You might be wondering how to get Malta citizenship, and while you cannot directly obtain Malta citizenship by investment, you may become eligible for Malta citizenship by naturalization. The Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program (CES), more accurately referred to as the Maltese Citizenship Act Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, is beyond the Malta Investor Visa, as it grants full citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to expats and their families who contribute to the nation’s economic growth following a 36-month residence period (12 months as an expedited route if they place a larger investment sum).
In this detailed guide, you’ll learn about:
- Benefits of Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization Program
- Eligibility Criteria
- Investment Requirements
- Process of Obtaining Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization Through Exceptional Services (CES)
- Tax Treatment and Benefits
- How to apply
Your Guide to Citizenship by Naturalization in Malta
Citizenship by investment is when individuals obtain nationality in a country by making a substantial investment in its economy, usually in real estate or government bonds. While Malta does not offer a direct route to citizenship by investment, applicants to the CES scheme can qualify for Maltese citizenship by naturalization, provided they make a combination of investments in the country and boost the Maltese economy. These investments include a direct, non-refundable investment, a real estate investment, and a philanthropic donation.
Note that each application goes through a strict due diligence process by The Community Malta Agency (CMA), including detailed background checks. This ensures only the highest-quality candidates are selected for citizenship consideration.
Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (CES)
Launched at the end of 2020 and ratified by the Maltese government as a new policy for Malta’s old citizenship by investment scheme, CES now replaces the previous Malta Individual Investor Program – which was also known as the Malta Investor Visa. This scheme came out after Malta’s citizenship by investment changes occurred, and can lead to a Maltese passport on the condition that applicants meet the citizenship program’s eligibility and stay requirements.
The new Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment allows high net-worth applicants to enjoy all the benefits that come with having a Maltese passport, and more.
1 – Freedom of Movement Within the EU
Malta is a full member of the EU, which means investors who acquire the Maltese passport are entitled to live and work anywhere in Europe, as they obtain full citizenship. Malta also lies within the Schengen Zone, meaning there are no visas or passport checks when traveling within the Schengen Zone countries.
2 – Visa-Free Travel
The Malta passport is one of the strongest in the world, and besides freedom of movement within Europe, a Maltese passport allows visa-free access to 183 countries worldwide.
3 – Obtain Malta Dual Citizenship
Another key benefit of this Malta immigration investment program is that it allows investors to obtain their citizenship within 12-36 months while maintaining dual citizenship, on the condition that those foreign nationals hold residence status in Malta.
4 – Passports for Your Whole Family
Investing in the Maltese citizenship application means you can obtain citizenship not just for yourself, but also for family members. Indeed, this advantage for family members is a key benefit of the program. Your family will be able to work, live or enroll in any university in the EU while maintaining their dual citizenship status.
Do note that extra contributions must be made for dependents to obtain citizenship alongside the main applicant. Children born to Maltese citizens also automatically get citizenship, meaning your children and grandchildren will inherit Maltese nationality for life.
5 – Tax Efficiency
Malta’s tax system is based upon residency, not citizenship, meaning that you may not have to pay tax in the country even if you obtain the Malta citizen status. Malta also has special tax schemes for new citizens which can result in additional tax efficiency, and an extremely advantageous tax exposure.
6 – Stable and Secure Country
Malta has one of the highest GDPs in Europe and one of the lowest unemployment rates. It has an overall stable political climate, and is regarded as one of the safest countries in Europe.
7 – Quality of Life for Your Family
Malta is an incredible country and your family will be able to enjoy the lovely climate, beautiful Mediterranean sea, freedom of speech, and property rights, just as Maltese nationals would. Additionally, there are many touristic places with modern infrastructure, fast internet speeds, and secure banking, as the Maltese islands have become a top holiday destination for Europeans.
8 – Access to the Maltese Healthcare System
Malta has a very good healthcare system that is funded by health insurance and taxation. By placing an investment in Malta, individuals can enjoy medical services that are under health insurance coverage – including hospitalization, pregnancy, childbirth, medical prescriptions, and specialist treatment. Your family will have good medical care under the healthcare system in Malta.
In order to become eligible for the CES program, you must be over the age of 18; have a clean criminal record and pass a stringent due diligence process; not come from a sanctioned country; and fulfill all the necessary investment requirements, meeting the program’s minimum investment thresholds.
An investment of at least €600,000 will qualify you for citizenship after 36 months of residency in Malta, whereas a €750,000 minimum investment will qualify you for citizenship status after 12 months of residing in the country. Aside from the main investment, you must also purchase a Maltese residential property worth at least €750,000, or lease a residence with an annual rental value of €16,000, as well as place a donation worth €10,000 in a Maltese organization approved by the Community Malta Agency.
Who Can Apply?
In the application, the main applicant can include the following family members:
- Their Spouse
- Unmarried dependents under 20 years old
- Any dependent parents over the age of 55 years, which must be fully dependent on the main applicant
Each family member must have a clean criminal record and pass a personal background check.
The main applicant and his/her family members must also pass additional criteria, including:
- Not have been previously denied a visa to a country that has a visa waiver agreement with Malta
- Not be deemed a national security risk or a reputation risk
- Not be under a criminal investigation
- Not hold the following nationalities or be a non-national but reside, do business, or have significant ties or connections to the following countries: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and North Korea.
- Not be a citizen from a country that’s on the US travel ban list.
There are a series of financial requirements that must be fulfilled to apply for CES:
A Direct, Non-Refundable Investment
Real Estate Investment
The process of obtaining Maltese Citizenship by Naturalization through Exceptional Services is broken up into four stages:
Stage 1: Residency in Malta
The main applicant, along with any dependents included in the application, must first apply for a Maltese residence card to gain residency in Malta. To get the residence card, they must first pass CMA’s thorough due diligence check.
Once your residency is approved, you are issued a permanent residence card with a 36-month validity. Afterward, you must visit Malta to submit biometric data for the residence card. Keep in mind that ahead of lodging your residence application, you must lease an apartment.
- €10,000 for the Malta residence permit to secure your residency
- Government Residency Application Fees- €5,000 for the main applicant and €1,000 per dependent
- Residency Card Fees – €27.50 per applicant
Stage 2: Eligibility for Citizenship
A citizenship eligibility application must be submitted to the CMA within 12-months from the issue date of the residency card, otherwise, the Agency will revoke the card. As usual, the CMA performs due diligence to ensure the application is done right. Further information and documents may be requested. Afterward, the CMA presents the application to the Minister, who then decides whether applicants are eligible to apply for citizenship.
Roughly speaking, applications take between 120 and 150 calendar days to be processed. If you’re eligible, you’ll then kick off the citizenship process. You’ll receive a Letter of Approval in Principle, upon which you need to pay extra fees.
- Due Diligence Fees – €15,000 for the main applicant, €15,000 for the benefactor (if applicable) and €10,000 per dependent aged 13 years old and above (paid directly to the Agency)
- Administrative Fees – €1,000 per applicant (paid directly to the Agency)
Stage 3: Maltese Citizenship
After 12 months or 36 months from your residency stage, you can submit your application to the CMA. The CMA updates its due diligence on the applicants and presents its final findings to the Minister. Basically, your citizenship application depends on whether the Minister approves it or not. Once approved, citizenship is granted.
The processing time to get citizenship takes around two to three months from the approval date. If the citizenship is approved, the main citizenship application must fulfill the Exceptional Investment, Donation, and Property requirements in order to start the process of naturalization.
- Administrative Fees – €500 per applicant (paid directly to the Agency)
Stage 4: Naturalization
After fulfilling all the investment requirements, the main application and any dependents included in the citizenship application will be invited to visit Malta and take the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath of Allegiance must be completed within 6 months from the issuance date of the Letter of Approval in Principle.
Applicants obtain citizenship and a Maltese passport, and are issued with a Certificate of Naturalization. The name of all naturalized persons will be announced yearly in the Government Gazette.
- Govt Direct Investment – €600,000 or €750,000 for the main applicant and €50,000 per dependent
- Charity Donation – €10,000
It is possible to have your Maltese citizenship revoked if you do not comply with the requirements of the program, as the CMA conducts continuous monitoring for five years. Therefore, to maintain your citizenship status, you must commit to retaining your residence in Malta for a period no less than five years from the date you are issued an official certificate of citizenship.
Tax in Malta is calculated not by citizenship, but by the tax residence of the individual and the source of their income. This means that even after acquiring citizenship in Malta, investors may not have to pay tax in the country, particularly as most investors are not based in Malta and will not be residing in the country. Foreign assets and income are charged at the source, so as long as the income is not sourced within Malta, it should not be liable to any taxation in Malta.
Taxation in Malta
It is important that investors in this program know that the state has:
A Step-by-Step Guide to the Malta Citizenship by Naturalization Application
1 – Purchase qualifying real estate in Malta and register for residency. You may refer to this Malta real estate guide.
2 – After 12-36 Months, apply for the Malta investment program, pay the due diligence fees, submit paperwork and pass a criminal background check assessed by INTERPOL, the International Criminal Court, and other authorities.
3 – After 120-150 days relevant authorities will officially confirm whether the application has been successful and provide a conditional acceptance.
4 – Upon completing all requirements, the investor and dependents will receive a naturalization certificate and be given Maltese passports.
Malta Citizenship by Naturalization Timeline
Malta Permanent Residency Program vs Citizenship by Naturalization
While you cannot directly acquire citizenship by investment in Malta, the benefits of the Maltese citizenship by naturalization program are plenty when compared to those of merely obtaining residency through the Malta Permanent Residency Program; namely that once citizenship has been granted, investors hold citizenship for life.
Children of Maltese citizens also automatically inherit citizenship, which means you can pass on citizenship to your children and grandchildren. If you are not ready to commit to the Maltese citizenship application just yet, Malta happens to run a Permanent Residence Program too.
The Malta Permanent Residency Program (MPRP) provides permanent residency status to foreign investors who place a government contribution with a minimum value of €98,000 in Malta, enter a property rental agreement with a minimum value of €10,000 per year and maintain it for a period of five years, and place an additional charitable donation worth €2,000 in an NGO registered in Malta.
Through the Malta residence permits program, qualifying applicants can obtain permanent residence permits exclusively in the country with no stay requirements for their eligibility. The Malta Residency by Investment Program has an array of benefits to it, and you just might want to learn all about them.
You may also like to read up on the Malta Visa Types Requirements Application and Guidelines.
How can Global Citizen Solutions help me?
Investors can encounter many difficulties when applying for citizenship or residency, which is why it is beneficial to have an expert on hand to provide you with personalized assistance throughout the process.
A specialist can help you with the following:
- Minimize the visits you have to make to the designated country
- Have someone who works solely on your behalf
- Reduce the hassle associated with putting your application together
- Acquire insider knowledge from someone with years of experience in the market
Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to obtain Maltese citizenship by naturalization. Contact us by filling out the contact form below.
Frequently Asked Questions about Malta Citizenship by Investment
How can I get Malta citizenship?
To become eligible for Malta’s Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment, you must place a minimum investment of €600,000 to qualify for Maltese citizenship in three years. If you place an investment of €750,000, you will speed up the process to one year. You will be required to live in Malta in that duration to be granted citizenship by naturalization.
What is Malta's new program?
Malta’s new program refers to the new and updated policy of the previous Malta Citizenship by Investment Scheme, which came into effect in early January 2021. The new program is referred to as CES, following the new Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (CES) Regulations.
Is there a language test for Maltese citizenship?
There is no language requirement for acquiring Maltese citizenship.
Do I need a lawyer to get citizenship by investment in Malta?
While you cannot directly obtain citizenship by investment in Malta, the process leading up to citizenship eligibility must be carried out by a government-approved agent. You will need a lawyer that is familiar with Malta citizenship and real estate law.
Is Malta a member of the European Union?
Malta is a full member of the European Union, and Maltese citizenship entitles bearers to freedom of movement throughout the Schengen Area and the European Economic area.
Is Malta in the Schengen Zone?
Yes, Malta is within the Schengen Zone, which entitles those with Maltese passports freedom of movement throughout the Schengen Area.
How much does Malta citizenship cost?
The Maltese citizenship by naturalization program costs around €690,000 [at the very minimum] with additional costs for dependents. To break that down, you must place a direct, non-refundable investment worth at least €600,000 if you’re applying for the elongated 36 month residence period in Malta, or €750,000 for the 12 month period. You must also purchase residential real estate worth at least €700,000 in the Republic, or enter a lease agreement worth at least €16,000 per year, and hold your investment for at least five years. Additionally, you must place a philanthropic donation of no less than €10,000.
Can I rent out my property in Malta?
You cannot rent out your property in Malta during the five-year minimum requirement, as it is considered to be in conflict with your intention to maintain residence in the country.
Can I pass Maltese citizenship on to my children/grandchildren?
Yes, children of Maltese citizens are automatically eligible for Maltese citizenship, meaning your children and grandchildren can also get passports. One of the key advantages of the Maltese citizenship program is that family members are also eligible.
How fast can I get Maltese citizenship?
You must hold Maltese residency for at least 12-36 months before obtaining citizenship.
Can my Maltese citizenship be revoked?
Under specific conditions, Maltese citizenship can be revoked if you for example fail to pass the government’s periodic due diligence checks.
Does Malta recognize Bitcoin?
Malta does not recognize Bitcoin as a method of payment for the Malta Citizenship by Naturalization Scheme.
Can I buy Malta citizenship?
It is not possible to buy citizenship in Malta, however, citizenship by naturalization is possible. Family members are also eligible.