Discovering the allure of moving to Cyprus and a Cypriot lifestyle presents various advantages and benefits for EU nationals and individuals across the globe. Cyprus has become a coveted destination, known not only for its Mediterranean charm, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage but also for its potential as a thriving hub in the Mediterranean region.
For an American retiree seeking a more budget-friendly lifestyle in a serene setting or an EU citizen longing for the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea, read on as we unravel the steps to move to Cyprus successfully. Uncover the distinctive opportunities, cultural wealth, and practical aspects that make living in Cyprus fulfilling for those seeking a rewarding lifestyle transformation.
Cyprus Residency for EU Citizens vs non-EU Citizens
Cyprus forms part of the European Union. Based on EU law granting freedom of movement for all EU nationals, citizens of other European countries within the union have the right to obtain a Cyprus residency permit without obtaining a visa or needing to prove a legitimate reason to relocate there or acquire one. The right to free movement extends to citizens of the EEA and Switzerland.
The process involves a different set of considerations and requirements for citizens of non-EU countries. Non-EU citizens interested in living in Cyprus must obtain a relevant visa tailored to their circumstances. This would require proving a clear purpose for their residency, whether through investment, employment, or other legitimate means under Cyprus immigration law.
Moving to Cyprus for EU Citizens
Moving to Cyprus as an EU national is a relatively straightforward process and just a formality due to the freedom of movement granted within the European Union. Should EU/EEA and Swiss citizens desire an extension beyond the initial 90 days allowed when visiting Cyprus, they must register their stay at the Civil Registry and Migration Department and obtain a Registration Certificate, commonly known as the Yellow Slip (MEU1).
Moving to Cyprus for non-EU Citizens
Non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizens, also known as third-country nationals, must obtain a long-stay visa (Category D) to initiate their move to Cyprus. The process requires applying for a visa in the country of citizenship or residency. After receiving the necessary visa, it’s possible to travel to Cyprus and obtain a temporary residence permit, which must be acquired within seven days of arriving.
New Cyprus expats living in Nicosia can obtain a temporary residence permit from the Aliens and Immigration Unit of the Police Department or Central Offices of the Civil Registry and Migration Department, or a local district office in another district if living outside Nicosia.
Types of Residency in Cyprus
The Cypriot government presents multiple options for those contemplating a temporary or permanent move to the Mediterranean island. Two primary categories determine a residency visa:
- Category D: Temporary residence permit
- Category F: Permanent residence permit
Your choice between the two options depends on why you’re moving to Cyprus. If you’re a digital nomad, a temporary residence permit may be sufficient, whereas permanent permits will be more suitable for those moving to Cyprus for retirement.
Visa Options to Move to Cyprus
Beyond your motivations for moving to Cyprus as a foreigner, your circumstances play a role in determining the available avenues for obtaining a temporary or permanent visa.
Visas available to third-country nationals
- Cyprus Family Reunification Visa
- Cyprus Work Visa
- Cyprus Self-Employment Visa
- Cyprus Student Visa
- Cyprus Retirement Visa
- Cyprus Digital Nomad Visa
- Cyprus Investment Visa
Reuniting with family in Cyprus
Reuniting with family is a straightforward path for moving to Cyprus. Family reunification comes under Category D and is an option for the family members of Cypriot nationals or foreign citizens who have lived in Cyprus for at least two years and have a minimum of one year left on their residence visa.
Eligible relatives for family reunification in Cyprus include:
- A spouse over 21
- Unmarried children under 18
For spouse of a Cypriot national or resident to be eligible, the marriage must have occurred a minimum of one year before the visa application. Family reunion visas under Category D are valid for one year and can be renewed, provided the sponsor maintains a valid residence permit.
Moving to Cyprus for work
Foreign nationals who secure employment contracts with Cypriot companies can obtain a Category D work visa. Work visas in Cyprus are designed to enable employers to fill employment gaps in the workforce that remain unmet by Cypriot citizens. To determine whether a Cypriot cannot meet employment needs, a Cypriot employer must apply for a work permit on the employee’s behalf through the Cyprus Department of Labor.
Once your employer secures authorization from the Department of Labor, you can submit an application for a work visa at the nearest Cypriot Embassy or Consulate in your country of citizenship or residency. Work visas in Cyprus come under Category D and are valid for one year. They’re eligible for renewal, provided the employer continues to establish the ongoing necessity of employing a foreign national.
Studying in Cyprus
International students can apply for a Cyprus study visa to pursue studies in a Cyprus educational institution. Eligibility for a study visa requires a letter of acceptance from a Cyprus university or educational facility. Foreign students applying for a study visa must be able to speak English.
Study visas in Cyprus come under Category D and are valid for one year. They can be renewed for the duration of the studies. Please note that students must possess health insurance and adequate financial resources to support themselves, as study visas in Cyprus do not authorize employment or paid activities.
Moving to Cyprus for Retirement
Cyprus offers a pathway for retirees with pensions and various forms of passive income to establish permanent residency in the country under. Cyprus retirement visas come under Category F for permanent residence and require retirees to prove an annual retirement income of €50,000 and an additional €15,000 for a dependent spouse. After five years, retirement visa holders can apply for unconditional permanent residency.
Working remotely from Cyprus
The Cyprus digital nomad visa was introduced in 2021 to attract remote workers and freelancers seeking a flexible and vibrant work environment in a sunny Mediterranean climate.
For eligibility, applicants must demonstrate a stable source of income derived from freelance work, remote employment, or other digital endeavors connected to entities located outside Cyprus. The minimum monthly earnings requirement is relatively high at €3500 after taxes and other contributions are deducted.
Digital nomads can reside in Cyprus for up to three years with this Category D visa, initially granted for one year and extendable for an additional two years.
Moving to Cyprus for self-employment
Self-employment in route to gaining temporary or permanent residency in Cyprus. A self-employment visa in Cyprus falls under Category D, F, or one of three additional categories, depending on the industry and nature of the work.
- Category A: For those working in the agriculture, poultry farming, fish farming, or animal husbandry industry. Requires holding the relevant license, adequate land, and disposable capital of at least €430,000.
- Category B: For those working in the mining industry. Requires holding the relevant license, adequate land, and disposable capital of at least €350,000.
- Category C: For those working in a trade or profession in Cyprus. Requires holding the relevant license and disposable capital of at least €260,000.
- Category D: For those working in the science industry. Requires holding the relevant license, being duly qualified to practice in Cyprus, and having sufficient funds to support their work.
- Category E: For those offered permanent employment in Cyprus, provided that it does not result in undue local competition within the employment sector they intend to enter.
The validity of a self-employment visa in Cyprus depends on which visa category a non-EU citizen qualifies for.
Moving to Cyprus as an Investor
Formally known as the Cyprus Golden Visa, the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program is an immigrant investment program granting permanent residency in Cyprus to investors who contribute to its economy.
The program was introduced to attract third-country nationals who wish to make significant financial investments in the country, thereby stimulating economic growth and development. Eligibility for a Cyprus permanent residence permit by investment is determined by one of three investments and a €300,000 minimum investment. These include:
- Purchasing real estate in Cyprus
- Purchasing shares of a company located in Cyprus with at least five local employees
- Purchasing units of a Cyprus-registered investment fund or funds
Investors must prove an annual income of €30,000 or more and maintain a bank deposit of €30,000 in a Cypriot bank for at least three years.
An additional advantage of the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program is eligibility for family reunification extends outside the relatives allowed in the standard family reunion visa. In addition to a spouse and unmarried children under 18, investors can apply for residency for student children between 18 and 25 and parents and parents-in-law, provided they produce additional income to support them.
Cypriot permanent visas by investment remain valid if investors maintain their investments for at least five years.
Step-by-Step Guide to Moving to Cyprus
Obtaining Cyprus residency is not governed by a universal process. The visa category or residency program, your purpose for moving to Cyprus, and any specific requirements associated with your nationality influence the procedure’s complexity and length of time to obtain residency.
That being said, the typical procedures for moving to Cyprus as a third-country national involve the following steps:
Step one: Determine visa type
Identify the appropriate visa category for your circumstances, whether for work, self-employment, or investment. Certain nationalities may be obligated to obtain an entry visa before obtaining a long-stay or permanent visa.
Step two: Gather the necessary documents
Collect all required documents for your Cyprus visa application. The required documentation includes a valid passport, passport photos, a clean criminal record, and health certificates. You can expect to provide one of the following documents:
- Letters of acceptance (for students)
- Employment contracts (for workers or digital nomads)
- Birth or marriage certificates (for family members)
- Financial statements (for retirees and digital nomads)
- Proof of purchase (for investors)
Depending on the visa, applicants may also need to provide supporting documents, such as healthcare insurance covering any medical needs in Cyprus. Certain documents must be accompanied by a certified translation and authenticated by the Cypriot Embassy in your home country.
Step three: Submit the application
Submit your visa application to the Cypriot Embassy in your home country or where you have legal residence, ensuring that all required documents are included, and the application is filled out accurately.
Step four: Pay the application fee
Pay any required visa application fees. The fees will vary based on the visa type and the processing time.
Step five: Attend an interview (if required)
Depending on the visa, you may need to attend an in-person interview with an embassy official as part of the application process.
Step six: Wait for processing
Once you’ve submitted your visa application and provided the required documentation, your visa application will be processed. The visa processing time will vary depending on the visa type, nationality, and whether there are any discrepancies in your application or requests for additional documentation.
Step seven: Receive visa approval
Once your visa is approved, you will receive a visa stamp in your passport. This stamp will specify the type of long-stay visa, its validity, and any additional conditions associated with your stay in Cyprus. It is essential to review the details on the visa stamp, including the expiration date, to ensure compliance with the permitted duration of your stay.
Step eight: Travel to Cyprus and obtain your residence permit
After approval, you can travel to Cyprus to obtain your residence permit. The Cypriot authority issuing residency permits to foreigners is the Civil Registry and Migration Department if visa holders will be living in the Nicosia District. Local authorities outside Nicosia each have a District Immigration Unit for visa holders to apply for a residence permit. The permit must be applied for within seven days of arriving in Cyprus.
A Cyprus residency permit is essential for those living in Cyprus to obtain a Social Insurance Number, allowing Cypriot expats to conduct various activities such as opening a Cypriot bank account and securing employment.
The Pros and Cons of Moving to Cyprus
Large expat community: Cyprus’ large expat community, from British expats to American retirees, is a significant benefit for those considering living in Cyprus. This diverse and cosmopolitan community creates an inclusive atmosphere that welcomes individuals from various backgrounds. The presence of a large expat community provides ample opportunities for socializing, networking, and building friendships with people who share similar experiences of relocating to Cyprus. Additionally, many expats can offer valuable support in terms of advice on local living, navigating bureaucratic processes, and sharing insights into the local history and cultural nuances of the country.
EU membership: As an EU member state, Cyprus enjoys access to a single market, creating numerous economic opportunities. After a specified residency period, foreigners can apply for Cypriot citizenship, gaining free movement within the EU for easy travel and the right to reside in other member states.
Low cost of living: The cost of living in Cyprus is lower than in North America and many other European countries. The average monthly rental cost of a three-bedroom in Cyprus is €1,600, whereas a similar apartment in the United States would cost €2,500, according to Numbeo.
Public healthcare: The Cyprus General Healthcare System provides a combination of private and public healthcare to Cypriot residents. Funded by state funds and employee contributions, the healthcare system features modern medical facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology and highly trained medical professionals.
Optimal weather: All regions of Cyprus, from northern Cyprus to the southern coast, receive year-round sun, creating an ideal climate for residents. The Mediterranean climate offers warm summers and mild winters, allowing for outdoor activities and a comfortable lifestyle throughout the year.
Investment opportunities: Cyprus is a favorable destination for investment through EU membership, strategically located near many major cities in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and the country offers one of Europe’s most favorable tax environments. The Cyprus real estate market is booming, and foreign nationals can use Cyprus real estate purchases to gain permanent residency.
English widely spoken: The remnants of the former British colony have meant that English is widely spoken throughout Cyprus, with at least 70 percent of the Cypriot population able to speak English. This linguistic advantage greatly facilitates communication for many expats moving to Cyprus, making navigating daily life, interacting with the local community, and accessing services easier.
Limited job market: While job opportunities exist in industries like the financial sector and information technology, the job market in Cyprus may be limited, potentially posing challenges for expats seeking employment.
Traffic congestion: Cyprus’ public transportation system is underdeveloped compared to many other European countries, and urban areas, especially during peak times, may experience traffic congestion, affecting commuting and travel within the country.
Water scarcity: Cyprus faces water scarcity issues, particularly during summer months, and conservation efforts are in place to combat the problem. Expats living in Cyprus may need to be mindful of water usage, especially during dry seasons.
Obtain Permanent Residency in Cyprus
EU nationals with a Cyprus Registration Certificate can apply for permanent residency with a MEU3 form after living in Cyprus for five years. Permanent residency in Cyprus for third-country nationals is contingent on maintaining at least five years of residency with a valid residence permit.
The Cyprus Investor Visa program provides a fast-track route to Cyprus permanent residency for non-EU nationals who make a qualifying investment. Eligibility for the program includes additional requirements outlined in the program, such as maintaining funds in a Cypriot bank account for at least three years, having sufficient income, and maintaining the investment for five years.
Acquiring Cyprus Citizenship
Foreign nationals living in Cyprus may be eligible to apply for dual citizenship in Cyprus after seven years of residency. The candidate must have sustained a presence in Cyprus for at least four years within the seven-year period, coupled with the requirement of being resident in Cyprus for the entire year before applying.
While it’s possible to obtain Cypriot citizenship and a second passport under Cypriot nationality law, the requirements are more stringent than in many other countries in Europe, and the Cypriot government practices a selective process.
Shipping Personal Belongings to Cyprus
Most expats opt to ship personal belongings by sea when moving to Cyprus. The following conditions apply for shipping personal belongings to Cyprus:
- Items shipped from non-EU member states are inspected on arrival.
- All items used for less than six months and arriving from non-EU countries are considered new and subject to import duty.
- All individuals must pay wharfage.
Moving to Cyprus with Pets
There are several measures and requirements to ensure pets arriving in Cyprus experience a smooth and compliant entry process. The primary requirements to bring pets to Brazil are:
- Pet dogs and cats must be microchipped, and the microchip number must be documented on all veterinary paperwork. Before administering the necessary vaccinations, microchipping must be performed. This facilitates the identification of the animal by the Official Veterinarian (OV) or Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI) Veterinary Surgeon of DEFRA when completing any documentation.
- Pets must travel with an Animal Health Certificate (pet passport) issued by a government-approved veterinarian at least 48 hours and no more than ten days before departing for Cyprus.
- Pets over 12 weeks old must receive a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before departure.
An EU pet passport must be obtained for travel within the EU, and pets must undergo a rabies antibody titration test when traveling outside the EU.
Most Popular Cypriot Cities among Expats
Cyprus boasts numerous captivating cities tailored to expats’ preferences, each presenting a fusion of history, culture, and modern amenities.
The capital city of Nicosia is the most popular expat destination of all the major cities in Cyprus. The city is partitioned into the Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus and the Greek region of South Cyprus. Despite the political tension with the Turkish Republic, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots continue to coexist and provide a unique blend of cultural individuality, creating a dynamic and diverse community.
Nicosia is home to several universities, infusing the city center with vibrant energy, particularly on weekends, thanks to its youthful population. Most international schools, such as the American Academy of Nicosia and the American International School of Cyprus, are located in the district.
With over 6,000 years of history, Larnaca is Cyprus’ oldest city. As such, Larnaca International Airport receives a considerable number of tourists every year, making it an optimal choice for history buffs as well as those looking to invest in rental property in Cyprus.
Situated along the coast in South Cyprus close to Ayia Napa, the city boasts some of Cyprus’ most beautiful beaches. Many expats have chosen to make Larnaca their home, drawn not only to the stunning coastal landscapes but also to the city’s historical charm, vibrant atmosphere, and diverse community.
Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus and has experienced significant growth in tourism over the last few decades. For expats moving to Cyprus and seeking an active social scene with numerous choices for entertainment, Limassol presents an enticing collection of options with vibrant nightlife, diverse restaurants, and cultural events.
The Limassol Carnival Festival is the country’s largest carnival parade. It attracts thousands of Cypriots and foreign nationals, reinforcing the city as a dynamic hub for those who enjoy a lively and social lifestyle. Besides cultural events, the city boasts number of private schools, contributing to a large community of expat families.
Another gem in south Cyprus, Paphos, is among the best cities to live in Cyprus. The entire city of Paphos was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its comprehensive collection of well-preserved landmarks, unique architecture, and a lively resort ambiance entwined with ancient ruins speaks for itself. The northern part of Paphos on the hill is known as Upper Paphos (Pano Paphos) and the southern part on the beach is referred to as Lower Paphos (Kato Paphos).
The captivating scenery and rich history of Paphos render it an ideal destination for retiring couples. Paphos International Airport is the second largest in Cyprus and provides direct routes to many European cities and destinations worldwide.
Famagusta stands out as one of the most picturesque cities in Cyprus, providing an extensive range of benefits and amenities for expats living in Cyprus. This spot in north Cyprus is ideal for foreign expats searching for traditional qualities while enjoying modern conveniences. Furthermore, it has consistently been selected as the destination for the finest beaches in Europe.
How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments.
We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application.
Frequently Asked Questions about Moving to Cyprus
Is it a good idea to move to Cyprus?
Moving to Cyprus can be a rewarding experience, but whether it’s a good idea depends on various factors and individual preferences. The country’s rich history, abundant UNESCO World Heritage Sites, large expat community, and EU membership make it an ideal environment for a comfortable life abroad.
Cyprus offers one the best immigrant investor programs in Europe, providing permanent residency in an EU country in exchange for a real estate investment.
Where do most Brits live in Cyprus?
Most British expats live in South Cyprus. Popular cities among Brits are Paphos and Limassol. These cities offer a blend of Mediterranean life with modern amenities, beautiful beaches, and a welcoming atmosphere, making them attractive destinations for Brits considering moving to Cyprus from the UK.
How long can you stay in Cyprus if you own a property?
Purchasing property in Cyprus does not automatically grant residency; however, a purchase above €300,000 to qualify for the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program offers permanent residency in Cyprus, provided the property owner holds their investment for at least five years.
Can I move to Cyprus permanently?
You can move to Cyprus permanently by obtaining the necessary residence visa and living there for at least five years to apply for permanent residency. The Cyprus Immigrant Investor program is also an option, providing a fast-track route for obtaining permanent residency. This investment program involves significant financial investments in Cyprus, including purchasing real estate or investing in a Cypriot company.
What happens if I stay more than 90 days in Cyprus?
If you stay in Cyprus for more than 90 consecutive days without the appropriate visa or residence permit, you may violate immigration rules and risk facing penalties, fines, or even deportation. Overstaying the allowed period can result in legal consequences and may adversely impact your ability to return to Cyprus or travel to any other EU member state.
What is the difference between Yellow Slip and Pink Slip in Cyprus?
The Yellow Slip and Pink Slip in Cyprus are distinct residency documents associated with different categories of residents. The Yellow Slip, officially known as the Registration Certificate (MEU1), is issued to EU/EEA citizens, serving as proof of their legal residence status in the country. EU/EEA citizens must obtain the Yellow Slip when moving to Cyprus to register their presence in the country.
On the other hand, the Pink Slip, or Registration Certificate (MEU2), is issued to third-country nationals who are family members of EU/EEA citizens living in Cyprus. This document signifies the legal residence status of non-EU family members.
What are the tax benefits of moving to Cyprus?
Cyprus provides several income tax-related benefits for foreigners. Income derived from foreign employment is exempt from taxation in Cyprus if the individual spends a minimum of 90 days outside the country in any given calendar year, commonly referred to as the “90-day rule.”
In the case of individuals classified as non-tax residents in Cyprus, taxes apply solely to gains or profits arising from activities or employment carried out within the territorial boundaries of Cyprus.