Malta Golden Visa or Residency Through Investment

Thanks to its sunny weather and political stability, Malta has started to attract many high-income ex-pats. As a member state of the Schengen zone, you open up a world of business and leisure opportunities by becoming a permanent resident of Malta.

Although many other Schengen countries offer golden visas for investors, the Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP) is one that intrigued many for its low entry requirements.

Although it is one of the most straightforward golden visas to obtain in Europe, the Maltese government is very selective with the applicants. Applications can be rejected if important documents are missed or other mistakes are made filling out the form, so keep reading to know what you need exactly to secure this highly-coveted visa.

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

Officially known as the Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP), the Malta golden visa residence scheme offers permanent Malta residency to non-EU investors who want to base themselves in this Schengen country.

By investing at least €250,000 in government bonds, real estate, or other licensed investment programs listed on the Official Malta Stock Exchange listing for five years, you and your family can reside indefinitely in Malta.

This visa is family-friendly as the Maltese government allows you to register up to four generations along with the main applicant. This means you can get permanent residency for your grandparents, grandchildren, and family-in-law with just one application.

This Malta residence program is also one of the cheapest golden visa options available in the Schengen zone for prospective investors.

Malta is a small, picturesque island located in the Mediterranean sea. With a beautiful coastline, high standard of living, and sunny weather, it is an ideal choice for would-be ex-pats.

The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands - Malta, Gozo, and Comino. It has a total population of around 515,000 - only increasing slightly during the tourist season. Covering an area of only 316km2, this is one of the smallest countries in the world.

Despite its small size, Malta contains a beguiling mix of historic yet cosmopolitan cities, sandy beaches, and fascinating cultural sites. From prehistoric-era caves to WW2 tunnels and the best scuba sites in Europe, there’s always something to explore and see.

Location

Malta is located just 95 km to the south of Sicily - a stone’s throw from the rest of Europe. It is often described as being at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, with the North African coast 290km to its west.

Political state

Headed by a president and run by a democratically-elected government, Malta is regarded as one of the most politically stable Schengen countries.

Government policies typically aim to prioritize economic growth, strengthen Malta’s thriving financial services, and attract foreign investment onto the island.

Malta maintains a friendly relationship with a majority of other countries, including its North African neighbors. As a member of the European Union, it acts as the leader in the Euro-Mediterranean region, creating innovative processes to promote stability in this area.

Business Environment

As a member of the Commonwealth, Malta has a strong bilateral relationship with the UK. With a high degree of cooperation and agreements, it has a positive business environment.

It also has one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU, with the Euro providing a stable base currency. Currently, Malta’s €12.32 billion GDP is primarily from tourism, manufacturing, and foreign trade. Other important contributors include agriculture and fishing, transportation and storage, public administration, information and communication, public administration, and real estate.

Besides that, Malta also has a booming film production industry. The Malta Film Commission provides ample support to foreign film companies looking to produce full-length cinematic features, television series, and commercials. Notable films shot in Malta in recent years include World War Z, Gladiator, Troy, and the Count of Monte Cristo.

As a direct result of the Maltese government’s legislation towards aircraft, the aviation industry is starting to boom in Malta. Airlines, aircraft operators, and aircraft engine operators from the Schengen zone have begun to base themselves in Malta, conducting activities such as aircraft maintenance, financing, management, leasing, brokerage, and insurance.

Legal System

Malta operates using a mixed legal system based on the Civil Law - the system used predominantly by Schengen countries and most European countries. However, as a past colony of the UK, the legal system also contains aspects of Common Law (the system used in the UK).
The court system is divided into Superior Courts and Inferior Courts.

The Superior Court is presided over by a bench of judges. They typically deal with civil law cases and family matters. Although the Criminal Court is under the Superior court, it conducts trials by jury. These courts also include the three appellate courts - the Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Criminal Court of Appeal.

Presided by magistrates, the Inferior Court deals with matters such as criminal trials with sentences not exceeding six months in jail and civil court cases with claims less than €15,000. The Small Claims Tribunal handles cases where monetary claims are €5,000 or below.

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

Tax System

Individuals who hold a Malta residence permit or Malta citizenship are required to pay taxes on their worldwide income and certain capital gains.

However, Malta’s double tax treaty network means that you can avoid double taxation with adequate planning. Married couples can also file for taxes jointly for a combined global income which is then taxed.

By starting a business in Malta with your Malta Golden Visa, you will also enjoy a flat tax rate of 35%. It also uses a full imputation system, meaning profits distributed to shareholders can be refunded as tax credits.

Lifestyle

With a typically Mediterranean lifestyle, Malta is the perfect place for those looking for a more relaxed pace of life.

With a strong cafe culture and warm climate, most residents spend their free time outdoors unwinding in one of the many open-air cafes found in town squares across the island. Malta’s small size means a trip to the beach can quickly become part of your weekly routine.

Malta also has a competitive cost of living compared to other Schengen countries. For example, a couple can live very comfortably on $2,000 per month in Malta. It is an ideal location for those looking to escape hectic city life and enjoy their downtime/ retirement.

Besides the right to work and live in Malta indefinitely, you also gain other benefits such as:

Visa-free travel within the Schengen area

Malta is well-connected to most European capitals, reaching destinations like Athens, Rome, and Paris from its airport in roughly 2 hours. As part of the Schengen zone, you can travel visa-free to 26 Schengen countries after getting your residency through the Malta golden visa.
However, you can only travel the Schengen zone visa-free for 90 days out of 180 days even with a Malta residency permit. If you wish to travel for longer, you can apply for Malta citizenship.

Business and tax advantages

Malta offers many competitive personal and corporate tax brackets to attract foreign investors. For example, you are only taxed on your global income once.

You also get unlimited access to the world’s largest economic zone by being a permanent resident in Malta. Not only that, but Malta itself is one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU, giving you plenty of investment and business opportunities.

Easy access for your family

The Malta golden visa program is one of the most convenient to apply for if you have a family.

All your dependents can be included in your application for a fee. This includes your elderly parents (55 years of age and above), unmarried children below the age of 27, and any born or adopted children after the visa is approved.

Opportunity for naturalization

You can also opt for Malta citizenship by naturalization after living in the country for at least 5 years.

English as a primary language

Once a British colony, English is one of Malta’s two official languages. In fact, according to recent estimates, 88% of Maltese speak English, making Malta an extremely easy place for any English-speaking ex-pats to integrate and assimilate into. As government services are also provided in English, you won’t have to face any language barriers when going through the process.

Great climate and weather

With approximately 300 plus sunny days and an average yearly temperature of 23°C (73°F), Malta boasts a warm and sunny climate compared to the rest of Europe.

Winters are short and mild with an average of 5-6 hours of sunshine, meaning beach season lasts well into October. Summers are dry and warm, with an average of 12 hours of sunshine. August is typically the hottest month in Malta.

Low crime rate

Malta is classed as an extremely safe place to visit and live. According to police statistics released in 2020, the crime rate has dropped by 1.9% in 2019. As of March 2020, Malta’s crime rate is at 31 instances in 1,000 inhabitants. For comparison, the European Union average stands at 59 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants.

Excellent health service and education system

The World Health Organization ranks Malta’s healthcare system as one of the top five in the world.

Malta’s hospitals and healthcare centers are modern and well-equipped, providing a range of services like surgery, transplants, and childbirth. Most healthcare centers also provide primary care services like nursing facilities, general practitioners, and diabetes clinics.

People who hold the Malta golden visa, Malta Global Residence Programme, or Malta citizenship by investment can access the same level of care as locals given the National Insurance contributions are made.

There is a good selection of international, private, state-funded, and church schools in Malta. Most schools follow a British curriculum.

The Malta golden visa aims to attract people of high-caliber to invest in the country. In addition to preparing a minimal capital of €280,000, you must also satisfy the following requirements:

  • You have to be non-EU, non-Swiss, and non-EEA.
  • Minimum €250,000 investment in government bonds, real estate, or other licensed investment options; 10% of which must be invested at the beginning of the application.
  • The main applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Any dependent children the main applicant attaches to their application must be aged below 27 years of age. You can also include dependent parents in your application if they are 55 years old or older.
  • The main applicant must have an annual income of at least €100,000 from sources outside of Malta.
  • Asset base or net worth greater than €500,000.
  • The main applicant must have global medical insurance that covers their entire family.
  • A certificate of good health from a reputable health system must be submitted.
  • The main applicant must not have a criminal record or an undesirable reputation.
  • €5,500 non-refundable administrative fee and €24,500 mandatory government contribution fee.
  • €5,000 for every dependent added to the main application

Documents needed

Along with the aforementioned administrative fee, you should submit these documents to the Individual Investor Program Agency - the official government agency responsible for these applications:

  • Form MRVP1 for the main applicant
  • Form MRVP6 and MRVP4 for dependents 
  • The main applicant must complete a cover letter detailing the reasons for Maltese permanent residency
  • A copy of biometric passports, birth certificate, and identity cards for the main applicants and all dependents
  • Statement of the source of income and wealth (bank statements)
  • Evidence of due diligence (background check)
  • Police certificate/ certificates of conduct for every dependent over the age of 14
  • Affidavit of dependency
  • Documentation of residential address abroad
  • Must not stay outside of Malta for more than 183 days in a calendar year

Whenever applicable:

  • Award of guardianship or custody and verification documents
  • Power of Attorney
  • Evidence of business ventures
  • Evidence of employment
  • Change of name documents
  • Military records
  • Marriage and divorce certificates

For more information on the type of documents needed and the order or filing, see this page.

Other requirements

All the documents included must be translated into English. If your documents are translated abroad, they must be certified by a recognized notary in Malta. However, you can also translate your documents locally with a registered Maltese translator.

As mentioned above, you must put in at least 10% of your investment at the beginning of your application. After the Maltese government completes the due diligence checks, the remaining 90% of your investment must be finalised within three months.

The main applicant and their dependents will be issued a Malta residence permit after due diligence checks and qualifying investments have been carried out.

If all the conditions of the application are satisfied, you and your family are practically guaranteed a permanent residence permit.

Restricted Nationalities

Although the Malta golden visa is created to attract high-net-worth, non-EU citizens, it is not open to everyone. Nationals from the EU, the EEA, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea cannot apply for this program. Citizens from countries on the US travel ban list are also not eligible for this program.

Financial Contribution To The Maltese Government

To qualify for the Malta golden visa program, you are required to contribute at least €30,000 in Malta, €5,500 of which are deemed as a non-refundable application fee. Upon approval, you have to invest an additional €24,500.

Real Estate

An individual investor can rent or buy a qualifying property in Malta to be eligible for the Malta golden visa. The minimum threshold for real estate investment differs depending on the area you want to live in.

On the main island of Malta, the property you purchase has to be worth at least €320,000. If you decide not to buy a property, you can also lease a property with a minimum annual rent of €12,000 to fulfill this requirement.

However, cheaper real estate options are available in the South of Malta or Gozo. The minimum value of the qualifying property is at €270,000. You can also satisfy the investment requirement by leasing a property worth at least €10,000 per annum in these areas.

You must hold the qualifying property for at least 5 years if you were to take this route.

Qualifying Investments

You have to invest at least €250,000 in debt or equity securities listed on the Official List of Malta Stock Exchange. You can also satisfy this requirement by investing in licensed collective investment schemes listed on the Official List of Malta Stock Exchange.

Besides being relatively low-risk, your investment will be refunded to you after five years.

Malta Citizenship By Investment

Known unofficially as the Malta Golden Passport, the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) allows non-EU citizens to obtain Maltese citizenship and move themselves, their families, and business activities to Malta.

With this visa, you can increase your investment after your golden visa application is approved to obtain Malta citizenship. Your Maltese citizenship is inheritable, giving your future children automatic citizenship.

The requirements for Malta citizenship by investment are similar to the Malta golden visa - clean criminal record, proof of income, and more. To find out what you need to secure Maltese citizenship, we have written about this program here.

Global Residence Program

The Global Residence Program (GRP) is aimed at attracting real estate investment to Malta. It offers special tax benefits to applicants but does not offer a residence permit, permanent residence, or path to citizenship. To enjoy residency and the special tax benefits, many investors choose to apply for both the golden visa and GRP.

The GRP is especially beneficial to you if you want to base yourself in Malta but operate a foreign business as Malta has over 60 double tax agreements. Under this program, you won’t be taxed on foreign-sourced income. Of income remitted to Malta, you will be subjected to a flat 15% tax rate.

To qualify for this program, you must have a proven stable annual income (in Malta or foreign-sourced), no criminal record, and hold a qualifying property. You also cannot live in another country for more than 183 days a year.

Application Process

The Malta Golden Visa Program has an average processing time of three to four months – one of the fastest in the region. Depending on where you are from, we would recommend using the 3-month Schengen tourist visa to establish your foothold and start the process as soon as possible.

Preparation and application submission

  • Prepare all the main and supporting documents needed for your application
  • Submit your application to MRVA agency in Malta

2-3 weeks

Due diligence checks

  • The Maltese government will do their due diligence checks based on the documents you submitted
  • You should expect to receive a Letter of Approval in Principle by the end of this step

1-2 months

Compliance time

  • You have to complete your investments, pay the mandatory contribution, and purchase/rent properties during this step
  • Your resident permit will be issued to you when all requirements are satisfied.

< 3 months

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

Yes, absolutely. After 5 years of holding the Malta residence permit, this can be done through the naturalization process.

Other conditions for citizenship include knowledge of English and Maltese, as well as a clean criminal record. After your citizenship has been approved, you can apply for a Maltese passport.

Yes. The Maltese government recognizes dual citizenship, so you can have up to two citizenships. However, you may face some restrictions from your current country of citizenship.

Holders of the Malta golden visa are only given the right to live and work in Malta. Because of this, you are not allowed to work in other Schengen countries with just a Maltese residency. You are also subject to the normal Schengen travel rules, which is 90 days out of 180 days.

But you can either opt for Malta citizenship by investment or go through the naturalization process after 5 years of holding the Malta golden visa to expand your rights of movement and employment in the Schengen zone.

No, you can only renew your residency in person at the Identity Malta office. However, any other Maltese visas can be renewed in the Maltese embassy.

Unfortunately, your dependents lose their residency after the age of 27 even if they are still dependent on you.

Because of this, they must make a separate application before their Malta residency expires. However, they can also go through the naturalization process after 5 years of holding the Malta golden visa.

No. You would only have to get a police conduct certificate from a country you have lived in for a cumulative 6 years out of the past 10. Any police conduct certificates you submit with your application should not be older than 6 months.

You need to prove that you have the money you invest for the visa is yours, so you cannot use a loan to pay for the visa.

You will still need to pay the minimum amount of money required upfront, but you can get a mortgage if you intend to purchase a property in Malta. That being said, this will significantly increase the processing time as you need to wait for your mortgage to be approved.