Legal forms for businesses
Interested investors can set up companies (private or public):
- general or limited partnerships;
- European companies (SE);
- Foreign companies (branches);
- trade name;
To succeed, a new business needs a sound commercial strategy and secure financing.
Some standard requirements to be completed when setting up a business are the same as when opening a branch.
International legal entities and natural persons can establish businesses in the Republic of Cyprus under the same conditions as domestic legal entities and natural persons.
The One-Stop Shop, operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in response to the current need for simplification of the business environment, is an institution which contributes significantly to reducing the time required for the establishment of an SME. Specifically, it offers new entrepreneurs/investors the following services:
- Guidance/assistance for entrepreneurs/investors to develop business activities in Cyprus.
- Registration of limited companies, general/limited partnerships, trade names, European companies or branches of foreign companies.
- VAT registration.
- Income Tax Registration.
- Issuing temporary residence and work permits.
Furthermore, with a view to conforming to the Services Directive, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has set up a Point of Single Contact (PSC Cyprus) in order to facilitate the establishment of businesses in the service sector and provide cross-border services in the wider internal market.
PSC Cyprus’s internet portal (www.businessincyprus.gov.cy ) provides extensive information regarding the procedures and formalities required to access and/or exercise service activities which fall within the scope of the Services Directive, including the related procedures and formalities required for setting up a business in the Republic of Cyprus.
Additionally, the internet portal allows electronic submission of application documents and subsequent monitoring of the on-going processes for certain authorisations/approvals relating to:
- setting up a business, such as VAT registration, income tax registration, social insurance registration;
- access to and/or performing service activities, such as setting up and running recreational facilities or the pursuit of a profession in the field of engineering science;
- the temporary provision of cross-border services, such as the cross-border provision of veterinary services.
The first step is to send an application for the approval (or change) of the name of a legal entity to the One-Stop Shop or the Registrar of Companies and Official receiver, or submit it electronically. The fee is either €8.54 or €25.63 for a fast-track service. Note that the One-Stop Shop only accepts applications with the fast-track fee.
The business registration documents must be accompanied by a compliance declaration from a member of the Cyprus Bar Association. The association provides a full list of its members on its website.
If registering a business, the applicant should send the relevant forms to the One-Stop Shop or the Registrar of Companies and Official receiver, or submit them electronically.
If registering an association or trade name, the applicant should send the relevant forms and accompanying documents to the One-Stop Shop or the Registrar of Companies and Official receiver, or submit them electronically.
National Insurance Scheme registration
Any company employing one or more persons must be registered under the National Insurance Scheme. This can be done by completing the following forms available online, at National Insurance District Offices and Citizen Service Centres.
These forms must be submitted to National Insurance District Offices or Citizen Service Centres within one month after the recruitment of a new employee.
Any company or person operating in Cyprus must become registered to the Taxpayers Register of the Inland Revenue Department as soon as possible. This can be done by submitting the relevant forms to the Income Tax District Offices or to the One Stop Shop, or electronically via the PSC Cyprus portal. The company will then receive the relevant Tax Identification Number (T.I.N).
With regard to VAT, anyone supplying goods or providing services, involved in intra-community acquisitions or distance selling in Cyprus must enrol on the VAT Register by submitting the relevant application to the appropriate VAT District Office or through the One Stop Shop or electronically via the PSC Cyprus portal before the end of the thirty-day period during which it is due.
The PSC Cyprus internet portal (www.businessincyprus.gov.cy) assists businesses and entrepreneurs established in Cyprus or other EU Member States who wish to implement their business plans in the service sector in Cyprus.
The Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) is a registered not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. The company’s sole member is the Government of Cyprus, represented by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. The Agency’s chief mandate is to promote Cyprus as an attractive investment centre and an international business centre.
The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has a database containing details of Cypriot businesses and the various State-sponsored and other services linked to economic activities. The chamber is the main information provider for foreign business owners.