The Malta Citizenship-by-Investment (CBI) program, also known as Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment, was most recently updated in February 2023.
Malta, a small but charming Mediterranean island, offers citizens an opportunity to travel the world and operate business under financially liberal laws.
As a country with a population of just over 530,000 people, a dynamic and diverse culture, and tasty cuisine, Malta covers only 316 square kilometres, making it one of the smallest countries in the world in a great location.
The program introduced a stricter due diligence process as well as a collection of other requirements.
The Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment Program under the Maltese Citizenship Act, referred to as Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN), was created to provide high-value foreign national investors with good moral character an opportunity to obtain Maltese citizenship by making a substantial investment in the country.
Today, the program allows investors who contribute to Malta’s Government Fund, an investment in government-sanctioned bonds or stocks, and a real estate investment to qualify for the Maltese citizenship program, provided they meet other criteria set forth by the Maltese government.
The Maltese program has quickly become the most exclusive CBI program in the world. It offers advantageous economic policies that you can enjoy by obtaining citizenship via investment.
You’ll also have to demonstrate ‘genuine’ links to the country to get a passport, which generally means becoming a Malta resident.
The cost of the program is now set at a hefty price of €600,000 if you can provide proof of residence in Malta for a period of 36 months. However, this period can be reduced by exception to a minimum of 12 months subject to an investment of €750,000.
It provides citizens already living in desirable parts of the world easy access to the rest of Europe. That sure is an attractive option for people looking for a top-tier passport.
That being said, there are plenty more benefits to becoming a Maltese citizen that may prompt you to pursue this Malta citizenship program. Let us guide you through everything there is to know about obtaining a Malta passport and determining whether it is the right program for you.
For a small country, Malta’s GDP is on par with the Euro area average, and it has the region’s second-lowest unemployment rate of around 2.7%. It is also one of Europe’s safest countries.
Before we get into how the Maltese CBI program works, let’s look at how strong the Maltese passport is and if it’s something you should pursue.
What is Citizenship by Investment?
Let’s level the playing field if you’re just starting to learn about citizenship by investment. We’ll begin by briefly introducing the concept.
More and more high-net-worth people are looking at citizenship insurance. This means they want to have a ‘Plan B’ for themselves, their families, and their businesses, giving them access to somewhere other than their original place of birth.
Some are escaping political persecution, while others are simply looking for balmy climates or ways to lower their tax burden.
Whatever the reason, a handful of countries around the world offer citizenship by investment programs to attract these individuals and raise capital to build their local economies.
Typically, the jurisdictions that offer citizenship by investment (CBI) are those with difficulty diversifying their income, such as island nations dependent on tourism.
Attracting foreign capital in exchange for residency and citizenship seems to be a win-win situation, but CBI programs regularly get criticised. Certain corners of society have a persistent belief that CBI applicants are running away from criminal charges, want to launder money or engage in some other shady activity.
Meanwhile, the reality is much simpler: most people seeking a second passport merely want to go where they’re treated best.
Why Malta Citizenship by Investment?
For some, Malta is the country where they’ll be treated best.
When we talk about CBI with our clients, one of the first concerns they bring up is the quality of life in the country they’re considering.
You see, most countries that offer citizenship by investment are small islands in the Caribbean or the South Pacific, such as Vanuatu. While these countries aren’t necessarily a bad option (and their passports are quite good by usual standards), most people can’t picture themselves actually living there.
Second passports are outstanding for many reasons, but one of the issues you need to consider is whether you would want to live in your new country of citizenship if push ever came to shove.
Another issue we often hear specifically from Americans looking to renounce their US citizenship is that they want to keep similar passport privileges without the burden of citizenship-based taxation.
And although passports for countries like Grenada can offer attractive visa-free access to places like China and Russia, it doesn’t compare to the travel freedom you get with a US passport.
Cue Malta. It offers the quality of life of a developed European country, EU citizenship and the proximity to many exciting locations. Plus, its passport is one of the strongest in the world, meaning you wouldn’t have to compromise on passport privileges.
Benefits of Getting Malta Citizenship by Investment
The Malta citizenship-by-investment program provides applicants with all the privileges of a European passport and more. These include:
- Unrestricted access to the European Union: Malta is a member of the European Union. That means investors who obtain Maltese citizenship are allowed to live and work anywhere in the EU. Malta is also part of the Schengen Area, meaning there are no visas or passport checks for travelling throughout the European Schengen Zone.
- Visa-free travel: The Maltese passport is one of the strongest passports in the world. Altogether, Malta passport holders can enter a total of 171 destinations – either without a visa, through a visa on arrival or via electronic travel authorisation.
- The Maltese citizenship-by-investment program saves time: Another notable benefit of the Malta CBI is how speedy the program’s process is. You can obtain citizenship in 12 to 36 months. Bear in mind that you must be a resident of Malta to gain Maltese nationality.
- Family-friendly passport: Under the new Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program, not only will you receive a European passport if you are granted Maltese citizenship, but so will your family. It’s worth noting that there is an additional donation fee of €50,000 for every dependent receiving citizenship with the principal applicant. Also, note that children born to Maltese citizens automatically receive citizenship. Therefore, your children and grandchildren will have Malta citizenship for the rest of their lives.
- Maltese Is tax friendly: Malta’s tax system hinges on the twin concepts of residence and domicile. Applicants who become residents of Malta but are not domiciled in the country are only required to pay tax on any income they earn or receive in the country. This means it’s possible to obtain Maltese citizenship by investment, claim non-domicile status (your domicile is in another country) and not pay full regular taxes there. As such, Malta offers a number of personal tax breaks and exclusions for specific types of income.
How to Get Malta Citizenship by Investment?
The CBI application generally takes between 120 and 150 calendar days to process. Once you have received your letter of approval for eligibility, you’ll then begin the Malta citizenship procedure.
As is customary, the Community Malta Agency (CMA) conducts due diligence to ensure the citizenship application is completed correctly. Additional papers and information may be requested. The CMA then applies to the Minister, who determines whether or not the applicants are entitled to seek Maltese citizenship.
Eligibility for Malta’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program
The Maltese citizenship-by-investment program is governed by the Community Malta Agency. This federal government agency states that the principal candidate must meet the following qualifying conditions:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- If you have proof of residence in Malta for 36 months, you must donate €600,000; if you have proof of residence there for 12 months, you must contribute €750,000.
- Purchase a €700,000 residential home in Malta and retain it for at least five years. Renting a house for a period of five years with a minimum annual rent of €16,000 is an alternative.
- Make a €10,000 donation to any Community Malta Agency-approved group. You can also give to a recognised non-governmental organisation or society involved in sports, culture, science, philanthropy, animal welfare or culture.
- To apply for citizenship, all adult dependants must hold a residence permit for the required periods. You must have health insurance and a clean criminal record.
An important point to note here regarding property is that you cannot sell your property for five years.
Applying for Maltese Citizenship: Requirements
Any sum between €700,000 and €1,460,000 qualifies as a qualifying investment when applying for Maltese citizenship by investment.
The investment criteria include the following requirements (you must complete each requirement listed below to qualify for citizenship):
- Donation Requirements:
- Provide proof of residence in Malta for a period of 36 months, subject to an exceptional direct investment of €600,000.
- This period may be reduced by exception to a minimum of 12 months, subject to a direct investment of €750,000.
- For each extra dependent, the cost is an additional €50,000.
- These contributions support, among other things, programs in public health, education, job creation and social reform.
- The contributions are non-refundable.
- Fund Requirements:
- Donate at least €10,000 to a recognised non-governmental organisation or society in addition to your contribution.
- The entity you make your donation to must be a non-profit organisation.
- Real Estate Requirements:
- Purchase or lease a real estate property with a minimum value of €700,000 or pay a minimum annual rent of €16,000.
- You must keep the property you bought or rented for at least five years after receiving your citizenship certificate.
Malta Citizenship-by-Investment Application
The application for the Malta CBI program must be filed on the stipulated forms and include all required fees and papers. The due diligence procedure is quite strict and thorough, and if you submit fraudulent information, you will be refused citizenship.
You can hire a lawyer and give them power of attorney to act as your legal representative or agent, and this will stay in effect until the operation is complete.
The Community Malta Agency does due diligence to ensure validation after receiving the Eligibility Payment Request Voucher (EPRV) a few days later.
This method has been enhanced under the new Malta citizenship-by-investment program to guarantee that capital is lawfully inherited. Each applicant is subjected to a comprehensive due diligence procedure, which includes extensive background checks. Furthermore, you must present authentic papers such as criminal police records, evidence of finances, and primary wealth.
Malta has the highest level of due diligence. A regulatory report released in 2023 indicated that, between 2015–2021, Malta received 2245 CBI applications. Of these, 1608 were approved and 630 were rejected or withdrawn – a rejection rate of 28%. Each application undergoes four levels of due diligence, and even the tiniest suspicion on the part of the Agency might result in the application being rejected.
Malta conducts due diligence like no other CBI program; after all, it does hand out a highly coveted passport. The Maltese system has been called the ‘gold standard’ of all due diligence processes, going into extensive detail on each application. It’s also set to become even more stringent as the program becomes more popular.
Currently, the due diligence process has four tiers:
- Tier 1: The agent submitting your application carries out standard due diligence. This includes a citizenship eligibility form, which must be filed in order to obtain a residence permit. The agent must also file a birth and marriage certificate with the Public Registry and Passport Office.
- Tier 2: Tier 2 due diligence is undertaken to confirm that the application is valid and comprehensive. A few extra papers are needed to capture any extra data.
- Tier 3 and Tier 4: Anti-money laundering professionals will check to ensure your application is complete and the documentation is correct. Also, a global database check will be conducted to ensure you’re not acting against any international sanctions and aren’t on any denied person lists.
All of the collected information is compiled and reviewed by a risk assessor. A recommendation is made to either accept or reject the application.
The attorney/agent submits the Maltese citizenship application to the Agency based on your level of payment. Similarly, the due diligence is updated, and the application is delivered to the Minister, who will decide whether or not you are eligible for citizenship.
Then, if you meet the investment and residency conditions, you are invited to swear the Oath of Allegiance in Malta.
Finally, you’ll get a Malta passport and a Certificate of Naturalization. However, the Community Malta Agency conducts continual monitoring for five years after you have obtained citizenship.
Taxation in Malta
Malta’s taxation system is based on domicile, not residency or citizenship status. As an individual, you can never be without a domicile. Generally, you are considered to have a domicile of origin in the land of your nationality and the country where you’ve spent the most significant part of your life.
This means if you are not domiciled in Malta, even as someone with citizenship, then only income and capital gains generated from activities inside Malta are fully taxable.
Income arising outside of Malta and not sent to Malta is not taxable. In addition, capital gains arising outside of Malta, even if brought into Malta, are not taxable for non-domiciled residents.
- If you live in Malta for less than 183 days, you are not automatically considered a tax resident and, therefore, only pay tax on income earned in Malta.
- However, if you regularly spend a longer time in Malta and establish personal and economic ties in the country, even if less than 183 days a year, you may be considered a resident for tax purposes.
Advice On Immigration to Malta
Having Malta’s passport in your portfolio is an excellent move. However, getting Maltese citizenship is a complicated process. It requires physical presence and time spent in Malta. However, the benefits of immigration to Malta far outweigh the requirements.
You have unlimited access to pretty much the entire world. Maltese citizenship is generational, so your descendants will benefit from it, too. Moreover, the taxation policy, in the long run, is a win-win.
When looking at Maltese citizenship, it’s best to consider it in terms of investment. Are you willing to put in the time and resources?
If the answer is yes, we encourage you to go for it. If the answer is yes, we’ll gladly help you.
You’ll need guidance from people who understand the immigration process to Malta and, more importantly, who understand your specific needs.
At Nomad Capitalist, we take great pride in our holistic strategies, carefully designed for your individual circumstances and needs with unmatched attention to detail. Our team provides guidance that enables you to protect your assets, grow your wealth and optimise your taxes.
We have helped 1,500+ high-net-worth individuals and can help you, too. Find out how by contacting our team today.
Malta Citizenship by Investment – FAQs
Even though we wrote extensively about the program, the procedure and the pros and cons of Malta’s CBI program, you might still have questions.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about obtaining a passport from Malta:
Yes. You can pass on your citizenship to your children.
The minimum is 12 months, although it will most likely be closer to 14 months before you receive your Maltese passport.
Since you must give Malta your biometric information (e.g., fingerprints), you will have to travel to either Malta or one of its international embassies to apply to the Maltese CBI program.
Luckily, you’ll only be required to make the entire investment after passing the application’s due diligence step.
No. You don’t need to pass any language tests to be considered for Maltese citizenship.
Yes, dual citizenship in Malta is legal. You can hold two or more citizenships when you receive your Maltese passport. Do note, however, that the country of your first passport might not allow dual citizenship.
Yes, your name will be publicly available as all names of new citizens of Malta are published in the Government Gazette once a year.
Is It Worth Investing in a Maltese Passport?
Unfortunately, there is no straight answer; it depends on your personal circumstances and financial goals. But all in all, Malta is a fantastic passport. Purchasing a Maltese passport through the CBI program gives you and your family many privileges and a safe haven should you ever need it.
Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program is the fastest way to get a Malta EU passport.
On the other hand, Malta’s isn’t the easiest or most accessible CBI program. Although the process for Maltese CBI is straightforward, you must meet numerous requirements. Bear in mind also that you’ll be paying more for a second passport when compared with other cheaper CBI programs.
You need to be a resident of Malta for a minimum of one year after obtaining your residency card. However, you don’t have to live there to get CBI; you have to go there occasionally for up to 25 days, but full-time living is not a requirement.
Also, you’ll need to carefully consider how getting a Malta passport for sale will impact your current plans and strategies since it will restrict your movement for at least a year.
That being said, Malta’s CBI program is an interesting option as it gives you a European passport with Schengen access – that’s undoubtedly valuable and should be a consideration for those looking to plant a flag and go where you’re treated best.
We bring decades of personal and professional experience to the table. Work with our team to create a strategy and a road to obtaining Maltese citizenship via investment that will offer you wealth and happiness both now and in the future.