Until 2020, the Malta Citizenship by Investment Program remained in force. Today, it's not relevant anymore. Its current alternative is called Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services. These services involve business expertise and foreign investment. The government grants citizenship to expats in exchange for their contribution to the island's economic development.
In general, it's an excellent program with straightforward and transparent rules. However, it has one meaningful drawback. No more than 400 expats can benefit from it per year. As soon as 1500 foreigners use this opportunity, the program will be closed. So if you realize that you like this offer, you'd better act quickly.
To qualify for the investment program, expats should tick the following boxes:
- Be aged 18 or older
- Have enough funds to invest
- Be able to prove the legal origin of these funds
- Fulfill residency requirements
- Be in good health
- Have never violated the law
- Pass due diligence
Your dearest and nearest can apply together with you. These include your sons and daughters aged younger than 18 — or younger than 25 if they can't sustain themselves yet and depend on your financially. Your mother, father, grandfathers and grandmothers can apply together with you if they're aged over 55.
If you relocate to Malta to live here permanently as a citizen, you'll appreciate the following benefits of this location:
- Warm, mild and sunny climate. Proximity to the ocean, clean air and picture-perfect landscapes.
- Relaxed lifestyle and low crime rate. Friendly people and welcoming environment.
- English is one of the two official state languages, along with Maltese.
- Easy access to three continents. At any time of the year, it shouldn't be a problem for you to travel on business or for leisure.
- Maximum respect for democratic values, freedom of speech and human rights in accordance with European standards.
- Excellent healthcare system. Extensive range of well-equipped public and private hospitals.
- High educational standards. Your kids can attend a school with either a local or foreign curriculum. Public schools are free: parents don't need to pay even for books and transportation. The island citizens can get higher education for free in Malta. Alternatively, they can enroll in EU universities without paying a high fee that is charged to foreigners from outside the EU.
- Opportunity to establish a business either on the island or elsewhere in the EU. Malta is one of the most rapidly developing economies in the region.
- Modern infrastructure, including a developed road system, secure banking and nationwide 5G Internet. The quality of Internet coverage might differ depending on the location — but nevertheless, the presence of 5G gives a significant competitive edge to local digital businesses.
- Rich culture. Malta has a stunning historical heritage. Foreigners admire local architecture and cuisine.
We could have added visa-free trips to over 180 states to this list — but we'll discuss it in detail in a dedicated passage of this article.
The requirements for applicants fall into two categories. The first is related to the investment amount and the second to the time that you need to spend on the island. Both requirements are interconnected.
The requirement for the contribution to the national economy is at least €600,000. You're supposed to transfer it to the government-run National Development and Social Fund. It will spend your money on improving the local educational and healthcare system, solving social issues and other important tasks. If you transfer the minimum required sum of money to the fund, you'll have to spend 3 years on the island to become eligible for citizenship. Those who afford to invest €750,000 need to spend here only one year. If your dearest and nearest apply together with you, be ready to pay an extra €50,000 for each applicant. After you become a local citizen, you can't demand back the funds that you invested.
Expats who want to become citizens need to donate €10,000 or more to a charitable organization from the government-approved list. Such organizations support human and animal rights, sports, culture and other noble initiatives.
The minimum required threshold for property investment is €700,000 if you buy it. After you become the official owner of the property, you'll get a local identity document. If you rent a house or apartment, it's essential to spend at least €16,000 per year on it. Regardless of whether you rent or purchase real estate, you're supposed to retain it for 5 years or more after becoming a local citizen. If you own the property, you aren't allowed to rent it out to others.
The Golden Visa can become a smart alternative to citizenship. You might want to opt for the former variant in the following situations:
- You can't afford a large investment
- You don't want to stay on the island for at least one year
- Your homeland doesn't allow dual citizenship and you'd like to keep your current passport
To qualify for the Golden Visa, it's enough to donate €98,000 to the fund that will spend this money on improving the national economy as well as transfer €2,000 to a charitable organization. Your expenses for accommodation won't be too high either. It's enough to rent a house or apartment for €10,000 per year and keep it for 5 years. Plus, factor in a few thousand euro for application fees.
Your mother, father, grandfathers, grandmothers, spouse and kids can apply together with you. The age of your sons and daughters doesn't matter as long as they remain unmarried and depend on your financially.
With the Golden Visa, you won't be required to stay on the island for any specific number of days. Within five years of obtaining this type of residence permit, you can apply for citizenship. This step isn't mandatory: if you prefer to remain a resident, you may simply renew your permit.
The main shortcoming of the Golden Visa, compared to Maltese citizenship, consists in travel limitations. You'll be allowed to travel without a visa across Europe. But if you want to visit other regions of the world, you might need visas.
Here is the scheme that you should stick to:
- Prepare the papers and fill in the application form
- Submit the papers and wait until the island's consul signs them
- Submit your full citizenship application
- Wait until the authorities check your background
- Get your in-principle approval
- Pay your contribution within 25 days of receiving the approval
- Rent or purchase accommodation
- Submit the papers that confirm your good health condition
- Take an oath of allegiance and get the naturalization certificate
Even though this scheme seems simple, you'd better hire a legal expert to guide you through it. There are many important details that only professionals know about. This information will enable you to accelerate the process and avoid any potential mistakes.
We won't analyze the taxation on the island in detail. But we'll explain why so many expats consider this island to be a tax haven.
Here, you won't have to pay taxes on:
- Owning real estate
- Reselling your house or apartment after five years of living there (if you have no other accommodation on the island)
- Death of your relatives
- Inheriting real estate and other valuables
- The fact of being rich
The non-domicile status can bring you significant tax advantages. If you become the island's tax resident, be ready to pay locally the taxes on the income that you generate globally.
If you remain a resident of a third-party state, you'll only have to pay the taxes in Malta on the income that you generate on the island. The crucial aspect is to avoid transferring to the island the money that you earn elsewhere.
The corporate tax is 35%. At first sight, it might seem high. But non-domiciled and non-resident entrepreneurs pay less due to concessions.
Around 60 states from different parts of the planet have signed dual taxation treaties with Malta. Do you want to maintain ties with your homeland? If yes, you won't have to pay taxes both there and in Malta if both countries have signed such a treaty.
Since 2000, this island state has nothing against dual citizenship. After you get a Maltese passport, you'll be allowed to keep your previous one. However, you need to make sure that your homeland doesn't mind dual citizenship either. Otherwise, you might be required to reject your old passport for the sake of the new one.
With your new passport, you'll be able to travel freely all across the EU. You won't have to pass customs upon arrival. You'll be allowed to live in any EU state for as long as you wish as well as study, work, run a business and use medical services there.
As for the European countries that aren't EU members, you can visit them without a visa for tourist purposes.
In the Americas, Bolivia is the only country that will issue you a visa upon arrival. The USA and Canada will require electronic travel authorization (ETA). All the other states will welcome you without a visa.
In Asia, the list of visa-free destinations for Maltese passport holders includes Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will ask for ETA. Maldives, Nepal and Cambodia are among the states that will issue you a visa upon arrival.
In Oceania, only Australia and New Zealand require ETA. All the other states will be visa-free for you.
In the Middle East, Israel, Qatar and the UAE will let you in without a visa. All the other states will issue a visa for you upon arrival.
In Africa, the ratio of states that will be visa-free for you and those that will issue a visa for you upon arrival is around 50/50. The former category includes Morocco, South Africa, Mauritius and Tunisia. The latter includes Egypt, Kenya, Seychelles and Madagascar.
Most territories will be visa-free for you. These include Hong Kong, Macao, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Aruba and more. Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and some others will require an ETA.
The process of becoming a citizen of this island state can take up to a couple of years. First, you'll need around two months to prepare the papers. Then, a few weeks will pass before the consul will sign them. After that, it will take the authorities around four months to check your background and issue the in-principle approval. Finally, the naturalization process will take one year.
Citizenship by Investment in Malta
Let's sum up the contents of our article. Expats from outside the EU/EEA can get citizenship of Malta in exchange for investment. The minimum required amount of investment is €600,000. If you prefer to purchase accommodation, it should cost at least €700,000 — and if you rent it, the minimum price threshold should be €16,000 per year. Be ready to donate €10,000 to a charitable organization and spend up to €80,000 on legal costs. Your dearest and nearest can apply together with you which will involve additional expenses of €50,000 per each family member. The shortest path to citizenship takes one year and requires the maximum investment. To cut down your expenses, you may invest less and wait for three years. The longest and the most affordable way is to invest slightly more than €100,000, get the Golden Visa, wait for five years and apply for citizenship.