Changes in the citizenship by investment program of Cyprus

17 July 2020

Private Clients, Citizenship and Immigration, Citizenship by Investment

Under pressure from the European Commission, Cyprus has announced legal changes that make its CBI programme less attractive.

Firstly, Cyprus has introduced mandatory donations totalling €150,000.

Of this, €75,000 will be paid to the Research and Innovation Foundation and a second €75,000 contribution to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation.

The main advantage of the Cypriot programme is speed. Applications are generally expected to be dealt with in 6 months (vs 18-24 in Bulgaria and Malta). However, the types of investment accepted in Cyprus make it expensive.

Cyprus requires investment in real estate with prices of €2.4m including VAT or more. Unfortunately, the re-sale value of these investments is often much lower, which crystallises investor losses.

The now introduced extra €150,000 of donations make Cyprus more expensive yet.

Cyprus also plans to now require the involvement of international due diligence firms in applicant due diligence procedures. These outsourced providers may add a layer of efficient accountability but also costs.

Bulgarian citizenship by investment

Compared to both the recently replaced and future Cypriot citizenship-by-investment programmes, the current Bulgarian programme has significant advantages:

  • Far lower costs
  • No donation;
  • Fully recoverable investment – investor can recover the principal;

The Bulgarian CBI programme is one of the most cost- and time-efficient options to obtain EU citizenship. If you were considering Cyprus as your gateway to Europe, you might want to reconsider and choose Bulgaria.

As we have separately advised, the EU Commission has also pressured Bulgaria to review its CBI programme. However, the most likely scenario is that after these, Bulgaria’s programme would still remain the most advantageous in the EU.

As a leading Bulgarian private client law firm, New Balkans Law Office is available to advise you on the best options for you and your family. You can emails us at [email protected] or contact us via the contact form.

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