The real price of the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment program
Is it cheaper and easier to obtain Bulgarian Citizenship?
Please be advised that this article has been written before the increased cost of the Cypriot program in 2019.
The most important factor for each “Citizenship by Investment” program is its cost.
THE REQUIRED INVESTMENT
It is very important to make clear distinction between cost and investment though. Basically, each state citizenship investment program requires the applicant to make an investment and additionally to pay a state fee for the citizenship application. On top of the state fees for the naturalization procedure, the applicant will be also charged with fees associated with the investment (management fees, taxes, VAT, etc.) local lawyers and notary fees as well as other costs, such as due diligence, translation and legalization fees, etc.
To summarize it, the applicant for the citizenship has to consider that in order to have his application processed and approved, he will need to:
- make investment in the country of his future citizenship;
- pay non refundable state and other fees.
The other important question is when the investment can be redeemed. This can be very important in the case of Cyprus, as you will see in this article.
So, let’s start from the beginning. The Citizenship Investment program in Cyprus requires the investor to make an investment of at least 2 million Euro in real estate on the island. In contrast, the Bulgarian citizenship program requires an investment of just a little bit more than 1 million Euro in state bonds, shares on the Bulgarian stock exchange or trust account under management with Bulgarian bank.
- Required investment in Cyprus: 2 000 000 EUR
- Required Investment in Bulgaria: 1 024 000 EUR
THE NON REFUNDABLE FEES & TAXES OF THE CITIZENSHIP BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM
Next are the non refundable state and other fees. In Cyprus, one should expect to pay about 5 to 10 thousand Euro on state fees for the citizenship application. In Bulgaria, the fees, although lower, are of the same magnitude so we will consider them equal. Translation, management and other fees are also more or less similar as are the lawyer’s fees. The big difference comes with the fees that are related with the investment itself. While in Bulgaria, the investment is done directly in financial instruments that do not attract substantial purchase fees, in Cyprus, the situation is different. For the Cypriot program one should expect paying 5 to 8% on real estate broker fees, 5% VAT on the real estate purchase, which will be used as residence (with a maximum of 200 sq.m. living area) and 19% VAT on the other real estate purchases. All in all, the VAT and the brokerage fees in Cyprus make its citizenship program a rather expensive one (please note that the below figures can differ greatly, depending on many factors). There is option in Cyprus under which the VAT can be totally avoided, which option is marketed very aggressively by the “citizenship agents”. In reality however, this is a rather hypothetical opportunity and one should expect paying the hefty VAT to the Cypriot government. All in all, the relevant costs of the Cypriot and the Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment programs are:
- Cost of the citizenship by investment program in Cyprus: 400 000 – 750 000 EUR
- Cost of the citizenship by investment program in Bulgaria: 20 000 – 150 000 EUR
THE PERIOD DURING WHICH THE INVESTMENT HAS TO BE HELD
The last metric we would like to compare is the period for which the investment must be held before redeemed. While in Bulgaria, in general, one can redeem its investment in 3,5 to 5 years (depending on the type of investment), in Cyprus, the applicant must maintain his 500 000 EUR investment in personal residence on the island forever. The result:
- Required time to retain the investment in Cyprus: perpetually (500 000 EUR)
- Required time to retain the investment in Bulgaria: 3,5 – 5 years
We hope you can now make your informed decision Please read more details about the Bulgarian and the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment programs. Although the Cypriot program looks ridiculously expensive, it is in our opinion one of the best European investment programs for obtaining EU passport (if we don’t count the state Bulgarian Citizenship program).