Malta Citizenship by Investment 2021 – the Ultimate Guide by Experts

Malta citizenship by investment — officially called the Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment process (MEIN)—  is a prestigious citizenship by naturalization program. It grants citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to expats and their families who contribute to the nation’s economic growth. This happens following a 36-month (or, by exception, 12-month) residence period.

In this detailed guide to Malta Citizenship by Investment 2021, we cover the following:

  • Benefits of the program
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Investment requirements
  • Residency requirements
  • How to apply

Your guide to citizenship by investment in Malta

Citizenship by investment is when individuals obtain nationality in a country by making an investment, usually in real estate or government bonds. In Malta, citizenship by investment can only be obtained when the applicant makes a combination of investments in the country. These investments include a direct, non-refundable investment, a property investment, and a philanthropic donation.

Note that each application goes through a strict due diligence process, including detailed background checks. This ensures only the highest-quality candidates are selected for citizenship consideration. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a cap of 1,500 applications, with no more than 400 successful applications per year, which are processed by The Community Malta Agency (CMA).

So if you’re planning on applying, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible for favorable results.

Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (MEIN)

Launched at the end of 2020 and ratified by the Maltese government, MEIN now replaces the previous Malta Individual Investor Program, which went through a makeover in November 2020. MEIN leads to Maltese citizenship and a second passport provided that applicants meet the program eligibility requirements. In other words, just an updated version of Malta’s old citizenship by investment scheme. For more information, check out our short article explaining Malta’s citizenship by investment changes here.

Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (MEIN)

Benefits of Maltese citizenship by investment

Malta citizenship by investment allows applicants to enjoy all the benefits that come with having a European passport, and more.

1 – Freedom of movement within the EU

Malta is a full member of the EU, which means investors who acquire Maltese citizenship are entitled to live and work anywhere in Europe. Malta also lies within the Schengen Zone, meaning there are no visas or passport checks when traveling within the European Schengen Zone countries.

2 – Visa-free travel

The Malta passport is one of the strongest in the world, and besides freedom of movement and visa-free travel within Europe, a Maltese passport also allows visa-free travel to 183 countries worldwide.

3 – Obtain Malta citizenship

Another key benefit of Maltese citizenship by investment is that it allows investors to obtain citizenship within 12-36 months. To obtain Maltese citizenship, you must hold residence status in Malta.

4 – Passports for your whole family

Investing in Maltese citizenship means you can obtain a European passport not just for yourself, but also for the rest of your family. 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, so 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 Malta even if you obtain citizenship. Malta also has special tax schemes for new citizens which can result in additional tax efficiency.

6 – Stable and secure country

Malta has one of the highest GDPs in Europe and one of the lowest unemployment rates. It’s also regarded as one of the safest countries in Europe.

Eligibility for Malta citizenship by investment 

Eligibility for Malta citizenship by investment 

In order to be eligible for MEIN, you must fulfill several criteria.

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have a clean criminal record and pass a stringent due diligence process
  • Not be from one of the ‘banned’ countries list
  • Fulfill all the necessary investment requirements.

Who can apply?

In the application, the main applicant can include the following family members:

  • 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 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-free travel agreement with Malta, and, has subsequently not obtained a visa to the country that issued the denial. 
  • 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.

Investment requirements for MEIN

There are a series of financial requirements that must be fulfilled to apply for Malta citizenship by investment.

A direct, non-refundable investment

Ø  An exceptional direct investment of a minimum of €600,000 or €750,000 for the main applicant, depending on the residence period selected 12 or 36 months (extra €50,000 is required for each dependent)

Property investment

Ø  A residential property lease for a minimum of €16,000 per year for a period of 5 years or the purchase of a property for a minimum of €700,000 that must be kept for at least 5 years. For more information on purchasing a property in Malta, check out our Malta real estate guide here.

Philanthropic donation

Ø  A donation of €10,000 to a registered sport, cultural, scientific, philanthropic, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organization or society as approved by the CMA

Process of obtaining Malta citizenship by investment

The process of obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalization through Exceptional Services by Direct Investment is broken up in 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 get the residence card, you must first pass CMA’s thorough due diligence check. 

If approved, you get a residence card with a 36-month validity. Afterward, you must come to Malta (young children excluded) to collect biometric data for the residence card. Ahead of lodging your residence application, you must lease an apartment. 

Payment 

(a)  €10,000 for the residence permit

(b) Government residency application fees-  €5,000 for main applicant and €1,000 per dependant 

(c) Residency card fees – €27.50 per applicant 

(d) GCS fees (50%)

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 Maltese citizenship.

Roughly speaking, applications take between 120 and 150 calendar days to be processed. If you’re eligible, you’ll then kick off the Maltese citizenship process. You’ll receive a Letter of Approval in Principle, upon which you need to pay the extra fees.

Payment fees

(a) Due diligence fees – €5,000 for the main applicant, €15,000 for the benefactor (if applicable) and €10,000 per dependant aged 13 years old and above (paid directly to the Agency)

(b) Admin fees – €1,000 per applicant (paid directly to the Agency)

(c) GCS fees (50%)

Stage 3: Maltese Citizenship 

After 12 months or 36 months from your residency stage, you can submit your Malta citizenship application to the CMA. The CMA updates its due diligence on the applicants and presents its final findings to the Minister.

Basically, your application depends on whether the Minister approves it or not. Once approved, citizenship is granted.

The processing time to get Maltese citizenship takes around 2 to 3 months from the approval date. If the citizenship is approved, the main application must fulfill the Exceptional Investment, Donation, and Property requirements in order to start the process of naturalization.

Payment 

(a) Admin fees – €500 per applicant (paid directly to the Agency)

Stage 4: Naturalisation 

After fulfilling all the investment requirements, the main application and any dependents included in the 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 Letter of Approval in Principle.

Applicants obtain Maltese citizenship and are issued with a Certificate of Naturalisation. The name of all naturalized persons will be announced yearly in the Government Gazette.

Payment 

(a) Govt Direct Investment – €600,000 or €740,000 for main applicant and €50,000 per dependant 

(b) Charity donation – €10,000   

Monitoring

The CMA conducts continuous monitoring for five years. Note that it is possible to have your Maltese citizenship revoked if you do not comply with the requirements of the program

Tax treatment of new citizens in Malta

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 in acquiring citizenship in Malta, investors should not have to pay tax in the country, particularly as most investors are not based in Malta. 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 be taxed in the country

Taxation in Malta

It is also important that investors from Malta’s citizenship by investment scheme know that the state has:

  • No inheritance tax
  • No estate duty
  • No wealth tax
  • No municipal taxes
  • No property ownership tax

A step-by-step guide to the Malta citizenship by naturalization application

1 – Purchase qualifying real estate in Malta and register for residency

2 – After 12-36 Months, apply for Malta citizenship by investment, pay the due diligence fees, submit paperwork and pass a criminal background check.

3 – After 120-150  days the Maltese government 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 a Maltese passport.

Malta citizenship by investment timeline

Maltese residency vs citizenship

One of the main benefits of obtaining citizenship by investment in Malta as opposed to just obtaining residency is that once your citizenship has been granted, investors hold citizenship for life.

Children of Maltese citizens also automatically inherit citizenship, which means you can pass on European citizenship to your children and grandchildren.

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:

  • Minimise 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 of the market

Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to obtaining Maltese citizenship by naturalization. Contact us by filling out the form below.

Frequently asked questions about Malta Citizenship by Investment

How can I get Malta citizenship?

It is possible to acquire Malta citizenship through a qualifying investment. In order to do this, you must make three separate investments. Firstly, you must make an exceptional direct investment of a minimum of €600,000 or €750,000 for the main applicant, depending on the residence period selected (12 or 36 months). Secondly, you must buy a residential property lease for a minimum of €16,000 per year for a period of 5 years or the purchase of a property for a minimum of €700,000 that must be kept for at least 5 years. Finally, you’ll need to donate €10,000 to a registered sport, cultural, scientific, philanthropic, animal welfare, or artistic non-governmental organization or society as approved by the CMA.

What is Malta's new program?

Malta’s new program refers to the new and updated Malta citizenship by investment program that came into effect in early January 2021. In other words, it’s referred to as MEIN, the new Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN) Regulations.

Is there a language test for Maltese citizenship?

There is no language requirement for Maltese citizenship.

Do I need a lawyer to get citizenship by investment in Malta?

The citizenship by investment process in Malta must be carried out by a government-approved agent. You will also need a lawyer that is familiar with Malta citizenship and real estate law, though this can usually be found through your agent.

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 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?

Maltese citizenship investment costs around €600K [at the very minimum] with additional costs for dependents.

Can I rent out my property in Malta?

You cannot rent out your property in Malta during the 5-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, so your children and grandchildren can also get European passports.

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 investment program.

Can I buy Malta citizenship?

It is not possible to buy citizenship in Malta, however, citizenship by naturalization is possible.