Malta Citizenship By Investment Program (MEIN)

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranea Sea, Malta enjoys an excellent reputation for its spectacular climate, friendly locals, and a relaxing lifestyle suitable for all ages.

Its geographical location provides prospective investors an advantage in the European, Middle Eastern, and North African markets. Besides that, English is one of the primary languages in Malta, which might reduce some discomfort of moving to a new country.

Malta has been offering citizenship by investment programs to ex-pats in recent years. Most notably, the Malta Individual Investor Programme was lauded for its success among high net-worth individuals who wished to move to Malta.

However, following the cap of 1,800 applicants for this wildly popular program in October 2020, the Maltese government has introduced a new Malta citizenship by investment program that offers similar benefits to prospective Maltese citizens.

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* data sourced from www.heritage.org and knoema.com

Launched in November 2020, the Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation For Exception Services by Direct Investment (MEIN) was announced to replace the Individual Investor Program.

Like its predecessor, this new Malta citizenship by investment program is aimed towards high or ultra-high-net-worth individuals who want to live in Malta indefinitely.

Contrary to the Malta Individual Investor Programme, applicants are subjected to stricter background checks and higher contribution amounts. This is part of a directive from the Maltese government to attract talented individuals who can contribute to Malta’s economic growth.

Upon successful application, the investor and their family are granted Maltese citizenship, Malta passports, and a Certificate of Naturalization. All citizenship-related applications are processed by the Community Malta Agency.

The MEIN program is capped at 1,500 successful applications in total. However, only 400 investors are approved per calendar year. Similar to its predecessor, a new program will be devised.

Covering a total area of only 316 km2, Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world.

It is a densely populated country with upwards of 400,000 Maltese citizens packed into an area about one-fifth of Greater London. Most of the population is condensed in the main island of Malta with a small spread in the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino.

The capital of Malta is Valletta, aptly named as the city built by gentlemen for gentlemen. It is an interesting mix of history and modern, with remnants of the past coexisting peacefully with contemporary infrastructure. 

From prehistoric sites to some of the best scuba diving sites in the world and a rapid-growing economy, Malta is the ideal place for talented ex-pats yearning for a high quality of life.  

Location

Malta is situated approximately at the navel of the Mediterranean sea between Sicily and North Africa. It is often described as the crossroads between Europe and Africa with Italy just 95km north and the North African coast 190km west. 

Travel

Malta is part of the Schengen agreement, which gives its residents and citizens visa-free travel to other countries in the Schengen zone without passport checks. You can also travel to 183 countries visa-free with a Malta passport. 

Despite having a small airport, it offers plenty of flights to other major cities in Europe and beyond.

Political State And Government

Although there were some political skirmishes in the 60s and 80s, Malta is widely regarded nowadays as one of the most politically stable European countries. 

It is run by a democratically-elected government that is headed by a president. There are two main political powers in Malta - the Central Right Nationalist Party and the Сenter-left, New Labour Party. 

Despite the difference in political stance, most government policies aim to prioritize economic growth, strengthen Malta’s thriving financial services, and attract foreign investment onto the island. Malta also acts as a mediator in the Euro-Mediterranean region, thanks to its friendly relationship with its European and North African neighbors. 

That being said, Maltese citizens are extremely passionate about politics. Many of them stick to their political party through thick and thin. Celebratory parties and minor disturbances alike can be seen after election day, and people are often encouraged to not discuss Maltese politics in cafes or restaurants. 

Economy and Business Environment

According to Statistika, the country experienced a 4.42% GDP growth in 2019, making it the third fastest-growing economy in Europe.

Malta relies on human capital and manufacturing to compensate for its lack of natural resources. Its economy is predominantly driven by tourism, manufacturing, and foreign trade. Besides that, Malta also has a booming real estate industry sparked by a huge influx of foreign investors and workers. 

Since it is a part of the Commonwealth, European Union, and the Eurozone, Malta has a strong business relationship with the UK and the biggest trading bloc in the world. Its government policies on the economy have also shifted away from direct government intervention to allow a greater role for market mechanisms. 

As a result, Malta has significantly improved their infrastructure and educational investment to lay down a strong base for business development. It also permits foreign investors to set up numerous types of companies. 

Tax System

Malta has a unique, remittance-based tax system that is highly beneficial for high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs who are residents in Malta. 

Under this system, only the income generated in Malta or income remitted to a Maltese bank account would be taxed at a flat rate of 15%. Income generated from abroad is not taxed, giving individuals with foreign investment and business a significant tax advantage. 

As for personal income tax, Malta uses a progressive tax bracket system for calculating the amount of taxes to levy. Depending on whether you are an individual, married, or a parent and your income, you are only required to pay a maximum of 35% of your total income.

There is also no inheritance, gift, and wealth tax in Malta, which makes the prospect of holding Maltese citizenship more attractive for high-income and wealthy individuals. With a variety of tax breaks and flexible tax programs, you can pay very little taxes no matter how much you earn. 

Legal System

Malta is governed with a mixed legal system based on the Civil Law, which is a system used predominantly by most European countries. As a past colony of the UK, it also contains certain aspects of Common Law.

As a member of the European Union, Malta is subjected to EU laws, directives, and regulations. Sometimes, these rules take precedence over Malta’s domestic legislation.

Lifestyle and Culture

Living in Malta is as expected as living on a Mediterranean island - relaxed and idyllic with a strong sense of community. 

Its warm and inviting climate is one of the biggest plus points about moving to Malta. With more than 300 days of sunshine per year and strong cafe culture, locals spend a lot of time relaxing in the open-air cafes or lounging on the beach. 

Despite its small size, there is no end to the things you can do in Malta. An important country in European history, Malta has many UNESCO sites, ancient churches, and archeological remains that you can visit. It is also surrounded by azure seas and some of the best diving sites in the world. 

In the summer, Malta is known for its ‘festa’ - religious festivals celebrated by colorful decorations, fireworks, and bands. Besides that, the main island of Malta is also host to vibrant nightlife and an assortment of exciting events. 

Malta is considered to be quite socially conservative as 98% of Maltese are Roman Catholic. That being said, thanks to the influx of ex-pats and a generational shift in thinking, the culture of Malta has become a little more open and accepting. 

Because of its proximity to Italy, many Maltese citizens speak Italian as a third language. The official languages in Malta, however, are Maltese and English. 

Low Crime Rate

Historically, Malta has a lower crime rate than other European countries. But with the surge of ex-pats and workers to the country, petty crime has increased significantly.

Especially around tourist areas like St. Julian’s and Valletta, incidents of pickpocketing, purse snatching, scams, and thefts have skyrocketed. There have also been occasions of drunken fights and gang activity in the nightlife areas. 

Despite being close to areas of conflict, no terrorism activity was reported in Malta as of late. As Malta maintains a neutral relationship with many countries, the threat of terrorism will likely remain low.

Living Costs

Although the cost of living has increased in the past few years, it is still relatively cheaper to live in Malta than its Schengen counterparts. 

Since Maltese and ex-pats alike flock to the main island of Malta, it is considered the most expensive place to live in Malta. A 2-bedroom seaside apartment with a view of the Mediterranean sea can run you upwards of $1,000. Conversely, you can get cheaper apartments inland. 

If you are looking for somewhere quieter, Gozo offers plenty of reasonably-priced but comfortable options. Besides that, groceries and eating out are also relatively cheap. For example, a delicious three-course seafood meal with a glass of wine can cost as little as $20. 

Healthcare

Malta has a strong public healthcare system that provides good-quality services to its citizens and Europeans with the European Health Insurance Card. 

It has a few hospitals across the main island and Gozo, as well as a system of specialized clinics, focused on rehabilitative, preventive, and curative care. Due to the small size of Malta, you can get medical treatment no matter where you are. 

Besides public healthcare, there are also two private hospitals in the country with state-of-the-art equipment. Because of how affordable private healthcare is, many Maltese citizens opt for additional insurance coverage that is specifically curated for their medical needs. 

Education System

Like most countries in Europe, children between the ages of 4 to 16 are required to go to school. As a parent, you can choose to send your children to public schools, private institutions, or church schools. 

Public schools offer a high standard of education compared to the rest of Europe. All the lessons are delivered in Maltese, which can be beneficial for integrating into Maltese society. Since 60% of students in public schools are Malta citizens, your children can also make friends easier and establish themselves in Malta. 

You can also send your children to private institutions for exceptional quality of education at a premium cost. Most private institutions use English as their primary language, which might be good for teenagers who moved to Malta without the desire to learn Maltese. 

Church schools are very popular in Malta as they provide a good level of education without an exorbitant cost. Also overseen by the Ministry of Education, the curriculum is similar to public and private schools even though a majority of the staff are nuns or priests.

Thanks to Malta’s advantageous geographical location and a good working relationship with many European countries, there are many benefits to securing Maltese citizenship.

Visa-free Travel to More Than 183 Countries

The Maltese passport is the 9th most powerful passport in the world, giving you visa-free travel to at least 183 countries. It provides free travel to countries with notoriously difficult visa application processes like the USA, Middle East, and Africa.

Besides that, it is part of the Schengen zone and the European Union. This not only gives you visa-free travel within Europe but also spares you from tedious border checks within the zone.

The Right to Live, Work, and Study in Europe

Since Malta is a member of the European Union, having Maltese citizenship gives you the right to live, work, and study in the 27 European member states.

Besides that, you can also live and work visa-free in 27 countries that form the European Economic Area (EEA).

Inheritable Citizenship Status

Maltese citizenship is inheritable, which means your descendants are allowed to be naturalized even if they are not born in Malta. This gives your descendants a lifelong guarantee of returning to Malta visa-free in the future for investment, study, or work opportunities.

That being said, you are required to include financially dependent children or parents in your Maltese citizenship by investment application if they want to move to Malta with you.

Business and Tax Advantages

Malta has one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe with plenty of business opportunities.

Securing Maltese citizenship allows you to take advantage of the world’s largest economic zone (European Union) with total capital and income movements. Because of its geographical location, it is also easier for you to look after your investments and businesses in North African and Middle Eastern markets from Malta.

Besides that, Malta also has a competitive tax system that offers significant advantages to foreign investment and high-net-worth individuals. As only income generated in Malta is taxed (up to 35% of total income), this fosters an attractive yet safe business environment for ex-pats.

To qualify for this Malta citizenship by investment program, you must satisfy the following requirements: 

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Make the necessary investment within four months of applying for citizenship
  • Reside in Malta for at least one year
  • Have medical insurance that covers the applicant for at least €50,000 internationally
  • Have a clean criminal record and not subject to criminal proceedings in any country
  • Not considered to be a potential national security risk
  • Not having a reputational risk

Establishing A Link To Malta

You must demonstrate a genuine link to the country before applying for this Malta citizenship by investment program, which can be done by first establishing residency.

The applicant and their family must live in Malta for at least 36 months by buying or leasing real estate in Malta. Although you can leave the country, you must live in the rented or bought Maltese property for at least 183 days of the year. If you opt to buy, you cannot sell your property for at least 5 years from the date of purchase.

Depending on the nature of your application, you may also take an expedited route to Maltese citizenship. This involves a higher investment amount to the National Development Fund, but you would only have to live in Malta for one year before beginning the citizenship process.

Since it is a citizenship by investment program, the applicant must make a series of qualifying investments to get Maltese citizenship.

You don’t have to make all the investment at the beginning of the process. However, it is recommended that you have the investment capital on hand before applying for Maltese citizenship as there are often long waiting times between each stage of your application process.

Exceptional Investment

After three years of living in Malta, applicants must make a minimum investment of €600,000 to the National Development and Social Fund set up by the Maltese government. These funds are channeled towards government projects for public health, education, and social improvements.

If you want to take the expedited Malta citizenship by investment route, you must make a €750,000 investment into the fund. You must also provide proof for living in Malta for 12 months.

Besides that, you must also make a mandatory investment of €50,000 on behalf of every dependent that you include in your citizenship application.

Dependents are defined as individuals who are financially dependent on you, which may include your spouse, children (adopted or biological) below the age of 29, parents, and parents-in-law.

Real Estate

Real estate is an important aspect of the Malta citizenship by investment program. It helps you demonstrate a genuine link to Malta and your desire to contribute to the economy of Malta.

To fulfill the real estate requirement, you must buy a property that costs at least €700,000. This property must be held and maintained for at least 5 years. You are also not allowed to rent out the qualifying property - you must live in this property.

You can also opt to rent a property for at least €16,000 per year. Similar to buying a property, you are not allowed to sublet or terminate the rental agreement for 5 years.

Unlike the previous Malta citizenship by investment program, it doesn’t matter where you buy or rent your property. No matter if it is in the cheaper South of Malta or Gozo, you are required to fulfill the minimum property purchase value or rental amount.

Mandatory Philanthropic Donation

In addition to the exceptional investment (see above), you must also donate €10,000 to a registered non-governmental organization or charity in Malta. You can donate to a wide range of causes, including philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare, or even artistic purposes.

The Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation For Exception Services by Direct Investment is slightly more complex than the Malta Individual Investor Programme. This is due to stricter due diligence processes designed to attract high-respected business leaders and individuals who can contribute positively to Malta. That being said, it is still one of the fastest routes to secure European citizenship. After proving a genuine link to the country, it can take as little as one year to get a Maltese passport, especially if you have a clean criminal record and a legitimate source of wealth.

Stage 1: Residence Stage

The MEIN is based on naturalization, which means you and your family need to first become residents for at least one year before buying citizenship in Malta. Alternatively, you can opt to become a resident for 36 months to save €150,000 on exceptional investment down the road. In the residence stage, you should appoint a licensed agent to hold power of attorney for your citizenship-related affairs. This power of attorney would be held throughout the whole application process. The agent is responsible for helping you put together a Residency Application Package that contains documents such as:
  • A power of attorney document
  • Letter of introduction detailing your motivation to obtain Maltese citizenship
  • Comprehensive Tier 1 due diligence check
  • Complete forms and declarations
  • International passport and foreign residency card
  • Evidence of dependency for your dependents
  • Bank statement and (if applicable) Sponsor’s Declaration
  • Property lease or purchase agreement
After your residency application is submitted, the Community Malta Agency performs an initial fit-and-proper test. Initial police clearance is also given at the stage of the application process. Within 15 working days from the day your application package is received by the Agency, you receive an e-Residency ID that allows you to live in Malta. After the initial clearance, an appointment to get your biometrics done must be made within six months. Your physical residence card is issued when all requirements are fulfilled. Keep in mind that all your dependents who wish to obtain Maltese citizenship must also first establish residency in Malta.

Stage 2: Establish Eligibility For Citizenship

The preparation for this stage may be made during your residency, but the submission of documents can only be done when your residency is completed. This is the most intensive stage throughout the whole process as your application will be subjected to strict background and due diligence checks. Besides that, you are only allowed to move forward with citizenship if this step is completed. Because of this, your application mustn’t contain false information. After your residence card is issued, your agent helps you put together an Eligibility Application Pack that contains:
  • Your residence permit and e-residence card
  • Bank statements
  • Birth certificates
  • Corporate affiliations or evidence of employments
  • Source of funds and source of wealth
  • Medical report
  • Proof of overseas residential address
  • Police conduct certificates
  • Social credit report
  • Applicable affidavits
  • Tax residency jurisdiction declaration
If applicable, these documents will also be included:
  • Change of name documents
  • Military records
  • Marriage or divorce papers
More often than not, the Community Malta Agency will request further information and documents to ensure that your documentation is in order. After that, the Agency conducts a Tier 2 fit-and-proper test. At the end of this stage, you will receive a Letter Of Approval Of Eligibility that allows you to move forward to the Citizenship Stage. As the background check in this stage is more extensive, it may take up to 150 days for the government to issue you the Letter.

Stage 3: Citizenship Stage

You must fulfill your investment requirements within four months of receiving the Letter of Approval of Eligibility. This includes the mandatory contribution to the Malta Social Fund, purchasing or leasing an immovable property, and a donation to a non-government organization approved by the Maltese government. When all requirements are satisfied, you’ll be invited to Malta to take the Oath of Allegiance. You and your dependents will be granted Malta citizenship within 6 months to a year, and a Malta passport 5 working days after that. The Community Malta Agency will continue to monitor your family for the next five years to ensure that the terms of citizenship were held. The Maltese government can revoke your citizenship and Malta passport if the terms were violated.

Citizen Restriction

As a member of the European Union, there are no dual citizenship restrictions as far as Malta is concerned. You are allowed to hold a second, or even third citizenship, in addition to your Maltese citizenship. However, you should check if your country of origin allows dual citizenship. For example, Malaysian or Austrian citizens have to surrender their original passport to comply with the citizenship laws of their country.

Fees

Residence Stage

Non-refundable admin fee Residence application fee Resident card
Applicant €10,000 €5,000 €27.50
Dependent N/A €1,000 €27.50

Eligibility Stage

Due diligence fees Admin fee
Applicant €15,000 €1,000
Dependent €10,000 €1,000

Citizenship Stage

Exceptional Investment Immovable property Donation Administrative fee
Applicant €600,000 (36 months)
€750,000 (12 months)
€700,000 or
€16,000 per annum
€10,000 €5,000
Dependent €50,000/ per €1,000

Understandably, the new Malta Citizenship by Investment program might not be for everybody since it has a significantly higher investment cost and stricter background checks.

Depending on what you need, there are a few active programs that might be suitable for individuals who want to live in Malta without taking on the high costs. 

Global Residence Program (GRP) 

The Global Residence Program is designed for non-EU, non-EEA, and non-Swiss individuals who want to live in Malta for more than 183 days per year. 

The main appeal of this program is the taxation system. Under the GRP, you have to pay a minimum annual tax of €15,000 with a flat tax rate of 15% on income generated overseas and declared in Malta. Income that does not fall under this category is taxed at a flat rate of 35%. 

To qualify, applicants must be economically self-sufficient and hold comprehensive healthcare. You must also submit a police certificate that indicates a clean criminal record and pass a fit-and-proper test conducted by the Maltese government. 

Not only that, but you must own or rent a property in Malta to be used as your main place of residence worldwide. 

You have to make a minimum property investment depending on which areas you choose to live in. On the main Maltese island, you must purchase a property valued at €275,000 and above or rent a property for €9,600. You’re also not allowed to rent out or sublet your property. 

The costs of minimum property investment are significantly lower in the South of Malta or Gozo. For example, a qualifying property in the South of Malta must be valued at €220,000 if owned or €8,750 if rented.

Under this program, you will not be issued a Malta passport. But as a resident of Malta, you are given visa-free travel in Europe and Schengen. 

The Retirement Program 

The Retirement Program was created to attract retirees of all nationalities (except Maltese) to retire in Malta. 

By taking residence in Malta, beneficiaries of this program enjoy a 15% flat tax rate on remitted pension. Retirees are required to pay a minimum of €7,500 per year and €500 for each dependent.

To qualify, you must buy a qualifying property for at least €275,000 or rent a property for €9,600 per annum. You must also prove that your pension is 75% of your chargeable income and possess European health insurance.

Although you cannot be employed when applying for this program, you can hold a non-executive post in a non-profit or non-government organization.

Application Process

Obtaining Malta citizenship by investment can be significantly faster than many European states, especially if you are prepared every step of the way.

We would recommend following the timeline and getting documents or your investment capital early to prevent unnecessary delays.

Apply For Residency In Malta

  • Grants power of attorney to a licensed agent
  • Prepare documents for residency and submit the application
  • Community Malta Agency performs Tier 1 fit-and-proper test and issues initial police clearance to the applicant
  • A residence card is issued

2 to 3 months

Establish Citizenship Eligibility

  • The agent submits citizenship eligibility application to Community Malta Agency
  • Community Malta Agency conducts Tier 2 due diligence checks to ensure that documentation is in order. The Agency may request additional documents to support your application.
  • The Agency submits your application to the Minister. Your Letter of Approval Of Eligibility can take up to 150 days to be issued.

up to 6 months

Establish Genuine Link To Malta

  • Establish close ties to Malta by leasing or buying real estate and hold it for at least five years.
  • Engage in social activities or contribute to Malta economy to support your citizenship application.
  • Live in Malta at least 183 days of the year

1 to 3 years

Malta Citizenship Application

  • The citizenship application is submitted with updates from the applicant about changing circumstances from their residency.
  • The Community Malta Agency conducts Tier 3 and 4 due diligence checks, updates its findings, and presents its final findings to the Minister.
  • On the Minister’s instructions, the Community Malta Agency informs your agent of his decision

2 to 3 months

Fulfilling Investment Requirement

  • Mandatory €600,000 investment into the Malta National evelopment and Social Fund (or €750,000 for the expedited route)
  • Purchase or lease a property for five years
  • €10,000 contribution to any NGOs approved by the Maltese government

< 4 months

Oath of allegiance

  • You’ll be invited to Malta to take the Oath of Allegiance
  • Maltese citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, and Maltese passport will be given to you

Nov 09, 2017

Monitoring

  • The Agent submits an annual compliance form to the Community Malta Agency
  • The Agency conducts continuous monitoring for five years after you attain Malta citizenship

5 years

Get Your Free Consultation

If you would like to learn more about the program or have some questions to ask, please reach out to us for friendly and free advice!

FAQ

The Maltese citizenship by investment program must be carried out by a government-approved agent. Although it might incur extra costs, having a lawyer familiar with the government process can highly benefit your application.

The Malta citizenship by investment program can be very complex, especially since the Maltese government will continue to monitor you for five years. A lawyer might also be able to advise you when buying property in Malta or when fulfilling the investment requirements.

Under extraordinary circumstances, your Maltese citizenship can be revoked. Some of these situations include failing the government’s regular due diligence checks, committing a crime in Malta, and other circumstances.

The Malta citizenship by investment program, or Malta Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (MEIN), offers Malta residency and citizenship in return for a one-time investment.

As a citizen of Malta, you are allowed to live, work, and study in any of the 26 member states of the European Union. You are also given visa-free travel to more than 180 countries in the world with a Malta passport. Besides that, this Malta citizenship by investment program also provides many investment and business opportunities as well as attractive tax benefits.

This citizenship journey is a long and extensive one. After establishing at least 12 months of residency, it takes at least a year to complete the whole process.

The Global Residence Program (GRP) is a one-year residency program that gives your 90-day visa-free travel to European countries and a low tax rate. It also gives you the option to live, work, and start a business in Malta.

Unlike the Maltese citizenship by investment program, you don’t need to invest in the country’s social development fund. However, you have to buy or rent a qualifying property during the process. You must also pay a minimum of €15,000 of taxes per year under this process.

It can take as little as 3 to 4 months to complete the process. It is important to note that the GRP is a residence process and does not automatically lead to Malta citizenship or receiving a Maltese passport.