Cyprus Forex License
The process of obtaining forex license in Cyprus consists of the following steps:
- registration of the company
- support in obtaining a license
- opening a bank account
- preparation of instructions on AML and business plan
- AML Officer with appropriate qualifications and knowledge
PACKAGE «Forex License in Cyprus»
Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) is the regulatory body
- Licensing process: 4–9 months
HOW TO OBTAIN A FOREX LICENCE IN CYPRUS
- Register a company and obtain a CIF – Cyprus Investment Firm license
- Open a corporate bank account
- Prepare and submit license documents for CySEC application
- A certain amount of money must be allocated to Investor Compensation Fund (ICF) by all licensed brokers
- There must be at least three local directors in the physical office
- Applicants must own and use their own exclusive website to conduct online activities
- Ensure qualified personnel are employed, including AML officers, compliance officers, risk managers, internal and external auditors.
- Fees for government services begin at EUR 9,000
- The minimum share capital required for a Standard License (agent broker) is 125 000 euros
- The full license (marker creator) requires a minimum share capital of 750 000 euros
- Consulting on relevant legislation and assisting with selecting appropriate categories of activities
- CIF structure design and construction based on your requirements
- Guidelines for submitting all required documents and certificates
- Drafting license applications on behalf of clients
- Drafting a clear organizational structure with clear lines of authority and responsibility
- The development of anti-money laundering policies
- Supporting the business plan, developing a business plan and financial projections
- Reviewing the licence application and supporting documents and submitting them to CySEC
- Arrangement of the meeting/s with CySEC
- Induction and preparation of personnel for CySEC inspections
- Responding, on behalf of the client, to CySEC queries and requests for information
Biggest forex companies registered in Cyprus
- The main requirement for obtaining a license – the presence of financial education and/or previous experience in this field (it is necessary to provide a detailed summary and a copy of the diploma);
- Staff requirements – at least one director, natural or legal person without residency requirements and secretary
- Presence of a registered office;
Given the growing popularity of trading in the Forex market, more and more businessmen are thinking about opening their own brokerage company to work with this annually growing market, and Cyprus is one of the most suitable jurisdictions for such a project. The Island has a relatively simple and straightforward procedure for obtaining a brokerage license, which is issued by the Finance Department in the shortest possible time. In addition, a company with a Cyprus brokerage license can operate in all EU countries.
The procedure for obtaining a broker’s license in Cyprus jurisdiction consists of three stages:
- Business registration.
- Opening of a bank account.
- Application for a license.
Company Registration in Cyprus
To work in the financial market of Cyprus, it is necessary to register the so-called Cyprus investment firm (CIF). For further work, she will need to be authorized by the local regulatory body – Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec).
CIF is responsible for providing a wide range of investment services to clients, as well as investing in its own interests. It is in this legal form that brokers dealing with securities should work, portfolio investment and investment consulting.
It is noteworthy that banks, insurance companies and all kinds of investment funds in Cyprus do not fall into this category. They have their own working conditions, which are regulated by separate legislation. At the same time, the Cypriot CIF is entitled to act as a Forex dealer.
CIF regulates the local Investment Services Act, adopted in 2007. This legal act gives CIF competence to various activities related to the use of financial instruments. These include, inter alia:
- monetary instruments
- ownership of enterprises
- various contracts for the sale and purchase of shares, currencies, etc., which can be performed by delivery of the object of the transaction or payment of the obligation
- derivative contracts for the sale of exchange-traded goods, which can be performed by payment of the obligation
- derivative contracts for the sale of exchange-traded goods that can be performed by delivery of the object of transaction provided that they are available in the regulated market
- derivative contracts for the sale and purchase of exchange-traded goods that may be performed by delivery of the item of the transaction, which are non-commercial and have the characteristics of derivative fin. tools
- various derivatives related to credit risk
- deals on price differences
To open a business of this type, it is necessary to pass the registration and licensing procedure, with a total duration of about 4 months.
Opening a bank account for a Forex company in Cyprus
A bank account at the beginning of the licensing process is necessary for the placement of the authorized capital of the enterprise. The account is opened after the registration of the company in Cyprus, and it can be credited with the necessary capital of the company. After that, it is necessary to obtain a certificate from the bank confirming the receipt of funds to the account – this certificate will be needed when submitting a license application to CySEC.
It should be noted that the entire amount of the authorized capital is kept in the bank account without the possibility of its free withdrawal, which is a guarantee of the financial solvency of the company – these funds are frozen for the entire period of the license. The authorized capital of the Cyprus Forex Broker varies from EUR 50,000 to EUR 725,000 and depends on the services provided.
Submission of documents for obtaining a Forex broker license
Licensing of financial activities in Cyprus is already the responsibility of CySEC – it is this administrative body that is applying for a license. Together with the application, the following documents are submitted:
- report on the organizational structure of the enterprise;
- business plan;
- corporate procedures manual;
- manual on Money Laundering and Risk Control;
- three-year financial forecast;
- questionnaires of all shareholders and directors, as well as certificates of their criminal record and bankruptcy.
A prerequisite for obtaining a license is the appointment to the appropriate positions in the company of a number of employees with impeccable reputation and necessary level of competence.
The following employees of the company must be agreed with CySEC:
- four directors, including the managing company;
- risk manager;
- compliance control manager;
- internal and external auditor;
With all this, CySEC also puts a number of requirements to the management structure of the brokerage company:
- Management should be carried out by a Board of Directors composed of at least four persons of impeccable reputation and necessary qualification to work in the financial market.
- Corporate Procedures and Company Policy.
- The company’s administrative procedures should provide clients with the necessary protection of their interests.
- The company must have a special department for risk management, which will deal with the minimization of operational risks.
- The company must have mechanisms to control its own activities.
- All customers of the company must be identified through a special universal procedure.
- Customer data must be stored with the necessary level of security.
The most popular European country to start trading in Forex
Low company income tax of 12.5%
One of the first countries to recognise and begin licensing Forex
High level of trust from clients
Advantages of the Cyprus Forex License
Cyprus has a long history of forex trading, since it was among the first countries to recognize it as a viable part of the financial industry by starting to create an infrastructure and legalizing the activities. With all the accumulated experience and honed infrastructure, Cyprus remains one of the most reputable and popular jurisdictions for forex traders. Although Cyprus’s forex activities are subject to strict EU regulations, the country has managed to establish a streamlined forex licensing process, allowing applicants to save time and money and simultaneously focus on a robust business model.
The application requirements and mandatory steps are clear, transparent, usually feasible with the help of such legal advisors as Regulated United Europe (RUE), and constantly evolving to accommodate business needs, as well as protect the financial industry and maintain security across all levels. This means that by submitting a quality application in line with the relevant regulations, you’ll most likely be able to obtain a forex license in a timely manner without having to keep returning to the application to fulfil additional, unforeseen requirements. Besides, a fast-track option for application processing is also available.
Cypriot forex businesses are subject to such EU regulations as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) which ensures the application of basic standards. CySec is responsible for enforcing the standards and is one of the most prominent and essential regulators of forex businesses and dealing centres that provide services in international financial markets, although it doesn’t force excessive regulations. The regulatory environment is mostly easy to comply with and at the same time allows the offering of reliable services which means that you will have a smaller regulatory and financial burden but will be trusted and respected just as traders licensed in such prestigious jurisdictions as the UK, Switzerland, or the US.
The Cyprus forex license grants EU passporting rights which allow licensees to offer financial services in other jurisdictions of the European Economic Area (EEA) which means that you won’t have to establish physical office branches or apply for a new license in every EEA country where you intend to conduct business – once the Cyprus forex license is granted, notifying relevant national financial authorities will suffice. Obtaining a license in such a less costly jurisdiction as Cyprus and conducting business in the wealthiest countries is a common practice due to the opportunity to optimize operational costs. It also adds an extra layer of security for investors, as such companies are monitored by the authorities of their home and host countries, and they regularly exchange relevant information.
Another notable advantage is that the Cypriot banking system is one of the most reliable banking systems in the entire world, as it’s regulated by the Central Bank of Cyprus in line with the EU standards. Cypriot banks are innovation-oriented and offer a variety of services in English and other languages, which makes them accessible to international entrepreneurs. In Cyprus, you can expect banks to facilitate international transfers, offer various loans and business cards, provide insurance products, internet banking, and more. Cypriot banks can also be trusted due to their confidentiality, as they don’t share information about their clients with third parties without clients’ consent or a court order. If you value privacy and security, as well as want stability offered by the EU-based banks, Cypriot banks are among the most suitable options.
The taxation system in Cyprus is undoubtedly among the most favourable ones in Europe. The Corporate Income Tax rate is only 12.5% and there’s no Withholding Tax. Dividends received from other Cyprus tax resident companies, interest, profits arising from the sale of securities, and several other types of profits are tax-exempt in many instances. Moreover, Cyprus has over 65 international agreements on the elimination of double taxation, promoting cross-border investments, and reducing the tax burden for international entrepreneurs, provided that they’re tax-resident companies.
FOREX LICENSE IN Cyprus
|Period for consideration
||4–9 months||Annual fee for supervision||from 10,000 euros|
|State fee for application
||from 3,000 euros||Local staff member||Required|
|Required share capital||from 50,000 euros||Physical office||Required|
|Corporate income tax||12.5%||Accounting audit||Required|
Tiers of Cyprus Forex Licenses
Depending on the scope of your business activities, you can choose from 3 main tiers of forex licenses in Cyprus, grantable by CySEC under Law 87(Ι)/2017. The authority supervises forex brokers by demanding reports on capital adequacy, enforcing financial compliance of the company, and the professional competencies of employees. Whichever license is granted, the licensee is obligated to maintain the share capital at least at the required minimum level.
The main tiers of Cyprus forex licenses are as follows:
- The basic license (minimum capital – 50, 000 EUR) enables forex businesses to either provide investment advice and execute orders, or provide investment advice and portfolio management services; this license doesn’t permit holding clients’ money or other financial instruments
- The standard, or Market Making, license (minimum capital – 125,000 EUR) enables forex businesses to pass customers’ orders directly to the liquidity pool as opposed to dealing directly with them by employing the Straight-Through Processing (STP) model which, unfortunately, makes clients more vulnerable to lower liquidity; the licensee is authorized to hold clients’ money or other financial instruments
- The full, or Dealing On Own Account, license (minimum capital – 730,000 EUR) authorizes licensed businesses to process customers’ trades in-house by acting as a counterparty to their trades which allows clients to trade directly with the broker and this way be entitled to more liquidity and be protected from market fluctuations since such brokers charge a fixed spread; the licensee is authorized to hold clients’ money or other financial instruments
Forex Regulations in Cyprus
The forex market in the EEA is subject to a harmonized set of regulations laid out in the aforementioned Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), the basic provisions of which came into effect in Cyprus in 2018. While such countries as Switzerland and the UK have gone way above the basic MiFID II requirements, Cyprus has decided to only meet the basic requirements, which leaves room for more flexibility while also ensuring safety and security within the financial market. Overall, this law facilitates increased competition, and investor protection, as well as makes the financial market more resilient, and transparent.
One of the most significant MiFID II rules is funds segregation. Forex brokers are required to separate their clients’ funds from the company’s funds and place them in separate bank accounts. This approach enables the protection of clients’ funds, as the broker can’t use these funds in case of financial setbacks. However, while certain EU countries are strict about enforcing this rule, Cyprus has chosen a more relaxed approach which our team here at Regulated United Europe (RUE) can advise you on in a personalised consultation which you can request by clicking the link.
The categorization of clients is another MiFID II rule worth taking note of. Forex brokers are obligated to establish clear principles for categorizing their clients into retail traders and professional traders or investors, and do so in line with the established principles. After categorizing their clients based on their relevant knowledge, the brokers can evaluate risks, offer appropriate products and services, and this way prevent inexperienced traders from engaging in high-risk activities.
The investor compensation rule is crucial in terms of protecting clients from losses incurred by the bankruptcy of a broker. Pursuant to MiFID II, in such cases clients in the EEA, including Cyprus, are covered up to 20,000 EUR, while clients residing outside the EEA are eligible for 1,160 EUR. In Cyprus, the function is performed by the Investor Compensation Fund (ICF), provided that a broker is a member of the fund. All non-professional investors-clients of an ICF member who are covered by the ICF for claims against such member, arising out of the covered services provided by the member, can apply for compensation, regardless of their legal status, nationality, or place of residence.
How to Establish a Cyprus Investment Firm (CIF)
Due to the above-mentioned advantages, a great number of international businesspeople view Cyprus Investment Firm (CIF) as a valuable means to conduct forex business across the EEA. The process of establishing a new company in Cyprus is straightforward but vigorous, as a forex company must also meet the EU’s rules for anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
To establish a CIF, you must meet the following requirements:
- Hire at least four – two executive and two non-executive – directors, among which three of them must reside in Cyprus
- Establish a Board of Directors, the members of which must demonstrate excellent reputation and relevant professional competencies
- Open a physical office in Cyprus with CySEC-approved key employees
- Transfer the authorized minimum capital to the local bank account
Recall that the amount of the authorized minimum share capital is dependent upon the tier of the forex license you intend to apply for. Applicants for a basic license are obligated to transfer 50,000 EUR, applicants for a standard license must transfer 125,000 EUR, and the full license applicants must transfer 730,000 EUR. Additionally, all licensed brokers must allocate a certain amount of funds to the aforementioned ICF.
For the incorporation, you should prepare the following documents:
- Memorandum and Articles of Association
- A clear and detailed business plan
- A financial plan
- Proof of deposited authorized minimum share capital
- Certified passport copies of the directors and secretary of the company
- Proof of the company’s registered address in Cyprus
- Certified copies of passports and proof of good standing of the ultimate beneficial owners of the company
The company’s business plan should include:
- Management plan
- Description of services to be provided by the company
- Organizational structure, including a background of key office holders
- Operational guide
- AML/CFT policies and procedures in line with national and EU regulations
- Risk management and compliance procedures
- Marketing plan
- Market analysis report
- Market segmentation and distribution channels
- Details of payment transactions
The financial plan should include the following information:
- Profit and loss statement
- Balance sheet
- Cash flow statement
- Capital requirements
- Capital source
- Revenue and cost projections
- Quarterly budget forecasts for the next 3 years under target and stress scenarios
- Any other essential information, assumptions, and explanations
Once all the documents are prepared, the application must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies (RCOR) in Cyprus. However, recall that a freshly registered company isn’t yet permitted to offer financial services without being licensed by CySEC first.
The Application Process
Receiving a Cyprus forex license can typically take up to 6 months, as the authorities are legally obligated to make the decision within 6 months following the submission of the application. However, if the application is incomplete, submitted documents are inaccurate, or the information is inconsistent, the process of application consideration can take up to 10 months. The application fee is 3,000 EUR, plus 1,000 EUR per financial service, with the exception of the Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) for which the additional fee is 10,000 EUR, and 500 EUR per ancillary service. For an additional cost of 25,000 EUR, the application can be fast-tracked to complete the process within 3–4 months. To effectively use the fast-track option, we strongly recommend consulting with our legal team first.
Once your Cyprus-based CIF is incorporated, take the following key steps to apply for a forex license:
- Kickstart the process of KYC verification for the shareholders and directors – we’re more than happy to guide you through it
- Prepare all the application documents, which can take up to 2 months
- Submit the application to CySEC
The following documents must be included in the application:
- Completed CySEC’s application form
- Documents containing information about company directors, managers, and shareholders with special participation
- Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum, and Articles of Association
- Proof of the registered office in Cyprus
- Proof of the names of company directors and secretary
- Group structure
- Organizational structure
- The manual of internal procedures and processes for all activities and operations within the company
- A three-year business plan
- AML, including KYC, procedures guide
To prove identity, as well as demonstrate competence, integrity, and prudence, each member of the Board of Directors and shareholders with special participation must submit the following documents:
- Notarized copy of passport
- Proof of residential address
- CV demonstrating experience in the financial industry
- Education certificates demonstrating financial education
- KYC documents
- A certificate of no criminal record
- A certificate of good financial standing
- A personal questionnaire
Regulated United Europe (RUE) will be pleased to support you in incorporating a Cypriot company and obtaining a forex license in Cyprus. With dedicated legal advisors, tax experts, and financial accountants at your side, you will find the application process easy, frictionless, and transparent.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
To obtain a forex license in Cyprus, follow these steps:
- The company's registration
- Assistance with licensing
- Setting up an account with a bank
- Business plan and AML instructions are being prepared
- Qualified and knowledgeable AML officer
- For obtaining a license, it is necessary to have financial education and/or prior experience in this field (a detailed summary and the diploma are required)
- It is necessary to have one director, a natural or legal person who does not have to reside in the country, and a secretary
- An office with a registered address
Cypriot brokers must undergo three stages in order to obtain their license:
- Registration of businesses.
- An account is opened.
- Obtaining a license application.
CIFs are required for working on the Cyprus financial market. For further work, she will need to be authorized by the local regulatory body – Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySec).
As well as investing in its own interests, CIF provides a variety of investment services to its clients. Brokers who deal with securities, portfolio investors, and investment consultants should operate under this legal form.
There is no difference between banks, insurance companies, and investment funds in Cyprus. Legislation governing their working conditions is separate from that of the general public. Additionally, the Cypriot CIF is permitted to offer Forex services.
This type of business requires the registration and licensing process, which takes about four months.
- Instruments of money
- An enterprise's ownership
- Contracts between two parties to sell or buy shares, currencies, etc., that can be completed by either delivery of the object or payment of the obligation.
- Payment is required for the execution of derivative contracts for the sale of exchange-traded products
- Delivery contracts for exchange-traded goods, provided that the object of transaction is available on a regulated market, are derivative contracts for sale of exchange-traded goods
- Non-commercial contracts for the sale and purchase of exchange-traded goods, which are derivative financial instruments with characteristics of derivative financial instruments. Assemblies
- Credit-related derivatives
- Prices differing by a certain amount
Bank accounts are required for the placement of authorized capital at the beginning of the licensing process. Accounts are opened after company registration in Cyprus, and they can be credited with the company's capital. Once the bank has confirmed the receipt of funds into the account, a certificate is required when applying for a license with CySEC.
As a guarantee of the company's financial solvency, the entire authorized capital is held in the bank account without being able to withdraw it freely - these funds are frozen during the entire term of the license. Based on the services offered, Cyprus Forex Brokers' authorized capital ranges from EUR 50,000 to EUR 725,000.
Cyprus has already accredited CySEC with the responsibility of licensing financial activities - it is this agency that has applied for a license. Submission of the following documents is required along with the application:
- An organization structure report;
- Plan for the business;
- An organization's procedure manual;
- An overview of money laundering and risk control;
- Detailed financial projections for three years;
- A questionnaire for each shareholder and director, as well as copies of their criminal records and bankruptcy certificates.
It is necessary to appoint at least a few employees with impeccable reputations and the necessary level of competence to the appropriate positions in the company in order to obtain a license.
Forex trading has long been popular in Cyprus since it was one of the first countries to legalize and create an infrastructure to support it. Despite its accumulated experience and well-developed infrastructure, Cyprus remains a popular and reputable forex trading jurisdiction. Cyprus has established a streamlined forex licensing process which allows applicants to save time and money while simultaneously focusing on a robust business model, despite strict EU regulations.
Regulated United Europe (RUE), a legal advisor, helps with the application process, so it's clear, transparent, usually feasible, and always evolving to meet business needs, protect the financial industry, and maintain security at all levels. You will most likely be able to obtain a forex license in a timely manner by submitting a quality application in compliance with the relevant regulations, without having to keep returning to your application to meet additional requirements. The application can also be processed fast if you choose this option.
Forex licenses in Cyprus are categorized into three tiers:
- This license allows forex businesses to either provide investment recommendations and execute orders, or provide investment recommendations and portfolio management services; it does not allow holding any funds or other assets of the clients.
- Forex businesses can use the standard, or Market Making, license (minimum capital - 125,000 EUR) by passing orders directly to the liquidity pool rather than dealing directly with customers; the licensee is allowed to hold clients' money or other financial instruments by using the Straight-Through Processing (STP) model, which, unfortunately, makes clients more vulnerable to lower liquidity.
- By applying for a full license (minimum capital – 730,000 EUR), a business can act as a counterparty to its customers' trades and process customers’ trades in-house. In this way, clients can trade directly with the broker, which allows them to benefit from more liquidity as well as protect themselves against market fluctuations since such brokers charge a fixed spread; the licensee is authorized to hold clients’ funds or other financial instruments.
Cyprus implemented the basic provisions of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) in 2018, which harmonized the forex market regulation in the EEA. Unlike Switzerland and the UK, Cyprus has only met the basic requirements of MiFID II, which allows for more flexibility within the financial market while ensuring safety and security. Overall, this law improves competition, investor protection, and market resilience and transparency, as well as increasing investor confidence.
Funds segregation is an important MiFID II rule. Separate bank accounts are required for clients' funds and the company's funds by forex brokers. Using this approach allows clients' funds to be protected, since the broker cannot access these funds in the event of financial difficulties. Unlike some EU countries that strictly enforce this rule, Cyprus has chosen to adopt a more relaxed approach, which our team at Regulated United Europe (RUE) can advise you on in a customised consultation.
Following are the requirements for establishing a CIF:
- You must hire at least four directors - two executive and two non-executive - among whom three must reside in Cyprus
- Identify members of the Board of Directors who possess excellent reputations and relevant professional expertise
- Develop a Cyprus-based office with key employees who are CySEC-approved
- A local bank account should be opened with the minimum capital authorized
- Association Memorandum and Articles
- Detailed and clear business plans
- Planning for the future
- Minimum authorized share capital proof of deposit
- Copies of the passports of the company's directors and secretary
- Proof of the Cyprus company's registered address
- A certified copy of the company's passport and proof of good standing are required
As Cyprus forex licenses must be issued within 6 months of the application being submitted, the process typically takes up to 6 months. Incomplete applications, incorrect documents, or inconsistent information can delay the application consideration process by up to 10 months. For the Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF), the additional fee is 10,000 EUR, along with 500 EUR per ancillary service. The application fee for the Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) is 3,000 EUR.An additional 25,000 EUR can be paid to fast-track the application to be completed within three to four months. It is strongly recommended that you consult our legal team before using the fast-track option.
In order to apply for a forex license, your Cyprus-based CIF must be incorporated. Here are the key steps:
- Let us guide you through the KYC verification process for your shareholders and directors.
- It can take up to two months to prepare all the application documents
- The application should be submitted to CySEC
- Application completed by CySEC
- Company director, manager, and shareholder participation documents
- A copy of the articles of incorporation, the memorandum of incorporation, and the certificate of incorporation
- Cyprus registration proof
- Director and secretary names must be verified
- Structure of groups
- An overview of the organization
- Procedures and processes for all company activities and operations are documented in this manual
- Planning a business strategy for three years
- Guide to AML and KYC procedures
At the moment, the main services of our company are legal and compliance solutions for FinTech projects. Our offices are located in Tallinn, Vilnius, Prague, and Warsaw. The legal team can assist with legal analysis, project structuring, and legal regulation.