Home » Expat Focus Financial Update May 2023

Expat Focus Financial Update May 2023

Cyprus’ Permanent Residence Criteria is Changing

If you’re contemplating retiring to Cyprus, you need to be aware that the system for applying for permanent residence permits is changing. A crackdown by the authorities on money-laundering will result in a tightening on residency criteria from May 2nd 2023.

The annual income you will need to be eligible for a fast-track permit is rising by 66%. If you’re planning to retire to the island, you’ll need to demonstrate an annual income of €50,000, up from the previous sum of €30,0000. You will also need to show that you have a further €15,000 for a dependent spouse and €10,000 for each dependant minor. The main criteria is an investment of €300,000 (this can be a house purchase, for instance).

Both incoming and resident expats, and local estate agents who have been predicting a property boom on the island, have expressed concern to the press. Agents in Paphos and Limassol say that there has been increased demand since 2020, when the old ‘citizenship for investment’ scheme was discontinued. Expats bought nearly 6,000 properties in 2020 – 61% up on similar investments in 2021.

Real estate companies say that some expats who have been midway through a house purchase will now not be able to go ahead, as they no longer meet the criteria, and in most cases, these expats only found out about the new legislation relatively recently. Some have sufficient funds to cover their house purchase, but won’t be able to meet the raised income bar. Estate agents are concerned that British expats in particular will not be able to meet the new requirements, noting that comparatively few of them have sufficient savings once they’ve completed a house purchase, and one of Cyprus’ main appeals for British expats is that it’s relatively cheap compared to the UK.

In addition, you’ll also need to show that you have private health insurance, which will also push costs up. Once you have gained your permanent permit, you will be covered under the Cypriot national health scheme, but private insurance will be needed to cover the period spent under a temporary permit while you are waiting for your permanent residency to come through. The Cypriot authorities may also raise the income criteria for temporary residence by over 30%. Expats are warning their compatriots back home in the UK that Cyprus is targeting the ‘caviar brigade’ and pricing itself out of the expat market.

British Benevolent Fund Aids Expats in Spain

‘Charity of last resort,’ the British Benevolent Fund, was set up over a hundred years ago to aid British citizens in Spain, and the organisation is still very much in business. They describe themselves as a “Spain-wide charity for when times are tough.” The charity aims to “provide financial support to help Britons in Spain get back on their feet.” Their patron is British ambassador Hugh Elliott, and they work closely with the expat community in Spain. They report an increase in demand after the pandemic, which has had a significant impact on the livelihoods of many Brits in the country, leaving them in difficult circumstances. They can assist with issues such as bereavement, repatriation (for example, if you find yourself stranded in Spain without sufficient funds to return home to the UK), and cases of domestic violence. They can also help expats who need to access medical treatment.

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You can find more information through their website: http://www.britishbenevolentfund.org

Singapore Stamp Duty Doubles

The press reported in late April that Singapore will be increasing stamp duty for foreigners to 60%, an amount that Reuters describes as ‘eye watering.’ Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) for permanent residents and citizens is also going up, but not by as much, and will only be applied to second or additional properties (to 20% and 30% respectively for citizens and to 30% and 35% for permanent residents). The government says that it is expecting these measures to affect around 10% of property transactions, and it is introducing them in order to cool off the property market and try to check galloping prices amid the post-pandemic construction boom. House prices in the state have gone up by over 3% in the first part of 2023.

Saudi Arabia Announces Change to Customs Regulations

If you’re planning on taking large quantities of cash into Saudi Arabia, be aware that the country is changing its customs regulations. If you’re bringing in more than SR60,000 ($16,000) in cash or precious metals (such as jewellery), you will need to declare the money to the authorities in advance of your travel.

Tokyo Attracting New Investors

Tokyo has been striving to regain its status as a major financial hub. Recent developments, including the interest of hedge funds like Citadel and Point72 Asset Management, as well as Warren Buffett’s visit, indicate a potential resurgence. Tokyo’s prospects are bolstered by the decline of Hong Kong as an international hub and concerns over Chinese cities, creating an opportunity for Tokyo to attract investors. The city’s infrastructure development, increasing office space, relative affordability, and efforts to attract elite professionals through visa programs contribute to its appeal. While Tokyo’s future as an international centre is uncertain, the positive sentiments of influential figures suggest it is worth considering.

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