IMPORTANT UPDATE: It’s official, Cyprus has closed its popular citizenship by investment program on 1 November 2020. What this means is, investors will no longer be able to acquire a Cypriot passport by investment.
Looking to secure European citizenship? Malta offers a direct investment route to a Maltese passport. Click here for more info.
Malta vs Cyprus Citizenship, what’s the best option? If you’re looking to get your European citizenship in less than one year, good news for you. We’ve compared the best citizenship by investment programs in Europe: Cyprus and Malta.
Obtaining European Citizenship quickly
Liberation from visa-related formalities, an attractive business climate, as well as personal security guarantees, are just some of the reasons that Malta and Cyprus passport programs are so popular.
Whether you wish to obtain EU citizenship in any of these countries because you’re looking for opportunities for scaling a business or are interested in a high standard of living and access to a progressive healthcare system, below, you’ll find all you need to know about Malta vs Cyprus citizenship.
If you’re interested in getting a second passport, you can see here what are the advantages and how the process is.
Quick Comparison between Malta vs Cyprus Citizenship
Both Malta and Cyprus are members of the European Union, and they both offer citizenship by investment programs.
Malta has a population of 432,089, whereas Cyprus is slightly larger at 1,189,085 (as of 2018).
Both countries have the Euro (€) as currency, but while Malta is a member of the Schengen Area, Cyprus is not.
The two official languages spoken in Malta are Maltese and English, whereas Greek and Turkish are spoken in Cyprus.
There are no language proficiency tests required in either country for obtaining citizenship. Cyprus and Malta are the only EU countries to offer citizenship by investment programs.
In light of the broad similarities of the two programs, many potential investors are asking themselves which one is better between Malta vs Cyprus citizenship. To answer the question, it is essential to look at the basic eligibility requirements and cost information for each of the countries.
Malta Citizenship Requirements and Cost
So, let’s see how you can get Malta Citizenship by investment.
To be granted citizenship in Malta, an individual and their family need to satisfy multiple criteria:
Be 18 years of age or older (except for dependents, who can be younger)
Rent or buy property
Rent or buy a private home for a minimum of €350,000 or rent a property for a period of 5 years for at least €16,000 per year
Resident in Malta
Have been a resident in Malta for the last 12 months
Have an insurance
Have private global health insurance coverage for at least €50,000
Make a qualifying investment
Make a qualifying investment for citizenship: this can be a donation of €650,000 to the special government fund and an investment in government bonds of a minimum of €150,000.
Additional fees to pay
There are also some additional fees that the applicant needs to pay, including due diligence fees of €7,500 for the main applicant and €5,000 for dependents, as well as €500 passport fees per person and €200 bank charges per application.
It might also be interesting to know what is the cost of living in Malta.
Cyprus Citizenship Requirements and Cost
To apply for a Cypriot passport, you need to have been residing in the country for at least seven years or be an investor in the country instead. An application for Cyprus citizenship by investment requires the following:
Be 18 years of age or older.
Have private global health insurance coverage for at least €50,000 per person.
Invest in Real Estate
Invest at least €2 million in real estate of any kind (could be a combination of residential or business buildings and building plots); Or
Invest in a business project
Alternatively, invest at least €2 million in a business project or an operating business, with no restrictions in terms of business area; Or
Invest in government bonds and business/real estate
Purchase of government bonds for €500,000 + investing € 1.5 million in business or real estate assets) is another option.
Additional fees include a government processing fee of €2,000 and a fee of €5,000 for the certificate of naturalization. It is also important to note that a potential investor is required to purchase property of at least €500,000 for life.
Malta vs Cyprus Citizenship – Which Program Has More Advantages?
The above-listed criteria show that there are several areas that differ between the Malta and Cyprus citizenship programs.
While both programs come with the same end result, which is EU citizenship and residency, some people may prefer Malta vs Cyprus citizenship or the other way around depending on their personal preferences and personal circumstances.
See also what’s the difference between residency and citizenship by investment.
Both require to buy local property
The requirement to purchase local real estate exists for both programs, but it differs with regards to the amount.
While the Malta scheme allows applicants to purchase property with a minimum value of €350,000 or have a five-year rental contract at a minimum of €16,000 per year, Cyprus does not offer a possibility to obtain citizenship without owning property that also needs to be declared as the principal residence of the applicant.
Property bought in Malta can be sold
Moreover, Cyprus requires the applicant to retain ownership of the purchased property for life, whereas in Malta the property can be sold after five years.
It is also essential to keep in mind that the property bought in Malta for obtaining citizenship can be sold exempt from tax if it was held for at least three years as the sole and ordinary residence of the applicant.
Overall Investment Considerations
The overall cost of obtaining Maltese citizenship is about €650,000, which is considerably lower than the €2.5 million required to obtain a Cypriot passport.
Both schemes offer applicants the right to reside, work, and travel in all of the other EU member states, but you should keep in mind that Malta is also a member of the Schengen area while Cyprus is not. This means that European travel and work can be easier with a Maltese passport.
Other Considerations for Malta vs Cyprus Citizenship
When it comes to applying for Malta vs Cyprus citizenship, many applicants are concerned with the procedures and want the process to be entirely reputable.
Malta Citizenship by investment scheme has higher refusal rates
Even though both schemes for citizenship are approved by the EU, the Maltese one was the first to be recognized, and it has higher refusal rates. This is because the Maltese government is committed to undertaking a high standard of due diligence and make sure that only individuals of impeccable reputation are awarded citizenship.
The vetting process of each applicant is often much more thorough than in Cyprus.
Taxation is similar in both countries
Malta and Cyprus have similar legislation regarding taxation, which means that the tax system of both countries is based on residency instead of citizenship.
To be a fiscal resident of either state, an individual need to reside in the country for at least 183 days a year.
We’ve also shared a guide on Cyprus Tax for non-residents.
Timeframes and Visa-Free Entry
The fastest way to obtain EU citizenship by investment is by applying for a Cyprus passport.
The entire process takes up to 6 months, while applying for Maltese citizenship takes longer than that, with processing times of up to 15 months.
Malta and Cyprus are holding the 23rd and 24th positions in the Global Quality of Nationality Index as of 2017, which means their passports are equally powerful.
Visa-free for United States
There are no visa formalities for holders of Maltese and Cypriot passports for many countries such as Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Japan and more.
The main difference is that Maltese citizens can also travel freely to the United States while Cypriots require a travel visa.
What’s the best option?
To sum it up, the procedure to obtain Maltese citizenship is a more cumbersome one, but it requires lower investments.
On the other hand, apply for a Cypriot passport takes only after six months, but substantial investments of at least €2 million are required.
There are strict formalities for granting this kind of citizenship in Malta, with only 1,800 foreign investors being considered for it. There are no such limitations for the economic citizenship program in Cyprus.
Obtaining Malta vs Cyprus citizenship is thus a matter of personal preference and investment abilities for high net worth individuals who are seeking EU citizenship.