Ways of Obtaining the Maltese Residence
There are five main ways of becoming a resident of this island state. Below, we'll list the respective requirements, pros and cons of all of them. We won't mention the expenses here because they will be listed in a dedicated passage closer to the end of the article.
Ordinary Residence Programme
The target audience of this one is the citizens of the EU/EEA. It makes sense to apply for the program if you're planning to spend at least 183 per year on the island. You'll be allowed to submit your application if you tick these boxes:
- Have already spent at least 3 months in Malta
- Can prove that you're renting accommodation here or have bought a property
- Study or work here
- Have family members here
- Have a reliable source of a stable income
After you get the permit, you'll be able to renew it every 5 years.
Global Residence Programme
This one was created for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals. To take part in it, you should:
- Prove your fluency in English or Maltese
- Purchase a costly property on the island
You can apply together with your family members. This program offers favorable tax conditions for expats — we'll focus on them a bit later.
Single Permit Application
Consider this option if you're planning to work or run a business on the island. Be ready to meet these requirements:
- Rent or purchase accommodation
- Have a license that allows you to get employed on the island
- Draft a business plan if you'd like to start a company plus prove your commitment to hiring 3 or more EEA/Swiss/Maltese nationals within 1,5 years
- Make a capital expenditure of at least €500,000 within six months after you get the license to work as self-employed on the island
You'll be able to launch a business only if the local authorities approve of it, any random business idea might fail to qualify. Each case is highly individual, so you'd better discuss yours with an experienced advisor.
Permanent Residence Programme
You'll qualify for it if you meet two criteria:
- Are a citizen of a state that isn't an EU member
- Owe at least €500,000 with at least €150,000 in financial assets
Your family members can apply together with you. Your kids will remain Maltese residents even after they come of age. When they get married and have children, their spouses, sons and daughters will automatically become local residents as well.
Unlike other ways of obtaining a residence permit, this one doesn't require you to stay any minimum number of days per year on the island. You won't have to buy a property here and keep it for at least 5 years.
Nomad Residence Permit
This opportunity came into play in 2021. To benefit from it, you should earn at least €2,700 per month. You can work as a freelancer or remote employee if your clients or employer are registered outside Malta. Alternatively, you can remotely run a business located in a third-party country.
A digital nomad visa enables you to stay on the island for up to a year. Then, you'll be allowed to renew it for up to 3 years. Feel free to take your family members with you.
Who Is Eligible
No matter which of the above-listed methods suits you best, you should tick the following boxes:
- Be aged at least 18
- Have a stable job or source of income
- Have accumulated enough savings
- Prove that you've paid taxes within the last five years
- Have always been law-obedient
- Buy health insurance
- Prove that you have where to live on the island for the next 5 years
- Write a cover letter
The list of requirements might vary depending on your individual case.
Pros and Cons of the Programs
The Maltese residence programs generate high demand among expats from all over the world for the following reasons:
- Relatively fast approval, compared to other EU countries with similar programs
- Chance to travel visa-free throughout the Schengen area
- Opportunity to easily renew your permits or get citizenship and stay on the island for all your life
- Tax benefits (will be discussed in a dedicated passage)
- High quality of life
On the flip side, the Maltese residence requires higher expenses, compared to what some other European states offer. In terms of most programs, you'll have to spend on the island at least half a year each year. If you decide to become a local citizen, you'll lose the special tax status that you can benefit from thanks to the Global Residence Program.
To become a resident of this island state, stick to this scheme:
- Apply for a type D visa in your homeland or a third-party country to be able to stay in Malta for a long period
- Arrive in Malta with the visa and schedule an appointment at the nearest Identity Agency
- Submit your documents to the Agency
- Wait for an email or SMS of approval
If you'd like to become a local citizen, you'll be able to apply in five years after getting your residence permit. You'll be required to pass the exams to prove that you know the Maltese language and are familiar with the local law and history.
The typical set of documents that you should submit includes:
- Birth certificates
- Two passport-style photos
- Filled-in application form
- Health insurance
- Proof of having accommodation on the island
- Bank statement
You might need to include extra papers to the set, depending on the chosen method of obtaining residence. For instance, it can be a cover letter, CV, evidence of business ownership or employment and so on.
How Long You'll Need to Wait
After you submit your application for a residence permit, the authorities will take 3 months to review it. If too many foreigners apply simultaneously, you might need to wait longer, up to half a year. For digital nomads, the review process typically takes only 30 days.
Those who opt for the Global Residence Program should be ready for the following expenses:
- €8,750–9,600 per year to rent accommodation on the island
- €220,000–275,000 to purchase accommodation, if you don't like the idea of renting it
- €5,500–6,000 for the administration fee
- At least €15,000 per year for the income tax
Plus, you and all your family members who apply together with you need to obtain health insurance.
Those who qualify for the Permanent Residence Programme pay a bit more:
- €10,000–12,000 per year to rent accommodation on the island
- €300,000–350,000 to purchase accommodation instead of renting it
- €28,000 for the government fee if you buy accommodation and €58,000 if you rent it
- €40,000 for the administration fee
For both above-mentioned programs, the exact prices for renting or buying accommodation depend on the region.
Expats who'd like to get a Single Permit and launch a business on the island need to prepare the following sums:
- At least €46,588 for the share capital of a Public Limited Company
- At least €46,588 for the share capital of a Private Limited Company
You'll have to pay at least 25% of these respective sums when establishing the business.
Here are the amounts of the residence application fees for different types of individuals:
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members
Replacement of a lost or damaged document for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members
€25 for a 1-year permit
€125 for a 5-year permit
Digital nomads and their family members
We won't go deep in detail about the taxes on the island. But we'd like to emphasize the fact that it would be much smarter to become a local tax resident. To do so, it's necessary to spend at least 183 days per year on the island.
The highest possible income tax rate here is 35%. As a non-resident, you'll need to pay it if your annual income exceeds €7,800. As a non-resident, you'll need to pay it if your annual income exceeds €60,000. You'll be exempt from this tax if you earn less than €700 per year as a non-resident and less than €9,100-12,700 as a resident (the exact number for a resident depends on whether you have a spouse or kid or not)
Thanks to the Global Residence Program, you can get a special tax status. Each year, you'll have to pay a tax of at least €15,000. If you receive income from abroad, the income tax for it will be fixed at 15%. You'll be allowed to avoid double taxation even if the countries where you generate income haven't signed a treaty with Malta.
Malta Living Conditions
The fact that Malta is an EU member speaks for itself. It's a democratic country that meticulously respects human rights. There is no corruption and the crime rate is very low. The three main sectors that the local economy depends on are tourism, foreign trade and manufacturing. Manufacturing doesn't have a detrimental impact on the ecology because the island specializes primarily in producing pharmaceuticals and electronics.
The climate is warm and dry. Even in Italy, it rains more often in summer than in Malta. The peak beach season can last until mid-October. You might be able to sunbathe even in winter. In January, which is the coldest month, temperatures tend to fluctuate from +12 to +20°C during the day. The average annual daytime temperature is +23°C.
It's an ideal location to escape the hustle and bustle of a large megalopolis. The landscapes are tranquil and the coastline is breathtakingly picturesque. No matter which area attracts you, you'll be able to stay connected with the rest of the island thanks to the developed public transportation system. A regular monthly pass for public transport costs €26 and a one-way ticket costs €1.50. If you prefer to drive a car, you'll appreciate the quality of the local roads.
A budget of €1,800 to €2,000 per month is enough to enjoy a comfortable life. Even though it's a compact island, it offers many entertainment opportunities: from cycling and hiking to nightclubs and bars. Foodies quickly fall in love with the local cuisine — especially seafood that numerous restaurants cook according to traditional recipes.
If you're planning to send your kids to a Maltese school, you'll be able to choose from four options:
- Church schools
- Schools for kids with special needs
Independent schools can charge you from €2,000 to €6,000 per year. It won't be a problem to find an establishment that sticks to the British curriculum.
The higher education system consists of private and public universities as well as vocational schools. An extensive range of fields of study is available, from business to arts. There is even an American university here.
Both public and private healthcare facilities are modern and well-equipped. If you aren't an EU citizen, be ready to pay from €60 to €100 per month for private health insurance.
If you prefer to rent accommodation, you'll be able to find a worthy (but not premium) apartment in the capital city of Valletta for €1,000 to €1,500 per month. Internet, car fuel, electricity and water will cost you from €100 to €150 per month.
Apart from Valletta, the other most popular cities are Sliema, St. Julian's and St. Paul's. Due to the dense population, you'll hardly be able to find private houses there. The good news is that the selection of apartments is impressive and many can boast sea views. The cheapest houses and apartments can be found in rural areas away from the sea and the urban infrastructure.
A penthouse with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sea view in Sliema can cost over $2,000 per month. An apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms at the North of the island can cost $700 per month and you'll be able to reach the nearest beach and shops on foot.
If you're planning to buy a property, you'll be surprised by the affordability of the local housing options. For $200,000, it's possible to get a very decent brand-new apartment. For $300,000, you might be able to purchase a property that would cost three or four times as much in Miami.
A housing boom on the island began long ago. It slowed down a bit during the pandemic and the current global economic crisis — but it's by no means over. On the one hand, it means you might need to tolerate noises from building spots not far from your house for some time. Tall cranes might become unexpected accents to an otherwise idyllic landscape. On the other hand, the selection of properties on the market keeps expanding. Many new buildings have historic facades to better fit the surrounding environment. The quality of construction is typically very good — so by buying a property on the island, you'll make a smart investment.