NEW DELHI: Cyprus’ largest developer, Leptos Estates, is the biggest and most successful provider of residency and citizenship schemes across Cyprus and Greece, processing hundreds each year, of which Indian investors make up an ever-increasing proportion. Highlighting its benefits, these countries offer a quicker, cheaper and more comprehensive residency-by-investment scheme, as compared to other countries.
Leptos points out that the two countries of the European Union makes for an excellent choice for wealthy Indians with large families and family-run businesses.
Corroborating the above statement, as per a report released by Professional Wealth Management, Cyprus ranks among the top 10 destinations for residency-by-investment, along with destinations such as St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Antigua, St Lucia and Austria. Adding to the insights, as per another report published by Knight Frank Wealth Report 2019, 21% of Indian ultra-high net worth individuals showed an affinity towards purchasing homes outside India.
Giving a quick low down of the benefits of Cypriot and Greek residency, as compared to other popular schemes, Cyprus offers a relatively quick and hassle-free way to residency; with applicants becoming official residents after only 60 days with investors not required to physically reside in Cyprus before and after approval. Greece has a similar scheme, with the process taking on average only 10 days, and residents applicable for a citizenship after 7 years.
Compared to other similar schemes: In the USA, residency requires you to be in the country for 3 years out of 5, and you would need to wait an extra 8 years for citizenship; whilst the UK requires you to stay in the country for 9 months each year and a citizenship would be another 6.5 year wait. To qualify for residency in Australia, you are required to stay in the country 2 years out of 5 and citizenship is another 4 year wait on top.
The RBI Liberalised Remittance Scheme. According to the prevailing regulations, resident individuals may remit up to $250,000 per financial year. The remitted amount can also be invested in shares, debt instruments, and be used to buy immovable properties in overseas market
An Indian parliamentarian has introduced a Bill in the country’s parliament to allow dual citizenship for foreign nationals of Indian origin. Under the current laws, Indians have to renounce their Indian citizenship once they acquire citizenship of another country.
Although the Cypriot and Greek residencies do not allow taking up employment in the country, it does allow opening a business. The residency scheme covers the entire family (including parents, grandparents and children up to 28 years of age) and does allow (under the right circumstances) to apply for a Cypriot or Greek citizenship, perfect for wealthy Indians with large families and family-run businesses. Permanent residency holders are also entitled to apply for a Schengen Visa through any Schengen Embassy. Once obtained, residency is valid for life.
Pantelis Leptos, Deputy President of Leptos Group of Companies, comments; “We often find buyers coming to us directly, because we offer a totally comprehensive range of services, removing the stress for our clients. From land acquisition, design and build, furnishing, property management, landscaping, to local advice, we ensure our clients are skilfully guided through the process, whatever their requirements. We also help them rent and re-sell.”
“Cyprus and Greece are EU countries, and EU residency and citizenship are seen as hallmarks of credibility, so it’s no surprise the residency programme here has been so popular. In particular, interest from Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian applicants has increased in recent months; these newly wealthy communities are attracted to the island’s flourishing luxury lifestyle, offerings and growing economy. Also, the widespread news that a number of high-profile Indian billionaires have renounced their Indian passports in favour of a Cypriot one had an impact on application numbers.”
“More and more people are looking to become global citizens and gaining residency in another country is a great way of finding the best in healthcare, education, business and lifestyle, whilst being able to travel freely within the EU. Cyprus has an excellent standard of international schools, private hospitals and leisure facilities, and the quality of new build property is increasing each year.”
Adding more to information, with the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP), Cyprus requires a property purchase of €2,000,000 or more. This scheme gives investors the right to live, work, travel and stay anywhere in the EU, and free travel to over 155 countries including Canada, Switzerland, and Iceland. Like the residency scheme, this covers the entire family and is valid for life. Citizens then have the right to sell his/her property after 5 years if they retain one at a value of €500,000, and the current rate of rental returns and capital appreciation will mean investors get their initial investment back in 5 years.
Highlighting what people can expect from these two countries, Cyprus has invested heavily in its infrastructure and efforts to create a cosmopolitan lifestyle destination, including a new Dubai Port World cruise terminal in Limassol, the construction of Europe’s largest casino resort, private jet and yachting services, golf courses and new designer retail offerings; facilities and services that many wealthy Indian residents have become accustomed.
Similarly, Greece is becoming one of the most popular real estate markets in Europe. Properties are appreciating and rental income is strong because of the tourism there. Approximately 20% -22% of Greece’s GDP is derived from tourism, and is even higher across the islands, where the tourism industry flourishes. Crete for example, attracted over 5 million tourists in 2018, boosting rental yields and investment opportunities in the area. Leptos has a significant land bank across three Greek islands and an array of new properties for sale across Santorini, Crete and Paros.
When you buy property in another country, you are required to abide by the tax laws of both India and the country you are buying the property in. According to Indian tax laws, residents or ordinarily residents of India have to declare all foreign bank accounts and immovable assets in foreign countries in their income tax return, irrespective of whether they are earning any income from such investment or not. In Cyprus, the corporation tax rate for all companies is just 12.5% and estate duty has been abolished since January 2000 and the immovable property tax since January 2017. The first €19,500 of earned annual income is tax-free, whilst foreign pensions above €3,420 are taxed at 5%. Leptos Estates has experts on the ground in over 75 countries, including dedicated citizenship and residency teams to guide investors through the process.
The Leptos Group has an unparallel real estate offering on the island, including ultra-modern, new build homes, luxury hillside mansions, beachfront apartments and coastal villas, as well as commercial property such as hospitals, offices, hotels and the Neapolis University in Paphos.