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    Malta Citizenship By Investment

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Malta Citizenship by Investment & Golden Visa

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Since Portugal introduced the first residency by investment program (aka “Golden Visa”) in Europe back in 2012, they have grown immensely in popularity and many European nations have followed suit. There are now several European countries which offer long-term residency permits to wealthy investors in exchange for an investment or donation. 

Malta is one such country in Europe which offers the opportunity to acquire a Golden Visa in exchange for an investment in the country. However, Malta is now the only European country which also has a dedicated Citizenship by Investment program (since Cyprus recently discontinued theirs). 

In this article we compare these two attractive programs which Malta offers, and take a look at the requirements and benefits of each. 

Table of Contents:

What Is the Difference between Malta Citizenship by Investment and a Malta Golden Visa?

There are two primary differences between the Malta Citizenship by Investment program and the Malta Golden Visa program. 

Firstly, the former provides a way to easily acquire full citizenship in Malta in exchange for an investment and/or donation, as well as fulfilling some other basic requirements. In comparison, the Golden Visa program provides an opportunity to acquire permanent residence in Malta in exchange for an investment. This can potentially lead to full citizenship in the long run, but it is not guaranteed and will take substantially more time. 

The second major difference between these two programs are the costs involved. The Malta citizenship by investment program can cost a total of anywhere between EUR 600,000 to EUR 900,000 whilst the Golden Visa program can cost as little as EUR 300,000. Choosing which of these programs is best suited to you involves an analysis of your needs, and weighing the benefits and costs of each. 

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Malta Citizenship by Investment

As mentioned, the Malta Citizenship by Investment program, officially known as the Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (MEIN), allows anyone with the financial means who fulfils the basic requirements to acquire citizenship in Malta in exchange for an investment. 

Since Cyprus discontinued their citizenship by investment program at the end of 2020, this is currently the only Citizenship by Investment program in Europe

 
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What are the Requirements?

In order to qualify for citizenship by investment program in Malta, you must:

  • Make a direct investment of a minimum of either EUR 600,000 or EUR 750,000 for the main applicant. A minimum physical residence period is required before acquiring full citizenship, which amounts to 36 months in the case that a EUR 600,000 investment was made or 12 months in the case of a EUR 750,000 investment. An extra EUR 50,000 investment is required for each qualifying dependent. 
  • Make a philanthropic donation of at least EUR 10,000 to an authorised organisation or society.
  • Purchase a property in Malta for a minimum of EUR 700,000 which must be held for a minimum of five years, or otherwise enter into a five-year property lease with a minimum amount of EUR 16,000 per year.
  • The main applicant must be over the age of 18. All applicants must be in good health, have clean criminal records, and be subjected to all necessary due diligence. 

Benefits

There are numerous benefits to becoming a citizen of Malta. Firstly, you will receive a first-tier European passport which is guaranteed for life. This will allow for visa-free travel to 180 countries worldwide, including the USA and many other top-tier nations. Other benefits include:

  • Access to all the rights and benefits of other Maltese citizens, such as voting rights, social welfare, education, healthcare etc. Malta’s healthcare system itself is ranked in the top 5 by the World Health Organisation, and are publicly funded by taxation and public health insurance.
  • Malta is an extraordinary country to live in for a number of reasons, including its top-quality infrastructure, public services, beautiful climate and weather, its attractiveness as a tourist destination, overall safety, and the list goes on.
  • As an EU citizen, you will be able to work, live and travel anywhere in Europe. This is guaranteed for life with full citizenship.
  • Spouses, dependents under the age of 20 and those over the age of 55 are all eligible to qualify.

How Long Does It Take?

In order to qualify for full citizenship through the citizenship by investment program, you will first need to apply for a Maltese residence card and spend at least 12 months in Malta as a resident. You will be eligible to apply for citizenship by investment after 12 or 36 months from your residency stage depending on the investment amount you have chosen. 

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Malta Golden Visa

The Malta Golden Visa program, officially known as the Malta Permanent Residency Programme (MPVP) was launched in 2015 as an alternative to their full citizenship by investment program. The MPVP provides a fast and efficient route to acquire permanent residency status in Malta in exchange for an investment. 

Malta Residency Programme (MPRP)

*A third program was launched in April 2021 called the Malta Residency Program. What distinguishes it from the MPVP program is that this gives an option for individuals to get residency for 100,000 EUR. The program is very similar to the one above, with the distinction that instead of purchasing real estate for 300,000 EUR you can rent a house instead for 100,000 EUR. The rest of the conditions are the same.

What are the Requirements?

The total investment requirements to qualify for the Malta Golden Visa amount to less than EUR 300,000 for the main applicant, making it much affordable than the full citizenship by investment program. The requirements can be broken down as follows:

  • A qualifying investment of at least EUR 250,000 which must be retained for at least five years. After the five-year period is over, you are able to reclaim your investment funds.
  • A EUR 30,000 monetary contribution to the Government along with a non-refundable administration fee of EUR 5,500 at the time of submission.
  • The requirement to either purchase real estate in Malta for at least EUR 320,000 or lease a property with a minimum EUR 12,000 annual rent. 
  • In order to qualify, the applicant must also have a clean criminal record, be in good health, pass all due diligence processes, and prove that they have an annual income in excess of EUR 100,000 or have capital exceeding EUR 500,000. 
  • Must physically reside in Malta (minimum of 183 days per year) for the first five years to qualify for permanent residency status.

Benefits

Permanent residence confers almost all of the same benefits as full citizenship does. Therefore, many of the benefits which were mentioned above also apply in the case of permanent residency. The exception is that you will not have the benefit of an actual European passport for travel around the world, although you will still be able to work and travel freely throughout Europe. 

How Long Does It Take?

In order to qualify for full citizenship through the citizenship by investment program, you will first need to apply for a Maltese residence card and spend at least 12 months in Malta as a resident. You will be eligible to apply for citizenship by investment after 12 or 36 months from your residency stage depending on the investment amount you have chosen. 

After five years as a permanent resident in Malta, you will be eligible to apply for full citizenship by naturalisation. This involves a longer process than if you had just applied for citizenship by investment in the first place, but is much more affordable of course. 

If your main purpose for acquiring residency is to live and work in Europe, without the need for a second passport, then the Maltese residence by investment program is a good alternative to the full citizenship program.

Taxes Considerations

As is the case with all European countries, Malta taxes its citizens based on residence, not citizenship. This means you will only be considered a tax resident if you spend more than 183 days a year in Malta. Non-residents are only liable for tax on income and capital gains generated within Malta itself.

Malta has one of the more favourable tax systems in Europe, which includes no inheritance tax, no estate duties, no wealth tax, no municipal taxes, and no property ownership tax. 

Conclusion

Malta is the only European nation which offers two types of investor immigration programs, with the opportunity to directly acquire citizenship by investment. Both of these programs are straightforward and offer many clear advantages. They cater to individuals and families with varying needs and budgets. Determining which is best suited for you depends on a careful analysis of both of these factors with the guidance of an investor immigration expert. 

 

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