Malta is a beautiful island nation in the Mediterranean, with a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. For those with Maltese ancestry, Malta’s citizenship by descent offers a unique opportunity to connect with their heritage and enjoy the benefits of being Maltese.
This program not only allows individuals to live in a country known for its beauty and warm community but also grants access to the European Union’s benefits.
In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide for descendants eager to reclaim their Maltese roots. We’ll exploring the nuances of obtaining Maltese citizenship through descent, and outlining the eligibility criteria. There are also profound advantages of such citizenship.
Benefits of Malta Citizenship
Freedom of movement within the EU
Malta is a member of the European Union (EU). This means that if you obtain a Maltese passport, you will also have an EU passport. According to the EU freedom of movement laws outlined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, EU citizens are allowed to live, work, or conduct business in any member state of the European Union.
The Maltese passport is one of the most powerful in the world. It provides freedom of movement within Europe and grants visa-free travel and visa-on-arrival access to 170 countries worldwide.
Obtain Malta dual citizenship
The Malta immigration investment program has a key benefit. It lets investors get European citizenship and a passport in 12 to 36 months. It also permits dual citizenship with their home country. This is if they keep their residency status in Malta.
Malta’s tax system is based on residency rather than citizenship. This means that you may not be required to pay taxes in Malta even if you become a citizen. Additionally, new citizens can benefit from special tax schemes, resulting in greater tax efficiency and significant tax benefits. There is no global income tax, and global assets are not subject to taxation. Furthermore, you only pay tax at a reduced rate of 15 percent for any money brought into Malta.
Stable and secure country
Malta has one of the highest GDPs per capita in Europe. It also boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates. The country has a stable political climate overall and many consider it one of the safest countries in Europe.
Malta Citizenship by Descent
As the name implies, Malta citizenship by descent grants anybody with ancestral ties to the country the opportunity to apply for citizenship. This typically means that you would need to have a grandparent with Maltese citizenship to make a claim.
According to the Maltese government, citizenship by descent falls under the administration of the official citizenship by registration program. While this encompasses the spouse of a Maltese citizen, there are also provisions for ancestry.
The Maltese Community Agency’s rules for the Acquisition of Citizenship explain that “a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent likewise born in Malta” can claim citizenship by descent.
In simple terms, that means you can claim citizenship if one of your grandparents was born in Malta to parents who were also born there. However, this wasn’t always the case. Until 2007, it only went up to one generation. But further amendments to the Citizenship Act made it possible for second as well as subsequent Maltese generations born abroad to acquire Maltese Citizenship by registration.
How to Obtain Malta Citizenship by Descent
As with any government action, there are several steps that need to be followed for a successful application, including the submission of the required documents and doing the necessary research on your lineage.
- A full birth certificate of the applicant (showing the parents’ names)
- The applicant’s marriage certificate (if applicable)
- One recent passport-sized photo of the applicant
- The applicant’s passport
- The birth and marriage certificates of the applicant’s ascendants show the direct link to two consecutive generations of ascendants born in Malta
- In the case of the third and subsequent generations:
- The death certificate of the applicant’s ascendant/s born in Malta (in case of death); and
- Copy of the registration certificate of the applicant’s ascendant/s born in Malta (as applicable)
- To apply for citizenship in Malta, the first step is to submit all the required documents to the relevant agency.
- Once the agency has reviewed the submitted documents, you will be asked to verify and sign the completed application form. If the applicant is the foreign spouse of a Maltese citizen, they are also required to jointly declare (by affidavit) that they have been living together for at least five years since their marriage and are currently still living together.
- Finally, the agency will administer several oaths, including the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of Malta.
After you submit your application, the Agency will process it and successful applicants will be registered as citizens of Malta. Once registered, applicants will receive a certificate with their registration date. They will be asked to collect it in person from the Agency.
If you were born abroad, the Agency will send a letter to the Director of Public Registry to register your birth certificate. You’ll need to present this letter, along with your original birth certificate to the Public Registry.
You need to complete Form K or Form M for your application, and it costs €150. You can also apply for a certificate of confirmation for an additional €10.
Alternative Pathways to Malta Citizenship
Citizenship by naturalization
A naturalized Maltese national is a foreign citizen who obtains citizenship of Malta through a process known as the Malta naturalization process. To become a naturalized citizen, foreign nationals must meet certain eligibility criteria, including:
- a minimum period of seven years of continuous lawful residence in the country,
- proficiency in either English or Maltese languages,
- knowledge of Maltese history and customs,
- and having a good character.
Depending on the country, additional eligibility criteria may include being financially stable with proof of paying taxes and renouncing original citizenship if the country does not allow dual citizenship.
Citizenship by registration
Acquiring Malta citizenship through descent falls under the umbrella of citizenship by registrations. However, there are other scenarios where this applies. For example, a former Maltese citizen seeking to re-acquire the country’s citizenship or through marriage to a Malta national.
Typically, applicants must be one of the following individuals to be eligible to apply for Malta citizenship by registration:
- The spouse of a citizen of Malta married for at least five years and is still married and living with the Maltese spouse.
- The spouse of a citizen of Malta who is still married but separated de jure or de facto provided that they lived together for at least five years after marriage.
- A widow/widower of a national of Malta
- A former citizen of Malta
- A person born before 21 September 1964 of a female born in the Republic of Malta who is or was a citizen of Malta.
- A person born abroad between 21 September 1964 and 31 July 1989 to a Maltese mother, who was a citizen of Malta at the time of the child’s birth.
- A descendent up to the third generation born abroad of an ascendant born in Malta had one parent born in Malta.
Malta Citizenship by Investment
Launched at the end of 2020 and ratified by the Maltese government as a new policy for the old Malta citizenship by investment program, Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment now replaces the previous Malta Individual Investment Program – which was also known as the Malta Investor Visa.
Citizenship by investment is when individuals obtain a second nationality from a foreign country by making a substantial investment in its economy. This usually occurs through real estate investing, purchasing shares in an existing business, starting a new company that creates jobs, or contributing to a national development fund.
Malta does not provide a direct citizenship by investment route. Nor does it offer dual citizenship status directly. Applicants of CES can qualify for Maltese citizenship. They do this by naturalization. This requires a consistent residence period in the country. It’s similar to Malta’s citizenship by marriage requirements.
This is on the condition that the individual makes a combination of investments in the country that boosts the Maltese economy and national development.
In order to become eligible for the CES program and pass due diligence, you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- A third-country national (non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss)
- Have a clean criminal record
- Pass a stringent due diligence process
- Not come from or have close ties to a sanctioned country
- Fulfill all the necessary investment requirements by meeting the program’s minimum investment thresholds
To gain foreign citizenship in Malta, you can invest at least €600,000 ($640,000) and complete 36 months of residency in the country. Alternatively, if you have resided in Malta for 12 months, you can invest at least €750,000 ($800,000) to qualify for citizenship.
Apart from the investment, you must purchase a residential property in Malta worth at least €700,000 ($747,000) which you must hold for a minimum of five years. Alternatively, you can lease a residential property with a minimum annual rent value of €16,000 ($17,000), also held for a minimum of five years.
Additionally, you must make a donation worth €10,000 ($10,670) to a Maltese organization approved by the Community Malta Agency.
Frequently Asked Questions about Malta Citizenship by Descent
Does Malta allow dual citizenship?
Before the year 2000, Malta dual citizenship was limited to citizens born in Malta who acquired citizenship of a foreign country and spent six years living there. The government of Malta amended the Malta Citizenship Act (Cap. 188) in 2000, granting all Maltese nationals the right to dual citizenship.
What are the residency requirements for Maltese citizenship by naturalization?
Malta has a seven-year naturalization period, so you must maintain a Maltese residence permit for seven years before submitting a Malta citizenship application. The Malta Permanent Residence Program is a Malta investor visa providing a straightforward solution to maintain a Maltese residence permit for seven years.
Is citizenship by descent the same as citizenship by registration?
In theory, yes. In order to get citizenship by descent, you must apply to be registered as a citizen.
How far back does citizenship by descent go?
Initially it only allowed for applications up to grandparents. However, Malta made changes to the legislation that allowed for second as well as subsequent Maltese generations born abroad to acquire Maltese Citizenship by registration.