Expats who plan on moving to Malta often look forward to the island nation’s sunny charm and relaxed lifestyle. But there’s more to your move to Malta than remembering where your beach towel is! The InterNations guide to Malta introduces the smallest EU member state, its visa rules, and housing market.
Citizenship by Investment Malta
Introduced at the beginning of 2014, the Malta Individual Investor Programme (IIP) offers high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families worldwide citizenship in a highly respected EU Member Country. Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004, enjoys a stable political climate, bi-partisan political scene, growing economy, and has some of the soundest banks in the world. The Malta IIP is the first investment citizenship program of its kind to be recognized by the European Commission, and the executive body of the European Union has formally acknowledged the legality of the program paving the way for its success. The Malta citizenship by investment application process is extremely efficient, and the government of Malta is committed to the highest standard of due diligence and vetting of investor applicants ensuring only persons of impeccable standing and repute will be admitted.
Successful candidates will be granted citizenship in Malta by a Certificate of Naturalization, which can also be extended to include their families. Once a candidate is awarded Malta citizenship, which includes EU citizenship, they have the right of establishment in all 28 EU countries and Switzerland. They also have the ability to set up business in Malta, and can get a Malta passport enabling them to enjoy visa-free travel to more than 160 countries across the world including the United States.
UPDATE: As of 2018, the Individual Investor Program has received more than 1000 Malta passport applications on behalf of investors from more than 40 different countries. As of this date, the IIP Malta is still accepting new applications.
Eligibility for Individual Investor Programme Malta
An amendment passed in 2013 to Chapter 188 of the Maltese Citizenship Act, as well as the enactment of Legal Notice LN47 in 2014, legally grant eligible persons EU citizenship by investment via the Malta Individual Investor Program. To be considered eligible for the Malta citizenship scheme, the main applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must meet all the Malta immigration requirements outlined below.
Fit and Proper Test
The Malta citizenship by investment program has some of the strictest due diligence standards of any immigrant investor program in the world to ensure only deserving and reputable applicants are granted Maltese citizenship. As part of the Malta Individual Investor Programme, there is a four-tier due diligence process carried out directly by the government to assess candidates comprehensively. Applicants must have a clean criminal record, and the Malta government conducts extensive criminal checks with INTERPOL, the International Criminal Court, and various other sources and authorities. As part of the due diligence process, applicants must also provide a police certificate before they will be approved for European citizenship.
To be admitted into the citizenship by investment program Malta, applicants must show that they do not suffer from any contagious diseases. All applicants must also be covered by an international health insurance policy.
All individuals and families applying to the Malta Individual Investor Program must make a significant non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund set up by the Government of Malta and run by a board of trustees. The fund, which is on the same level as the central bank, finances projects in the country linked to public health, education, job creation, social improvement, and innovation. The following contributions must be made within four months of being issued a Malta IIP Letter of Approval in Principle:
Main applicant – €650,000
Spouse – €25,000
Minor children – €25,000 each
Children 18-26 (unmarried) – €50,000 each
Dependent parents & grandparents – €50,000 each
Adult children (physically or mentally challenged) – €50,000 each
Real Estate Purchase or Rental
Applicants must commit to retaining an immovable residence in Malta for a minimum time period of five years. This can be done by either buying a property in Malta for at least €350,000 and maintaining ownership for 5+ years, or by leasing a property for five years or more with a minimum annual rent of €16,000. Applicants must provide evidence of owning or leasing a property on the islands within four months of receiving a citizenship Malta Letter of Approval in Principle.
Before a person can be admitted for Maltese citizenship by investment, applicants are required to invest at least €150,000 in government approved financial instruments (bonds, stocks, and debentures that benefit the nation) and must commit to keeping the investment for at least five years.
Upon purchasing real estate or entering a property lease in Malta, investor citizenship candidates are issued a Malta identity document called an eResidence card. This signifies the commencement of their residency in Malta and also demonstrates the candidate’s genuine link with the country. 12 months after an applicant has established residency in Malta, applicants who have maintained residence in the country will be granted citizenship. You do not need to spend all 365 days in Malta before citizenship is granted, Maltese law defines residence as “an intention to reside in Malta for any fiscal year, usually evidenced by a stay of a minimum of 183 days or by the purchase/rental of property together with a visit to Malta.” Consequently, upon purchasing or leasing an apartment or villa in the Mediterranean island nation and procuring a Malta residence card, applicants are not required to spend any time in Europe. Candidates who have been a resident of the country for at least one year prior to I.I.P. approval already satisfy this residency requirement and can subsequently become a citizen of Malta much faster.
Malta Citizenship Scheme Application Timeline
Malta Residency: Potential candidates who are not already resident in the country are strongly advised to begin the Malta residency process immediately since the Individual Investor Programme has a 12-month residency requirement. To be granted citizenship in Malta as fast as possible, it is very important that the clock is ticking on an applicant’s residency requirement while they progress through the Malta citizenship application process. Upon initiation of a nominee’s residency in Malta, a small deposit of €5,000 for the primary applicant and €1,000 for each family member is due on account of the National Development and Social Fund contribution.
Day 1: A Malta Individual Investor Program application is formally submitted to Identity Malta by an Accredited Person. The application will contain imperative supporting documents, and evidence of source of funds must also be presented at this stage. The following fees are now due:
Due Diligence Fees
Principal applicant – €7,500
Spouse – €5,000
Minor dependents (aged 0-12) – no fee
Minor dependents (aged 13-17) – €3,000 each
Adult dependents – €5,000 each
Malta Passport Fees
All candidates – €500 each
Per application – €200
A total deposit of €10,000 is now due towards the monetary contribution. Any deposit made when applying for Maltese residency counts towards this amount.
Day 5: Identity Malta will notify the concessionaire or Accredited Person within five business days of submission to confirm whether client’s application has been accepted for review or requires additional paperwork.
Day 90: Confirmation from Identity Malta that the application and supporting documentation are formally in order. The candidate is subject to a further 30 days of additional verification by the Government of Malta’s regulatory body.
Day 120: Applicant is approved in principle. This signifies official Malta IIP approval conditional only on the candidate fulfilling all their remaining obligations under the Maltese nationality program for investors.
Day 125: Identity Malta sends the applicant a formal request for payment of remaining balance of National Development and Social Fund contribution. The candidate has 20 days to pay the full amount.
Day 145: Maltese IIP financial contribution deadline. The entire National Development and Social Fund contribution must be made by this time.
Day 240: Final citizenship by investment Malta compliance. Applicant must provide evidence of €150,000 bonds investment as well as a Malta real estate purchase or rental.
Issuance of Naturalisation Certificate: Once an applicant has fulfilled all their obligations under the Malta Individual Investor Program and taken an Oath of Allegiance, they will be issued a Certificate of Naturalisation and given a Malta Passport.
If you are interested in learning more about the Malta citizenship by investment program, please contact our team for a confidential consultation.
Tax Consequences of Citizenship in Malta
Dual Citizenship Malta
Individuals that obtain a second citizenship by investment are not required by Maltese law to renounce their existing citizenship. Malta has no restrictions on holding dual nationality, in fact, the nation’s Citizenship Act specifically provides that Malta dual citizenship is permitted, but your current country of citizenship may have restrictions that prohibit you from possessing a Malta second passport.
Any child born to a parent who is a Maltese citizen will also be a citizen of Malta. This means children born to men or women who obtained Maltese nationality via the Individual Investor Program will be full European citizens even if their place of birth is not in Europe. Consequently, if your family participates in the Malta investor program then when your children grow up and have families of their own your grandchildren will also have EU passports. Participating in the Maltese citizenship program will gift future generations of your family with increased political and economic freedom, as well as significantly increased educational opportunities in the West. Many investors cite “family legacy” and “providing a better life for children and grandchildren” as senior influences in their decision to sponsor their family for second citizenship in Malta.
Since 2008, the Maltese Passport Office has issued biometric passports according to EU and international standards. To obtain citizenship and a European passport through the Individual Investor Program Malta, candidates must give the country their biometric information such as fingerprints. This involves visiting one of the country’s international embassies in person, or traveling to the country and going to the Maltese Passport Office located in the Evans Building on Merchant Street in downtown Valletta.
Now is a great time to participate in the Malta citizenship by investment program if you are holding a significant amount of U.S. dollar-denominated assets. When the Malta economic citizenship program was first announced in early 2014, the euro was significantly stronger than the American dollar. At this time, the EUR 650,000 minimum contribution amount was close to USD $900,000. As of 2018, however, the American dollar has strengthened compared to the euro and the required donation of EUR 650,000 is presently closer to USD $800,000. Consequently, the Malta second citizenship program is currently more affordable for investors holding much of their wealth in assets that are denominated in U.S. dollars.
Malta citizenship by investment program applicants have two options on how to meet the program’s residency requirement. The first option is to purchase an apartment on the islands for a minimum price of €350,000. The second option is to rent or lease an apartment on the island for a minimum annual rent of €16,000. There are pros and cons to both choices.
Buying a Malta Property
By far the biggest benefit to buying a property in Malta is that the investment is not a sunk cost and can be recovered after the five-year commitment has been met. The Maltese economy is growing by more than 3% per year, and the tiny size of the islands means that land is in very limited supply. With an extremely healthy banking system and strong immigration numbers, it is very likely that applicants who purchase real estate to meet the Malta IIP’s residency requirement will turn a profit on the home when they finally go to sell 5+ years later. The biggest downside to making a Malta real estate purchase is that it increases the total investment required to participate in the program. Depending on your current business situation, the opportunity cost of this money could negate any appreciation of the property’s value. It can also be difficult to get a mortgage on a property in Malta as a foreign buyer, so the purchase may have to be made with cash or financed in your home country.
Renting a Malta Apartment
The top reason to satisfy the Malta citizenship by investment programme’s residency requirement by leasing a property on the islands instead of buying one is that it requires a lot less money. The minimum monthly rent required for the Malta citizenship scheme is only €1333, and even if you paid for all five years upfront the total commitment would only be €80,000 which is a fraction of the amount required to purchase real estate. Renting an apartment in Malta is also quick and easy; there is much less paperwork involved compared to buying a residence, and you do not need to be as meticulous when selecting a home since you will not own it (many investors lease an apartment sight unseen). The biggest downside to renting a house instead of buying one is that all the money you spend on rent is a sunk cost, and you will not be able to recover any of these funds. Paying rent is an expense, but purchasing a property in a strong real estate market such as Malta is an investment. This being said, the reason you are paying this rent is to obtain an EU passport so in the end even though it is a sunk cost that cannot be recovered it is still an excellent investment.
Is There a Language Requirement?
There are no citizenship tests included in the Malta investment program, and applicants are not required to know Maltese or even English to be accepted into the financial citizenship program. Dr. Anton Tabone has experience assisting non-English speaking clients with Maltese immigration matters.
Can My Malta Passport Be Revoked?
European citizenship granted under the Malta Individual Investor Program can be revoked if an applicant does not follow through with all the requirements of the citizenship by investment programme. To be granted citizenship, applicants commit to retaining a residence in Malta for five years and also keeping their Maltese bonds investment for a minimum of five years. If a person does not comply with these requirements and stops renting an apartment or sells their home in Malta before the five years is up, they can have their citizenship as well as their EU passport taken away.
Malta is a tiny island country in the very middle of the Mediterranean Sea that is an immensely popular tourist destination thanks to its beautiful architecture, many historical monuments, and fantastic weather. Despite only having a current population of 423,500 the islands have been inhabited for more than 7000 years and were home to one of the most sophisticated civilizations on Earth. Today there are 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites on the islands, and people travel from all across the world to visit the country making tourism one of the largest economic sectors in Malta accounting for 15% of the nation’s GDP.
Malta became a full member of the European Union in 2004. EU freedom of movement treaties permit Maltese citizens to live, work, and study in any other European Union country including Switzerland. This means that people with Malta passports are allowed to move to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK).
Malta has been a member of the Schengen Area of Europe since 2007. This allows a Maltese citizen to travel to 26 European countries without going through any border control. Countries that make up the borderless area include EU members Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England (Great Britain), Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, as well as the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Individuals that hold a passport from any Schengen Area country can visit any other country in the borderless area without the inconvenience of a border check.
Does Malta's Citizenship Program Accept Bitcoins?
The Maltese citizenship by investment program does not recognize Bitcoin or other crypto as legal investment currency for financial transactions related to their immigration program, and consequently, you cannot use Bitcoins to make the Individual Investor Programme’s compulsory investments.
How to Get Malta Citizenship
Many people interested in European citizenship by investment research the subject online, determine they are a good fit for the Malta Individual Investor Program, but then are unsure how to apply for Maltese citizenship through investment. Applying for Maltese citizenship on your own is not possible. Under the requirements of the Malta IIP or MIIP, a prospective applicant is obliged to use a concessionaire or Accredited Agent in order to get the application process started. This means the ONLY way to apply for the Malta citizenship program is through an Accredited Person, so contacting one of these exclusively certified individuals to learn more about the program is the best way to initiate the Maltese citizenship application procedure.
All Malta citizenship scheme applicants, with the exception of children under six years old, must at some point visit in person a Maltese embassy or the Malta Passport Office in Valletta to give their biometrics. Biometrics include facial features as well as the scanning of fingerprints for applicants aged 12 and above. Biometric data that is given as part of the Malta citizenship by investment application process can be stored for as long as six months.
Oath of Allegiance
All Malta immigration applicants that are at least 18 years old are required to take an Oath of Allegiance in order to officially receive citizenship of Malta, provided they have the capacity to do so. This oath must be taken in person, so all successful candidates of the Malta citizenship scheme must visit the country to finalize the process of becoming an EU citizen.
How Can I Verify If a Company or Person Is IIP Accredited?
Is Malta Safe to Invest In?
Malta is a republic with a parliamentary democracy system and is highly respected and considered neutral on the international stage. Malta’s banks have total assets worth more than seven times the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), making it a very economically secure nation with the second largest banking sector in the Eurozone. Unlike many neighboring EU countries, Malta has an excellent credit rating (BBB+) and their government bonds are in high demand amongst both professional and retail bond investors.
Malta withstood the “great recession” remarkably well with the country’s housing price index never dropping by more than 5% in a year including in 2008 and 2009 when other European real estate markets were crushed. The country has also never imposed a tax on deposits in Maltese banks, dissimilar to nearby Cyprus who imposed a one-time tax levy in 2013 which included offshore bank accounts. As part of the former British Empire, Malta’s financial system was built from the ground up with a solid foundation and has proven to be both robust and stable even while other European nations have faced major economic challenges. Not only did the Maltese economy weather the European financial crisis exceptionally well, it is now one of the leading economies in the Eurozone.
According to the country’s National Statistics Office, the Malta economy expanded by more than 3% last year. The European Commission is currently forecasting that the Maltese economy will expand by more than 5% in 2018, making it one of the top economies in the entire EU during this period. The economists and reporters of the “Global Wealth Migration Review” recently reported that Malta experienced the second largest wealth growth of any country in 2017, behind only India and tied with China. Every new high-net-worth individual (HNWI) that becomes a citizen of Malta via the I.I.P. will help grow the local economy. The nation’s safe and stable economy is just one of the many reasons why the Malta Individual Investor Program is a secure and strategic investment.
What is a "Malta Golden Visa"?
A “Golden Visa” is the name of a popular EU investor visa offered by a few Southern European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, to foreign nationals who invest in their country’s property market. Many people refer to the new Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP) as a European Golden Visa. If you are interested in an EU Residence Permit as opposed to European citizenship, a Maltese investor visa may be right for you. Malta residency by investment can make doing business in Europe easy by eliminating the need for a Schengen Visa in order to travel within the European Union.
Maltese Nationality vs Residency
The Individual Investor Programme is much more than just a Malta investor visa; it offers foreign investors full citizenship in Europe as opposed to just EU residency. While the Malta residence scheme is an excellent way for non-EU investors to get a European Residence Permit, obtaining a second passport in Malta is only possible through the IIP. In you want full European citizenship and a Malta passport, the Individual Investor Program is for you. Often considered the most reputable economic passport program in the industry, making an investment for citizenship in Europe through the Malta nationality program is safe and transparent.
What Does the Due Diligence Process Entail?
If I Make the Major Financial Contribution Am I Guaranteed a Malta Passport?
Applicants for citizenship by investment in Malta are not required to make the sizable contribution to the country’s National Development and Social Fund until after they have passed the due diligence stage of the program and have been approved in principle. Once a person has been approved in principle, the only conditions that must be met before they will be made a European citizen and given a Maltese passport are for them to satisfy all the remaining Malta citizenship requirements laid out in the program such as the bonds investment and residency stipulation. This means that you never have to worry about failing the due diligence process after you have already invested the full amount of money required by the program.
Can My Children Study in Europe?
Which of the Maltese Islands Do I Need to Visit?
The Maltese archipelago consists of three main islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino, and has a total land area of 316 sq. km. Malta is the largest and most populated island and is the cultural and commercial hub of the country. Gozo is the next largest of the islands and is more rural with a booming tourist, fishing, and agriculture industry. Comino is a very tiny island located directly between Malta and Gozo. Valletta, the capital city, is located on Malta island and is where all business related to the Maltese citizenship program takes place. When IIP Malta candidates visit the country to give biometrics, obtain a residency card, or take the Oath of Allegiance, they will need to visit Valletta, which is located conveniently close to the Malta International Airport.
What Is the Difference Between a Citizenship by Investment Program and an Immigrant Investor Program?
Also referred to as an economic citizenship or investor citizenship arrangement, citizenship by investment programs enable foreign nationals to obtain citizenship in a country provided they make a substantial fiscal contribution to that jurisdiction. Immigrant investor programs typically only offer investors residency in a country in exchange for a hefty monetary contribution, not citizenship, which is why citizenship investment programs are much more coveted by investors. Because a financial investment is a requisite of the Individual Investor Program, some people inadvertently think it is no different than a Malta passport for sale scheme; which is entirely false! Although some media publications periodically use terms such as “Maltese passport for sale” when discussing the island’s citizenship programme, wealthy businessmen and businesswomen expecting to instantly buy Maltese citizenship are going to be disappointed because the IIP is not an EU passport for sale scheme it is a legitimate citizenship by investment program recognized by the European Commission. Not only can you not go out and buy a Maltese passport tomorrow, you cannot just instantly buy Malta citizenship outright; the Individual Investor Program requires applicants to establish residency on the islands and build a genuine link with the country. Truth be told, investor programs are not actually very different from other forms of skilled worker immigration as both types of programs have the simple goal of improving a country’s society and economy. The fact is, global citizenship facilitates innovation across borders, and educated business leaders who are the primary demographic participating in citizenship by investment immigration bring tremendous value to the communities they join.
Malta Global Residence Programme
In addition to Malta economic citizenship, immigration to Malta is possible via the country’s Global Residence Programme. The Global Residence Program Malta enables economically self-sufficient individuals who rent or own a permanent address on the islands to be formally recognized as a resident for tax purposes. If you are not interested in getting a Maltese passport and simply wish to live in a warm Mediterranean residence while retired and collecting a pension, the Malta Global Residence Program may be the ideal Malta immigration channel for you.
Maltese Citizenship by Descent (How to Get an EU Passport)
Wondering how to get a European passport if you have Maltese ancestors? Amendments to the country’s Citizenship Act in August 2007 make it easy for direct descendants of Malta citizens to obtain an EU second passport. Maltese citizenship by ancestry enables anyone with documentation showing direct descent from an ancestor born in the country of a parent who was also born on the islands to fill out a Malta citizenship application and obtain a European passport. Even if you have no plans to ever invest in Malta, if you have Maltese parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents, our Malta immigration team can assist you in attaining dual citizenship in Europe as well as a second EU passport.
What Type of Health Insurance Do I Need?
The Malta citizenship investment program requires all entrants to hold a valid comprehensive health insurance policy that covers all worldwide medical expenses up to at least 50,000 euros per family member.
How Many Applicants Will Be Accepted for Economic Citizenship in Malta?
Although the Maltese nationality by investment program is the most exclusive citizenship scheme available today, there is no cap on the number of applications accepted. When the Individual Investor Programme Malta first launched in 2014, it was strictly capped at 1800 applicants. This is no longer the case, however, and the country has secured a deal with the European Commission to allow the member state to choose for themselves how many people to accept into the program.
Finding a Property in Malta
Citizenship by investment Malta candidates are required to have a registered functional address in the country in order to apply for a residence permit under the program. Since it is impossible to become a citizen of Malta by investing without first meeting the Individual Investor Programme’s residency requirement, applicants must present authorities with a copy of sale agreement or lease agreement at least 12 months before they will officially be given a Malta passport. There are no specific IIP requisites for the property other than satisfying the minimum annual rent (16,000 euros) or purchase price (350,000 euros), although we recommend our clients choose sensibly and not lease a tiny bachelor apartment for a large family.
Our Malta immigration team can assist clients with locating the ideal property on the islands that will thoroughly meet their needs while also fulfilling all the investor program regulatory requirements. Once power of attorney documents have been completed, we will also be able to sign a lease on our client’s behalf making the process of securing a sanctioned apartment even easier and less time consuming. Clients can also complete the property transaction application in advance, allowing us to email them properties that match their requirements and upon selection secure the apartment, sign the lease agreement, and pay the landlord’s deposit and first three months of rent on their behalf without the client needing to return to the country. At MaltaImmigration.com we treat every single one of our clients like a VIP!
Can I Invest in Malta Citizenship with a Company or Trust?
All funds for the Individual Investor Programme Malta must be transferred from the main applicant’s personal bank account. This means you can not make the financial contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF) from a holding company or offshore trust. It also means you cannot have a friend or family member wire the money to the islands on your behalf; the name on the bank account sending the money must match the name of the primary applicant.
Citizenship by Investment Malta Application Process
The first stage of the Maltese Individual Investor Program is initial due diligence, during which IIP Malta Ltd. conducts a preliminary background verification on the main applicant and their family. As part of this process, the applicant must provide their personal details such as private address as well as profession and name of employer. The main applicant must also provide information about the number of residence cards he or she holds. All applicants need to provide a copy of their passport, and the main applicant must additionally hand over some basic bank account details such as the name of their bank, its address, and the SWIFT code.
After the preliminary due diligence stage, a client service agreement and power of attorney document must be signed by the applicant as part of the preparation of a Malta resident permit application. There are also several government forms that must be completed including Form K and Form ID 1A for non-EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens. In addition to requiring a passport copy, the Maltese resident permit application requires the main applicant to provide a bank reference as well as bank statements from the last three months, a suitable certificate of global health insurance coverage, and a cover letter detailing their reasons for applying for a Malta passport. Spouses are required to present a copy of their passport, a marriage certificate, and a certificate of their health insurance policy with global coverage of at least 50,000 euros. Documents required for dependents include a passport copy, birth certificate, proof of sufficient international health insurance coverage, as well as evidence of financial dependency on the main applicant for dependents older than age 18. We work alongside clients throughout the entire Maltese passport application process.
Can Documents Be Submitted in Your Native Language?
All documentation pursuant to the Malta economic citizenship program must either be in English or accompanied by an authenticated translation. For example documents required by Identity Malta that are in languages such as Russian, Arabic, or Chinese must be submitted alongside an accurate English translation. Translated documents must also contain details about the professional translator who was responsible for the language translation. When a “certified copy” of a document is mandatory, a photocopy of the original document will suffice provided it is certified to be a true copy of the original by a duly licensed lawyer.
For a confidential consultation regarding the Malta citizenship by investment programmed please phone us today or request a call back via our contact form.