The small Mediterranean island nation of Malta, located between Europe and North Africa, has an immensely powerful passport, ranked overall number 4 on the passport index 2019, providing visa-free access to 124 nations and visa on arrival for 41 nations. Having a stable political climate and growing economy, since 2004 Malta has been a member of the European Union (EU). The Malta Citizenship by Investment Program was launched in 2014 and is the first of its kind investment citizenship program to have the official recognition of the European Commission. By investing in a citizenship with a powerful visa, travel becomes easier, especially for applicants from countries which have weaker passports. The Malta citizenship requirements are straightforward and simple, largely involving a clean criminal record and sufficient funds for required investments.
According to the ‘Individual Investor program’ launched by Malta in 2014, individuals and families involved in technology, social and economic development of Malta can be granted citizenship and passport. The citizenship is available as a second citizenship offer, and is valid for life, passing down to future generations.
Benefits of Malta Citizenship
There are numerous benefits of having a Malta citizenship, which make it one of the most popular investment citizenships.
Visa-free or visa on arrival access to 165 nations, including the US
The Malta citizenship also includes a full and permanent lifetime EU citizenship, providing passport holders with the right to set up an establishment in any of the 28 EU countries and in Switzerland
No requirement to permanently live in Malta
No Maltese language tests or citizenship tests
No required military service
Fast-track citizenship process with application approval taking place within 3-4 months and the entire citizenship process completing in a year
Under one single application, family including spouse, children and other dependents can apply
Further decedents automatically receive citizenship
No local taxes in Malta unless you live there for more than a 6 month period
Strategic location with efficient air links and global connectivity
European lifestyle in a stable and neutral country
Maltese Passport Requirements
The Malta citizenship by investment program has one of the strictest standards of any immigrant program in the world, so as to ensure that only reputable and deserving candidates receive citizenship. All applying candidates are put through a stringent four-tier due diligence process to qualify for citizenship. The due diligence verification process includes a detailed background check to make sure that all the funds of the candidate have been derived from legal means.
The Malta citizenship requirements can be broadly classified as financial and non-financial.
Non-financial Maltese Citizenship Requirements
The main applicant for Maltese citizenship must be at least 18 years old
Applicants must have a completely clean criminal record to be considered for citizenship in Malta and are also required to submit a relevant police certificate. The government of Malta conducts extensive checks with the International Criminal Court, the INTERPOL, and other authorities to ensure that the applicant has a clear criminal record.
Applicants should have good health and not suffer from any contagious disease or any ailment that will put a strain on the Maltese health care industry. Applicants must also have valid international health insurance policies for themselves and their dependents.
Financial Requirements For Maltese Citizenship
There are a considerable amount of costs involved in order to obtain a Maltese citizenship by investment, however, the payments should only be made after receiving precursory approval from the Malta government. The financial Malta citizenship requirements can broadly be divided into three types of expenses: costs for donation, stocks and/or bonds and property investment.
Donation to Malta’s NDF (National Development Fund)
All applicants interested in pursuing the Malta Individual Investor Program for the citizenship by investment process are required to make a considerable non-refundable payment to the Government of Malta’s National Development and Social Fund, which is run by a board of trustees. The fund, similar to a central bank, provides financing to various projects in Malta related to job creation, education, public health, social improvement, and innovation. The payment must be made within 4 months of the issue of a Malta ‘IIP Letter of Approval in Principle’.
The cost for the main applicant is €650,000 (around $730,957). Based on the family members or dependents the main applicant is including in the citizenship process, the investment requirement also increases.
For a spouse application, the additional amount to be donated is €25,000 ($28,113), for each minor child is €25,000, for each unmarried child between the ages of 18-26 is and €50,000 ($56,227), for each dependent parent and grandparent is €50,000, and €50,000 each for a mentally or physically challenged adult child.
2. Bonds Investment
Apart from the general donation, Malta citizenship requirements also include an investment of at least €150,000 ($168,682) in government of Malta approved bonds, stocks, debentures or securities listed in the Malta stock exchange and maintain the investment for a period of minimum 5 years. The bonds investment has to be made in stocks that have been sanctioned by the government as being beneficial to Malta.
3. Real Estate – Purchase or Rental
Malta passport requirements specify that applicants are to make an investment in the local real estate, committing to retain and maintain an immovable residence in Malta for at least 5 years, without subletting or letting the property.
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 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. Purchasing a property requires a hefty investment, however, in the long run, the property can be beneficial as a second home or even be sold. In comparison, rented properties are lower in cost but also offer little return on investment.
Evidence of owning or leasing a property is required to be submitted within 4 months after receiving a citizenship Malta Letter of Approval in Principle. After making the real estate investments, candidates for citizenship by investment will be issued an eResidence Malta identity card which demonstrates the genuine link of the candidate with the country. While possessing real estate in the country is compulsory, applicants are not required to spend 365 days in the nation and need only make a visit to Malta in addition to the purchase or rental of property.
Apart from the financial investment requirements, the Malta passport requirements state that applicants are to submit due diligence fees, amounting to €7,500 ($8,434) for the main 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.
Documentary Requirements for Maltese Citizenship Application
The Malta passport requirements for the citizenship by investment program, include the submission of the following documents, duly notarized for use in Malta.
Health certificate from a registered medical practitioner
Global health insurance with a coverage of at least €50,000 ($56,227)
Marriage certificate (in English)
Personal details including family information, education, and employment
Utility bills and proof of current residence
Bank statements showing proof 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 10 years, including FBI clearance for residence in the U.S.
Residency Requirements For Malta Citizenship By Investment
To begin the process for the Malta Individual Investor Program, a 12-month residency is necessary. The overall process for citizenship by investment in Malta can be completed in 12 months, provided that the candidate meets 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 citizenship by investment would formally begin after the submission of an application for the Malta Individual Investor Program, along with supporting documents and evidence confirming the legal source for the funds to be used. The citizenship process also ends with a personal visit to Malta, where all successful candidates will be required to take an Oath of Allegiance.
Number of Citizenships Available
When the Individual Investor Program for citizenship was first launched in Malta in 2014, there was a strict cap on the number of applicants, limiting to a total of 1800 applicants. However, based on a new deal with the European Commission, now there is no limit to the number of applicants and it is up to the discretion of Malta to decide how many people are to be accepted into the program. Although there is no limit to the number of applicants that Malta can take in, due to the thorough screening process, the Maltese citizenship by investment program continues to be among the most exclusive citizenship schemes available.
How To Apply For Malta Citizenship By Investment
Applications for the Malta Individual Investor Program can take place only through an Accredited Agent or concessionaire. The overall process from initial application to passing the due diligence checks and the financial requirements, to receiving the citizenship takes place generally within 12-14 months of the first application.
According to Maltese law, persons obtaining a citizenship by investment are not required to give up their current citizenship and can hold passports of both nations. However, while Malta permits dual citizenship, it is important to verify whether the current country of citizenship allows taking on a second citizenship or not.
Maltese Citizenship for Descendents
Once a candidate receives Maltese citizenship, any child born will also be a Maltese citizenship, even if the citizenship was originally acquired by means of investment. The legacy can be passed down further, as when the children grow up further the generation, their children will also have Maltese citizenship and EU passports.
The Maltese passport is beneficial for children and young adults, as apart from easy international travel, Maltese citizenship will allow students to apply for universities in Europe without having to qualify as a foreign student. As a result, the entrance requirements will also be considerably lower for students applying as a citizen of an EU country, and the tuition rates are also often lower for Europeans.
Risks for Revoking Of Citizenship
Although the process of applying for a Malta citizenship is relatively straightforward, there are certain factors, applicable to the main candidate or dependents, which will risk citizenship becoming revoked.
If the applicant or dependent has provided misrepresentation in any information, false information or concealed any information, the citizenship may be revoked
The Maltese citizenship would be revoked if the candidate is imprisoned in another country for more than 12 months
If the candidate has a criminal record of pedophilia, defilement of minors, abduction, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, violent indecent assault, etc., the citizenship may be revoked
If the candidate poses a potential national security threat to either Malta or any other member states of the EU, citizenship may be revoked
If the candidate is involved in any activity that may case disrepute to Malta, the citizenship may be revoked
If the candidate has associated with businesses that are willingly assisting enemies at war, the citizenship may be revoked
Difference Between Malta Residence And Visa Program And Malta Citizenship By Investment
Malta offers two types of programs for people who are interested in making use of the country’s strong passport and availing option to travel visa-free in Europe. While both the Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP) and the citizenship by investment program allow users to travel visa-free in Europe, there are significant differences between the two.
The main difference between MRVP and citizenship is that MRVP provides candidates with permanent residency along with an EU residence card, while citizenship provides candidates with an actual passport of Malta, and the citizenship can pass down generations. There is a significant cost difference between the two forms of residency, with citizenship requiring higher investment and a more thorough verification procedure. The MRVP residence card allows for smooth, visa-free movement among the EU, but not other countries, which is enabled by citizenship.
Malta Residence and Visa Program
The MRVP provides applicants with an opportunity for an infinite stay in Malta, as it is renewable indefinitely for applicants and their family members. However, residence in Malta is not mandatory and users can live in other EU nations as well.
The costs involved in pursuing an MRVP are:
A non-refundable government contribution worth €30,000 ($33,736) out of which €5,500 ($6,185) acts as 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
Property purchase of €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
The investment is required only for the first 5 years.
Popularity of Malta Citizenship by Investment Program
There is immense popularity of the Malta citizenship by investment program as it is recognized by the European Commission, expedient and highly respected. Since the Maltese government accepts dual citizenship, applicants are not required to reject their own citizenships and can work, vote and travel with a Malta passport which has immense power worldwide.
Life In Malta
A set of scenic islands, Malta has a convenient location with a pleasing climate, relaxing views, a thriving tourism industry, low crime rate, and a steady economy. The languages spoken in Malta are English and Maltese. Even those who gained citizenship through investment are eligible for voting in political elections if they have been a resident of Malta for 6 of the previous 18 months.
As a full member of the European Union, Maltase citizens are eligible for the EU freedom of movement treaty, which allows citizens to live work and study in any other country in the EU, as well as Switzerland. Since Malta is a member of the Schengen Area of Europe, Maltese citizens can travel to 26 countries of Europe and 4 European Free Trade Association member states without going through any border control.
There are immense opportunities for business investments in Malta which has very low taxes overall. In terms of industries, tourism is among Malta’s largest economic sectors, responsible for nearly 15 percent of the country’s GDP. Malta is an economically secure nation, with the nation’s banks having assets worth more than 7 times the country’s GDP, making it the second largest banking sector in the Eurozone. Malta withstood the ‘great recession’ well and maintains an excellent credit rating of BBB+, highly respected on the international stage and considered to be neutral. Other major industries in Malta include high-tech manufacturing, and food and beverages.