Cyprus is moving to cut red tape in order to fast-track the issuance of planning and building permits, slashing the waiting time down to just 2-3 weeks.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said a project to fast-track building permits would be set in motion on October 1 to bring down the time needed to process an application from an average 18 months to just 10 or 20 days.
He said on Wednesday that with the fast-track process, those submitting their applications in writing will obtain their permit within 20 days while those who apply online can have the permit in their hands within ten days.
The Interior Minister acknowledged that, “the current procedure for granting planning or building permits is exceedingly difficult and time consuming, whether it concerns a multi-million project or a simple residence”.
He said that at present, the majority are applications by ordinary citizens and concern about 62% of planning permits and need on average 18 months to be processed.
As of October 1, applications can be submitted to all district offices of the planning department, as well as the four main municipalities – Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Limassol.
Nouris explained that submitting applications online at this time can only be done at the District Offices of Urban Planning and not at the four municipalities that are not yet ready.
As of October 1, applications for building permits and the land division permits can be submitted to the offices of the local authorities, that is some 30 municipalities of the Republic.
However, in the case where applications are only submitted physically to an authority, the application should still be examined within a set period of time, said Nouris.
He explained that if the submission of the application is in writing then the time of issuance will be 20 days.
“Our efforts to simplify the procedure of issuing a permit do not stop here,” said Nouris, pledging that his ministry would also prepare a bill to reform the method used to calculate the fees for the permit.
“Rather than the current complicated system, the new one will be based per square metre of the project”.
Arguing that “authorities need to move forward, leaving the mindset of the past behind us,” Nouris said that “steps to be taken will be under constant review by the technical services and the district planning departments”.
He added that the ministry also plans to issue a work schedule and timetable indicating the period required for all permits to be issued by various authorities.