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What To Consider if You Plan To Invest in Cyprus

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea south of the Anatolian Peninsula.

In Cyprus there is a strong business-friendly environment with one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe. Cyprus is member in the European Union and the Eurozone.

Advantages

The geographical position of Cyprus is at the crossroads of three continents, offering access to markets in Europe, the Middle East and the Maghreb. The workforce of Cyprus is multilingual, experienced and inexpensive.

Cyprus has created a high-quality transport and telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in the ports sector and the sectors of tourism, international business and financial services, maritime transport, real estate and intellectual property are particularly developed.

People in Cyprus enjoy an attractive lifestyle in a secure, neat and healthy environment, with a high standard of living.

There is a friendly business environment with solid regulation and legal system aligned with British common law.

Disadvantages

However, the internal market of Cyprus is small with a population of around 1.2 million inhabitants. Cyprus has a high public debt and significant external debt linked to bank deposits of many non-residents. The banking sector is still weakened by the 2009 crisis, despite numerous reforms imposed by the EU, the IMF, and the ECB.

In addition, the Cyprus economy is heavily dependent on Russia and the UK as export markets and sources of funding with excessive dependence on the service sector, especially tourism, finance, and housing.

FDI in Cyprus

Government has taken measures to motivate FDI. The Cypriot government has created a positive environment for business as proven by its 54th place in the 2020 Doing Business ranking of countries where it is easy to do business. The government’s liberal policies have promoted investment development.

Some key points of the country’s appeal are the possibility of 100% foreign shareholding in almost all sectors of the economy, the low corporate tax rate, its attractive tax environment and the low cost of establishing and developing a company.

The country manages to create an attractive environment for investors by strengthening weaknesses in its economy. For example, since 2013, the government has been restructuring the country’s banking sector.

This, combined with the recapitalisation, enabled it to avoid bankruptcies and improve stability. Likewise, progress has been made to modernise and make its legal, accounting and banking services more efficient.

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed by Cyprus has signed bilateral conventions with about 69 countries. Double Tax Treaties define the protection framework of FDIs in Cyprus for each signatory country.

Freedom of business establishment in Cyprus is guaranteed. Acquisition of holdings by foreign investors based in the European Union are free, they can acquire stakes in Cypriot companies, without any limit on the percentage of stake acquired or on minimum capital invested.

Moreover, investors from the European Union can acquire up to 100% in the capital of companies listed on Cyprus Stock market except for the banking sector where such a percentage is limited to 50% only. Obligation to Declare Licenses are required when operating in some sectors of the economy, like construction.

Tax incentives

The tax system of Cyprus provides numerous tax incentives to foreign investors, some of them are listed below:

IP Box Tax Regime

Royalty income, embedded income and other qualifying income derived from qualifying intangible assets in the ‘new’ Cyprus intellectual property box. 80% of the net profit as calculated using the modified nexus fraction.

  • Royalty income, embedded income and other qualifying income derived from qualifying intangible assets in the ‘old’ Cyprus IP box. 80% of the net profit.
  • Tax amortisation on any expenditure of a capital nature for the development of IP, Allocated over the lifetime of the IP

Headquartering

The Holding Company will be holding the general structure and will need a head office in order to cover and perform its activities and its subsidiaries.

A combination of the tax benefits of a Cyprus Holding Company along with the stable regulatory framework, low operational costs relating to office rental, office equipment and well-educated English-speaking labour force and exceptional climate and exquisite lifestyle, provide the ideal location for setting up of Headquarters allowing businesses to grow and thrive.

A holding company can set up its headquarters in Cyprus providing an umbrella for all the companies of the Group.

There are incentives offered by the government in order to set up in Cyprus such as the registration of the company as Foreign Interest Company allowing it to employee third country nationals by providing them with work permits.

Eligible Cyprus companies are the ones that:

  • The majority of the company’s shares to be owned by Third-country nationals.
  • Foreign direct investment of capital amounting to at least € 200.000, legally admitted to Cyprus from abroad. This should be proved by an appropriate bank and other documents.
  • To operate in independent offices in Cyprus

The eligible Cyprus holding companies can employ third country national as Directors with minimum acceptable gross monthly salary for Directors is €3872 and the Maximum number of 5 persons for this category.

Middle Management Executives and other key personnel can have a minimum acceptable gross monthly salary for this category is between €1936 – €3871 and the Maximum number of Ten persons for this category.

For employing a greater number of third-country personnel under the above categories, duly justified and documented requests by the company can be submitted.

With regards to the Support staff, please note that there is no maximum number of third-country nationals employed under this category, provided that the necessary approvals from the Department of Labour have been obtained.

Using the above scheme will also give the opportunity and right to the Founder / owner of the company to be relocated in Cyprus and manage the structure through the permanent establishment of the Holding company from Cyprus.

The above relocation can also include Family members that would like to relocate along with the third country national employee.

Shipping

Shipping companies:

The Merchant Shipping Legislation fully approved by the EU provides for exemption from all direct taxes and taxation under tonnage tax regime of qualifying shipowners, charterers and ship-managers, from the operation of qualifying community ships and foreign ships, in qualifying activities. The legislation allows non community vessels to enter the tonnage tax regime provided the fleet is composed by at least 60% community vessels.

If this requirement is not met, then non community vessels can still qualify if certain criteria are met. The legislation includes an “all or nothing” rule, meaning that if a shipowner/ charterer/ ship-manager of a group elects to be taxed under the Tonnage Tax regime, all shipowners/ charterers/ ship-managers of the group should elect the same.

Exemption is also given in relation to the salaries of officers and crew aboard a community qualifying Cyprus ship.

Shipowners

The exemption applies to:

  • profits derived from the use/chartering out of the ships
  • interest income relating to the working capital of the company
  • profits from the disposal of qualifying ships
  • dividends received from the above profits at all distribution levels
  • profit from the disposal of ship-owning companies and its distribution

The exemption also applies to the bareboat charterer of a vessel flying the Cyprus flag under parallel registration Bareboat charter out agreements remain eligible for tonnage tax, with restrictions introduced for bareboat charter agreements to third parties.

The legislation provides a definition, as well as a specific list, of what are ancillary services.

Moreover, it clarifies that the revenue from the ancillary services may fall under the tonnage tax regime, provided that the income therefrom does not exceed 50% of the total income generated from Maritime Transport Activities.

Charterers

Exemption is given to:

  • profits derived from the operation of chartered in ships
  • interest income relating to the working capital of the company
  • dividends received from the above profits at all distribution levels

The law grants the exemption provided that the option to register for Tonnage Tax is exercised for all vessels and provided a composition requirement is met: at least 25% of the net tonnage of the vessels owned or bare boat chartered in.

Ship-managers

The exemption covers:

  • Profits from technical and/or crew management
  • Dividends paid out of these profits at all levels of distribution
  • Interest income relating to the working capital of the company

In order to qualify ship-managers must satisfy the following additional

Requirements:

  • Maintain a fully-fledged office in Cyprus with personnel sufficient in number and qualification
  • At least 51% of all onshore personnel must be community citizens
  • At least 2/3 of total tonnage under management must be managed within the community. The application of the tonnage tax system is compulsory for owners of Cyprus flag ships and optional for owners of non-Cyprus flag ships, charterers and ship-managers. Those who choose to enter the Tonnage Tax regime must remain in the system for at least 10 years unless they had a valid reason to exit such as disposal of their vessels and cessation their of activities.

Non-Domiciled Tax Status

Foreigners who decide to move their personal tax residency in Cyprus, will automatically be considered as non-domiciled in Cyprus for a maximum of 17 years. For tax purposes, non-domicile persons who become Cyprus tax residents will now be completely exempt from Special Defence Contribution tax.

Income Tax Incentives to New Cyprus Tax Residents

Remuneration from any employment exercised in Cyprus by an individual who was not a resident of Cyprus before the commencement of the employment, exemption applies to 50% of the remuneration for a period of 10 years for employments commencing as from 1 January 2012 provided that the annual remuneration exceeds €100.000.

For employments commencing as from 1 January 2015 the exemption does not apply in case the said individual was a Cyprus tax resident for 3 tax years out of the 5 tax years immediately prior to the tax year of commencement of the employment nor in the preceding tax year. In certain cases, it is possible to claim the exemption where income falls below €100.000 per annum.

Remuneration from any employment exercised in Cyprus by an individual who was not a resident of Cyprus before the commencement of the employment.

The exemption is available for a period of 5 years for employments commencing during or after 2012 and it applies from the tax year following the year of commencement of the employment, with the last eligible tax year being 2030.This exemption may not be claimed in addition to the immediately above mentioned 50% exemption for employment income.

Exemption is granted on 20% of the remuneration with a maximum amount of €8.550 annually.

Notional Interest Deduction

Equity introduced to a company as from 1 January 2015 in the form of paid-up share capital or share premium may be eligible for an annual notional interest deduction. The annual NID deduction is calculated as the new equity multiplied by the NID interest rate.

The relevant interest rate is the yield on 10 year government bonds of the country where the funds are employed in the business of the company plus a 5% premium. A taxpayer may elect not to claim all or part of the available NID for a particular tax year. Certain anti-avoidance provisions apply.

Why Register a Company in Cyprus?

A company registration number is a unique combination of numbers and, in some cases, letters. The company registration number is used to identify your company and verify the fact that it is a registered entity.

Business nowadays operates in an interconnected world, without any boundaries or limitations to protect brands and companies from the merciless competition.

In our era, due to technological breakthroughs, competition is thriving and multi-attacking companies and brands from various channels of communication; therefore entrepreneurs find themselves in the difficult position of searching and finding the most favourable path to follow, for the achievement of economies of scales.

Currently, many entrepreneurs are in the process of searching various ways on how they can maximise their productivity and enhance their profitability by minimising their operational costs. One of the main scenarios they examine, due to its endless possibilities, is the reincorporation or re domiciliation of their business activities in favourable markets. Even though this practice is very common, entrepreneurs should cautiously consider their options, since this path can be very costly, multifaceted and time consuming.

Consequently, when entrepreneurs decide to pursue this course of action not only do they have to prepare their business plan but they also have to include the nature of activities and purposes of their company and simultaneously proceed with the political, economical, social and technological environment analysis of the target market.

Additionally, they should examine important economical parameters of the targeted country such as the taxation regime scheme, processing time of company formation or domiciliation and the terms and conditions of the exchange regulations, as well as, the transaction flexier company registration number is a unique combination of numbers and, in some cases, letters. The company registration number is used to identify your company and verify the fact that it is an entity registered, assets, personal information protection and requirements for opening corporate bank accounts etc.

In summary, entrepreneurs should thoroughly assess the business law frame work under which their company will operate.

Even though various countries are renowned for their favourable tax regime scheme, Cyprus is considered to be one of the most reputable and strongest jurisdictions for many types of company formation, incorporation, trusts and investment offering one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe.

Cyprus is a country island situated in the Eastern Mediterranean area, at the heart of three continents; Europe, Africa and Asia thus rendering it a favourable choice.

It is a full member of the European Community and completely aligned with the EU regulations. Its currency is Euro and the official language is Greek while English is spoken by almost everyone and Russian by a significant percentage of the population.

In addition, Cyprus has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. It has an excellent transportation structure and infrastructure that support the entire spectrum of business activities which take place on the island. It has a trustworthy and advanced private banking and medical system. Cypriot people are well mannered and are famous for their hospitality.

The Legal System of Cyprus is based on Common Law. Its economy operates based upon an open, market driven principle, with favourable tax regimes for the incorporation of companies and investments. Moreover, Cyprus is characterised by a high per capita income and renowned as a European Union centre for foreign investments, offshore businesses and activities.

Also, it is important to note that the Government authorities of Cyprus are promoting heavily the incorporation and foreign investments, as well as, allowing the purchase/ownership of property under favourable conditions.

Consequently, Cyprus Government authorities engage in non – stop negotiations for forming double taxation treaties with non European countries, in order for the Cypriot active companies to enjoy an important competitive advantage. Currently, Cyprus is an affiliate to more than 50 double taxation treaties based on the OECD including the European Union, China, India, Kuwait, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Georgia and other important hub countries.

Furthermore, other important advantages of Cyprus are the low corporation tax rate, the very short time frame for company registration, as well as, the low annual maintenance fees of corporations. Cyprus offers one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the EU, which is 12.5%. The time frame for the registration of a new company is very short, approximately 7-9 days.

Hence, Cyprus allows the use of nominee Directors, Secretary and Shareholders therefore there is no obligation of exposure of the Ultimate Beneficial Owner in the public Company Registrar Record. Anonymity rights are fully safeguarded and there is no need for the owner to be present during the process of the incorporation or opening of a corporate bank account. Bank accounts can open between 2 – 5 working days with full online electronic banking and digital pass as well as a debit card.

Cyprus is considered to be the most well-known EU country for offshore company formation and Trusts. The Cyprus International Trusts are exempted from income tax, capital gains tax, special contribution or any other taxes. Additionally, there is no estate duty or inheritance tax in Cyprus, there is flexibility for relocation, there is no exchange control regulation and trusts can operate internationally with no disposal tax of securities. Thus, there are no withholding taxes on dividend payments, interest or royalties to non residents.

In addition, the profits from the sale of shares in the stock exchange are tax free, whereas, the losses of a company can be carried forward opposed to future profits for an indefinite period. Besides those very important advantages, Cyprus is also offering the Group relief option, whereby the loss of one company can be covered by the profits of another since both of them are under the Cyprus residential tax scheme.

Moreover, Cyprus Permanent Residence and Citizenship Schemes are considered to be one of the strongest in the world since they provide several significant benefits to the investors, as well as, an advantageous flexibility towards the investors that are reside in non EU member states, which includes, their family members under18 years old as well.

To sum up, Cyprus tax law is characterised by its simplicity, straight forward approach and effectiveness. Subsequently, entrepreneurs should consider Cyprus as a favourable market for incorporation or re -domiciliation of their business activities, since their companies will enjoy instantly, among other important advantages, low corporate taxation rates and annual maintenance corporation costs.

In addition, entrepreneurs will have the option of forming an offshore company or a trust so as to protect their assets, companies’ strategies and personal information by enjoying a very beneficial taxation regime with no exchange control regulation that would limit international operation.

Justifiably, Cyprus is considered to be an EU Tax Heaven island country. Cyprus companies enjoy safety, stability and flexibility, as well as, overall low tax rates while having the opportunity to trade not only in the EU but in other countries by enjoying the advantages of over 50 double taxation treaties.

Cyprus is globally an ideal investment and incorporation gateway, offering to the investors a market right of entry to more than 500 million EU citizens, the Middle East and China.

Advisory Excellence Continues with Addition of Michalis Economides

Advisory Excellence is honoured to have Michalis Economides as our exclusively recommended Full Service Law member in Cyprus.

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea south of the Anatolian Peninsula.

Michalis Economides studied law at Queen Mary, University of London and graduated in 2007. He completed the Bar Vocational Course at Inns of Court School of Law in 2008 and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2008.

He also obtained a Master’s in Law in Corporate & Commercial Law from University College London in 2009. He was admitted to the Bar of Cyprus in 2010.

Michalis is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators of England and Wales and undertakes national and international arbitrations.

Michalis sits on the board of directors in various international firms and undertakes national and international retainers and projects.

Advisory Excellence is an international network. With over 1500 members around the globe, we are ready to help you wherever you are in the world.

Chambersfield Economides Kranos Overview

Chambersfield Economides Kranos is a law firm that follows a customer-centric method by acknowledging that the uniqueness of each customer requires an exclusive approach.

With a physical presence in more than nine countries, the firm undertakes a wide range of complex legal disputes and business cases that fall within the scope of litigation.

Chambersfield is also a registered service provider for offering the Cyprus Investment Program and Cyprus Permanent Residence scheme.  Moreover, the firm has great expertise in the Citizenship by Investment Schemes of Caribbean Countries.

What is more, Chambersfield provides a comprehensive range of legal, corporate, and fiduciary related services, in more than twenty-one jurisdictions, for private and corporate clients, multinational companies, financial institutions, and governments on a local, national and global level.