British nationals have limited time to enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship. Freedom of movement, unrestrictred rights to work and reside in other European countries, are just a few of the numerous advantages of EU membership (not to say that there aren't some disadvantages), that we as Europeans have been taken for granted, especially the British which became members of the Union in 1973, way before the majority of other state members. Many economic experts in UK attribute the strong economy and lasting Pound sterling dominance in the financial markets to the EU membership, however 51.89% of voters in the Brexit referendum in June 2016 changed the fate of United Kingdom forever by voting to leave the Union, regardless of the aforementioned advantages. While politicians are trying to define the terms and conditions of exiting the European Union, more and more UK nationals are showing their disatisfaction with regards to uncertainty and confusion the referendum created, but more important on the potential limitation Britons will have to endure after exiting, such as: no more Visa free travel or right to work overseas. Because of these conditions, some British nationals, especially the 1.2 million expats already living across Europe, are beginning to look for alternative ways of keeping their EU citizenship.
Taking in consideration that there are already about 80.000 Britons residing in Cyprus, it is expected that this number will increase in the next 2 to 3 years due to favorable living conditions, which in many ways resemble the UK standards and the sympathetic citizenship schemes adopted by the Cypriot governament in order to attract as many Britons as possible. In the next section we highlight the similarities between Cyprus and United Kingdom and how can these factors influence the decisons of those British nationals willing to relocate to another country in order to keep their EU citizenship:
Language: English used to be the main official language before the 1960, the year Cyprus gained independence from Britain. However it remains an extensively spoken language in this eastern mediterranean island, with about 80% of population having a good command of the language.
Pension & Tax Benefits: Even without transferring, expatriates resident in Cyprus can enjoy tax benefits on UK pension income. Through the double tax agreement, most UK pensions are taxable solely in Cyprus. As pension lump sums are not liable for Cypriot taxation, this means it is possible to take portions of your UK pension as cash without paying tax on it in either country. When it comes to UK pension income, you can choose to pay either a 5% flat rate or the Cypriot income tax scale rates. With the tax-free allowance for the flat rate just €3,420 compared to €19,500 for income tax, it may be more beneficial to opt for income tax.
Because Cyprus, like Great Britain, is an island, there has been no great pressure from neighbouring countries to change the driving system from left to right. So, in this manner, as in many others, the Republic seems more than happy to retain its colonial heritage, which in turn makes the British expatriates moving to Cyprus feel right at home.
: The Legal system of Cyprus is still heavily based on English Common Law. With Cyprus’ accession to the European union a lot of legislative amendments were introduced but the core subjects of the law remain basically unamended as applicable primarily in the first half of the 20 century in England. In addition to the applicable laws at the time of independence the principles of common law and equity as applied by the jurisprudence of the courts in England are applicable even today.
Healthcare in Cyprus is cheap and effective, and is another reason many expats relocate to the island. The Cyprus healthcare system is divided into public and private sectors. Public healthcare is either inexpensive or free, at least for citizens of the EU, and even private healthcare costs can be relatively affordable.
British Citizens travelling in possession of a form E111 or EHIC card are entitled to free healthcare. For those staying a little longer or moving to Cyprus, private medical insurance starts at around €250 per annum. The majority of doctors in Cyprus' hospitals are also trained in the UK or the USA, so healthcare is provided by highly trained proffesionals at a fraction of the cost.
Cyprus' Electrics are identical to UK Electrics. Cyprus, like the UK runs on a Voltage of 220-240 Volts. It even uses identical 3-pin plugs to the UK, thus cutting out the need for inconvenient travel adaptors.
Besides these favorable conditions, the Cypriot governament also offers various citizenship by investment schemes which basically allows you to receive citizenship in 3 to 4 months by investing in real estate, bussines development or special governament bonds. Read more about these incentives in the articles provided below.