What money you can withdraw from a Cyprus bank account

With the well publicised upheaval in the Cyprus banking system it is not surprising that people have become confused about what they are entitled to withdraw from the their accounts and what is allowable in terms of international transfers.

The new legislation is complicated and we've had 17 decrees issued since March 2013. The situation is generally considered to be a nightmare and even though the legislation states one thing, some banks do not always interpret the rules correctly and that can cause frustration when you are trying to withdraw money from a Cyprus bank.

To further confuse you the situation is very different for local and international business transactions

Anyway, please find a quick up to date summary/list of facts below of the current day situation which will hopefully give some guidance on what money you can withdraw from a Cyprus bank account :

  • The cashing of cheques is forbidden. Cheques can only be deposited in bank accounts.
  • Maximum amount of cash withdrawal must not exceed €300 daily per natural person and €500 daily per legal person in each credit institution but the time for daily withdrawal starts running from 27th March 2013; in other words if you haven't withdrawn any funds at all from 27th March up to today, you will be allow to withdraw the amount consisting of €300 per day from 27th March till today inclusive;
  • Export of foreign currency abroad at airports etc is now €3000 rather than €1000 as it was previously;

CASHLESS PAYMENTS AND TRANSFERS OF DEPOSITS/FUNDS

The following are permitted within Cyprus:

  • The cashless payment or transfer of deposits/funds to accounts held in other credit institutions within Cyprus up to €15.000 per month per natural person in each credit institution regardless of the purpose;
  • The cashless payment or transfer of deposits/funds to accounts held in other credit institutions within Cyprus up to €75.000 per month per legal person in each credit institution regardless of the purpose;
  • A cashless payment or transfer of deposits/funds to accounts held in other credit institutions within Cyprus for the purchase of goods and or services up to €300.000, per transaction provided that the payment is not made from one credit institution to another into the person's own account. The credit institution is authorised to request a justification for the contemplated transaction; and
  • The cashless payment or transfer of deposits/funds to an account held in another credit institution within Cyprus for the purchase of goods and or services for an amount over €300.000 per transaction upon presentation of documents that justify such a transaction.
  • The Decree provides that cashless payments and/or transfers of deposits/funds to accounts held abroad are prohibited. This is however not an absolute prohibition so that the following exemptions apply:

    • All non cash transactions and/or transfers of funds outside Cyprus are prohibited with the exception of transactions that are within the normal business activities of the company, upon presentation of supporting documents, in the following cases:

      1. payments/transfers of up to EUR 500,000 per transaction are not subject to the Central Bank of Cyprus Committee's approval;
      2. payments/transfers from EUR 500,001 to EUR 1,000,000 per transaction are subject to the approval of the Committee. The Committee will take its decision, within 24 hours taking into consideration the liquidity buffer situation of the credit institution;
      3. payments/transfers above EUR 1,000,001 per transaction are subject to the approval of the Committee, taking into consideration the justifying documentation provided, and liquidity buffer situation of the credit institution.
    • The withdrawal of fixed deposits prior to their due date is prohibited unless the funds are used to repay a loan and/or overdraft and/or credit card within the same credit institution, subject to certain criteria.
    • Upon maturity of fixed term deposits, the higher amount between EUR 5,000 or 20% of the total amount of the deposit in question, will be either transferred to a sight/current account or be deposited in a new fixed term deposit in the same credit institution, the balance shall be extended for one month.
    • All banking institutions are restricted from effecting payments whose purpose is the avoidance of the restrictive measures.
    • The opening of a new account for any individual/corporate who is not an existing customer of a credit institution on the date of entry into force of the Enforcement of Temporary Restrictive Measures on Transactions in case of Emergency Sixth Decree of 2013, is prohibited unless the account will only be credited with funds transferred from abroad to the Republic, or the prior approval of the Committee is obtained.

EXEMPTIONS

There are a number of general exemptions to the restrictive measures, which are as follows:

  • all new funds transferred to the Republic from abroad provided that any re-transfers to a second credit institution in the Republic will only be exempt if the first credit institution that the new funds were transferred to states that the funds are already exempt;
  • withdrawal of cash using credit and/or debit and/or prepaid cards issued by foreign institutions on accounts abroad;
  • the cashing of cheques issued on accounts held with foreign institutions abroad;
  • cash withdrawals from accounts of credit institutions with the Central Bank;
  • payments and receipts of the Republic of Cyprus;
  • payments and receipts of the Central Bank;
  • the foreign diplomatic missions and the UN missions in Cyprus based on the exemptions specified in the Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations and the Agreements between the Republic and the United Nations and other international Agreements which have precedence over national legislation;
  • the payments via a debit and or credit and or prepaid card; andbtransactions or payments that have been authorized by the Committee.

The Decree generally maintains the status quo of restrictions with minor relaxations and offers some allowance to the credit institutions to self-regulate some of the payments/transfers that would have previously been subject to the Committee’s approval.

Certain international banks in Cyprus are now not subject to any restrictive measure imposed by the decrees with respect to international customers to an entity outside the ROC. However, you will need to speak to your banker at these banks if you have an account there prior to taking any action. These banks are:

  1. Arab Jordan Investment Bank SA;
  2. Bank of Beirut SAL;
  3. BankMed SAL;
  4. Banque BEMO SAL;
  5. Banque SBA;
  6. Barclays Bank PLC;
  7. BBAC SAL;
  8. BLOM Bank SAL;
  9. Byblos Bank SAL;
  10. Credit Libanais SAL;
  11. Jordan Ahli Bank plc;
  12. Lebanon and Gulf Bank SAL;
  13. OJSC Promsvyazbank;
  14. Privatbank Commercial Bank;
  15. Russian Commercial Bank (Cyprus) Ltd.

The main point is that anyone who plans on doing anything involving a lot of money must obtain legal advice as the legislation is complicated and regularly changes.

 

About the author

David Bannister is an acknowleged expert on the Cyprus banking system.

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