Nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a beautiful archipelago known for its fantastic weather and picturesque landscapes. Dotted with mesmerizing cliffs and coves and surrounded by serene waters, Malta is not only a coveted tourist destination but also an ideal place to live, thrive and grow old because of its flourishing economy and stable governance. As a member of the European Union since 2004, Malta has emerged as a desirable location for residence. The Maltese Citizenship is one of the most expedient citizenships to hold with its passport ranked fourth worldwide according to the Passport Index 2019.
The Maltese passport facilitates visa-free travel in as many as 124 nations as well as the benefit of visa on arrival in 41 countries. The Malta Residence and Visa Program offers a lucrative opportunity to acquire an EU residence card and avail of visa-free travel in the Schengen Area. Strategically located between Europe and North Africa, Malta has highly useful air links. Procuring Malta Citizenship by Residency has numerous advantages. Through this process, it is possible to own a Maltese passport through a smooth and hassle-free process which merely involves a contribution to the government, investment in government bonds and acquiring a property in Malta.
Benefits of Malta Citizenship
There are innumerable benefits that come with a Malta passport, making it one of the most sought after citizenship programs.
● Visa-free travel in 124 countries and access to visa on arrival in 41 countries, including the USA.
● The Malta citizenship includes a lifelong and permanent EU citizenship, enabling the passport holders to set up an establishment in any of the 28 EU countries and Switzerland.
● One is not required to reside permanently in Malta to avail of the citizenship
● No Maltese language tests or any other related citizenship tests are mandated to be eligible for this program
● No compulsory military service is required
● A fast-track citizenship application process with approval taking place within 3-4 months and the complete citizenship process completing within a year
● A single application includes the entire family vis-a-vis spouse, children and other dependents
● Citizenship can be passed on to the descendants who automatically inherit the citizenship
● Malta Citizenship by Residency does not require one to pay taxes unless one lives in Malta for more than six months.
● Malta has a strategic location with excellent air links and global connectivity
● A comfortable lifestyle in a stable and prosperous political climate.
Maltese law does not necessitate the forgoing of one’s primary citizenship in order to hold a Maltese Citizenship by Residency. One may hold passports of both nations. However, while Malta permits dual citizenship, it is crucial to be sure whether the country of origin of the applicant allows one taking on a second citizenship or not.
Maltese Passport Requirements
Maltese Citizenship by Residence may be acquired through a specific procedure with strict guidelines. This is to ensure that only the credible candidates receive citizenship. All applying candidates undergo a four-tier due diligence test to qualify for citizenship. The verification process entails a detailed background check to make sure that all the funds held by the candidate have been earned through legitimate sources.
There are two categories of requirements for Malta Citizenship by Residency, i.e. financial and non-financial.
Non-financial Maltese Citizenship Requirements
The applicant for Maltese Citizenship by Residency must be at least 18 years old.
Applicants are required to provide a police certificate endorsing the fact that they have a clean criminal record. Further, the government of Malta conducts thorough checks with the International Criminal Court, INTERPOL, and other authorities to verify the information provided by the candidate.
Further, the applicant must be in good health and not suffer from any contagious disease or any other ailment that is likely to burden the Maltese health care industry. Applicants are also required to have valid international health insurance policies for themselves and their dependents.
Financial Requirements for Maltese Citizenship by Residency
The application for the Maltese Citizenship by Residency entails significant investments. However, the Malta Residence and Visa Program require one to make the payments only upon receiving the precursory approval from the Malta government. The financial requirements for Malta Citizenship by Residency can further be divided under three heads: costs for donation, stocks and bonds and property investment.
1. Donation to Malta’s NDF (National Development Fund)
All candidates wishing to apply for the Malta Citizenship by Residency program are required to make a significant, non-refundable payment to the Government of Malta’s National Development and Social Fund, which is run by a board of trustees. This fund provides financial support to various projects in Malta in the field of employment, education, public health, social improvement, and innovation. The payment must be made within four months of the issue of a precursory approval or the “Malta IIP Letter of Approval in Principle.”
The expected cost for the applicant is €650,000 which corresponds to approximately to $730,957. The expected amount of investment is directly proportional to the number of family members that an applicant has.
For a spouse application, an additional amount of €25,000 which is around $28,113 needs to be donated, and for every minor child, €25,000 is the requisite amount, €50,000 ($56,227) for every unmarried child between the ages of 18-26, for every dependent parent and grandparent, the required amount is €50,000, and finally, €50,000 for every mentally or physically challenged adult or child.
2. Bonds Investment
Over and above the aforementioned donation, Maltese Citizenship by Residency also includes an investment of at least €150,000 or $168,682 in any bonds, stocks, debentures or securities listed in the Malta stock exchange and approved by the government of Malta. One must also maintain the investment for a minimum period of 5 years. The bonds investment needs to be made in stocks that have been sanctioned by the government and are deemed beneficial to Malta’s development.
3. Real Estate – Purchase or Rental
Another requirement for Malta Residency and Visa Program is that the candidates are expected to make an investment in the local real estate, with the commitment that they will retain and maintain an immovable residence in Malta for at least five years, without subletting or letting the property out.
As per the regulations, the real estate investment can be made by either purchasing a property, for which the investment required is at least €350,000 ($393,592) or by renting a property for at least five years with a minimum rent of €16,000 ($17,992) per annum. In the case of property purchase, the applicable government and processing fees are around 9-12 percent while the government and processing fees for renting a property is 12-15 percent. Although at the outset, buying a property may appear to be a hefty investment; however, in the long run, the property can accrue several benefits. In comparison, rented properties may entail lesser investments but also does not offer much return on investment.
One has to submit evidence of owning or leasing a property within four months of receiving a citizenship Malta Letter of Approval in Principle. After making the suitable real estate investments, the applicants will be issued an e-Residence Malta identity card which authenticates the connection of the candidate with Malta. Although possessing a real estate property in the country is compulsory, applicants need not reside all year long in Malta and are only required to make a visit to Malta in addition to the purchase or rental of property.
Besides the financial investment requirements, the applicants are required to submit a due diligence fee of €7,500 ($8,434) for the principal applicant, €5,000 ($5,622) for spouses, adult children and parents, and €3,000 ($3,373) for children between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
Documents Required for applying to Maltese Citizenship by Residency
The following documents, duly notarized for use in Malta need to be compulsorily submitted alongside the application for a Maltese passport:
● Birth certificate
● Health certificate from a registered medical practitioner
● Global health insurance with a coverage of at least €50,000
● Marriage certificate in English
● Personal details including family information, education, and employment
● Utility bills and proof of current residence
● Bank statements showing evidence of source of income
● Tax statements from the country of origin
● References from lawyers and bankers
● Police clearance certificate from all the countries lived in over the past ten years, including FBI clearance for residence in the USA
Residency Requirements For Malta Citizenship By Residency
A 12-month residency is necessary for the process of acquiring Malta Citizenship by Residency. The overall process can be completed in a year, provided the candidate has satisfied all the Malta passport requirements. For the residency process, a deposit of €5,000 ($5,622) for the main applicant and €1,000 ($1,124) for each family member has to be made to Malta’s National Development and Social Fund.
The process for Maltese Citizenship by Residency formally begins after the submission of an application for the Malta Residence and Visa Program, along with the submission of supporting documents and evidence testifying the legal source for the funds to be used. The citizenship process ends with a personal visit to Malta, where all successful candidates are required to take an Oath of Allegiance.
Benefits of the Malta Residence and Visa Program
● This program grants one an EU residence card with visa-free travel all across Schengen Area
● One gets the right to reside indefinitely in Malta
● Through this program, one gets five years’ permanent residence, which may be renewed indefinitely
● The investment necessary for citizenship is required only for the first five years
● There is no compulsory residence requirement under this program
● The program includes family members within its ambit
Process For Application And Overall Timeline
The Malta Residence and Visa Program application requirements and procedures are relatively straightforward and reasonably timed. The application, along with a non-refundable deposit of EUR 5,500 needs to be submitted to the IIP Agency. After a thorough due diligence check, successful applicants will be requested to complete the qualifying investments and are then issued a residence permit. The IIP Agency will issue successful applicants with a Maltese Citizenship by Residency certificate, which acts as a permit. The certificate is usually monitored annually for the first five years of its issue and every five years thereafter.
The applicants under the Malta Residency and Visa Program are expected to bear the following costs:
● A non-refundable government contribution worth €30,000 ($33,736) out of which €5,500 ($6,185) will be an advance administrative fee for the government
● Investment in government bonds worth €250,000 ($281,137), to be retained for a minimum period of 5 years
● Purchasing a property of at least €320,000 ($359,856) or €270,000 ($303,628) in South Malta or Gozo, or a property lease of at least €12,000 ($13,494) per annum or €10,000 ($11,245) in South Malta or Gozo
This investment must be maintained only in the first five years of citizenship.
Maltese Citizenship by Residency for Descendants
Maltese Citizenship by Residency is transferable to one’s descendants. Once a candidate is granted citizenship, any child born to the applicant will also be a Maltese citizen, even if the citizenship was acquired initially through investment. The legacy can be passed down further to all future generations. The descendants of the applicant will have access to Maltese citizenship and EU passports.
The Maltese passport is highly beneficial for the future generations, since, apart from the ease of international travel, Maltese Citizenship by Residency will qualify them as EU applicants instead of international students when applying to universities in Europe. As a result, the entrance requirements will also be considerably more flexible, less stringent, and the tuition rates would also often be lower for them.
Risks for Revoking of Malta Citizenship by Residency
In spite of the fact that the process of applying for a Malta Citizenship by Residency is reasonably hassle-free and straightforward, there are certain factors that one needs to be mindful of in order to avoid the risk of the citizenship being revoked.
● The Maltese citizenship may be revoked if the candidate is found to have provided any misleading information, false documents or have concealed any vital information in the course of the application process
● The Maltese citizenship will be revoked if the candidate is found to be imprisoned for over 12 months in any other country
● If the candidate is accused of any criminal charges involving paedophilia, defilement of minors, abduction, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, assault, etc., the citizenship may be revoked
● The citizenship may be revoked if the applicant is found to pose a severe threat to the national security of not just Malta but also of any other EU nation
● The citizenship could also be revoked if the applicant is found to be a party to any activity which is likely to cause Malta disrepute
● In the event that the candidate is found to be involved in any business that would willingly benefit any of Malta’s enemies at war, the citizenship might be revoked.
Why one should apply for Malta Citizenship by Residency
Malta is a blissful island with a very politically relevant location. With extremely efficient global connectivity and a significant place in the European Union, Malta has been able to establish itself as an ideal business destination. Citizens of Malta can avail of all the benefits that are bestowed upon the citizens of Europe. The broad scope of visa-free travel to so many countries enables one to opt for profitable business enterprises all across Europe. Further, the thriving economy and stable governance will attract investors and potential business partners for projects in Malta. Moreover, for students, access to the benefits exclusive to EU citizens can make a huge difference and add to making Maltese Citizenship by Residency a very lucrative opportunity.
Life in Malta is generally perceived as peaceful and pleasant. The expansive scenic beauty and highly agreeable weather throughout the year make it a very attractive location for those who seek a life close to nature with ample scope for professional progress. Malta is also an economically secure country with a sound taxation system in place. Not only are there relatively lesser taxes, as compared to the rest of Europe, but there are opportunities to participate in business projects with member states of the European Free Trade Association without any stringent border controls. Tourism is the most important industry, contributing to about 15 percent of Malta’s GDP. Malta has a very robust banking sector and was able to withstand the “Great Recession.”
In the contemporary context, borders are becoming increasingly tighter and selective, thus often coming in the way of professional and educational pursuits. In that regard investing in a powerful passport can go along way in opening up a wide range of opportunities not just for oneself but also for the future generations. Malta has a welcoming social structure with great emphasis on a multicultural social set up. A Maltese citizenship is highly sought after since it provides a host of benefits and at the same time, does not mandate the dissolution of one’s original passport. This is truly a win-win situation for any applicant.