When the Brexit transition period came to an end on 1st January 2021, UK citizens became “third country” nationals; a generic term describing non-EU member states.
Cyprus (particularly Paphos) is a hot-spot for Brits seeking a second home in the sun. But now, as third country nationals, what Brits are permitted to purchase and the process of owning a property have changed.
What can Brits buy?
Before Brexit Brits could buy as many properties of whatever size they wished, but since 1st January 2021 they’re only allowed to buy one of the following:
- An apartment.
- A house.
- A villa on a building site or a plot of land not exceeding 4,014 sqm.
- A piece of land not exceeding 4,014 sqm provided that a residence will be built for owner occupation within three years.
- A second home may be allowed depending on the type and use of it (i.e. a holiday home in addition to a permanent home in the capital city).
- Leases of more than 33 years duration have the same restrictions imposed as freehold properties.
- Offshore companies may also acquire premises for their business or as residences for their foreign employees.
- Permission to acquire land outside development areas for other types of properties (e.g. offices, leisure, industrial, etc.) is granted under certain conditions such as the percentage of foreign participation in the scheme, the actual amount of foreign investment and other government policies.
- ‘New’ post-brexit buyers will not be permitted to:
- rent or lease their property.
- acquire a share in a property.
- unmarried couple are not permitted to buy property in joint names.
The property buying process
Brits now have to apply in writing to the Council of Ministers for permission to acquire a property. Although they will be able to enter into sale agreements and deposit their sales contract at the Land Registry office, they will be unable to get the property’s all-important Title Deed until permission is granted.
Although permission is granted in virtually all cases, Brits buying property will need a clause in their contract of sale stipulating what will happen in the unlikely event that Council of Ministers permission is refused.
All the money to purchase a property must come from abroad.
Brits wishing to buy more property than is permitted under the law may do so by forming a limited company to purchase any size and any number of properties.
At the time of writing, the cost of forming a limited company is in the region of €1,250 – €1,300. In addition there will be annual fees of around €850 for the preparation and submission of annual accounts and payment of annual company tax.
It is absolutely essential that anyone wishing to go down this route seeks independent legal advice. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office publishes a list of English-speaking lawyers that may be able to assist in this respect.
Since the 1st January 2021 British tourists, including those with holiday homes and other property in Cyprus, can no longer come and go as they please. They can only stay on the island and other EU countries for a total of 90 days in any 180 day period. If they wish to stay longer, they will require a visa.
Many British “silver swallows” who overwinter in Cyprus and return to the UK in the summer have had their feathers clipped; their time in Cyprus will be limited to 90 days without a visa.
Unlike some other EU countries, British visitors and tourists may drive in Cyprus using their UK driving licence. However, those planning to remain longer than six months must exchange their UK driving licence for a Cypriot one before 7th July 2021.