Malta, also known as the Republic of Malta, is a southern European island country. The picturesque island is located in the middle of the Mediterranean between Europe and Africa, approximately 80 km away from Italy. Malta is the world’s 10th smallest country and the 5th highly dense populated country in Europe.
Malta has a very high quality of living, excellent business opportunities, smooth interconnectivity with the rest of Europe, and its naturally beautiful landscapes make it an especially attractive destination for those who wish to immigrate and seek citizenship in Europe. Usually, a candidate applying for getting Maltese Citizenship is required to purchase a property of approximately € 3,50,000 in Malta or at least rent a property for 5 years for at least € 16,000 on a contract basis.
Ways to Legally Acquire Malta Citizenship
There are several ways by which an applicant can legally acquire the Malta Citizenship and those are:
- By marriage
- By naturalization
- By investment
A) Citizenship By Marriage
When an applicant is married to a Maltese citizen:
According to the Maltese Citizenship Act, a foreign person married to a citizen of Malta can obtain Maltese citizenship by registration, if they have been married and living together for five years. This rule came into force through an amendment to the Maltese Constitution in relation to foreign spouses of Maltese citizens. Prior to 2000, the foreign spouse of a citizen of Malta could apply for registration just after marriage, under the Malta Citizenship Law. Taking stock of the current regulations, it is vital that on the day of application, the primary applicant is already married to the native of Malta and must have been living together for a minimum of five years.
When both applicants were foreigners at the time of marriage:
Even if both applicants were not Maltese citizens at the time of their marriage, but one spouse subsequently became a citizen, the other can obtain Maltese citizenship via the similar process described above – by registration, provided both spouses have been married for 5 years and have been living together since the first spouse received citizenship.
What happens if the Maltese spouse passes away?
If the event of the demise of the Maltese spouse, prior to 5 years of completion of marriage, the foreign spouse will be eligible for Maltese citizenship, five years from the date of the applicant’s marriage. According to Malta Citizenship Law, citizenship will be granted as long as the spouses had been living together until the death of the Maltese spouse.
Marriages by Civil Union
According to the Civil Unions Act 2014, in the event of a civil union between a Maltese citizen and a foreign partner, the civil union or marriage can be registered in Malta. As long as the Minister agrees that granting of citizenship is not against public interest, the foreign partner is eligible to acquire Maltese citizenship under Maltese Citizenship Act, provided that the person is still in a civil union and has been staying with the Maltese citizen for at least five years.
A marriage of convenience could get the applicant imprisoned
The Maltese Marriage Act explains that any person who marries with the sole intention of being granted Maltese citizenship and the benefits attached to it, such as the freedom of movement across the EU, or free healthcare, could be convicted for the offense and be jailed for a maximum of two years.
B) Citizenship By Naturalization
Naturalization is the process by which a foreigner, i.e., a non-Maltese person, is given Maltese citizenship and nationality upon fulfilling the requirements laid down in the Malta Citizenship laws.
Malta Citizenship by Naturalization is also known as citizenship by registration and is often granted to people with Maltese descent. However, this may also be passed on humanitarian ground as well as to people who “have rendered exceptional services to the Republic of Malta or humanity”. Since 2013, citizenship may also be transferred based on investment to Malta via the Malta Individual Investor Program.
To summarize, applications which fulfill one of the following criteria shall be considered favorably for acquiring Malta citizenship by Naturalization:
- If a person is born abroad to the Maltese parents, who are migrants.
- If a person was a Malta citizen.
- If a person is a child to the Non-Maltese parents, but one of the parents have taken the citizenship of Malta.
- If a person is not born in Malta but is a descendent of a Maltese citizen.
As prescribed in the Maltese Citizenship Act, foreign people or people not belonging to the country might forward an application to the government in a proper format. If the government agrees to grant citizenship, a certificate of Naturalization will be offered, contingent on the prescribed guidelines that are mandatory to follow. There are also several documents which need to be presented to get naturalized, such as a birth certificate, a copy of passport, identity card, police conduct certificate, three passport sized pictures, and a letter explaining why the applicant is seeking Maltese citizenship.
C) Citizenship By Investment
The Malta Citizenship by Investment Program is the first European Union approved Citizenship Program to be launched. This program grants a second citizenship planning to the families who are desirous of locating to European Union, for business or personal reasons.
The citizenship offered through this mode is valid throughout the citizen’s lifetime and is also passed onto the person’s future generations. The Republic of Malta enjoys a stable socio-political environment due to being one of the most thriving economies in the European Union. Malta has also been a part of the European Union since 2004 and a part of Schengen from 2007, which also accords it a certain socio-economic status.
This avenue for acquiring Maltese citizenship was so popular at one time during 2018, that the number of Maltese Citizenship applicants topped 1400, however, the limit has now been removed. The maximum number of citizenships available through investment is now at the discretion of the government.
One of the primary benefits of Malta Citizenship by Investment Program is that it allows the holder to travel seamlessly across 166 countries – including Canada, the US, and the European Union. It also gives citizens the right to live, work, or study in any of the 28 European Union countries and Switzerland. Moreover, immediate citizenship is also available to the applicant’s spouse, parents, children, eligible dependents, among others.
A four-tier diligence process is carried out by the Malta government to assess and grant applications at various stages. To qualify:
- The principal applicant for the Malta Citizenship by Investment Program should be at least 18 years of age.
- The principal applicant may also include dependents, as per their discretion, to avail the Malta citizenship benefits.
- The applicants also need to show proof that they are not suffering from any disease or any contagious disease which might impact or affect the health system of Malta.
- There is an additional fitness test which the principal applicant needs to clear.
- The applicant should also hold a clean criminal record which is examined by the International Criminal Court.
- The beneficiaries of the Malta global residence program can also enroll for citizenship under this Program.
As mentioned earlier, to qualify under the Maltese Citizenship Act by Investment, the applicant needs to contribute at least € 6,50,000 to Malta. Out of this, 7 percent will go towards the Fund set up by the Government of Malta, while the remaining goes to the consolidated fund.
The contribution for spouse and the children is € 25,000, while for unmarried children and parents the contribution required is € 50,000.
According to the Maltese Citizenship Act, people who are granted citizenship under the Investment Program are entitled to keep both passports: Maltese and original nationality and can claim dual citizenship, so long as the origin nation permits it.
Malta Citizenship Taxation
From a taxability perspective, applicants should keep in mind that they once they become Maltese citizens, they are taxable on a remittance basis, and only liable for tax on incomes that originate in Malta.
Malta has an overall neutral tax system for those who acquire Maltese citizenship but do not take up residence in Malta, and also offers expatriates who opt for tax residency in Malta with parallel quality living and tax rearranging opportunities.
With Malta’s growing reputation as a place that accords its citizens a high standard of living, along with a tax-efficient residence, many potential applicants are flocking to the country in the lure of a better life.
Conditions to Obtain a Maltese Passport
There are several conditions under which a foreign person may obtain the Maltese Passport, and those are:
- People born in Malta to one or both Maltese Parents
- People born outside of Malta to at least one Maltese parent
- People originating from a foreign country but have lived in Malta for at least six years
- People of a foreign country married to a Maltese spouse can apply
- A person born in a foreign country but adopted by a Maltese family
- People of different nationalities who entered Malta by investing in the country through the Investment Program
Becoming Maltese Citizen via Residence Permit
One of the more flexible and feasible ways to become a Maltese Citizen is by first becoming a resident of the nation.
The very first type of permit that can be acquired to facilitate this is the Temporary Residence Permit, which also be converted to a permanent residence permit. To qualify, the person trying to acquire the Maltese citizenship must have stayed in the country for at least six years, out of which four years should be an uninterrupted stay.
Applicants can also first acquire a work permit, then the permanent residence permit, by following the conditions explained above.
Documents Required to Obtain Maltese Citizenship
The documents which are required to be submitted be acquired the Maltese Citizenship are:
- Proof of sustenance by filling the economic self-sufficiency application
- A copy of the Passport
- A copy of their Global Health Insurance
- Bank statements for showing evidence of their financial capabilities.
- An electronic identity registration form
- Medical reports
- Statement of Annual Income
- Statement of Wealth Information
- Details about family
- Details about education
- Details about previous work records
- A statement testifying to a clean criminal record.
- Passport size photos.
Unavailability of even one document from the list above can be grounds for dismissal of the application by the Maltese government. We advise the applicant to be very careful while submitting this information, and double check all their documents, or consult an expert to facilitate this seamlessly.
Malta Citizenship Application Process
Step 1: Apply for Residence
Applicants who are not residents of Malta need to apply for the residency, which requires a minimum deposit of € 5,000.
Step 2: Day 0
This step includes a formal application by the accredited person. It is day 0 of the application process. A Malta Citizenship application is submitted formally to the government of Malta, along with the supporting documents that are prescribed. Next, the applicant needs to pay due diligence fees, passport fees and a deposit of € 10,000.
Step 3: Day 90
Within 90 days, the applicant will receive confirmation if the documents submitted are in order, and a one-month verification waiting period begins.
Step 4: Day 120
It is day 120 of the process. Here the government approves the documents (conditionally or otherwise) for the principal approval only.
Step 5: Day 125
Here, a formal request for a contribution is sent to the principal applicant. It is day 125 of the process.
Step 6: Day 145
This is the deadline for depositing the contribution requested above. It is day 145 of the process.
Step 7: Final Compliance.
It is day 240 of the process. Here, the principal applicant has to furnish all necessary evidence to support the financial transactions: the property purchase or the rental information, and the investment of € 150,000.
Step 8: Day 283:
Citizenship is issued. Congratulations!
The Advantages of living in Malta
There are many advantages to living in the beautiful Republic of Malta.
A low cost of living: Compared to Sweden and other major European Union countries, Malta offers a relatively lower cost of living but a high standard. The rents are usually lesser, and the price of food is also very affordable.
Ideal location in Europe: Malta has a strategic location in Europe so traveling anywhere is very feasible and the location is very attractive and has good flight connections to the rest of Europe.
Climate: Another advantage of living in Malta is the climate or weather conditions. It has a great climate throughout the year. Malta experiences moderate summers and mild winters.
Multilingual Locals: Although Maltese is the national language of Malta, still the majority of the locals are multilingual. They speak Maltese, English and some people also speak Spanish.
Convenient Transportation: The public transport of Malta is economical, extensive and efficient, which means a person can happily live there without owning a vehicle and save money on insurance, gas, car maintenance, etc.
Rich Culture and History: Malta is a country that is rich in culture and history. It is home to 9 of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the capital Valletta being one of them.
Good Healthcare: Healthcare is free of charge to locals of Malta and the EU residents. The country also has private hospitals and clinics, in addition to government healthcare, where citizens can pay for treatment.
Low Taxes: Malta has a comparatively low-income tax rate, of about 15 percent, as compared to other European countries.
Safety: The crime rate in Malta is very low as compared to other European countries.
Food: Maltese people are passionate about food. Hence the food in Malta is unique and flavorsome.
Malta being a set of blissful and scenic islands, has a convenient and attractive location with some relaxing and picturesque views and is growing into a popular tourist destination. All citizens, including those who acquired citizenship through the investment route, have the right to vote in the elections. There are immense opportunities in the Republic of Malta to grow and prosper in the field of business. Malta is an economically stable country with tourism contributing to a majority of its GDP. There is no doubt that this should be the country where people should apply for citizenship if they wish to access mainland Europe and at the same time enjoy a relaxed and luxurious lifestyle!