foreigners as it is financially alluring. “The combination of the Mediterranean island’s natural beauty and its rich natural and archaeological heritage have made it a sought after tourist destination. Another draw card of Cyprus is the fact that English is widely spoken on the island making it easy for foreigners to communicate with the locals. English appears on road signs and public notices almost everywhere – and vehicles drive on the left, making it all feel extremely comforting and familiar to some visitors,” says Bowling.
He notes that while the tourism market is a driving force in the country’s economy, it is not the only sector that is performing well. “There are a number of market forces in play that are coming into alignment in Cyprus. The financial services sector, for example, is thriving and steadily expanding, which is prompting a sizeable influx of overseas professionals and simultaneously building up Cyprus’ own population of affluent executives. This alone would be a significant driver and is boosting demand for quality accommodation, however the fact that it coincides with the discovery of substantial gas and oil reserves could revolutionise the country’s economy and therefore the entire property market,” says Bowling.
He adds that the numerous positive economic factors and lifestyle offering has made Cyprus an intriguing option for many who wish to gain citizenship in an EU member country through an investment programme. Bowling says that there are several benefits for investors who opt for a citizenship programme within an EU country such as the right to live and work anywhere within the 26 member countries of the EU. Other advantages include the freedom to travel to over 160 countries worldwide without the need of a visa, the right to attend schools and universities within any EU country for free or at heavily subsidised EU national rates and the benefit from the world-renowned and leading healthcare systems in the EU.
“Regardless of the person’s nationality, they will be able to apply for a Cyprus citizenship through the investment programme, which will allow them to obtain European citizenship with a Cypriot passport in just three months. Another benefit is that Cyprus recognizes dual citizenship so if applicants wish to, they can retain their current nationality. There is no need to live in Cyprus at any point in time to obtain citizenship and the applicant, their spouse and dependents up to the age of 28 can obtain citizenship. The applicant’s grandchildren also inherit the citizenship via naturalization,” says Bowling.
In order to qualify for citizenship under this programme, Bowling explains that applicants have various investment options in accordance with the regulations issued by virtue of the Civil Registry Laws. The first investment option is to hold a permanent privately-owned residence in the Republic of Cyprus, with a purchase price of at least EURO500 000 plus applicable VAT. Other investment options include the following:
- Mixed investments and a donation to a state fund – a deposit of EURO2 million for the purchase of shares and/or bonds of the State Investment Company (under formation) and a donation of at least EURO 500 000 to the Research and Technology Fund. Investors need to maintain the shares and/or bonds for a period of three years
- Direct investment - a direct investment of at least EURO 5 million in the purchase of any property, business or company, or financial assets. The investor would need to maintain ownership of the assets for a period of three years.
- Bank deposit (most popular) - a EURO 5 million fixed-term deposit for a three year period in a Cypriot bank. What has made this now so attractive is that Applicants can leverage their capital by choosing to finance the required investment. They can pay a reduced amount of EURO 350 000 that will be used to finance a EURO5 million closed three-year deposit from a Cypriot bank. A loan is thereafter initiated and repaid at no further cost to the investor.
- Business activities – The applicant must be a shareholder or beneficiary owner of a company, the management of which is in the Republic of Cyprus and the company has contributed at least EURO 500 000 per annum, in the past three years to state funds.
- Persons whose deposits with the Bank of Cyprus or Popular bank have been impaired - applicants that have incurred impairment in deposits on one or both of the aforementioned banks amounting to a total of at least EURO 3 million can apply for Cypriot citizenship. In the case that the impairment incurred is less than EURO 3 million, one can cover the difference by making an additional investment in the above-mentioned options
Bowling says that in addition to making a financial investment, applicants must have a valid passport, have no criminal record and provide documents supporting the source and origin of the declared funds for investment. Various application and professional fees are also payable by applicants. Citizenship is also achieved usually in less than three months making it the fastest route to EU Citizenship.
“The Citizenship through Investment Programme offers investors outside of EU countries the opportunity to become a citizen of a country that offers both sound investment options and all the lifestyle benefits the Mediterranean provides,” Bowling concludes.
For more information contact:
James Bowling at Monarch & Co on 011 883 9018 or visit www.monarchandco.com