Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 09/05/24


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Citizenship can only be acquired by decent and not by being born on territory. Citizenship can be applied for and the decision to grant citizenship is issued by the Minister of Interior. In 2023, the Law[1] was amended and the requirements for applying for naturalisation have increased significantly.

Specifically, the requirements for applying for naturalisation under the Civil Registry Law, prior to the amendment are as follows:[2]

  1. Five or seven consecutive years of residence, and uninterrupted stay in Cyprus during the last twelve months (e.g., holiday). The required residence period depends on the status of residency and beneficiaries of international protection fall under the category that requires five years;
  2. Three guarantors who are of all Cypriot nationality;
  3. A clear criminal record.

The requirements under the amended Law, are as follows:

A person who submits an application for naturalization may be naturalized, provided that they cumulatively meets the following requirements:

  1. Legal and continuous residence in the Republic for the period of the immediately preceding twelve (12) months from the date of submission of his naturalization application. Periods of absence from the Republic that do not exceed a total of ninety (90) days within the 12 month period do not interrupt the above-mentioned time period; and
  2. Total residence with physical presence of seven years of legal residence in the Republic within the last ten years before the mentioned twelve-month period. The years of stay as a student, applicant for international protection, holder of supplementary or temporary protection are not counted towards this seven years. The only exception is for persons who reside in the Republic for the purpose of highly skilled employment in companies as determined by a Decision of the Council of Ministers, who can apply at 4 or 5 years depending on the applicants academic level of the Greek language. And;
  3. The applicant is of good character:

According to the Law, elements that tend to indicate good character include:

  • The applicant has not shown by deeds or words any lack of respect for the law or contempt for the Republic;
  • The applicant has not behaved in a way that constitutes acceptance of the illegal administration of the areas not controlled by the Republic, does not hold any office related to it, nor does it possess, illegally enter, cause damage to or interfere with immovable property located in said areas which belongs to another legal owner;
  • The applicant has not, during any war waged by the Republic, engaged in any transaction, nor communicated with the enemy, or engaged in the conduct of an operation, or participated in any operation in such a manner as to have assisted the enemy;
  • The applicant has not been sentenced in the Republic or abroad to imprisonment for a serious criminal offense, which carries a prison sentence of five (5) years or more or for another serious offense or for an offense that is dishonourable or involving moral obscenity;
  • The applicant is not wanted at pan-European level by EUROPOL or internationally by INTERPOL for a serious criminal offence, which constitutes an offense in the Republic and carries a prison sentence of five (5) years or more or for another serious offense or for a dishonourable or moral offense turpitude·
  • The applicant was not sanctioned and his name is not included in a list of sanctions, in accordance with the provisions of the Implementation of the Provisions of the Resolutions or Decisions of the United Nations Security Council (Sanctions) and the Decisions and Regulations of the Council of Europe Union (Restrictive Measures) Act;
  • No criminal case is pending against the applicant in the Republic or abroad for an offense punishable by imprisonment of three (3) years or more;
  • The applicant has not entered through an illegal point of entry or entered or remained in the Republic in violation of any prohibition, condition, restriction or reservation, in accordance with the laws of the Republic in force at the time.
  • The applicant does not constitute a risk to public order and public security of the Republic:

  1. The applicant must have sufficient knowledge of the Greek language at level B1, with the exception of persons who reside in the Republic for the purpose of highly skilled employment.
  2. The applicant must have sufficient knowledge of basic elements of the modern political and social reality of the Republic. The process and method of evaluation of this requirement will be determined by a three-member evaluation committee, which is made up from representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Justice and Public Affairs Order.
  3. The applicant must have suitable accommodation and stable and regular financial resources sufficient for the maintenance of I and dependent members of their family and for this purpose the following will be taken into account:
  • income from gainful full-time employment and/or income from other sources of a stable and legal nature;
  • if the applicant is or has been for a long-term unemployed during his stay in the Republic; and
  • if, as a result of hardship or difficult financial situation, the applicant has received any financial aid or benefit during their stay in the Republic.
  1. The applicant has the intention to
  • reside in the Republic; or
  • enter or continue to serve in the public service of the Republic.

The requirements included in the amended Law are expected to make it extremely difficult if not impossible for BIPs to satisfy, including BIPs that were born in Cyprus or came to Cyprus at a young age and grew up in Cyprus. Specifically, the required years of residence which has been increased from 5 years to 8 years, whereas the years as an applicant for international protection, holder of subsidiary or temporary protection are not counted will be an obstacle for the majority of BIPs as they are subsidiary protection holders, including Syrian nationals. Furthermore, the majority of BIPs enter in an irregular manner, which is considered as an indication of not ‘good character’. Finally, the majority of BIPs will have received at some point financial assistance either as an applicant of international protection or later as a BIP which is considered as an indication that the applicant does not have sufficient financial resources.

The procedure to apply requires a submission fee of €500 upon submission of the application.

The time required to examine applications has always been lengthy and, in most cases, taken over 3-4 years. The procedure to examine applications requires an oral interview, which includes questions related to the political and social issues of Cyprus. A recommendation is then drafted by the examining officer which is then referred to the Minister of Interior who has the final decision either to reject or grant citizenship.  Under the amended Law there is no time limit for the examination of applications, except for those of highly skilled employees which undergo a fast-track procedure of maximum 8 months.

Even prior to the amendment naturalisation for BIPS has always been problematic, as the procedures are extremely slow and lack transparency, and BIPs have never been facilitated in any way other than being able to apply after completing 5 years instead of 7 years of stay as is the case for other TCN. Furthermore, children are not naturalised when born in the country, under any circumstances, which limits access further. In 2021, 11 BIPs were granted citizenship and in 2022, a slight rise was noted with 27 BIPs granted.[3] In 2023, there no information was provided on the number of BIPs granted citizenship, however it is expected to be low.[4]

It was also noted that although the requirements for nationality prior to the amendment do not include financial criteria, an applicant’s financial situation is a primary consideration. Also, if the person is a recipient of State benefits, including persons with special needs, disabilities, and survivors of torture and trafficking etc, they will most probably be rejected. In the decision it is cited that they are a ‘burden on the state’.[5] In 2021, 2022, and 2023 an increase in the rejection rates regarding applications for nationality by BIPs – including all persons living in the country for periods of well over 10 years – was noted. Such cases included young adults that were born or grew up in Cyprus, completed public school, speak fluent Greek and are studying in university; in these cases, the motivation for rejection referred to the fact that their parents had or were receiving State support, even if the applicants involved were not. Furthermore, single persons were rejected, and the justification mentioned the fact that they had no sufficient ties to the country as they had not formed families. In other cases, the applicant was found to be of non-good character, although they had submitted a clean criminal record as required and the finding of non-good character was based on reports supposedly provided by the Central Intelligence Service but with no evidence to support this and no access to such reports. Some of these cases have been appealed before Court and are currently pending.[6]

According to the Law, in cases of children born in Cyprus where one parent is Cypriot and the other is non-Cypriot, but entered or remained in Cyprus irregularly, the child does not acquire nationality unless the Ministerial Council orders otherwise. Until recently, this was only applied to Cypriot nationals who reside in the areas not under the effective control of the RoC and are married and/or have children with Turkish nationals who have settled in Cyprus after the 1974 war, and whose entry and residence in Cyprus is considered to be illegal. However, in recent years this has been applied to children of Cypriot nationals living in the areas under the effective control of the RoC who are married to third country nationals, including asylum seekers or international protection holders who may have entered irregularly when they first arrived or at some point stayed irregularly. The procedure for the examination of applications by the Council of Ministers to enable the registration of such children as Cypriot nationals is very lengthy and decisions often remain pending for years; in recent years close to zero decisions have been issued. [7] In cases where the third country national, including a BIP cannot pass on their own nationality, the child will be stateless. In 2023, the number of such cases increased significantly, including cases where the children are stateless, whereas no decisions were issued by the Council of Ministers.[8]




[1] Civil Registry Law (Amendment) Law of 2023.

[2] Table III (Article 111) Civil Registry Law, 2002, available in Greek at:

[3] Civil Registry and Migration Department.

[4] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Information provided by cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[7] Dialogos, Children of Turkish Cypriot mixed marriages await recognition – The road is long and arduous, 30 April 2022, available in Greek at

[8] Information provided by Cyprus Refugee Council.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation