Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs on Property in Cyprus
After you find the property you would like to buy, you should appoint a lawyer to do the due diligence and contracts. The lawyer will take care the transaction for you and make sure that you have a smooth process.
You do not need to come to Cyprus at all during the conveyancing process. We can deal with almost everything for you.
It depends on the reason why the property does not have title deeds. Read our article for more information on why property in Cyprus may not have a title deed and how to decide if it is ok to proceed.
There are a few considerations about this. The estate agent profession is regulated in Cyprus. A regulated estate agent’s fees are deductible from capital gains tax calculations (on the profits from the sale) as a recognisable expense. Other than that you should look for someone who has sold properties in the area where your house or apartment is situated before and you enjoy working with.
Typically, most conveyancing transactions in Cyprus take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. We conclude most of our straightforward transactions in around 30-45 days. With our innovative Fast Conveyancing Initiative, we can do the conveyancing in 10-15 days or even less on certain occasions. Timing depends on the availability of funds, the cooperation of the involved parties (buyer, seller and their lawyers) and the date on which the seller wishes to vacate the property.
Typically the Estate agents’ fees are 5% plus VAT and these are paid by the seller of a property. If you are a buyer of property it may not make a difference whether the agent you use is a registered estate agent or not. If you are a seller of the property, you must be aware that the commission paid to a registered estate agent is deductible from any Capital Gains Tax you may have to pay due to the sale if you are making a profit. Commission paid to a non-registered estate agent is not tax-deductible.
The reservation deposit usually takes the property off the market for a period of around 30 days (or as otherwise agreed) to allow for searches to be carried out and the transfer of further funds for the signing of contracts.
Typically, a property buyer who backs down after paying a deposit loses the deposit. The Seller however may agree to return the deposit back but this is unlikely in most circumstances.
The following is an indicative list of the things you may have to pay when you are selling your property in Cyprus:
-Legal fees, VAT and disbursements (e.g. for the certification of documents)
-Any outstanding mortgage
-Balances to utility authorities, local authority taxes (e.g. refuse and sewage) and management committee (if in a building block or project with communal areas)
-Immovable Property Tax (IPT) if you held the property
In addition, the law provides that every seller of property must deliver an Energy Efficiency Certificate but some buyers don’t insist on this.
The following is an indicative list of the things you may have to pay when you are buying property in Cyprus in addition to the purchase price:
-The purchase price
-Transfer Fees (unless the property is new which has VAT instead of Transfer Fees)
-Legal Fees, VAT and Disbursements (for example stamp duty)
-Cost of connection of utilities
This makes the transaction much easier and faster as buyers or sellers don’t have to be in Cyprus for the duration of the transaction.
Yes, you can. We will explain how you can do this at the start of a transaction.
Depending on the specific bank’s requirements we have a list of documents that we will give you and we will assist you in the process.
Yes if both the seller and the buyer of the property agree.
Yes, but this needs proper safeguards in place to ensure that money payments and related actions tied to the payments are executed safely/ simultaneously.
We will find out for you and make sure that the mortgage is lifted if the amount of the mortgage is less than the purchase price. If it is for more, then the bank would have to agree to remove the mortgage for less. We will make sure that your property. This means that the deed of the property will be clear when you take it over. There are some situations where the mortgage on the property may be an obstacle impossible to overcome and will inform you if this is the case.
Typically, through estate agents, developers or your own network.
There was a Law voted by the Cypriot Parliament allowing buyers of property to apply directly to the Land Registry to get their title deed transferred onto their names and to by-pass any problems/issues which the Developer may have had and which have been hindering the process of the transfer of the deed to the buyers. For more information, you can have a look at our blocked title deeds guide.
This is risky as you and the developer have conflicting interests; you wish to buy for less and with better terms for you while the developer wishes to sell for more and with better terms for him.
You should. Very often the legal terminology and drafting are not easy for a non-professional to understand. In addition to what is written in a contract, one should note that omitting important information can also be very detrimental.
The process of property development starts with an application for the division of the land in order to become a plot suitable for construction. Then planning and a building application must be obtained prior to start the building. As soon as the construction finishes, the authorities will examine that construction has been made according to the licenses and that all terms of the licenses have been observed and if everything is ok they will issue the final approval certificate. The separate title deeds for each property are issued after the final approval certificate. For more information as well as the reasons that complications may arise see our guide.
This depends on the reason the title deeds have not been issued, the price and the reason for purchase. For more information, you can read our guide
FAQs on Cyprus Immigration
The maximum permitted stay is 90 days.
While a temporary residence may be issued for up to 2 years, typically the government issues temporary residences in Cyprus (so called “Pink-Slip”) for 1 year.
You should renew your visa before its expiry.
You will need to obtain a work permit. This is a simple typical registration for EU citizens. Non-EU citizens must apply for work permits in Cyprus you can read our guide.
FAQs on Cyprus Immigration
Cyprus Investment Program
There are 4 ways to obtain a Cyprus passport:
(a) You can get it by descent (heritage),
(b) by marrying a Cypriot Citizen,
(c) by legally residing in Cyprus for 7 years and
(d) under the Cyprus Investment Program, by investing specific amounts of money in the Cyprus economy provided you comply with the anti-money laundering checks.
Yes, it is possible under the Cyprus Investment Program which requires a minimum investment of €2.000.000 plus a government donation between €100.000 – €200.000.
The Cyprus Investment Program is a regulation that amongst other allows people to obtain citizenship in Cyprus provided they have invested a minimum amount of funds in qualifying investments and comply with certain anti-money laundering requirements.
Under the new citizenship regulations voted in August 2020, Cypriot Developers are excluded from being regulated citizenship service providers.
The minimum investment is €2.000.000 in residential property and €2.500.000 in commercial property, renewable energy, businesses in Cyprus (e.g. Cypriot innovative or technology businesses) or alternative investment funds.
There is a minimum investment of €2.000.000 plus a government donation between €100.000 and €200.000.
In addition to that, the applicant must pass the due diligence checks, which happen initially at the transferring of funds stage and then at the government level. Since banks in Cyprus conduct enhanced due diligence through unrelated international companies, once funds arrive in Cyprus then the applicant should also be able to pass the government checks as well. For more information you can check our guide.
For large amounts such as those required for citizenship applications, the banks conduct enhanced due diligence through international companies. They requires evidence of the source and size of wealth and the funds to be used. In addition, some background checks are being made with global databases, local databases and international authorities (such as Interpol) to make sure that the applicant did not obtain his wealth from illegal sources. The government also uses international specialized companies to verify the above.
Most of the checks are being done in the background so they don’t come at a hustle to the applicant. The applicant will however need to prepare the economic information and evidence required as well as his clean criminal record certificate and other certificates required.
The Cyprus citizenship approval comes approximately in 6 months after the application is made at which stage, the applicant must provide bio-metrics and take the necessary steps for the issuance of the passport. The passport is issued 9 months after the application.
It is not difficult if the applicant has a clean criminal record and can prove that his source of wealth and source of income is not related to money-laundering.
You can invest in other areas of the economy except real estate but in any case, there is a minimum requirement of buying a house of €500.000. If investing in commercial real estate, businesses in Cyprus or Alternative Investment Funds, then you would need to invest a minimum total of €2.500.000; €2.000.000 in the investment and €500.000 for the house which will be your permanent residence.
The applicant’s permanent residence should be maintained for ever or be replaced with another residence of €500.000 or more. The remaining investments should be maintained for at least 5 years but they can be replaced with the permission of Ministry of Finance.
Yes, Cyprus is a European Union member and Cypriots enjoy freedom of travel in every European country as well as visa-free travel in more than 150 countries globally.
Yes, all European Union citizens, can travel, live, work and study in every country in the European Union.
Yes, they can provided that they buy an extra property of €500.000 or the investor and the parents/ parents-in-law buy a property of €1.000.000. In any case, the minimum investment rises by €500.000.
The applicant must purchase a new property worth at least €300.000 plus VAT, have a fixed deposit of €30.000 for 3 years in a bank in Cyprus. For more detailed requirements and the process, you can see our guide.
No there are no residency requirements.
Once your PR application is approved you need to come to Cyprus within 12 months and give biometrics for the PR card to be issued. After that you only need to come to Cyprus once every two years.
Yes they can. Public schools are free. Private schools have tuition.
Yes, you are.
A Permanent Residency holder in Cyprus is not allowed to work.
A holder of a permanent residence is not allowed to work in Cyprus. Being a company director in Cyprus will be considered to be work but exceptions may be made if the director is not getting remuneration.
Shareholders are not considered as working in Cyprus.
Permanent Residency under rule 6.2 is granted in 3-6 months. Permanent residency under Category F takes approximately 18 – 24 months.
In addition, Category F applications may be rejected under the discretion of the authorities.
While PR 6.2, requires a new property of €300.000 plus VAT (typically reduced at 5%) plus a fixed deposit of €30.000 for 3 years, Category F applications don’t have fixed rules. However, the closer to the PR 6.2. minimum requirements one is, the more likely it is for his application to be accepted.
You can have a look at our guide for the process and list of requirements.
FAQs on Corporate and Commercial Law in Cyprus
-As an individual
-Through a company
-Through a trust
-Through a limited or unlimited partnership
-A combination of all the above
There is no generally accepted definition of a joint venture in the law. A joint venture is a term describing a relationship between two or more parties who invest together in a business endeavor. The joint venture can take various forms, the most common of which are the following:
-A contractual joint venture.
Under a contractual joint venture, the parties are bound together by contract without creating or a formal limited or unlimited partnership. The advantage of this form is independence, cheapness and simplicity. The disadvantages of a contractual joint venture are taxation, unlimited liability and possible uncertainty (due to the absence of a legal code to regulate certain aspects of the venture).
-A partnership joint venture.
This has the advantage that there is certainty on provisions of partnership law, and in limited liability partnership joint ventures, the partners can have an unlimited liability partner while the others have limited liability. The disadvantages of this are tax, difficulty in organizing an exit strategy and difficulties in raising finance.
–A corporate joint venture.
In a corporate joint venture, the parties form a new company to conduct the business. They enter in a shareholders’ agreement and may modify or use modified articles of association (the company’s constitutional document) to reflect their agreement. The advantages of a corporate joint venture are a certainty, limited liability, tax, and versatility (e.g. by using different classes of shares). The disadvantages are the formal requirements (some of them being rigid) and the statutory obligations for filing annual reports, audited accounts, paying the annual companies registrar levy.
Yes, Cyprus has an extensive network of treaties on the avoidance of double taxation.
This depends on your goals. A Cyprus International Trust is typically used in estate and international tax planning and asset protection. A company is typically used to conduct business or to accumulate the dividends from businesses abroad. Sometimes both may be used.
A shareholders’ agreement will regulate the relationship between the shareholders. It may provide for different rules than the default rules in the law, such as both shareholders approving significant transactions, each shareholder having the right to appoint a director on the board. On many occasions the articles of association of the company may also have to change but this depends on each specific case.
Banks need to establish the personal and economic profile of the beneficiary of a company or the person opening a personal account or being the beneficiary in a client’s account. They need to consider the information in order to verify that the money being brought to Cyprus do not derive from illegal activities. For more information, you can request to send you our banking guide.
Yes, we can offer, or recommend a third party if you would prefer, to offer accounting and VAT services and direct you to independent professionals for the accounting and auditing services required.
FAQs on Wills, Trusts and Probate in Cyprus in Cyprus
Estate planning refers to the preparations for the transfer of assets of someone upon his or her death.
A Will is the legal declaration in writing of the intentions of a person in respect of the disposal of their movable or immovable property after their death and this includes a codicil.
A will enables you to plan what will happen to your assets following your passing away. Subject to any forced heirship rules (see below) that may apply on a will having Cyprus law, a will ensures that those you would like to benefit, actually do so.
In order to be able to make a valid Will, a person must be of sound mind and be at least 18 years old.
A valid Will must have 2 adults (of sound mind) as witnesses.
The Executor of the Will and the beneficiaries mentioned in the Will cannot sign as witnesses
You can prepare your own will considering that you are of ‘sound mind’, above 18 years old and know what the requirements may be for valid wills. However, it is highly recommended to prepare your will through your lawyer.
Yes, a will can be revoked at any point, provided you are of ‘sound mind’ i.e. you have the capacity to understand the effect of your actions.
The most common way to revoke a will is to execute a new one that states an intent to revoke all previously made will.
No, a beneficiary in a will cannot be a witness to it.
Yes, you can be a beneficiary and the executor of the will.
Any type of assets that are settled on trust will not be part of the deceased’s estate. This means that your affairs will be placed in order before your demise as domestic forced heirship rules will not apply. Settling assets on trust can be cheaper while by using a trust you can provide for your needs at the point that you might not be able to take care of yourself.
’Administration of Estates’’ refers to the Court process taking place to facilitate the dealing of assets of a deceased who did not leave a will behind.
If the deceased had left behind a valid Will then his assets should be dealt with in accordance with his wishes and this process is commonly known as “Probate’’.
A definitive answer cannot be given because it depends on each case. We finish straightforward probate and administration of estates procedures between 6 – 12 months, which is probably the fastest in Cyprus. In general, it is easier and takes less time to deal with the estate (i.e. the assets) of a person who has left a valid will in place.
Typically, the main delays in the conclusion of an administration /probate in Cyprus, are due to the local and foreign tax offices (such as the HMRC). From our experience, the HMRC typically takes between 3-6 months to deliver the requested certificates (as the online format given is not acceptable to the Cypriot authorities). Local tax authorities, typically take 1-2 months to issue the final tax clearance certificate, provided that all the required documents are in place.
If you are domiciled in Cyprus then Cyprus law applies for your movable property worldwide and all your immovable property in Cyprus.
As a general rule, if you are domiciled in any third country then Cyprus law applies only for immovable property in Cyprus and the law of that third country applies for your immovable property there and movable property worldwide.
FAQs on Wills, Trusts and Probate in Cyprus in Cyprus
Domicile may be a complicated matter. In brief, every person has a domicile which he or she gets at birth. This is referred to as Domicile of Origin. A person can change his or her domicile and obtain a Domicile by Choice. To change domicile to Cyprus a person must:
(a) Have a residence in Cyprus; and
(b) Must have the intention to permanently reside in Cyprus.
No there is no inheritance tax or estate duty in Cyprus. It has been abolished since the 1st of January 2000.
Yes. Cyprus has forced heirship rules which previously applied only to Cypriots. In 2015 the law has changed and the forced heirship rules now apply to people from the United Kingdom as well. This means that people can only leave by their will a specified portion of their assets (estate).
As the law has recently changed, people should review their wills to ensure that they achieve their intentions and benefit those that they want to benefit.
The Cyprus forced heirship rules are the following:
a) Should the person have a spouse and children, children and grandchildren, spouse and grandchildren then only ¼ of their estate can be left elsewhere.
b) Should they have a spouse, father or mother but no children or grandchildren then can leave ½ of their estate elsewhere.
c) Should they not have a spouse, children or grandchildren nor father or mother, then they can leave all of their estate at their absolute choice.
People can appoint anyone to be the administrator/ executor of their estate. If such a person is not a lawyer then he or she will probably need guidance, advice and legal documents from lawyers which tends to make the process more expensive than appointing a lawyer to be the administrator/ executor.
FAQs on Cyprus Litigation
Cyprus has a common law legal system. The English legal and equitable principle are followed in Cyprus unless there is a contrary provision in our statutes or constitution. The English case law on the same or similar points of law has a significant persuasive power for the Cypriot courts who typically follow the English legal position.
Yes, the Cypriot Courts can issue interim injunctions to freeze property and money in Cyprus and abroad. The Cypriot Appeal Court, following English case-law has issued worldwide freezing injunctions against defendants on whom it has jurisdiction. As Cyprus is an international services center, many injunctions are issued every year to freeze assets, obtain or protect information, and generally to protect the claimants until the case is finally adjudicated.
An injunction in Cyprus can be issued without notice (ex-parte) if the matter is very urgent even in the same day. It will then be set returnable for service to take place to the other party in order for that party to object to the injunction or seek its amendment.
Typically, an injunction is enforced against the party directed to by the possibility of conviction for contempt of Court that can carry imprisonment against him or her.
Third parties such as banking institutions or the land registry will typically enforce the injunction issued. Banks by fear of being liable for contempt and the land registry by registering the issued judgment as a proprietary encumbrance on the title of the land in question.
If you do not know certain key information to start a claim (such as the identity of a wrongdoer or how certain actions occurred) but know someone who does know such information and does not disclose them, you may be able to sue those person for an order known as “Norwich Pharmacal” for the Court to direct them to disclose the relevant information.
Certain companies may be of help in discovering the assets of a proposed defendant to calculate the recoverability prospects. If a freezing injunction application will be filed, typically a disclosure order will also be sought against defendants.
A civil case in Cyprus currently takes approximately 4-6 years at first instance, depending on the scale of the case and the Court’s workload. In recent years, the Cyprus government has been hiring a number of new judges to facilitate the faster trial of cases and is also taking steps to re-organise the Courts more efficiently.
In exceptionally clear cases the Court may permit a summary judgment to be issued whereby the case is judged without going to full trial. A case tried by summary judgment will take approximately 3-6 months to be tried but this may vary.
In cases where one or more of the parties are foreign then jurisdiction in Cyprus will be either based on the Brussels Regulation Recast 1215/12 for disputes involving European Parties or the common law rules known as forum convenience and related international agreements with the countries in issue.
A foreign judgment obtained in the European Union is recognized and enforced in Cyprus with an application to the court under the Brussels Regulation Recast (1215/2012).
A similar process is followed for judgments obtained in third countries with which Cyprus has a treaty signed for the facilitation of the judicial processes.
Yes, under the Brussels Regulation Recast (1215/12) any judgment obtained in a European Country is recognizable and enforceable without any special procedure required as if it was a judgment issued by the Court where recognition and enforcement is sought.
A defendant who does not obey a judgment may be liable for contempt of court which can carry imprisonment or a fine.
A defendant who cannot pay a monetary judgment against him or her, will be examined for his ability to pay the amounts sought in instalments and may have his movable and immovable property seized.
In this situation you may be able to get a judgment in default of appearance or defense provided that the defendant was served.
If service is in the EU, then the EU Regulation 1393/07 as well as the Brussels Regulation Recast 1215/12 apply. The process takes time as the documents must be sent from the relevant authority in Cyprus (the Ministry of Justice) to the relevant of authority in the country where it will be served. Timing varies between the authorities of different countries. If service is not successful the Court may allow substitute service (such as by email or courier)
For non-EU countries the process depends on the agreements existing with the country that service is sought for.
The claimant’s lawyer will call his witnesses to be examined in chief. Then for each witness, the defendant’s lawyer will cross examine them. The claimant’s lawyer will have a right to re-examine the witnesses to clarify issues that arose in the cross-examination.
The defendant’s lawyer will then call his own witnesses for whom the same process will be followed.
After the witnesses finish their examinations, the lawyers will proceed with their addresses to the Court where they will each analyse the law and the facts as proven by the witnesses. After that the Court will deliver its judgment.
Certain safety precautions have been taken such as limiting the number of persons in the Court but the Courts are proceeding with hearings of cases normally.
Yes, Cyprus has two laws on arbitration, the International Commercial Arbitration Law of 1987 (101/1987) and the Arbitration Law (Chapter 4). The first relates solely to international commercial disputes. ‘International’ is defined as meaning disputes in which one of the two parties does not reside or conduct business in Cyprus. ‘Commercial arbitration’ is defined as the arbitration of a dispute arising from commercial matters, whether contractual or not (such as sale of goods, distribution, agency, factoring, construction etc).