Brief Introduction to legal aspects of buying property in Cyprus
The legal system in Cyprus is based on the UK legal system of common law. Real estate and off-shore companies for taxation are two of the main pillars of the Cyprus economy; hence, the law in the specific areas has been developed extensively in order to protect investors.
The attractive international tax system of Cyprus and the immigration policies for permanent residency and citizenship have attracted many investments by international companies and individuals. We consider that it is our responsibility to advise our clients about all legal aspects in purchasing a property in Cyprus, as we endeavour to protect and uphold their interests.
Expenses in purchasing a property in Cyprus
The main expenses when purchasing a property in Cyprus are:
- The Stamp Duty (payable to the government)
- The transfer fees (payable to the government)
- The purchase price
The expenses of the purchase are generally about 2-4% of the purchase price.
The Stamp Duty is calculated as follows:
|Contract Value €||Fees -%|
|€0 – 5,000||00/0|
|€5,001 – €170,000||0.150/0|
|on the balance||0.200/0|
The stamp duty must be paid within 30 days of signing the contract to avoid paying a penalty.
The Transfer Fee is the biggest expense in purchasing a property in Cyprus. The Cyprus Government, in an attempt to increase investments, has recently reduced the transfer fees by 50%. The present calculation of the transfer fee is as follows:
|Property Value €||Fees -%|
|Up to 85,000||1.5%|
|170,001 and over||4%|
* note: in the event that the property is being purchased by two purchasers, the transfer fees will be less as the value of the property is divided by two, calculated separately and then added together i.e.
|Example if 1 person||Example if 2 persons|
|Property Value €||€500,000||€500,000|
|Property Value € per person||Fees -%||€500,000||€250,000|
|Up to 85,000||1.5%||€1,275||€1,275|
|170,001 and over||4%||€13,200||€3,200|
|Total per person||€16,600||€6,600|
The transfer fee is only payable when Purchasers acquire their Title Deed. If the title deed is not available at the time of purchase of the property, it will only be paid at a later stage when the title deeds are available.
Are there any restrictions in purchasing immovable property in Cyprus?
All EU nationals are entitled to buy any property without any restriction.
Non-EU nationals can purchase up to two properties provided that the combined land size does not exceed 4,000m2. Immovable properties include apartments, villas, plots of land, shops and offices. In order for the Cyprus government to oversee that the limit is not exceeded, every time a non-EU national wishes to acquire a property they must also secure an approval of the District Officer. This is mostly a procedural matter and a purchaser is approved provided he does not exceed the above mentioned conditions.
If I purchase a property can I get a Residency permit?
If you own a property in Cyprus of an approximate value of €300,000 you can apply for Cyprus Permanent Residence. Some additional documents are required for the application such as proof of income of approximate €30,000 per year, clean criminal record and private health insurance. The Cyprus permanent residency has no minimum residence time required in Cyprus except visiting once every two years.
Cyprus Citizenship by investment
Cyprus Government has introduced a citizenship programme for individuals wishing to invest more than €2.5million in properties in Cyprus. The whole citizenship application procedure takes 3 months. The simplified procedure has made Cyprus citizenship very attractive for investors. By acquiring the Cyprus passport the investors have an EU passport but also a passport which allows them to travel to over 140 countries without a visa. The citizenship scheme has been very popular in recent years and there is an increasing number of investors which are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
We always advise our clients to engage the services of an independent lawyer, in order to ensure that they are safeguarded in their purchase. We offer to our clients a list of recommended law firms in Cyprus who can provide our clients with professional service.
PURCHASER’S LEGAL CHECKLIST
- Obtain reliable and professional legal advice.
- Make a search at the District Lands office to check for encumbrances.
- Check if the title deeds are available. If not, check whether there is a building permit and whether a certificate or approval for the building has been secured.
- Ensure that the contract is signed correctly by the seller (or an authorized representative).
- Arrange that the signed contract is stamped by the Tax Department.
- Visit the District Lands Office in order to lodge the contract, thus ensuring that the contract becomes a land charge on the property and that it may be specifically performed.
- If the purchaser is a non-European, an application must be submitted to the local District Administration Office for obtaining the permission to buy.
- Discuss with your lawyer for any additional steps that might be required.
*Information supplied by Mantis & Athinodorou – Advocates and Legal Consultants – www.mantislaw.com