Malta stands out as a highly coveted country for its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. As a EU member, it offers citizens the privilege of free movement within 27 members of the EU, including the Schengen Area, and has one of the strongest passports in the world, opening up a world of opportunities.
Malta is one of the most urbanized countries in the world, with almost the entire population residing in cities. Malta has 13 booming industries, from crypto currency startups and fintech to the microchip and film industries. Malta offers a wide range of real estate investment options, from traditional residential properties to commercial properties and luxurious villas.
The nation's political stability and well-functioning democratic institutions instill confidence in investors and residents. In a nutshell, Malta's unique blend of economic opportunity, quality of life, and cultural richness positions it as a prime destination for those seeking a dynamic and enriching living experience.
Malta citizenship by investment (CBI) program, also known as Naturalization for Exceptional Services through Direct Investment, was last updated in November 2020. It provides the following benefits to investors:
Maltese citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a large number of countries around the world. This includes the Schengen Area countries, the United States, Canada, and many others. Maltese citizens also have convenient visa-free travel privileges to popular destinations in Asia, such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. The Maltese passport is one of the strongest in the world and can be obtained through the investment.
Malta is a member of the European Union, so obtaining Maltese citizenship grants you EU citizenship. This means you have the right to live, work, and study in any EU member state. EU citizenship also provides access to various social benefits and the ability to participate in European elections and initiatives.
Malta has a stable and growing economy, with a strong financial sector, attractive tax policies, and a favorable business environment. According to official data, the Maltese economy has grown faster than the majority of EU member states in recent years. Additionally, Malta's strategic location in the heart of the Mediterranean makes it an ideal hub for businesses looking to expand into both European and North African markets.
Education and Healthcare
As a citizen, you have access to Malta's public services, including education and healthcare. The Maltese education system is highly regarded, and the healthcare system provides quality care. In the National Health Systems Strategy 2023–2030 document, called "Investing Successfully for a Healthy Future," the Maltese Government lays out its plans to make health a top priority in all of the country's policies, investments, and sectors.
Malta has a territorial tax system, which means that residents and citizens are taxed only on income earned within the country. This can result in significant tax benefits for individuals with global income. There is no wealth tax, estate duty, inheritance tax, property ownership tax, etc. Furthermore, Malta offers a range of incentives for businesses, including a competitive corporate tax rate of 35% and the possibility of refunds on dividends and double taxation relief.
Real Estate Investment
The CBI program requires applicants to make a significant investment in real estate or a government bond. This can potentially lead to returns on your investment. Malta's thriving real estate market offers a diverse range of properties, from historic townhouses in Valletta to modern seafront apartments, providing ample opportunities for both residency and potential rental income.
English is one of the official languages of Malta, which can make it easier for English speakers to integrate and communicate. This linguistic advantage extends to various aspects of daily life, from navigating administrative processes to accessing education and employment opportunities
Safety and Security
Malta is considered one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates. According to the World Risk Index 2022, Malta is one of the top 10 safest countries. The country's commitment to safety is further enhanced by a well-equipped police force, efficient emergency services, and a strong sense of community that contributes to a peaceful and secure living environment.
The CBI allows for the inclusion of eligible family members, providing them with the same benefits and privileges. This means that not only the main applicant but also their spouse, children under 20 years old, and dependent parents over the age of 55 can enjoy the advantages of Maltese citizenship, creating a secure and prosperous future for the entire family.
Malta has allowed dual and multiple citizenship since 2000. The Maltese Constitution states that dual or multiple citizenship is permissible in accordance with any law currently in force in Malta. As a result, under Maltese law, it is not required to renounce the original citizenship.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Program 2023 Overview
The Maltese government established its CBI program in 2014 to facilitate foreign investment and business expertise in the nation. For the time being, Maltese CBI is the only citizenship by investment program in Europe, owing to the long-term benefits it has provided to investors.
Malta citizenship by naturalization for exceptional services is an updated CBI program that will be implemented in 2020 and will grant you and your family citizenship in exchange for contributing to the country's economic development. Furthermore, there is a minimum investment required to be eligible for the program. You must also show proof of 12 or 36 months of residency in the country.
According to the legal regulations, this citizenship program is limited to no more than 400 successful applicants per year. It will also be limited after 1500 applicants in total have been granted citizenship.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Eligibility
The Granting of Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment Regulations (S.L. 188.06) govern the grant of Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment. The Community Malta Agency is in charge of administering CBI programs.
The application filing requirements are:
Be at least 18 years old;
Have a clean criminal record;
Be covered by a global health insurance policy that covers all risks across the EU;
Be a third-country national (non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss);
Provide proof of residence in Malta for 36 months, with the exception that this period may be reduced to a minimum of 12 months with an exceptional direct investment (of EUR 600,000 and EUR 750,000, respectively), to be made prior to the issuance of the certificate of naturalization;
Purchase a residential immovable property in Malta with a minimum value of EUR 700,000 or lease a residential immovable property in Malta for a minimum annual rent of EUR 16,000, which property shall be adequate and suitable for the applicant and his dependents, for a minimum period of 5 years from the date of issue of the certificate of citizenship;
Donate, prior to the issuance of the certificate of naturalization, a minimum of EUR 10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organization or society.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Residency Requirements
You must satisfy the residence requirements before applying for the Malta Citizenship by Investment program. The laws mandate that investors and their dependents hold a Maltese Residence Permit (e-ID card) for at least 1 year. The minimum investment amount based on the 12-month residency period is EUR 750,000. However, there's a an option available if you're looking to save some money. If you can provide proof of residing in Malta for 3 years, you can obtain Maltese citizenship for just EUR 600,000, saving you EUR 150,000.
Please keep in mind that spending 20 days per year is sufficient to establish your residency in Malta. Please also see below is a comprehensive breakdown of the investment requirements:
Applicants are required to contribute financially to the National Development and Social Fund. The fund finances initiatives such as public health, education, job creation, and social improvement, among others
EUR 600,000 is required if residing in the country for 36 months, or EUR 750,000 if residing for 12 months. The contribution is non-refundable. An additional EUR 50,000 is required for each dependent
A donation should be made to a registered non-governmental organization (NPO) or society. It must be a nonprofit institution
Real Estate Component
Purchase or lease of a property, which must be held for at least 5 years from the date of the citizenship certificate
EUR 700,000 (purchase) or EUR 16,000/year (lease) for 5 years
Malta Citizenship by Investment Process
The process for obtaining Maltese Citizenship by investment typically involves the following steps:
Step 1. Initial Consultation
Prospective applicants should seek professional advice from official government agencies and international migration experts who are authorized to assist with CBI applications.
Step 2. Eligibility Assessment
The applicant's eligibility for the program is assessed. This includes criteria such as age, a clean criminal record, financial stability, and other factors.
Step 3. Get Residency in Malta
To obtain a residence permit in Malta, the investors and any dependents listed on the application must first apply for a Residence Card (e-ID card). Before obtaining a residence card, applicants must undergo due diligence. You will be issued a residence card valid for 36 months.
Then, you must visit the country to provide biometric information for the residence card. You have to rent an apartment before submitting a residency application and pay the following fees:
Resident State Card Fee: EUR 27,50 per applicant;
Residence Application Fee: EUR 10,000;
Government Application Fee: EUR 5,000 for the investor and EUR 1,000 for each dependent.
Step 4. Submission of Citizenship Application and Due Diligence Checks
Within the first 1 or 3 years, the citizenship application, along with all necessary supporting documents, needs to be submitted to the Community Malta Agency, the government agency responsible for the CBI program. The application fee is EUR 500 per individual. Comprehensive due diligence checks are conducted on all applicants. This includes background checks, financial investigations, and other verifications to ensure that applicants meet the program's requirements. The due diligence fee is EUR 15,000 for the investor and EUR 10,000 per dependent over the age of 13.
Step 5. Letter of Approval in Principle
If the application is successful, the applicant receives a Letter of Approval in Principle. This outlines the remaining steps and requirements.
Step 6. Investments
The applicant must make the required investments. This includes a non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (EUR 10,000) and investments in real estate and other approved financial instruments of at least EUR 600,000.
Step 7. Final Approval and Oath of Allegiance
Once all requirements are met, a Certificate of Naturalization is issued. The applicant is required to take the Oath of Allegiance, usually conducted at a Maltese consulate or embassy.
Step 8. Issuance of Passport
After taking the Oath of Allegiance, the Maltese passport is issued, granting full citizenship rights.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Timeline
The Maltese citizenship by investment process typically takes between 14 and 16 months, as outlined below.
Preparation (2 months):
During this phase, applicants gather and organize all the necessary supporting documents, forming the foundation of their application file. These documents are then verified and signed by a Maltese Consul, ensuring their authenticity and compliance with regulations. For those seeking a streamlined process, the fast-track option for a Residency Card can be pursued, expediting the initial steps within 1-3 weeks.
Processing (4 months):
The completed citizenship application is then submitted to the Community Malta Agency, initiating the formal review process. This comprehensive assessment encompasses a rigorous source of funds and background checks, guaranteeing the integrity and legitimacy of the application.
Compliance (4 months):
Upon receiving the In Principle Approval, the applicant is granted 25 days to fulfill the financial contribution required for citizenship. Simultaneously, the acquisition or rental of property in compliance with program criteria is arranged. Subsequently, the applicant takes the Oath of Allegiance and obtains the coveted Naturalization Certificate, marking a significant milestone in the journey towards Maltese citizenship. The final step involves a 12-month waiting period, allowing for the completion of the naturalization process.
Malta Citizenship by Investment vs Cyprus
Concerns about misuse and lack of compliance in the citizenship by investment program led Cyprus to terminate the program in November 2020. This was a major policy shift for Cyprus and the European Union in general. Cyprus has a residency by investment program for the time being. Malta is the only European nation with a CBI program and a passport program for foreign investors. Below is a comparison table between the Malta Citizenship by Investment Program and the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Program
Cyprus Permanent Residence Program
Get citizenship and passport
Get permanent residency for up to 5 years, with the right to apply for citizenship in 7 years
Non-refundable donation + real estate component
Significant investment in real estate
Specific financial contribution of at least EUR 600,000 and residence requirement
Investment in real estate of at least EUR 300,000
Timeline for Approval
Visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to many countries, including Schengen Area and the United States and other Western countries
Residency in Cyprus, with the right to travel within the EU
Malta Citizenship by Investment Program for USA
Citizens of the United States may enter Malta or any European country visa-free for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. However, if they wish to remain longer than this, they should apply for a Maltese passport.
U.S. citizens are eligible to obtain Maltese citizenship by making a substantial financial contribution to Malta of at least EUR 600,000. To qualify, applicants needed to meet certain criteria, including having a clean criminal record, good health, and making the required investments. These investments typically include a non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), purchasing or leasing property in Malta, and paying the government fees. The process involves thorough due diligence checks, and successful applicants can establish Maltese citizenship, which offers them the benefits of European Union citizenship, including visa-free travel within the EU for an unlimited period of time.
Acquiring Maltese citizenship can have significant tax implications for US citizens due to the US's citizenship-based taxation system. US citizens who become Maltese citizens may be subject to US taxation on their worldwide income, including income earned in Malta. While some tax treaties and exclusions may apply, complex reporting requirements, potential estate and gift tax liabilities, and obligations related to foreign financial accounts under the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) must be carefully managed.
On top of that, the United States permits dual citizenship and does not require its citizens to renounce their citizenship upon acquiring that of another country. Applicants and their families can hold dual citizenship.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Program for Dubai and UAE
The Maltese CBI program is available to UAE residents. This program permitted citizens of third countries, including the UAE, to acquire Maltese citizenship by making a substantial economic contribution to the country. This involves significant financial commitments of at least EUR 600,000, encompassing a non-refundable contribution to the national fund, investments in real estate, and additional fees. Applicants are also required to meet residency requirements, typically entailing establishing a residence in Malta for a specified duration. Stringent due diligence procedures are in place to make sure applicants meet legal and financial integrity standards. Furthermore, the program allows for the inclusion of immediate family members such as spouses, children, and, in some cases, dependent parents.
According to the new citizenship law in the UAE, those who are granted second citizenship will be allowed to keep their UAE citizenship. Generally, the UEA allows its citizens to hold dual or even multiple citizenships. This means that if a UAE citizen acquires citizenship in another country, they are not required to renounce their UAE citizenship.
Moreover, Malta operates on a residence-based taxation system, meaning residents are taxed on their worldwide income. The UAE, conversely, employs a territorial taxation system where individuals are generally only taxed on income earned within the country. The UAE does not levy personal income tax, while Malta's rates range from 0% to 35%. Furthermore, both countries do not impose a wealth tax. The Dual Taxation Treaty plays a pivotal role in determining how specific types of income are taxed and which country has taxing rights.
5 Things You Should Know Before Applying for Maltese Citizenship by Investment
Those who wish to live, work, or conduct business in Malta or the European Union may find Maltese citizenship through investment to be an attractive option. However, it is essential to be well-informed before making such an important choice. Before applying for a Maltese passport, we insist on becoming familiar with the following, based on our experience:
Holding Period of Real Estate
The holding period for real estate in the Maltese CBI program typically requires the applicant to retain ownership of the property for a minimum of 5 years. This means that the property could not be sold or transferred within this period. During this period, the property should primarily serve as the applicant's residence in Malta. Additionally, any changes in ownership or usage during this timeframe may be subject to scrutiny by the authorities overseeing the CBI program.
Malta does not have specific language requirements for its CBI program. However, applicants are generally encouraged to have a basic understanding of English or Maltese, as these are the official languages of Malta. While proficiency in English or Maltese may not be explicitly required, having some level of language proficiency can be beneficial for practical reasons, such as daily communication, integration into the local community, and conducting business in Malta.
You are required to establish a genuine link with Malta and maintain a residence in Malta for at least 12 months before becoming a citizen. This is to ensure that you are actively contributing to the country. Demonstrating a sincere commitment to your adopted home strengthens your application and underscores your genuine connection to Malta.
The due diligence check is an important step in the Maltese CBI program, involving a comprehensive evaluation of the applicant's background, financial history, and suitability for Maltese citizenship. Conducted by a specialized agency appointed by the Maltese government, this process ensures that only individuals with a clean legal record and reputable financial standing are granted citizenship. It includes criminal record checks, financial background assessments, reputation and integrity evaluations, sanctions screening, and rigorous verification of submitted documents. Failure to pass the due diligence check may lead to the rejection of the citizenship application.
Seek Assistance of Authorized Agents
There are authorized agents who are licensed and accredited by the government to assist individuals and families in navigating the complexities of the program. Ensure that you choose an authorized agent who is officially recognized by the Maltese government. Golden Harbors team can connect you with reliable and trustworthy local agents. Our agents possess the expertise to guide you through the entire application process, from documentation preparation to liaising with Maltese authorities.
Can I Retain My Original Citizenship After Obtaining Maltese Citizenship?
Yes, you can retain your original citizenship after obtaining Maltese citizenship. Malta generally allows dual citizenship, which means you can hold your original citizenship and Maltese citizenship at the same time.
Is Maltese Citizenship Acquired for Life?
Yes, Maltese citizenship is acquired for life. Once you obtain Maltese citizenship through the CBI program, it is typically granted for life and can be passed on to future generations.
Is the List of Naturalized Citizens in Malta Made Public?
Yes, the list of naturalized citizens in Malta is made public. Your name will be included in the annual publication of new Maltese citizens' names in the Government Gazette.
Is a Language Proficiency Test Mandatory for Getting Maltese Citizenship?
No, a language proficiency test is not mandatory for getting Maltese citizenship. You are not required to pass any language examinations to be eligible for Maltese citizenship.
Residence Permit Advantages
Visa-free entry to 185 countries
including the USA, Canada, the UK, and others. The right to live in EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein
Global mobility and freedom
European citizenship within 14 months
Competitive and transparent tax regime
Malta has tax agreements with 60 countries and no inheritance tax, gift tax, or capital gains tax
Global mobility and freedom
At prices for EU citizens and without a student visa, as well as discounts for studying in the UK
No restrictions on dual citizenship
There is no need to renounce your existing citizenship when obtaining a Maltese passport
Global mobility and freedom
There are no minimum stay requirements in order to maintain your status
international expansion; Malta has 13 thriving industries, from aviation, fintech, international logistics to crypto exchanges, film, and microchip industry
Global mobility and freedom
Processing Time and Terms
Enter your estimated application start date for Maltese citizenship and receive a clear timetable for each step
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Sign a service agreement, fill out application forms, and pay the initial service and due diligence fees.
We assist you in meeting the requirements of the Malta citizenship by investment program. We also help you open a bank account and apply for a residence permit.
in 10 months after obtaining a residence permit, we compile the document package and submit it for the due diligence.
Based on the investment option you chose, you either rent or buy a property in Malta.
We receive your certificate of naturalization after successful due diligence.
After the oath ceremony, we receive your passport and mail it to you.