Cyprus is calling15th Dec 2020
Wealthy South Africans have been taking up foreign citizenship by investment offers as an easy path to a second foreign passport for some time now, but the numbers are rapidly increasing post-pandemic. One of the most popular options is Cyprus – a small island in the eastern Mediterranean – because it offers the quickest, most affordable, and most attractive residency scheme in the whole of Europe.
Aside from being a tourism hotspot, Cyprus is also an ideal place to establish a new home for your family and business. Offering warm, all-year sunshine and a wonderfully Mediterranean way of life, the island has very low crime rates, good transport links, a relatively low cost of living compared to other European countries, and a minimal language barrier. Even though the official languages are Greek and Turkish, English is widely used across the island, and all road signs, restaurant menus and Government documents are available in English. Local children learn English in school.
From a business perspective, Cyprus has one of the most attractive onshore tax regimes in the EU, and is considered a prime option for business relocation. The capital city of Nicosia has quickly become a hub for business and finance sectors and, like the rest of the country, it promises peace, democracy and political stability. For business owners, the island offers free access to the single market and customs union as well as greater opportunities for exchange and integration of financial assets, using the single European currency.
Already packing your bags? Well, the best part is that you don’t have to. Cyprus is in fact the only English-speaking country in Europe to offer permanent residency without requiring you to physically live in the country for a prescribed number of days per year. Instead, you only need to visit the island for one day every second year, in order for your residency to remain valid. Failure to do this may result in your permit being cancelled.
So what do you need to do?
The main requirement under the Fast Track Permanent Residency Programme is that you must be able to purchase a new residential property with a total market value of at least €300,000 plus VAT. Under the terms of this programme, a new property is defined as one that is newly built, off-plan or one where transfer has not yet taken place, and it can be anything from an apartment or houses to a combination of a housing unit and a shop, or a housing unit and an office.
Resale properties do not qualify under this programme, but you can buy a maximum of two new properties, as long they are both from the same property developer and the combined purchase price is a minimum of €300,000 plus VAT. This is a good idea, as once the sale of the properties has gone through, you can choose to rent them out from South Africa and receive an income in euros.
Remember that you will only need to pay two-thirds of the asking price at the time of making your application, with the remainder payable before you move, or according to set terms.
You will also need to provide supporting evidence that shows that you have an annual offshore income of at least €30,000, and this income must increase by €5,000 for your spouse and every additional child, and €8,000 for any dependant parent.
Finally, you will also need a police clearance certificate and health insurance to cover you for all types of medical treatments and emergencies.
The whole process can take as little as six weeks to complete. Once granted, your permit is valid for life, and can be passed down for generations. You may be eligible for citizenship after seven years, and dual citizenship is recognised in Cyprus, so you will not need to renounce your South African nationality.
If you do choose to move to Cyprus, you won’t be allowed to work in the country under this programme, but you can be the owner of a Cypriot company and receive dividends.