How to register a company in CYPRUS in 2021
Since 2003, Healy Consultants Group PLC assists multinational Clients i) set up a Cyprus company ii) obtain a licence (if required) for their Cypriot company iii) open a multicurrency corporate bank account in Cyprus or overseas iv) find suitable office premises and v) recruit staff.
Popular business entities in Cyprus
|Compare different Cyprus entities||LLC||Investment holding LLC||Representative office||Trust||Free Zone LLC|
|Also known as||LLC||Investment LLC||non operating branch||International Trust||Larnaca free zone company|
|Best use of company?||All products and services||Obtain EU passport by investment||Marketing & research||Holding and managing family assets||International trading|
|How soon can you invoice Clients\sign sales contracts?||3 weeks||3 weeks||5 weeks||Not allowed||3 weeks|
|How soon can you hire staff?||5 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||4 weeks|
|How soon can you sign a lease agreement?||3 weeks||3 weeks||5 weeks||5 weeks||3 weeks|
|How long to supply corporate bank account numbers?||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks||4 weeks|
|How long to supply company registration / tax numbers?||2 weeks||3 weeks||3 weeks||3 weeks||3 weeks|
|Corporate tax rate on annual net profits, from local income?||12.5%||12.5%||12.5%||0%||12.5%|
|Limited liability entity?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Government grants available?||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Government approval required for foreign owners?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Resident director/partner/trustee/representative required?||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|minimum paid up share capital? (EUR)||1||1||None||1||1|
|minimum investment requiredl? (EUR)||No||2 million||No||No||No|
|Can bid for Government contracts?||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Corporate bank account location?||Bank of Cyprus||RCB||Aplpha Bank||Ancoria Bank||SCG Cyprus|
|Can secure trade finance?||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|VAT payable on sales to local customers?||19%||19%||19%||No sales allowed||19%|
|Average total business set up engagement costs? (EUR)||9,635||9,835||11,705||15,585||10,535|
|Average total engagement period?||2 months||5 months||2 months||3 months||2 months|
Advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Cyprus
- It is quick, simple and inexpensive to set up a Cyprus company. For example, i) government company registration costs are some of the lowest in Europe ii) a tax-resident Cypriot LLC has a minimum capital requirement of just €1 iii) a Cyprus company needs only one shareholder and director, they can be any nationality, and corporate shareholders are allowed iv) the certificate of incorporation is issued in two weeks and v) a foreign-owned company does not need a licence unless it carries out i) banking ii) financial services or iii) media-related activities.
- It is inexpensive and straightforward to maintain and operate a Cypriot company. For example:
- A Cyprus company i) 12.5% corporate income tax on annual net profit on local income ii) is legally tax-exempt from corporate tax on overseas income iii) pays no capital gains tax and iv) pays no tax on dividends paid to a resident company.
- Cyprus has some of the lowest operating costs in the EU. For example, in 2020 i) the average monthly gross salary in Cyprus is €1,992 ii) a 200 square metre warehouse in Nicosia costs €1,500 per month.
- The Cypriot government has responded positively to demands by the OECD and EU to clamp down on tax evasion, and is listed on the OECD white list as a co-operative jurisdiction. In practice, this means that a Cypriot company is viewed favourably by your international Clients, suppliers and banks.
- Cyprus is a member of the EU. A Cypriot company therefore enjoys tariff-free access to the world’s largest economic bloc.
- It is possible to open a Cyprus corporate bank account with a leading local bank.
- Cyprus has double tax agreements with 65 countries, including China, India, Ireland, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, minimising withholding tax.
- Communicating with government departments, tax offices and banks etc is straightforward for multinational Clients because i) 75% of the island’s population can speak English and ii) most government and bank information is available in Greek and English.
- The Cypriot economy is the world’s 37th freest, well above the global average. In practical terms, multinational Clients can expect i) their investments to be protected by law ii) fair treatment in Cypriot courts iii) smooth cross-border trade iv) no restrictions on foreign currency transactions and repatriation of capital.
- A Cypriot company is our favourite holding company vehicle (see our comparison table here).
- The double tax treaty between Cyprus and China includes a tax sparing credit clause, which allows Cyprus-based subsidiaries of Chinese resident entities involved in IT, pharmaceutical and financial services industries to claim 100% of their Cyprus taxes from their corporate tax payable in China. This credit is applicable even if their Cyprus subsidiary is exempted from paying taxes in Cyprus, due to the double tax treaty. This would allow Chinese subsidiaries in Cyprus to save up to 10% net off their total taxes payable, making Cyprus an attractive location for Chinese companies to set up their subsidiaries.
- A Cyprus tax-resident company must meet Economic Substance Requirements (ESRs), including i) having a suitable physical office in Cyprus ii) having a Cyprus corporate bank account iii) employing staff in Cyprus and iv) having bank signatories based in Cyprus.
- To meet ESRs, a Cyprus tax-resident company must also i) have a majority of directors resident in Cyprus ii) take and implement company strategic decisions in Cyprus iii) hold at least three board meetings in Cyprus annually, which foreign-based directors must attend.
- ESRs increase the cost, and administrative burden, of maintaining a Cypriot company. For example i) office rental costs ii) utility costs and iii) staff salaries.
- It is challenging for multinational Clients to generate turnover and profits in Cyprus to fulfil ESRs. It is a small domestic economy dominated by tourism and services, with limited opportunity in other sectors and a limited talent pool.
- In 2012-2013 Cyprus suffered a financial crisis which led to a €10 billion bailout from the EU and a widespread reform of its banking sector.
- Despite Cypriot bank balance sheets, liquidity and capital adequacy being repaired since the financial crisis, they remain vulnerable to debt defaults in 2020 due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumers.
- In 2019, the EU issued a series of recommendations to Cyprus to i) reform its public sector ii) reduce toxic loans iii) focus on sustainable growth iv) improve the efficiency of the justice system and v) address features of the tax system that may facilitate aggressive tax panning by individuals and multinationals. In summary, doing business in Cyprus is more challenging than many other EU countries.
- Government departments in Cyprus are inefficient. When dealing with government departments, multinational Clients can expect i) slow response times to enquiries ii) long lead times for licenses applications to be reviewed. There is a 50% probability our Client will need to travel to Cyprus to complete engagement formalities.
- Because it is challenging to open a corporate bank account for a Cypriot company, our Clients should expect account approval to take three months on average from the date of Cyprus company registration. There is a 20% chance the company directors and bank account signatories will have to travel to meet the bank in Cyprus before the account is opened. Bank account approval normally takes four weeks from submission of the application.
- A foreign company looking to secure a non-resident corporate bank account in Cyprus must obtain a local tax number, and the bank account signatory may be required to visit the Cyprus bank branch for a bank interview.
- Cyprus company shareholders’ and directors’ details can be viewed on the Department of Registrar of Companies public website. Cyprus is not a good option for multinational Clients seeking anonymity.
- Setting up a company with a large share capital in Cyprus can be costly because the government fees for company registration is pegged on the amount of authorised share capital allocated for the new company; usually at 0.6%.
- A Cypriot tax-resident company must have at least one Cyprus-resident director if it wishes to access the country’s multiple double tax treaties and 12.5% domestic tax rate.
- A Cypriot company must register for VAT if annual turnover exceeds €10,000.
- It is difficult to acquire citizenship by investment in Cyprus. In October 2020 the Cypriot government abolished its golden visa program for wealthy investors.
Typical Cyprus engagement steps and timeline
Typical Cyprus engagement steps
- Our Client i) settles our Cyprus engagement invoice ii) sends us a signed Client engagement letter and iii) submits due diligence documents requested by our team.
- Our Client confirms the Cyprus corporate structure, and our team drafts a detailed project plan for the Client, to set and manage expectations.
- We email Cyprus company registration documents to our Client for review and signature.
- Our team i) reserves the company name with the Registrar of Companies (DR-COR) and ii) submits all documents and information required by the Registrar.
- DR-COR confirms registration of the Cyprus company and e-mails the Certificate of Incorporation.
- If required, our banking team opens either i) a Cypriot corporate bank account or ii) an international corporate bank account for the Cypriot company.
- We obtain a tax identification number (TIN) for the company, and register it for VAT.
- If required, we register our Client’s company with the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Insurance so the company can employ staff.
Typical Cyprus engagement timelineStartEngagement planning
1 weekCompany incorporation
2 weeksCorporate bank account approval
4 weeksCorporate internet banking approval
1 weekEngagement completion
1 week9 weeks
Additional support services
Opening a corporate bank account for a Cyprus company
There is a 50% probability Clients not resident in Cyprus must travel to open a local multi-currency bank account. Healy Consultants Group PLC can complete formalities on your behalf. Foreign companies can open a Cyprus business account without having to register a local company.
Cyprus accounting & tax considerations12.5%
Personal income tax1 Sept-16 Nov
Deadline for e-filing corporate tax return
- Permanent Residency can be obtained by investing €300,000 in property and make a €30,000 EU bank deposit.
- The Cypriot government is planning to present a new programme for foreign investors to obtain a passport and other privileges. Programme is now, in a tentative stage.
Frequently asked questions
What is the most common type of entity used for Cyprus business setup?Most of our Clients setup a limited liability company in Cyprus.
How long will it take to setup a company in Cyprus?It takes on average 10 weeks to setup a business in Cyprus including i) engagement planning ii) company incorporation iii) corporate bank account approval iv) corporate internet banking approval and v) engagement completion.
Will I need a resident director for Cyprus LLC setup?No. A resident director is not mandatory to start a company in Cyprus.
What is the minimum number of shareholders and directors required to incorporate a company in Cyprus?Only 1 shareholder and 1 director is required to incorporate in Cyprus.
What kind of entity is optimal if I want to incorporate a holding company in Cyprus?Our Clients should incorporate an LLC in Cyprus for holding purposes.
Can I rely on Cyprus online banking to make international transactions?Certainly. Cyprus has several reputable banks with great online banking services using which our Clients can conduct international transactions.
How long will it take to open a business bank account in Cyprus?It will take on average 4 weeks to open a Cyprus bank account.