In Malta, citizenship by investment is a popular way to acquire a European Union passport, with full citizenship rights in this prosperous nation. Find out more about the Malta Golden Visa’s and more below.
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The government introduced the program to encourage more foreign investment into the economy and strengthen domestic business expertise.
Previously, Malta launched an initial scheme called the Malta Citizenship by Investment Program with a quota of 1,800 applicants.
This target was passed, and a new program launched in November 2020, offering a direct route to European citizenship.
Now, UK expats can apply to the Malta Acquisition of Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment, a scheme managed by the Community Malta Agency.
The programme offers whole family certificates of naturalisation in return for a contribution to Malta’s economic development.
There are minimum donation requirements, and applicants need to live in Malta for between one and three years before being granted a second passport. The qualifying residence terms depend on the value of the investment handed to the government.
This new initiative is capped at 400 successful applicants a year and 1,500 applicants in total.
Read our in-depth guide to understand more about what a Golden Visa and passport is.
Investment In Malta Residency
Maltese citizenship works in two stages:
- Apply for residence and retain that status for a qualifying period
- Become eligible for citizenship after 12-36 months.
Several different investment routes offer some flexibility to choose an approved fund or purchase a home.
Malta property investment
UK expats have two options when it comes to investing in the Maltese property market.
Investors can buy a home for at least €700,000 (£644,000) or rent for a minimum annual rent of €16,000 (£13,800).
Rented accommodation must be large enough to house the investor and all their dependents and must be kept for at least five years after citizenship is approved.
Government cash contributions
Direct investments can be either €600,000 (£515,000) or €750,000 (£644,000).
Depositing €750,000 (£644,000) contribution reduces the mandatory residence term to 12 months. Investing €600,000 (£515,000) means that foreigners receive a naturalisation certificate after 36 months of residency.
Finally, citizenship applicants need to donate at least €10,000 (£8,500) towards an agency approved enterprise.
Donation options include charities, non-government organisations (NGOs), social enterprises, and organisations to benefit Malta’s culture, welfare, or arts.
Benefits Of Maltese Citizenship
Malta is a fantastic place to live, with incredible weather, beautiful architecture, low taxes and an excellent community for families, professionals and retirees.
Investors contributing to the national economy benefit from a range of advantages.
- They can work or study in any EU member nation, with lifelong travel rights for all family members with their second passports.
- A Maltese passport carries visa-free access to 186 countries, including the USA, Canada, and all 26 Schengen Zone nations.
- Children can attend Maltese public schools and universities, with state schools free for all citizens, including books and transport. The University of Malta is also free for citizens.
- Quality of life is outstanding, with clean air, protected freedom of speech and generous property rights. The infrastructure is modern, with secure online banking and good Internet services.
- In terms of healthcare, as a Maltese citizen, you’re in good hands, with a state system ranked among the top five in the world by the World Population Review.
Health services are funded by taxation and health insurance, meaning that most treatments and care, including pregnancy, specialist treatments, hospital admission and prescriptions, are either free or subsidised.
Qualifying For Malta Citizenship By Investment
To qualify for Maltese citizenship, you’ll need to meet several requirements as a primary applicant.
The basics are that you’ll need to be over 18, hold a valid residence card, and be in good health with sufficient medical insurance.
Due diligence checks are an integral part of the citizenship assessment process. The authorities will also investigate dependent applicants to verify information provided and screen for criminal records or other circumstances that might prevent approval.
Aside from these requirements, investors will need to contribute to their selected fund, choosing from various investment routes.
To summarise, the three stages of investment are:
- Invest €600,000 (£515,000) through the standard route, with a three-year residency requirement before being eligible for citizenship. A €750,000 (£644,000) contribution results in a reduced one-year residency term
- Buy a property worth at least €700,000 (£644,000), or rent out a residence for at least five years for €16,000 (£13,700) a year
- Give €10,000 (£8,500) to an approved non-profit or charitable organisation in Malta
Immigration officials need to verify that the funds are in place before proceeding with an application and require evidence that investments come from legally obtained assets belonging to the applicant.
How Four-Tier Due Diligence Works
Following European Commission challenges against golden visa schemes, Malta has rebranded its citizenship by investment program, emphasising the checks carried out against all applicants.
Those inspections include detailed background reporting and appraisals of income sources used to finance the investments made.
This process is called a four-tier due diligence system, deemed one of the most advanced globally, meaning that many applications are rejected due to simple errors.
It is therefore strongly advised to ensure the application is completed thoroughly, with full supporting documents.
As efforts continue to close loopholes, whereby investors found ways to avoid completing the requisite residency period, immigration checks will likely tighten.
For Maltese citizens thinking about getting permanent residency in the UK, look at the Tier 1 Investor Visa guide.
Malta Citizenship By Investment FAQ
Most Maltese residency cards are issued in as little as three weeks, with citizenship granted after one to three years.
The process of acquiring a Malta second passport works like this:
· Contract a licensed agent to present your application under a power of attorney.
· The agent carries out due diligence checks, after which your application is submitted and verified again by the local police and Community Malta Agency.
· The immigration agency conducts further inspections to assess your application for completeness and accuracy
· The immigration agency runs through additional due diligence and then passes the application to a minister for approval
· If approved, you are invited to Malta to take an oath of allegiance.
When all checks are complete, you receive a Maltese passport and certificate of naturalisation.
Tax residency and citizenship are two different concepts. Becoming a Maltese citizen doesn’t mean your tax treatment will automatically change if you aren’t living and earning in Malta.
New expats relocating to Malta may also retain their non-domicile status, with substantial tax breaks available.
In Malta, you only need to pay tax on domestic earnings, which means foreign income and other overseas capital gains are not taxable, provided your accounts are held in another jurisdiction.
Many international pension schemes are based in Malta, and it’s a hub of business growth, owing to the generous tax regimes and range of exemptions available. There are:
• No inheritance tax
• No wealth tax
• Extensive dual tax treaties
• No municipal taxes
Double tax treaties are vital for expats since they mean you won’t end up paying tax twice on the same income or event. Malta has more than 60 treaties and recognises dual citizenship so that you can retain two passports simultaneously.
Corporation tax is charged at 35 per cent, but non-residents or non-domiciled businesses benefit from special tax concessions.
If you invest in Malta through a real estate purchase and sell the property after five years, you will pay zero tax on the profit if you use the property as a sole residence.
If you sell earlier, you may incur a 12 per cent tax against the sale price.
Maltese citizenship by investment includes full family eligibility. Applicants can include their spouse, children and parents, provided they are financially dependent and meet other age-related criteria.
The investment value isn’t the only cost you’ll encounter when applying for Maltese citizenship.
The administration fee is €1,000 (£860) for each applicant, excluding taxes, and there is an ongoing five-year due diligence monitoring process.
Due diligence fees depend on the number of dependents on the application, charged at:
• €15,000 (£12,875) for the first applicant.
• €10,000 (£8,600) for each dependent.
It’s also vital to budget for taxes levied on rental income, where applicable, and legal fees when purchasing a property or making a long-term investment.
Expats can apply for citizenship after living in Malta between one and three years, depending on the invested amount.
Qualifying investments of €600,000 (£515,000) come with a three-year residency permit, and higher €750,000 (£644,000) contributions are eligible for a fast-track citizenship route available after just one year.
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