A comparative overview of the citizenship by investment programmes offered by Malta and Cyprus, in the light of recent amendments to the Cypriot programme.
Situated in the Mediterranean region, both Malta and Cyprus have always been considered as attractive destinations for international investment, migration and mobility.
The purpose of this article is to provide a comparative overview of the two citizenship by investment programmes, most notably in the light of the recent amendments to the Cypriot programme.
In 2013, the Cypriot government launched citizenship by investment programme, which is now officially entitled the “Cyprus Investment Programme”. The Cypriot programme has been significantly amended recently, with such amendments having entered into force in 2019.
In 2014, the Maltese Government followed suit and implemented the Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta (IIP), which offers eligible applicants the possibility of Maltese citizenship through naturalisation, subject to certain conditions and a thorough due diligence process.
Both programmes allow for the inclusion of dependent children, spouse, parents. However, under the Cypriot programme, the parents are subject to the qualifying residential property requirement set at a minimum value of €500,000 as opposed to the Maltese programme where parents are not subject to this additional requirement. However, in the case of IIP, additional dependants would be subject to an additional contribution of €25,000 or €50,000, as applicable, which is paid upon approval of their IIP application.
Another notable difference is that in the case of the Cyprus Investment Programme the main applicant together with all other eligible adult dependants is required to hold a Cypriot residence card for 6 months prior to the obtainment of Cypriot Citizenship under the Cyprus Investment Programme. This is not the case with respect to the Maltese programme, where it is solely the main applicant that must hold a residence card for 1 year prior to the obtainment of Maltese citizenship under the IIP.
Furthermore, with respect to the IIP, all dependants may apply simultaneously with the main applicant for the obtainment of citizenship under the IIP however in the case of the Cyprus Investment Programme, it is only the spouse that may apply simultaneously with the main applicant. Other eligible dependants may only apply following the obtainment of the Main Applicant’s citizenship under the Cyprus Investment Programme.
In terms of international mobility, Maltese nationals enjoy visa-free travel to more than 180 countries, including the USA, whilst Cypriot nationals enjoy visa-free travel to approximately 170 countries, excluding the US. Malta also forms part of the Schengen area; however, Cyprus does not.
The Key Amendments to the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment Programme
As of 2019, the Cypriot citizenship by investment programme has been subject to significant modifications, with the most salient amendments being the following:
The introduction of the requirement of a non-refundable contribution of €150,000, to be allocated against research and development, and land development organisation;
The extension of the minimum investment holding term, from 3 to 5 years;
The introduction of the requirement for the applicant to hold a valid Schengen visa;
The possibility of investment in government bonds is no longer available, whilst investments in the shipping sector are now permitted;
If the residential property to be acquired, has already been used for the purposes of the Cyprus Investment programme by a previous applicant, then the total amount of the investment must constitute € 2.5 million;
Any person who has been rejected an application for citizenship in any other EU Member State is no longer eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship by investment; and
The due diligence process has been enhanced.
Malta Citizenship by Investment vs Cyprus Citizenship by Investment
|Malta Citizenship by Investment||Cyprus Citizenship by Investment|
|€650,000 contribution partly to be allocated to the National Development and Social Fund.||€150,000 to be allocated to the Research and Innovation Foundation, and Cyprus Land Development Corporation|
|Types of investments||
The applicant is required to:
3 options are available for the investor:
|Time of payment of contribution and Time of Investment||
Whilst the amended Cyprus Investment programme increases the overall financial burden for potential applicants, the amount of the non-refundable contribution remains less than that required under the IIP.
On the other hand, one must also take into consideration the fact that under the Malta programme, applicants are only required to hold a title of lease or ownership over an immovable property for 5 years, whereas, under the Cypriot programme, applicants must retain ownership of a €500,000 property, for life.
In terms of the investment retention period, the amended Cypriot programme has been increased from 3 to 5 years, thus matching the Malta requirement.