Today I decided to touch on the topic of moving IT specialists to Cyprus for permanent residence and employment. The writing of such a post was prompted by a variety of innovations in the legislation of the island state and the peculiarities of migration in connection with quarantine measures and restrictions on entry. IT immigration to Cyprus is a fairly popular solution among Russian specialists and IT specialists from other ex Soviet republics. So it is worth diving deeper into the Cypriot atmosphere and highlighting not only wages and opportunities, but also simple life aspects that create comfort and convenience in everyday life.
General data of the Republic of Cyprus
Cyprus is a small island country in the eastern Mediterranean, the capital of which is Nicosia and a population of about 800,000. The business center of the island – the city of Limassol, is considered the most expensive, but at the same time – the most attractive city in the country, combining an active business life with the comfort of a resort vacation. Consider the example of the city of Limassol, the features and standard of living in this state.
Cost of Living in Cyprus in 2021
Average salary after taxes: € 1,300.
Property rental cost:
- 800-1,500 euros – apartments in the city center (2-3 bedrooms);
- 700-1000 euros – apartments outside the city (2-3 bedrooms).
Buying a property:
- 2,000 euros for 1 sq.m. downtown;
- from 1,500 euros per 1 sq.m. in other areas.
Utilities (monthly): 100-110 euros for an apartment of about 85-90 sq.m.
Mobile communications and the Internet: a general package of services from 40 euros without restrictions on the amount of data.
Food costs: € 400–500 for a family of four.
Restaurants: from 60 euros – this is an average bill for a family of four.
Transport: The public transport network is not well developed. The most optimal type of transportation is a personal car (purchase price from 5,000 euros for a vehicle of 5 y.o). The price for gasoline ranges from 1-1.3 euros / liter.
Education (unless the option of free public institutions is being considered):
- private preschool: 300 euros per month per child;
- private primary school: 6,500 euros per year per child.
- * Given the current situation in the world in connection with quarantine measures, significant changes in the cost of living indices should be expected in the future.
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the EU countries, which gives the holder of a Cypriot passport to live and work freely anywhere in the European Union. The state language is Greek. However, English, Russian and Turkish are also widely used.
Other important aspects for IT immigration to Cyprus
The Russian-speaking population of Cyprus is approximately 5% of the total population. About 20,000-30,000 people from the ex Soviet republics live in Limassol.
The IT community is growing rapidly: since 2018, the IT CYPRUS FORUM has been held, which attracts more than 300 people from various areas of the IT business. The country’s authorities are considering the possibility of developing Cyprus in the near future as one of the European centers of IT business.
Compared to other European banks, the Cypriot banking system remains quite flexible, even after the changes made to the monetary control system under the fourth AML (anti-money laundering) directive.
Regarding the tax burden of Cypriot IT companies:
- 12.5% – corporate tax (one of the lowest rates in Europe);
- no tax on dividends;
- exemption from income tax;
- no capital gains tax;
- a wide network of treaties for the avoidance of double taxation and the application of the EU directive.
It is important to take into account the peculiarity of calculating personal income tax – income exceeding 19,500 euros is subject to 20% tax and it gradually grows as the income does.
IT immigration to Cyprus and employment of third-country nationals
The shortest way with a minimum of bureaucracy is obtaining a work permit and at the same time a residence permit as an employee of a company with foreign interests, which is located in the country. Such enterprises imply the presence of at least 50% of the share (authorized) capital, which belongs to a foreign beneficiary. The second option is that the amount of direct investment by a foreign parent company or individual must be from 171 thousand euros. Firms of Cyprus with foreign participation (foreign investments) are quite easy to issue work and residence permits for employees in the positions of executive directors and managers, mid-level specialists and key technical / administrative personnel.
IT immigration to Cyprus does not impose restrictions on the duration of work permits and residence permits, the employment contract is drawn up by the employer, documents can be renewed in accordance with the dates of work contracts. By the way, in this way you can move with the whole family, because employees of companies with foreign participation can apply for family reunification to obtain a residence permit for a spouse, as well as minor children. In this case, only you have the right to work, and family members are only allowed to live in Cyprus, but not to work.
Life and employment of employees of IT companies in Cyprus: details
Today, dozens of IT companies are registered on the island, mainly from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus. The main activities of these companies are in the development of games, applications and software. Also, attention is paid to financial and advertising tools, media projects. Most of the companies are located in Limassol, a city that has become the business center of Cyprus over the past few years.
There is a Russian-speaking IT community in the country – CypRus_iT, where regular meetings and presentations are held. The events are attended by entrepreneurs, freelancers and employees of technology companies.
There is an alternative solution to everyday tasks, for example – renting or buying a home, means of transportation, furniture for the house, selling unnecessary things and other opportunities are provided on the Bazaraki.com website.
Taxation of employees of IT companies complies with the general standard of the country’s tax system. The minimum monthly wage for a foreign specialist (non-EU resident) must not be less than 2,000 euros. Also, most companies provide a very attractive package of bonuses, benefits, such as:
- rental subsidy;
- provision of a car for personal use.
The above privileges are agreed upon when signing a work contract.
The main factors that make Cyprus attractive to IT companies
- Tax regime
Corporate tax at a rate of 12.5% can be reduced to 2.5% if the research and development of the patent was carried out in Cyprus. Such an opportunity within the EU countries is provided only in Cyprus and the Netherlands.
- Legislative system
English law is practiced in Cyprus. In Europe, it is present in the UK and Malta. English law tools allow IT companies to conveniently and securely transfer intellectual property rights, structure incorporation transactions, etc.
- Banking system and fintech services.
Despite the fact that recently banks have tightened their requirements for new customers, as well as introduced stricter financial control over all monetary transactions in connection with the new provisions of the European directive, there are no significant problems for foreign companies. Cypriot banks provide reliable and fast service to their clients.
Moreover, many fintech companies have appeared on the island through which payments can be made quite efficiently. Such organizations include, for example, CardPay, ECOMMBX, JCC PAYMENT SYSTEMS.
- Favorable system for issuing work and visitor visas for third-country nationals.
IT immigration to Cyprus for startup founders is a separate topic. Here there is the possibility of obtaining an annual startup visa. It is stipulated that such a company will contribute to the development of the business ecosystem in Cyprus and create new jobs. The option of obtaining a guest visa with the further purpose of opening a startup is also possible if certain conditions are met.
What should IT immigrants from other countries know about Cyprus?
Now let’s move on to more daily topics that are important to IT professionals from different parts of the world who are planning to change their country of residence. There is an interesting and comfortable working atmosphere in literally every company, where you will not meet constantly dissatisfied and sad faces. As, for example, in many companies in Moscow. Even those IT specialists who have a higher salary in Russia than in Cyprus, but cannot put up with an inadequate collective atmosphere, prefer to move here. In Cyprus companies, you don’t have to “hide” for fear of being caught by a disgruntled director or department head. As a result – an excellent emotional state even after a busy working day leads to a happy communication with family and children.
Cyprus has a very friendly attitude towards foreigners, especially since it is easy to find Russian immigrants here. There is no need to close in four walls and fenced off from the whole world.
With regard to the indicated food budget (see above), it was not meant bread and water or a poor diet. In fact, the amount includes full family meals with meat and fish dishes, cereals, vegetables, fruits, dairy and bakery products. Of course, the amount may seem small if you are an ardent supporter of restaurants and eat exclusively there. I meant home cooking, so familiar to Slavic families.
If you are planning off to Cyprus, keep in mind that ordinary tourist visits for 1-2 weeks are not enough to adequately assess the situation and understand all the peculiarities of the country, mentality, climate and other things.
Next, I will briefly list other interesting aspects that you need to know before moving to this small but very beautiful and interesting country:
- multi-storey buildings are numbered from the ground floor;
- the process of obtaining a work visa in Cyprus is the responsibility of the employer – do not even think about contacting the relevant authorities, your business is to submit the necessary documents;
- earlier, some immigrants prefered to enter Cyprus on a tourist visa with further work visa registration. It’s not the best option, since for various reasons the immigration office may not have time to complete a work visa before the end of the tourist visa (by the way, you cannot work based on it) and you simply have to leave the island;
- obtaining a work visa is an easy process, the employer needs to provide a passport, diploma and a previously issued certificate of no criminal record. Another detail – you need to undergo a medical examination and take a photo for documents at the Cyprus Migration Service (fingerprints are taken on the same day);
- a visa with a work permit and the right of temporary residence in Cyprus is issued within 2-4 weeks;
- for the registration of your own family members, you can apply for the entry of family members;
About the hot weather …
Foreigners from cooler climatic zones usually complain about too hot weather. But is the Cypriot sun so scary along with the sultry summer months? In fact, you can suffer from the “wild” heat in your home country, depending on the region of residence. On the other hand, in Cyprus, at the peak of solar activity (from 12:00 to 15:00), there are practically no people on the street, and company employees are in comfortable, air-conditioned offices.
IT immigration to Cyprus should not scare you with heat – it is easy to escape from it. The only thing to consider is the availability of your personal or rented vehicle (or from a company if the package includes one). For Cypriots, a very standard situation is buying a maintained car with air conditioning in exchange for a stuffy local taxi. Also, check the availability of climatic technology in the selected apartment or house.
I also want to dispel the myth about the absence of rain and “hot” sea – from June to November in Limassol, the water temperature is stable and reaches +22 degrees and above. If you prefer a cooler sea, the ideal option is to swim in March-April, then the water is about the same as in St. Petersburg or Moscow in June. It rains steadily in Cyprus from November to April, during the summer months, yes, it is rare.
What about safety? What about vacancies?
Since we started the topic of Limassol, which remains the center of IT interests and companies in Cyprus, we note the highest safety of this city, which, even for a small part, cannot be compared with the situation in large cities of Russia or Ukraine. In Limassol, you can literally walk 24/7, without fear of being robbed or beaten – there are no criminal areas or streets where it is scary to go.
IT immigration to Cyprus clearly implies a job search. Here I would like to share my information regarding sites where you can find worthy vacancies, including places in brokerage and trading vacancies. By the way, most local companies operate in the Forex sector – the most developed sector of the country’s economy after the banking sector.
And now the promised resources for finding a job in IT immigration to Cyprus:
Тhe above resourses are typical job search engines on the island. Employment and consideration of candidates depend on the skills level of the IT specialist, since most of the offers with high pay and attractive bonuses come from the so-called “headhunters”. The company independently or through certain agencies finds suitable employees and concludes a contract before the arrival of a specialist in Cyprus.
I note that in this situation, Cyprus does not experience a shortage of IT specialists, so the best option is to conclude an employment contract with an employer in the form of a company with foreign capital – you legally get a good position and the right to transport the whole family without restrictions on the length of residence. By the way, if you decide to change your employer after a certain period, you need a new employment contract within a month – in this case, the residence permit and work permit can be extended without problems.
IT immigration to Cyprus and permanent life on the island: “purely Cypriot” moments
For many newcomers who first get a job in Cyprus in a company, the situation with rounding of cents in the balance sheets looks strange. Yes, indeed, here, roughly speaking, no one pays attention to cents, and wages are calculated for a full working month. For example, you got a job on the 4th, which means that you will receive earnings for the whole month, no one will deduct these few days. The same situation with the need to leave for a day – in most companies in Cyprus, such days are simply “presented” to their employees, and wages are paid in full. The fact is that in the country, management accounting is ahead of accounting, companies are cutting administrative staff to optimize costs, so working time is not kept here, and no one is watching you.
IT immigration to Cyprus implies familiarity with another interesting point – a progressive tax scale and temporary tax exemptions for foreign citizens. Of course, the social package is in place – leave and sick leave are paid.
Be prepared that Cyprus has a rather provincial atmosphere, which after large Russian, Belarusian or Ukrainian cities will seem boring. But this has its own advantages – peace of mind and absolute safety. For example, in Limassol, you can often find open cars with ignition keys in the lock near shopping centers or shops – for Cypriots it is a common thing to go out for a couple of minutes for groceries or goods.
What else is good here? IT immigration to Cyprus will give you:
- quite cheap, but very high quality wine;
- direct access to the sea, where you can swim from March to December;
- a large number of fitness centers (the most popular sports activities among Cypriots are walking on treadmills) and sports events;
- a variety of hobby clubs (including windsurfing);
- literally a couple of weeks of cold weather – winter in Cyprus is not long;
- complete absence of “traffic jams” and excellent road infrastructure;
- the presence of supermarkets with “Russian products” (goods more familiar to our people);
- low rates on mortgage loans (at the level of 2-3%);
- an opportunity to get a car loan.
When planning IT immigration to Cyprus, keep in mind an important point – here banks have a completely different work schedule, unlike in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. So you need to plan payments and transfers in advance (most banking organizations are open until 13:00).
If you correlate the cost of housing with the earnings of IT specialists in Cyprus, be guided by about 20% of the salary. If you want to save money, you can rent a cheaper apartment or house in the suburbs of Limassol and get to work by car, which, by the way, is often offered by the employer himself as a bonus to wages. I also want to note that Cyprus is a very unhurried country, without fuss and crazy traffic from morning to evening.
When it comes to driving, Cypriots are not very careful when driving, they may not show turn on the turns at all, and some traffic lights often switch from red immediately to green (yellow does not work).
But there are practically no too old cars here – Cypriots often prefer to change the vehicle (you rarely find a car older than 15 years), as a result – a meager number of accidents on the roads. In some cases, in Cyprus the locals pass at a red traffic light, don’t be surprised.
It is better to entrust the migration matters to a licensed agent. These functions are performed by Cypriot lawyers.