Andreas Neocleous & Co in Limassol look at Cyprus's economic citizenship programme

The Civil Registry Law, 141(I) of 2002 provides for non-Cypriots of full age and capacity to acquire citizenship by naturalisation. Applicants are generally required to have lived in Cyprus for seven years prior to submitting an application. However, in 2013 the Cyprus government introduced a fast-track procedure which allows qualifying persons to obtain Cypriot citizenship by naturalisation on an accelerated basis. Applicants must own a permanent residence in Cyprus with a value of €500,000 or more excluding VAT and have no criminal record and no asset freezing orders outstanding against them.

In addition they must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

• The applicant has invested at least €5 million in Cyprus in the following:
- acquisition of immovable property (residential properties, commercial properties, hotels, and other similar types of properties). Undeveloped land does not qualify;
- acquisition of businesses or companies based and operating in Cyprus and employing five or more Cyprus nationals;
- acquisition of financial assets such as bonds registered and issued by the Republic of Cyprus.

• The applicant has deposits in Cyprus banks amounting to €5 million for a minimum term of 3 years. The deposits may be personal or corporate or held by a trust of which the applicant is the beneficiary.

• The applicant has a combination of the investments specified in the preceding paragraphs amounting to at least €5 million.

• The applicant was the holder of deposits in Bank of Cyprus or Laiki Bank at 15 March 2013 and incurred losses of €3 million or more as a result of the measures imposed on the two banks during March 2013. If the loss was less than €3 million the shortfall may be made up by investment in government funds or assets in Cyprus so that the aggregate of the loss and the investment amounts to €5 million.

The Council of Ministers has discretion to reduce the amounts specified above to €2.5 million for investors participating in a collective investment plan, provided the aggregate investment is at least €12.5 million.