Cyprus residency and citizenship comparison

By Stalo Konstantinou

Updated: February 28, 2024

Relocation, business and investment, and retirement are three common reasons to want to live in Cyprus. Cyprus permanent residence permits and the Cyprus citizenship have similarities but also important differences. We will explain the similarities and differences and discuss how to choose between them.

Key takeaways

  • The choice will depend on your circumstances and goals.
  • Permanent residence is for life and does not have to be renewed.
  • Permanent residence permits cover your spouse and dependent children but not other family members.
  • Cyprus citizenship gives you more rights and opportunities than permanent residence. Still, permanent residence gives you many rights, including the right against discrimination.
  • The permanent residence permit gives you the right to apply for Cypriot citizenship after five years of legal residence in the Republic.
  • You do not have to take any Greek language certification tests for permanent residence. For citizenship, highly-skilled employees of foreign companies can take a language test to achieve citizenship in 4 or 5 years.

Permanent residence for investors

Cyprus operates a scheme whereby permanent residence is granted to third-country nationals (TCNs) who can invest in the Republic. This is the so-called “golden visa”. It is not Cyprus citizenship, but it gives you the right to apply for citizenship after five years of lawful residence in the Republic.

The requirements are:

  • Investment of at least EUR 300,000 in property or shares plus VAT. Most applicants choose the property option, both because they need a place to live and also because it is a very good investment.
  • A stable and secure annual income from abroad of at least EUR 50,000, plus EUR 15,000 for your spouse and EUR 10,000 for each child.
  • Good character and reputation (you must not be on any stop list) and a clean criminal record from your country of origin and country of residence (if different).

You will have to verify some of these criteria occasionally:

  1. The clean criminal record for the applicant and the adult family members (every three years).
  2. Maintenance of the investment (annually).
  3. If you and your family are not registered with the general health system GESY, health insurance (annually).

Procedure for permanent residence by investment

To get a permanent residence permit, an investor must:

  • Consult with a lawyer on the due diligence criteria in Cyprus.
  • Choose an investment option.
  • Find a property and conclude an agreement (you will need permission from the Council of Ministers; your lawyer will give you the relevant advice). Gather the documents. Have all foreign documents translated and apostilled. Copies of Cypriot documents, like the contract of sale, must be certified by a local notary.
  • Submit the documents and application form (MIP1) to the Civil Registry and Migration Department in person or via an authorised representative (usually a local lawyer).
  • Application approval and receipt of the Cyprus permanent residence card. The permanent residence is for life, but the card will expire in ten years. You will then renew it.

Once you get the permanent residence by investment permit, you must come to Cyprus within a year. Also, you must not be absent from Cyprus for more than two years. In both cases (failing to come to Cyprus within a year and more than two years of absence), you will lose the permanent residence permit.

Benefits of Cyprus permanent residency

Cyprus permanent residency involves numerous benefits, including:

  • Infrastructure and legislation are perfect for business and entrepreneurship.
  • Safety, low crime and stability.
  • Relaxed way of life, short distances and low prices compared to other parts of Europe.
  • Cyprus is a member of the European Union (EU). The Union guarantees security and a firm social, political and financial order.
  • The Cypriot is a favourable tax system with a low corporation tax, no tax on dividends and interest, and no inheritance tax. No capital gains tax for property outside of Cyprus.
  • Beautiful landscapes, the Mediterranean Sea, long summers and year-long sunshine.
  • The warm and mild climate is excellent for wellness and health.
  • Amenities and technological advancement.
  • Almost everybody speaks English, while a large expat community contributes to the island's multiculturalism.
  • High-quality English-speaking education at primary, secondary and tertiary level.
  • High-quality private health care and a general (national) health system.

Cyprus permanent residence by stable income

This is a permanent visitor category, where you have a secure and regular annual income for a decent living in the Republic. This income is calculated to be EUR 9.568,17 annually, with an additional EUR 4.613,22 for each dependent. It is called the Category F permit.

Five more ways to get permanent residence in Cyprus

More ways to get permanent residence are related to business and (self) employment. Your activities must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Category A. Setting up a business in agriculture or fisheries, for which you must buy land and have an amount of about EUR 430,000. Your activities must not harm the local economy.
  • Category B. Setting up a mining business, for which you must get the relevant license and have an amount of about EUR 350,000 available. Your activities must not harm the local economy.
  • Category C. Working as self-employed. You may register a business organisation, such as a limited liability company or a partnership, or work as a sole trader.
  • Category D. Working as self-employed in a profession or science. You need due qualifications and sufficient funds.
  • Category E. You were offered permanent employment in the Republic and satisfy the labour market test (your employer could not find appropriate local personnel).

You can apply personally or by authorised representative. The location is the offices of the Civil Registry and Migration Department in Nicosia. For the issuance of the residence permit, you must give biometric data in person.

How to get Cyprus citizenship

You can get Cypriot citizenship through:

  1. Marriage to a Cypriot citizen for at least 3 years or
  2. Cyprus roots, or
  3. Naturalisation – living in Cyprus for 7 years (2555 days) with a temporary residence permit or 5 years (1825 days) as a permanent resident.

If you become a Cypriot citizen, your children under 18 can also get Cyprus citizenship.

Highly-skilled workers of foreign companies can apply for citizenship after 4 or 5 years of residence if they pass a Greek language test. Level A2 (use Greek in simple situations and limited communication skills) gives a right to apply after five years of lawful residence. Level B2 (use Greek and handle everyday communications) gives a right to apply after four years.

The Cypriot passport ranks 12th globally and gives you visa-free travel to 181 countries (as of January 2024), including all the EU member states. Cyprus allows dual citizenship, meaning you can keep your other passport(s). As a citizen of the EU, you enjoy all human rights and basic freedoms of the Union and the ability to move and live in any part of the Union.

Cyprus permanent residency and Cyprus citizenship compared

Action Citizenship Permanent Residence
Open bank account Yes Yes
Register a company Yes Yes, but whether you can work in it depends on the type of permit.
Buy real estate Yes Permission from the Council of Ministers
Rent real estate to third parties Yes Depends on the terms of the permission.
Work Yes Depends on the type of permit.
Make a contract Yes Yes, except for some contracts, like employment (depending on the permit).
Education and healthcare Yes Yes
Everyday transactions and activities, marriage Yes Yes
Travel to all EU member states Yes No. Only Bulgaria and Croatia.
Live and work in other EU member states Yes No
Vote Yes No
Travel and return to Cyprus with no formalities Yes Yes
Duty not to leave Cyprus for more than two years No Yes

The bottom line

There are seven ways to get permanent residence in Cyprus and three ways to get citizenship. You will choose depending on your circumstances and aims. Both permanent residence and citizenship give you the right to live in an EU member state and enjoy numerous benefits, rights and freedoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Cyprus permanent residency the same as Cyprus citizenship?

No, they are not the same, but they share similarities. Both grant the right to live, register a business, access education and healthcare, and provide protection under human rights and non-discrimination laws. Permanent residency allows, with some limitations and exceptions, the purchase of land and employment in the Republic.

Is it better to be a permanent resident or a citizen of Cyprus?

The decision between permanent residency and citizenship in Cyprus depends on individual circumstances, lifestyle, goals, and needs. Permanent residence can lead to citizenship after five years. Furthermore, Cyprus permits dual citizenship, so acquiring Cyprus citizenship does not necessitate relinquishing other passports.

What are the Cyprus permanent residency benefits?

Cyprus is a preferred residence destination due to its excellent climate, business-friendly environment, and rising real estate value. It offers investment and business opportunities within the EU, a tax-friendly system, a vibrant expat community, access to healthcare, and a high-quality family life. Permanent residents enjoy most citizenship benefits, including equality, respect, and non-discrimination rights.

What are the benefits of Cyprus citizenship?

Cyprus citizenship allows unrestricted living, working, and business operations in Cyprus. As an EU member state, it grants EU citizenship, entitling one to the Union's protection and rights. It offers free movement, residence, and employment across the EU, benefits for underage children, a tax-favourable regime, and a high quality of life in the EU.

Is it allowed to travel to Europe with a Cyprus residence permit?

With a Cyprus residence permit, you can travel visa-free to Bulgaria and Romania within the European Union. For other EU member states and European countries, you must adhere to their specific regulations for third-country nationals (TCNs).

How do I become a citizen of Cyprus?

There are three main paths to Cyprus citizenship: marriage to a Cypriot citizen for at least 3 years; having Cyprus roots; or living in Cyprus for 7 years (2555 days) with a temporary residence permit, or 5 years (1825 days) as a permanent resident. The application form is the M127, submitted along with relevant documentation to the Civil Registry and Migration Department or District Administrations.

How do I get Cyprus citizenship after permanent residence?

To obtain Cyprus citizenship after permanent residence, you must have resided legally in Cyprus for five years within the seven years immediately preceding the application period.

Is shifting from a Cyprus permanent residency to citizenship an automatic process?

No, transitioning from permanent residency to citizenship in Cyprus is not automatic. You must apply for it. See previous questions for more details.

After how many years of legal residency am I eligible for citizenship?

Eligibility for Cyprus citizenship requires seven years of legal residency with a temporary residence permit or five years as a permanent resident.

How do I get a permanent resident permit in Cyprus?

To obtain a permanent residence permit in Cyprus, you must have a clean criminal record and meet the criteria for one of the residence categories. Apply with the necessary documents to the Civil Registry and Migration Department. If your application is rejected, you will be informed of the reasons.

Is Cyprus residence by investment still possible to obtain?

Yes, it is still possible to obtain Cyprus residence by investment. The requirements include an investment of EUR 300,000 in Cyprus property or shares, a secure annual income of EUR 50,000 (increased by EUR 15,000 for spouses and EUR 10,000 for each dependent child), and a clean criminal record.

Can foreigners obtain Cyprus citizenship by investment?

No, the Cyprus citizenship by investment programme was closed in 2020. However, foreigners can still obtain permanent residence by investment.

Can a student get permanent residence in Cyprus?

No, students cannot obtain permanent residence in Cyprus during their studies. They may apply for it after completing their studies, provided they meet the necessary criteria. More information is available in the main section on permanent residence categories.

What is the difference between permanent residency in Cyprus for non-EU and EU citizens?

EU citizens are not required to apply for permanent residence in Cyprus. They simply register after three months to receive a registration certificate. In contrast, non-EU citizens with permanent residency cannot travel visa-free to the entire EU, except to Bulgaria and Croatia, nor to the Schengen area. Also, Cyprus permanent residency does not grant the right to live and work in other EU countries.

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