Grounds for obtaining Malta citizenship
The Maltese Citizenship Act divides all the ways to obtain citizenship in the country into four categories.
By birth. People born in a family where at least one parent is a citizen of Malta get citizenship of the country regardless if they were born on its territory or outside of it.
By registration. Citizenship by registration applies to Maltese nationals’ relatives — their spouses, widows or widowers, and descendants in the direct line.
By naturalisation. Foreigners legally residing in Malta for at least five years can be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.
By naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. Investors from non-EU countries can obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. Before getting their passports, they must retain a residency status for one or three years.
Obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment
Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment is available to investors from non-EU countries. This way, the time of residency required to apply for citizenship is 1 or 3 years, depending on the amount of contribution an applicant makes.
Eligibility for citizenship. To apply for citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment, the investor must have legal income and no criminal records, sanctions or visa denials in countries that agreed on a visa-free regime with Malta.
Along with the investor, their close family members may obtain Malta citizenship:
- spouse or a registered partner, including those in same-sex couples;
- children up to 18 years old, including those from previous marriages of both the investor and their partner;
- children up to 29 years old if they are dependent on the investor;
- parents or grandparents of the investor and their partner over 55 years old if they are fully or significantly financially dependent on the investor.
Expenses. To get citizenship, an investor must buy or rent housing, contribute to the Malta National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), donate to a non-government organisation, and pay additional fees. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
1. Real estate investment. In the case of rent, the minimum cost of the property should be at least €16,000 annually. If the investor decides to purchase their residential real estate, it should cost €700,000 or more. Applicants must rent or own their property for at least five years.
2. Contribution to the NDSF. The non-refundable contribution is €600,000 if the investor wants to be granted citizenship after three years of residency and €750,000 if they want to acquire their passport after one year. For each additional family member in the citizenship application, the investor adds €50,000 to the contribution.
3. Charitable donation. The investor can choose a non-government Maltese organisation to donate €10,000+ as charity.
4. Additional fees. State fees for the main applicant include €15,000 for the Eligibility test, €5,000 for residence card issuance, and €3,000 for administrative fees. If family members are added to the applications, the fees are higher.
For instance, the investor will pay an extra €10,000 for the Eligibility test for each family member over 12 years old. Likewise, the residence card issuance and administrative fees increase by €1,000 and €3,000, respectively, for each added person in the application.
Obtaining Malta citizenship by ordinary naturalisation
Eligibility. Foreign nationals who don’t have any family ties in Malta can obtain citizenship by naturalisation. Before applying, they must retain a residency status for at least five years within the last seven years preceding the application.
Naturalisation is the longest path to Malta citizenship. Officially, the applicants are required to be a country’s resident for only five years, but in practice, for those who don’t have Maltese origin, it could take up to 18 years of residing in Malta to be granted a passport.
Conditions. Five years of physical residency in the country should include 12 months of continuous presence there before the application and four cumulative years in the six years preceding those 12 months.
Aside from that, the applicant needs to meet the following conditions:
- prove adequate knowledge of Maltese or English language;
- have a permanent place of residence, either rented or owned;
- be a person of good character and a suitable citizen of Malta;
- find two sponsors to complete the application.
The sponsors guarantee that the applicant is a person of good character and is suitable for Malta citizenship. It’s required that the sponsors and the applicant have known each other for two or more years and are not relatives.
One of the sponsors has to be a representative of one of the following professions:
- a member of Parliament;
- a judge;
- a magistrate;
- an advocate;
- a notary public;
- a legal procurator;
- a medical practitioner;
- a public officer;
- a police officer;
- an officer of the Armed Forces of Malta;
- a parish priest.
The second sponsor can be any Maltese citizen over 18 years old who did not acquire their passport by naturalisation.
Expenses. The application fee is €450. If the application is accepted, the candidate also is required to pay €50 for the issuance of the citizenship certificate.
How to obtain Malta citizenship with no family ties to the country
|Comparison parameter||For exceptional services by direct investment||By naturalisation|
|Time frame||1 or 3 years||5—18 years|
|Conditions||The applicant has to prove the legality of their income and absence of criminal records and pass the Eligibility test.||The applicant has to retain the residency status for at least five years and provide two sponsors of Maltese nationality to prove that they’re suitable for Malta citizenship.|
|Family members to join the application||None. |
A spouse married to a Malta citizen for at least five years, and children can apply for citizenship by registration.
Acquiring Malta citizenship by birth or descent
People with Maltese roots obtain citizenship either by birth or by descent.
By birth. A baby born in Malta to a family with at least one parent who got Malta citizenship by birth, naturalisation or registration becomes a citizen of Malta. These rules also apply to people who were born outside Malta after the 31st of July 1989, too. Citizenship by birth is granted automatically.
If a person was born before the 31st of July 1989, citizenship was granted to them only if their father was a Maltese citizen at the time of birth, or they were born in Malta, and their father with no Malta citizenship did not have diplomatic immunity.
By descent. A descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta, with a parent also born in Malta, can apply for citizenship by registration on the ground of descent.
This case falls under the category of citizenship by registration. Descendants of Maltese citizens can apply for citizenship from outside Malta — they can submit their application to any of the Maltese Representations Overseas.
For descendants, the citizenship acquisition process can take five months to two years.
Expenses. The application fee for citizenship by registration is €150. If the application is accepted, the candidate has to pay an additional €50 for the certificate issuance. Getting citizenship by birth is free of charge.
Getting a passport of Malta by marriage
When a spouse of a Maltese national applies for citizenship after marriage, their application falls under the category of citizenship by registration.
Conditions. Spouses can obtain a passport of Malta if they have been married to a Maltese citizen for at least five years. The same applies to registered partners in a 5-year relationship with a Maltese citizen. The primary condition for the couple is that they live in one home, which does not have to be in Malta.
If the couple does reside in Malta, the partner without Maltese citizenship will have to obtain residency until five years of marriage have passed.
Widows and widowers are also eligible for citizenship if their marriage to a Maltese citizen lasted more than five years.
Expenses. The application fee for citizenship by registration is €150. If the application is accepted, the candidate has to pay an additional €50 for the certificate issuance.
Obtaining a Malta passport
as a refugee
Malta protects refugees from third countries who have proven their lives were threatened, or they have been discriminated against in their country of origin.
Refugees in Malta obtain a residency permit and a Convention Travel Document and access to employment, social welfare, education, medical care, and integration programs.
Refugees can obtain citizenship status under the general rules of naturalisation, meaning they will be granted their passports after at least five years of residency.
Benefits of Malta citizenship
Living in Malta and other EU states. Citizens of Malta have the right to enter the country and stay there for as long as they want. Aside from that, they can reside and work in any other Schengen or EU state.
Visa-free travelling to 180+ countries. Malta passport holders can travel to 185 countries all over the world without the need for additional entry permits. The list of visa-free countries for citizens of Malta includes all the Schengen states, the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia.
Access to high-quality healthcare. Medical insurance for Maltese citizens provides free treatment in state hospitals and clinics. In Lancet’s Healthcare Access and Quality Index 2016, Malta was ranked among the top 30 countries with high-quality healthcare.
According to Statista, Malta is the 11th country in the world by the health index score. The health index assesses how healthy people are and whether they have access to healthcare services, as well as health outcomes, illness and risk factors, and mortality rates.
Retaining the first citizenship. Malta allows its nationals to hold second citizenship. A person who obtains a Malta passport is not required to give up the passport of their country of origin.
International business opportunities. Citizens of Malta have the opportunity to start a business in Malta or another EU country. This allows for expanding business to multiple countries and operating it more effectively.
Education for children. Children of Maltese nationals can study in schools and universities in Malta or any other EU state. In addition, in some countries, their tuition fees will be significantly lower than for non-EU nationals.
In conclusion, Malta citizenship provides many benefits that can significantly improve one’s life. Malta passport holders can travel the world freely, get easy access to quality healthcare and education, and reside in a country with a high standard of living.
Frequently asked questions
Malta citizenship by birth is granted to those who are born into a family with at least one Maltese parent.
Citizenship by naturalisation is available to foreign nationals legally residing in Malta for at least five years within the last seven years.
Third-country nationals married to Maltese citizens for at least five years can obtain citizenship by registration. This kind of citizenship is also granted to descendants of Maltese nationals.
- rent or purchase real estate in Malta;
- make a non-refundable contribution to a government fund;
- a charitable donation to a Maltese NPO;
- pay state fees.
The final expenses depend on the preferred timing of passport obtainment — after one year or three years of residency.
There is no direct investment path to Malta citizenship.
Citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment implies first retaining residency status for one or three years. The investment amount depends on the preferred timing and the number of family members in the application.
The minimum real estate investment is €80,000 for five years of rent or €700,000 if the investor decides to purchase the property.
The contribution to the NDSF is €600,000 for those who want to get their passport in 3 years and €750,000 for those who want to obtain citizenship in 1 year. Additionally, for each family member in the application, the investor pays €50,000.
A charitable donation to a non-government in Malta should be at least €10,000.
State fees include:
- €15,000 Eligibility test fee + €10,000 for each family member over 12 years old added to the application;
- €5,000 residence card issuance fee + €1,000 for each additional family member;
- €3,000 administrative fee for each person in the application.
The timeframe of obtaining Malta citizenship depends on the chosen path to it.
To become a citizen by naturalisation, one has to reside in Malta for at least five years. Likewise, spouses of Malta citizens can get their passports after five years of marriage.
Investors who choose to obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment can acquire their passports after 1 or 3 years of residency.
The amount of steps and the timeframe of obtaining Malta citizenship depends on the chosen way of acquiring it.
For those who don’t have any family ties with Maltese nationals, there are two ways:
- by naturalisation — takes at least five years of legal residence in the country officially and up to 18 years in practice; the application can be denied with no explanations several times before acceptance;
- by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment — takes 1 or 3 years and includes a stringent Eligibility test.
In any case, the applicant will have to deal with lots of paperwork at each process step. Acquisition of citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment is impossible if one doesn’t fit the requirements, for example, has a criminal record.
Yes. Foreign nationals can obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation, by registration after marriage to a Maltese citizen, or by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
A passport of Malta grants its owner quite some benefits, including the opportunity to travel visa-free to 185 countries, free access to high-quality healthcare, an option to reside in Malta or any other EU country indefinitely, and the ability to study at any European university.
To become a citizen of Malta by descent, one has to prove that they are a descendant in the direct line of a person who was born in Malta from a parent that was also born in Malta.
The candidate does not have to travel to Malta to submit the application. They can apply at any of the Maltese representations overseas.