Malta, a small but absolutely charming Mediterranean island, offers people an opportunity to travel the world and operate under financially liberal laws.
As a country with a population of 443,355 people, a dynamic and diverse culture, and delectable cuisine, Malta covers a span of only 316 square kilometers, making it one of the smallest countries in the world in a great location.
The new 2020 Malta citizenship by investment program is now up and running.
The program has most recently been updated in November of 2020, introducing 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. (formerly the Malta Individual Investor Program and now referred to as Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN)) was created to provide high-value foreign nationals 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 make a contribution to Malta’s Government Fund, an investment in government-sanctioned bonds or stocks, and a real estate investment to become Maltese citizens through investment, 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 are free to enjoy by obtaining citizenship via investment.
You’ll also have to demonstrate “genuine links” to the country to get a passport, and that generally means actually becoming a resident of Malta.
The program is now set at a hefty price of €600,000 and three years of your time. Or, you can decrease that to just one year of having a Malta Golden Visa if you increase your minimum investment to €750,000.
It provides citizenship in a highly livable area of the world with 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 of benefits to becoming a Maltese citizen that may prompt you to pursue this Malta citizenship program. This guide will walk you through everything there is to know about obtaining a Malta passport and determining whether it is the right program for you.
Malta has one of Europe’s highest GDPs and lowest unemployment rates. 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?
If you’re just starting to learn about citizenship by investment, let’s level the playing field. We’ll briefly introduce the concept here.
More and more (ultra) high-net-worth people are looking at citizenship insurance. What this means is that 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 people are escaping political persecution while others are simply looking for balmy climates or ways to lower their tax burden.
Whatever the reason, a good handful of countries around the world offer citizenship by investment programs to attract these individuals and raise capital to build their local economies.
Usually, jurisdictions that offer citizenship by investment (CBI) are those that cannot easily diversify their income; for example, 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 criticized. There is an old sentiment where people think that CBI applicants are running away from criminal charges or that they want to launder money or engage in some other shady activity.
Meanwhile, the reality is much simpler: the vast majority of people who are looking to obtain a second passport are merely looking to go where they’re treated best.
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 that they’re considering.
You see, the vast majority of countries that offer citizenship by investment are small islands in the Caribbean or the South Pacific. While these countries aren’t bad by any means (and their passports are actually quite good by most standards), most people can’t picture themselves actually living there.
Second passports are great for many reasons, but one of the issues that you need to consider is whether you actually would want to live in your new country of citizenship if push came to shove.
Another issue that 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 like Grenada can offer interesting visa-free access to places like China and Russia, it doesn’t compare to the travel freedom that you have with a US passport.
Cue Malta — it offers the quality of life of a developed European country, a European Union 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 Maltese Citizens
The Malta citizenship by investment program provides applicants with all of the privileges of a European passport and more.
Unrestricted Access to the European Union
Malta is a member of the European Union, making it an EU citizenship which means that investors who obtain Maltese citizenship may live and work anywhere in the EU.
Malta is also part of the Schengen Area, which means that there are no visas or passport checks for traveling throughout the European Schengen Zone.
The Maltese passport is one of the strongest passports in the world. It allows visa-free travel to 183 countries across the world in addition to freedom of movement and visa-free travel inside Europe.
The Malta Citizenship By Investment Program Saves Time
Another notable benefit of the Malta citizenship by investment program is how speedy the process is. You can obtain citizenship in 12 to 36 months. You must be a resident of Malta to gain Maltese nationality.
Under the new Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program, you and your family will receive a European passport if you are granted Maltese citizenship. It’s worth noting that there is an additional donation fee for every dependent receiving citizenship with the main applicant.
But the price is discounted for each dependent. So, if you’re doing it for yourself you might as well do it for the rest of your family too.
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 is based on residency rather than citizenship. Therefore, you may not have to pay tax in Malta even if you get citizenship. Malta has extremely advantageous tax exposure and also offers unique tax plans for new residents that might help them save money on taxes.
How to Get Malta Citizenship by Investment
The Community Malta Agency requires citizenship eligibility application filings within 12 months of your Malta Golden Visa residence permit card’s issuing date. Otherwise the Agency revokes your residence permit card.
As is customary, the CMA conducts due diligence to ensure that 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.
In general, the citizenship application takes between 120 and 150 calendar days to process. You’ll then begin the Malta citizenship procedure if you’re qualified.
You’ll get a Letter of Approval in Principle, and you’ll have to pay the additional expenses after that.
Eligibility for Malta Citizenship by Investment Program
The Malta citizenship by investment program is governed by the Community Malta Agency. The main candidate must meet the following qualifying conditions, according to this federal government agency.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- If you have resided in Malta for 36 months, you must invest €600,000, and if you have been here 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 with a rental value of €16,000 per year is an alternative.
- Make a €10,000 donation to any Community Malta Agency-approved group. You can also give to a recognized non-governmental organization or society involved in sports, culture, science, philanthropy, animal welfare, or culture.
- To apply for citizenship, you must have a valid Malta Golden Visa. When you buy real estate in Malta, you get an e-ID card, a Malta identification certificate.
- You must be in good health, as well as your family members.
An important point to note here regarding property is that you cannot sell your property for five years.
Investment Requirements for the Malta Citizenship
Any sum between €700,000 and €1,460,000 qualifies as a qualifying investment for the Malta citizenship program.
The investment criteria are outlined in full below.
You must contribute to the Maltese government-run National Development Fund and a Maltese government Social Fund when you apply for the Malta citizenship by investment program.
These subsidies support programs in public health, education, job creation, and social reform, among other things.
If you have been in the nation for 36 months, you must give €600,000, and if you have lived here for 12 months, you must contribute €750,000. Not to mention the fact that this donation is non-refundable.
For each extra dependent, the cost is an additional €50,000.
You must donate at least €10,000 to a recognized non-governmental organization or society in addition to your contribution. It has to be a non-profit organization.
- Real Estate
It is mandatory to purchase or lease a real estate property with a minimum value of €700,000 or pay a minimum annual rent of €16,000 per year. Furthermore, you must keep the property you bought or rented for at least five years after receiving your citizenship certificate.
Residence Permit Requirements
You must meet the Malta Golden Visa residence criteria in the same way as you must meet the Malta citizenship by investment requirements. According to the new laws, you and your dependents must have a Malta Golden Visa for at least one year. The minimum investment limit for 12 months is €750,000; there is a new option if you want to save some money.
Acquiring Maltese citizenship is possible by investing only €600,000 and saving €150,000 if you can show proof of three years of living in Malta.
Furthermore, you will need to apply with the assistance of your certified agent to get residency.
Your appointment is set within six months. The Community Malta Agency and the Maltese police clear your permission process. Finally, you will receive your e-ID card, which will prove your legal status in the nation.
Malta Citizenship Application
The application for the Malta citizenship by investment program must be filed on the stipulated forms and include all required fees and papers. The due diligence procedure is quite strict and thorough. So, if you submit fraudulent information, you will not get citizenship.
Hire a power of attorney to act as your legal representative. The power of attorney will stay in effect until the operation is complete.
The Community Malta Agency does due diligence to assure 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 greatest level of due diligence, rejecting over 23% of all applications submitted.
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 Schengen passport.
The Maltese system has been called the “gold standard” of all due diligence processes, going to 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:
Standard due diligence is carried out by the agent submitting your application, (e.g., World-Check).
A citizenship eligibility form will now be filed to get a residence permit. You need to submit your birth and marriage certificate to the Public Registry and Passport Office by the agent.
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 carry out a check to ensure your application is complete and that the documentation is correct. Also, a global database check will be conducted, making sure you’re not acting against any international sanctions and that you 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.
The Community Malta Agency conducts continual surveillance for five years after you have obtained citizenship.
In Malta, the tax depends on your tax domicile and the source of your income. Any citizenship you possess does not affect the taxes.
This indicates that even if investors end up acquiring citizenship in Malta, they would not be required to pay tax in the country, especially if they are not based there. Taxes on foreign assets and income depend on the point of origin. So, if your revenue is not generated in Malta, it will not be taxed locally.
Keep in mind that the CBI program requires candidates to live in Malta for one year.
Though this does not need a minimum of 183 days of physical presence, it does require fiscal residency for at least the first year, which might span two fiscal years.
This creates an indirect relationship between Maltese citizenship and taxation, necessitating pre-immigration tax preparation to avoid paying up to €350,000 in needless taxes.
Advice On Maltese Citizenship
Having Malta’s passport in your portfolio is an excellent move. But it is a complicated process. It requires physical presence and time spent in Malta. However, the benefits of Maltese citizenship are far greater.
You have unlimited access to pretty much the entire world. Maltese citizenship is generational so your descendants will receive it too. Moreover, the taxation policy, in the long run, is a win-win.
When you consider Maltese citizenship, it’s best to think of 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 encourage you to go for it.
You’ll need guidance and careful examination of all your documents, as well as legal advice regarding how to keep your money safe and secure, and legally tax-free.
Malta citizenship gives you power and freedom. Yes, it may seem daunting, especially the 23% rejection rate, but as long as you do not have a criminal record and a sound investment, which I’m sure you do, it will be a cakewalk.
Malta Citizenship by Investment FAQs
Even though we wrote extensively about the program, the procedure, as well as 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.
Can my future children become Maltese citizens?
Yes. You can pass on your citizenship to your newly born children.
How fast can I become a Maltese citizen?
The very minimum is 12 months, although it will most likely be closer to 14 months before you will receive your Maltese passport.
Do I have to visit Malta to become a citizen?
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.
When do I actually make the investment?
Luckily, you’ll only be required to make the full investment after you’ve passed the due diligence step of the application.
Is there a language requirement?
No. You don’t need to pass any language tests in order to be considered for Maltese citizenship.
Does Malta accept Bitcoin as payment for its passport?
Is Malta dual citizenship allowed?
Yes, dual citizenship 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.
Does Malta publish the names of its naturalized citizens?
Yes, your name will be publicly available as all names of new the citizens of Malta are published in the Government Gazette once a year.
Is Maltese CBI Worth the Cost?
Unfortunately, there is no straight answer; it depends on your personal circumstances and financial goals.
But all in all, Malta is a great passport. It gives you and your family a lot of privileges as well as a real safe haven.
Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program is the fastest way to get a Maltese passport.
On the other hand, Malta isn’t the best or the easiest CBI program.
Although the process for Maltese CBI is straightforward, you have to meet quite a few requirements.
You’re going to need to actually move to Malta, and you’ll be paying more than ten times as much for a second passport when compared with the cheaper CBI programs.
Also, you’ll need to carefully consider how getting Maltese CBI 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 certainly valuable and should definitely be a consideration for those looking to plant a flag, and go where they’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 Maltese citizenship via investment that will offer you wealth and happiness both now and in the future.