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Cypriot second citizenship: tailor-made for the elite

July 3, 2017

The most exclusive things in life are generally reserved for those with substantial means. The Cypriot second citizenship programme is no exception.

To invest in Cyprus, you must first own a Cypriot residence in which you have invested at least EUR 500,000. Next is an investment of an additional EUR 1.5m into real estate, or an additional EUR 2m into business or Cypriot financial assets. A fixed term deposit in a Cypriot bank also counts, as does a deposit into a privately owned company if you’re the beneficiary owner. Your investment can include up to EUR 500,000 of special government bonds, so long as you hold them for three years.

For more details, read: The Cyprus citizenship by investment programme

So the investment path to secure Cypriot citizenship is very varied, as long as you invest at least EUR 2m in total, plus nominal professional fees. True, this isn’t a route for those on a budget but the programme is tailored towards wealthy individuals for whom speed is a key factor.

Because Cyprus lets you get ahead, fast.

Other citizenship programmes are fantastic – but none can match Cyprus’ complete package in terms of trade, travel, and lifestyle benefits, plus tax advantages and the straightforward investment process. Yes, it’s a luxury that few can afford but it’s proven to be a luxury worth having for those with the means.

Other citizenship programmes are fantastic – but none can match Cyprus’ complete package in terms of trade, travel, lifestyle benefits, plus tax advantages and the straightforward investment process.

So let’s look more closely at the returns you can expect from your investment.

1. Better global mobility: All second citizenship programmes offer benefits in terms of global mobility, but Cyprus sets itself apart. Many offer passport holders visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 100+ countries. But the Cypriot programme really does take it to the next level – as a Cyprus passport holder, you can travel visa-free or visa-on-arrival to nearly 160 countries. This makes a Cypriot passport the 17th strongest in the world.

In terms of both business and leisure, investors will find this freedom invaluable. You’ll have the ability to respond quickly to global market shifts, without waiting on complex visa processes. You’ll also be able to capitalise on worldwide opportunities, and travel on a whim. When you want to be somewhere, you can get there – instead of waiting on visa clearance that’s out of your control. Cypriot citizenship might be costly, but it has the power to transform you into a true global citizen.

2. The most prestigious path to Europe: Many people associate the idea of second citizenship with the Caribbean – and that’s not surprising since the region is a popular path: reasonably priced with applications processed at a reasonable speed.

But not all investors are content with reasonable.

Some will exclusively look at the best. And that’s where European citizenship-by-investment comes in. Fifteen of the 20 most desirable citizenships are European according to the 2017 Nomad Passport Index – so only Europe will do for some investors. As an EU member state, citizens of Cyprus gain full-EU citizenship as an automatic right. Cypriot citizenship will allow you to live, work, travel and trade across all the EU countries without restriction. It grants you access to the European Single Market, worth around EUR 13tr last year.

For many investors, European citizenship is the best possible option – and Cyprus is the cream of the crop. No other European citizenship programmes have the same exclusivity or prestige as the Cypriot programme, making this the obvious choice for investors for whom money isn’t an issue.

3. The fastest path to Europe: The speed with which you can secure second citizenship can vary dramatically depending on the region. Traditionally, the split has been fairly clear. The Caribbean programmes tend to be fastest – taking only three months – while the European programmes can take years. Just compare somewhere like Dominica (three months) to Portugal which takes six years.

Cyprus bucks the trend. The privilege you pay for is a three-month turnaround, so you can start exercising your rights as a European citizen more quickly. Even Malta, the next fastest European programme, takes at least one year. If you have cause to move quickly, the Cypriot programme won’t keep you waiting. Yes, the programme demands substantial means – but it delivers a European passport within months. Nothing else comes close.

Yes, the programme demands substantial means – but it delivers a European passport within months. Nothing else comes close.

4. Better for business: Traditionally, the Caribbean is the better choice for second citizenship if you’re primarily concerned about tax. The European programmes might offer greater benefits in terms of personal freedom, but they’ve never been able to compete when it comes to reducing the financial burden placed on individuals and businesses. Apart from Cyprus.

The island is known for one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in Europe, at 12.5%. Non-domiciled residents won’t pay personal income tax at all, and will enjoy various exemptions including capital gains, foreign exchange gains and inheritance tax. If you’re concerned about safeguarding your wealth, there are few places better than Cyprus.

5. Less hassle: Generally speaking, the other European citizenship-by-investment programmes ask you to jump through more bureaucratic hoops than their Caribbean counterparts. Given the advantages of European citizenship, it’s little surprise that they’re careful to manage demand closely.

For example, the Portuguese citizenship-by-investment programme requires you to go through administrative processes to maintain residency, and even fulfil basic language requirements to gain citizenship. Even the Bulgarian programme demands you visit Bulgaria personally as part of their process.

Most investors don’t find these requirements especially arduous, but they’re still an additional consideration. In contrast, the Cypriot programme is smooth, swift and straightforward. You needn’t even visit the country as part of the process, so you can obtain citizenship with minimum upheaval.

6. Better for families: The Cypriot programme might represent a larger investment than other programmes, but you definitely get more for your money. That’s especially true when it comes to family. Other programmes tend to demand an additional per-person investment depending on which family members you would like to include – which can quickly add up.

For example, you can secure citizenship on St. Kitts and Nevis through a non-refundable donation of USD 250,000 for yourself. To add dependents though, you’re looking at an additional USD 50,000 to USD 200,000 depending how many people who need to add, plus additional fees.

In contrast, the Cypriot citizenship-by-investment programme allows you to include multiple dependents within your application without an additional investment. This includes your spouse, children under 18 and dependent adult children under 28. When you consider the bigger picture, Cyprus doesn’t look significantly more expensive after all.

7. More desirable relocation potential: Many investors build a passport portfolio with no intention of relocating, but it is certainly an option. Setting up shop on a Caribbean beach might be an obvious fairy-tale but relocating into Europe could be quite plausible. Europe is a hub for global business – moving to Cyprus, or any of the other EU member states, would position you right at the centre.

And it’s not just about business. The infrastructure in Europe is amenable to a safer, happier, healthier and more profitable lifestyle for families too. Cyprus’ crime rate is so low that it is actually ranked in the top thirty safest countries in the world. Several Cypriot universities are classed among the best in Europe – and of course your children could study in any country in the EU, gaining an international education that sets them up for life. Meanwhile, you’ll have the security of better healthcare and better social care too, as seven of the top 10 global medical systems are European.

Cyprus’ crime rate is so low that it is actually ranked in the top thirty safest countries in the world.

You’re not just investing in second citizenship with Cyprus. You’re investing in a lifestyle.

Second citizenship in Cyprus: unlock a new world

The Cypriot citizenship-by-investment programme is undeniably costly. The programme positions itself, and rightfully so, as one for those who can afford the finest things in life. For the world’s financial elite.

The Cypriot second citizenship programme is the fastest route into Europe, by a considerable amount. It offers a streamlined process you might not expect from the European programmes, plus lifestyle benefits the Caribbean can’t offer. It’s one of the best choices if you’ve got family to consider, and has significant business advantages as well.

Cypriot citizenship might be a substantial investment, but what you’re really paying for is a whole new world. And, as with so many things, you get what you pay for.


 

About the author: Neil Petch, Chairman of Virtugroup  

With a history of business successes, Neil Petch is well known in the UAE and beyond as a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for helping others establish and grow their own businesses. Neil founded Virtuzone in 2009 and quickly established it as the region’s leading company formation expert, before launching Virtugroup, a holding company that has a wider mandate of supporting startups from establishment; to successful market entry; and all the way through to exit. NGE is owned by Virtugroup.


 

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