Cyprus or Malta — Which program to choose?
On 15 May 2019, the Cyprus Investment Programme implemented new changes. Will it influence the popularity of this program, and will a similar Maltese program become more attractive?
According to the new rules, participants of the program are required to make a non-refundable donation of EUR 150,000, which includes EUR 75,000 to the Research and Innovation Fund and EUR 75,000 to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation. Investors will be required to hold their investments (from EUR 2 million) for at least five years after the date of naturalization. Investments to government bonds were excluded from the program, but it is possible to invest in Cyprus’ shipping industry.
Higher costs and stricter conditions of participation may lead many investors to consider the Malta Individual Investor Program (MIIP) as an alternative to the Cyprus Investment Programme. The MIIP provides an opportunity to obtain an EU passport for an investment of approximately EUR 1 million. The investment entails a non-refundable donation of EUR 650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund, a purchase of property for at least EUR 350,000 (or a lease of property for a minimum annual value of EUR 16,000), and an contribution of EUR 150,000 in Maltese financial instruments for five years.
Despite the appeal of the MIIP, the Cyprus Investment Programme remains one of the most popular programs due to the quick time frame in which documents are processed. The application procedure takes approximately six to eight months from the start of the application to the issuance of a passport, including a mandatory six months with a Cypriot residence permit. In Malta, the route from application to citizenship takes approximately 12 months on average, including one year with a Maltese residence permit.
It is worth noting that investors who were previously denied citizenship by any EU member state (such as Malta) cannot participate in the Cyprus Investment Programme after 26 February 2019. This condition also applies to their family members.
In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons when choosing a program. Henley & Partners is ready to objectively assess the situation and to choose a suitable property and investment program that suits your needs.