Citizenship by Investment is a method whereby a person makes an investment in a country and gets citizenship and the country passport in exchange. Of the programmes currently in presence, the investment cost varies from as low as $100,000 to as much as $2.5 million. Investment choices include everything from non-refundable cash donations to purchases in real estate, trade, or government securities. Around 5,000 people get citizenship via investment each year after undergoing precise financial assessments and criminal background investigations. The average processing period is six months, but some programmes can take as little as two to three months while others take more than a year. Comparatively few Citizenship by Investment Programmes require the applicant to set foot in the country to become a citizen, let alone live there.
In 1984, St. Kitts and Nevis introduced the first and longest-running Citizenship by Investment Programme, succeeded by Dominica in 1993. Other nations have joined their ranks over the years while some programmes have dissolved out. Nations attempted to attract more investors and raise their funds to the pre-recession levels after the 2017 recession season.
The majority of financial citizenship investors come from developing market economies like India, Turkey, China, Mexico, India, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil, and various nations in the Gulf. There is also a growing demand for economic citizenship in developed countries as well. Here is a guide on how to buy Malta citizenship.
Getting Maltese Citizenship
One country amongst those offering citizenship by investment is Malta, which took this wise move, and is attracting a wealth of talent towards its citizenship programme to drive the country’s economic progress. Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP), approved by the European Commission, was created to support Maltese Citizenship by Investment to non-Maltese nationals and their dependents. The programme is governed by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188) and the Individual Investor Programme Rules, 2014 (LN 47 of 2014). Candidates who meet all the required guidelines are granted citizenship by awarding a certificate of naturalization to them and their families, in return for the financial donation to the economic development of Malta. The MIIP Malta initially faced a lot of objection in spite of the benefits it provided to the country, but it’s safe to say that this programme helped Malta not only to bring in people who are willing to invest but also who believed in Malta’s financial strength and business potential, despite being a small island nation.
Malta, a small but utterly fascinating Mediterranean island, offers people a chance to travel the world and live under financially fair laws. The country comprises of three islands: Gozo, Comino and Malta, with its capital, Valletta, located around 50km from Sicily with 3-hour flights to the United Kingdom and other major international airports in Europe and North Africa.
Living In Malta
One may think living in Malta is only for the wealthy people. It is not true though. Malta is surely getting on top of everyone’s list because of the location, English-speaking crowd, Mediterranean lifestyle. Malta is also considered one of the best places to live due to the following reasons:
- Malta is one of the most reliable and most well-built economies of the European Union. The European Commission expects Malta to be one of the fastest growing economies in Europe
- Lay-off levels are among the lowest in Europe and have broken the record for years in a row.
- Malta has cut its taxes for its nationals for five years in a row.
- Malta had consistently recorded a financial surplus. The debt to GDP ratio has fallen from 70% to around 50% in five years.
- Malta is considered as one of the top relocation destinations in the world, because of its unlimited employment, business and lifestyle opportunities.
- Malta gives unlimited free healthcare, listed by the WHO as one of the best in the world, and extensive free childcare, one of the few countries in the world to provide it, as well as universal free education for all its residents.
- Malta has a liberal society making records by proposing the Marriage Equality bill besides extending rights to LGBTQ couples. Such freedom has put Malta at the forefront of such causes.
- The Maltese economy has grown well in the high-end manufacturing and services industry, establishing itself as a sound financial administration, a popular tourist destination and a hub for the information and communications technologies, gaming and blockchain industries.
How To Get A Malta Citizenship?
It is false to say that the Individual Investor Programme is not different than a Malta passport for sale just because it requires a financial investment. Although some media announcements regularly use terms such as “Maltese passport for sale” or “Malta passport buy” when considering the island’s citizenship programme, wealthy entrepreneurs expecting to immediately buy Malta citizenship are going to be frustrated because the IIP is not an EU passport for sale scheme, on the contrary, it is a legal Citizenship by Investment Programme recognized by the European Commission.
No one can buy a Maltese passport tomorrow or instantly buy Malta citizenship outright; the Individual Investor Programme requires applicants to secure residency on the islands and build a real connection with the country.
Eligibility Criteria For Getting Maltese Citizenship
The applicant must meet several requirements to apply for this elite programme. The requirements are divided into categories for better understanding.
- The applicant must be of age 18 years or above.
- The applicant needs to hold a clean criminal record.
- The applicant was never denied a visa to a country with which Malta has visa-free travel tie-up.
- The applicant must have comprehensive healthcare global plan and should not have any contagious disease which could be a cause of concern to the Maltese health industry.
The applicant should meet three main financial requirements which are:
The primary applicant must pay a one-time donation of €650,000 to the National Development Fund of Malta.
Child below 18 years of age: The applicant must pay €25,000 for each child. If the child is unmarried and is between 18 years to 26 years of age, the applicant must pay €50,000.
Parents: The applicant must pay €50,000 for every parent above 55 years of age.
This contribution is used to finance various projects in Malta relating to public health, social improvement, innovation, etc. It should be done within four months of the issuance of a Malta IIP Letter of Approval in Principle.
The applicant must invest in Malta a value of at least €150,000, in amongst other bonds, stocks, debentures, special purpose vehicles/entities, or other investment vehicles. The amount invested must be retained for a minimum term of five years.
The applicant must obtain a property in Malta having a minimum value of €350,000 and hold it for a minimum period of 5 years. He/she could alternatively rent a property in Malta for a minimum annual rent of €16,000 and keep it for a minimum term of 5 years.
The primary applicant must prove that he has been a resident of Malta for at least a year, following the issuance of the naturalization certificate.
The applicant needs to the financial contributions only after receiving the Letter of Approval in Principle, making the MIIP Malta a straightforward and fair method with minimal investment risk.
All documentation under the Malta economic citizenship programme must either be in English or supplemented by a verified translation. Documents required by Identity Malta that are in languages such as Russian, Arabic, or Chinese must be submitted along with an accurate English interpretation and contain details about the licensed translator who was responsible for the language translation.
Application Through Approved Agent
Applicants need to take the help of Approved Agents who are appointed by the Government of Malta and are suited to guide them through the whole application process. These Approved Agents are trained people, holders of a certification in their profession, and recognized in their capacity or who work on behalf of firms. The MIIP Malta Agency delegates individuals who ensure professional values, smooth communication and guarantee responsibility for each application. They also carry out the Know Your Client (KYC) procedure on the clients in line with the norms of the financial services industry.
Process To Buy Citizenship In Maltese
The process to buy Malta Citizenship takes around twelve months to complete. It is a strict process which starts by giving an e-Residence Application and ends with the issuance of a certification of naturalization.
- Initial Checks
Firstly, the agent checks if the applicant is eligible for the programme. All the required documents are prepared such as the letter of engagement, Malta police clearance, etc. The regulator performs the initial due diligence checks. The Malta IIP comprises of a four-tier due diligence process, which is considered the most rigorous, and of the highest standard amongst all the migration programmes. This check is a crucial step because this scrutinized approach ensures that only the rightful applicants make it through the programme. It takes around four months to review the application.
- Residency Permit
The candidate applies for the residency permit to start the year-long residency requirement for Citizenship. The applicant needs to be present in the country for the biometrics after which he/she receives the Malta residence permit and card.
- Application Submission
The applicant submits his/her application to the Malta Individual Investor Programme Agency (MIIPA) with the fee due after the police approval, background checks, and the clearing the due diligence process.
- Application Process
After a four-month investigation period, an endorsement letter is issued if everything is in place.
- Contribution Of Fees
At this point, the applicants are formally asked to settle the contribution fee within 20 working days.
- Investment Requirements
The applicants have to verify their qualifying property investment, health insurance, and property details by presenting proper evidence.
- Oath of Allegiance
The applicants along with their family members are summoned to take an Oath of Allegiance in Malta upon fulfilling all Malta Individual Investor Programme obligations.
- Certificate of Naturalization and getting the Maltese Passport Application
Finally, the applicants and the family members get their certificate of naturalization from the Government of Malta. It takes a whole of fifty-five weeks to earn the Maltese passport.
The Due Diligence Process
The IIP Malta consisting of a four-tier due diligence process, is regarded as the strictest, detailed, and the best in the world in the industry.
In this tier, there is a general KYC due diligence done by both the IIP Unit and the agent through databases such as World-Check.
After performing careful checks through various databases like Interpol, Europol, etc., the second level approval is obtained from the police authorities. The IIP Unit gets notified in case any issues are found at this point. All applicants belonging to third country nationals, have to go through the standard Schengen screening procedures.
The IIP team takes charge of the third tier of due diligence. This level further has two stages.
The first stage is to check if the application is correctly filled in. If not, this in itself would identify peculiarities in the application form that highlights any potential threat. Every supporting documentation presented to the IIP Unit must be filled correctly, follow a proper format, translated correctly, and notarized if needed. If any of the documents are missing or are in the wrong order, or have errors in it, the agent who represents the family applying for Maltese citizenship needs to resubmit them, and the application process halts until everything is in order.
The second stage is that of a full and in-depth online due diligence check and the checking of documents submitted. These checks include verifying with external databases for authorized individuals and companies. Similar searches are carried out on all the members of the family applying for citizenship and on their corporate affiliations, any significant one-time transactions, donations, or inheritance, and any relevant business partners or very close associates.
On completion of these checks, a different member of the due diligence team reviews all the information gathered, both internally and externally, to prepare an in-house memo. The IIP Unit can perform more checks if the level of precision required is not getting satisfied. The IIP Unit further questions the applicant to ensure it has the right and proper understanding of the family’s application. Information is exchanged with the due diligence companies to ensure consistency in some instances.
After this, every application is first reviewed internally within the IIP Due Diligence team. The team contains eight individuals from an investment and audit background, trained in anti-money laundering regulations. The information is shared and discussed among the senior management team within the IIP Unit. If the team needs more information/clarifications before passing citizenship recommendation to the Minister, they request the same from the applicant.
Eventually, the senior management of the IIP pass a mutual judgment where they provide a proposal and present it to the Minister responsible for citizenship. They submit the portfolio with all the supporting documentation of due diligence reports and findings. The Minister, together with the team once again verifies and studies the application, before arriving at a final decision regarding the granting of citizenship.
The candidate can hold dual citizenship on getting Maltese Citizenship by Investment. According to the Maltese law, dual citizenship is allowed. Nevertheless, the applicant needs to check the rules of the origin country. Few nations follow different regulations or restrictions on multiple nationalities.
Tax After Getting Maltese Citizenship
The candidate does not become a taxable resident after earning the citizenship. Only after living for six months in Malta is the applicant required to pay tax in Malta. Meanwhile. the applicant is not liable to pay any tax on worldwide income or foreign capital profits.
On being a Maltese tax resident, the fee would only be due on the income/capital profits arising in Malta, and foreign revenue, but excluding accumulated capital, if received in Malta.
Investing In Malta
Malta is well known in the world of business and commerce. Despite, being the smallest EU Member State, Malta has proved to be one of Europe’s fastest-growing marketplaces. Malta earned its reputation as the best country to do business with the help of competitive tax management and a well-developed legal system as well as having a highly-skilled workforce that speaks fluent English.
Malta’s strong economic performance can also be connected to the government’s pro-business approach as it seeks to further positive foster market conditions that lure foreign direct investment.
The Malta Investor Immigration Programme is one of the few European investment immigration programmes that offer citizenship straightaway, rather than through temporary or permanent residency. The country is attracting a wealth of talent which boosts its economy. It’s not only pulling investors from the EU but also from all over the world. Malta’s fast-paced development is making it a new center for growth and business opportunities. This programme can offer candidates and their families the settlement and growth rights not only in Malta but also twenty-eight other EU countries and Switzerland. This programme is worth every effort and penny spent.