Real Estate
Real Estate in Malta

All the ways to obtain Malta citizenship

There are multiple paths to Malta citizenship. Foreign nationals can obtain a Maltese passport by naturalisation, registration or descent. Those who don’t have an established connection to the country, can obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.

4 main ways to become a Maltese citizen

One can become a citizen of Malta on the following grounds:

  • by birth; 
  • by registration — this includes those obtaining citizenship by marriage and by descent
  • by naturalisation — this path is for foreigners who have been residing in Malta for over seven years;  
  • by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. 

Let’s go through the most popular paths to Malta citizenship step-by-step.

Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment

There is no direct investment path to Malta citizenship. From November 20th, 2020, investors can become Maltese citizens only after retaining residency status for 1 or 3 years.

Who can obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services? Close family members of the main applicant may also apply for citizenship. This applies to: 

  • the investor’s spouse; 
  • children up to 29 years old who are unmarried and are principally dependent on the investor;
  • parents and grandparents of the investor and their spouse over 55 years old who are principally dependent on the investor. 

Expenses for obtaining citizenship as an investor. To obtain citizenship, an investor needs to rent or buy property in Malta, make a non-refundable contribution to the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF) and donate to a non-governmental organisation in Malta. 

Here are the minimal costs for each point: 

  • Contribution to NDSF — €750,000 if the investor wants to obtain citizenship after retaining residency for 1 year or €600,000 if they apply in 3 years. 
  • Additional contribution fee for family members — €50,000 for each. 
  • Charitable donation to a Maltese NGO — €10,000. 
  • Real estate costs — €700,000+ in case of purchase or €16,000+ yearly in case of rent. The rental agreement should be signed for at least five years.

Procedure of obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services

There are 3 main steps to obtaining Malta citizenship for investors. 

1. Obtaining a residence permit in Malta. An investor needs to purchase or rent accommodation in the country. Then, they can choose to apply for citizenship in 12 or 36 months after getting the residency permit. Investor’s close family members are also eligible for residency in Malta. 

2. Verification of applicants' compliance with the legal requirements. The Eligibility Test is a strict background check up on the applicant. 

Among other requirements, an investor must provide proof of their income's legality. Aside from that, applicants must also demonstrate the absence of a criminal record and provide a medical record.

Due Diligence is regulated by the government and includes at least four steps. The checkup is paid — €15,000 for the main applicant and an additional €10,000 for each family member. 

3. Сitizenship application. If the investor passes the Eligibility Test, they receive official approval to become a citizen. The investor must then take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Malta within six months.

Malta citizenship by naturalisation

A resident of Malta can be naturalised if they meet several requirements: 

  • are over 18;
  • have been residing in Malta for 12 continuous months preceding the application; 
  • have been residing in Malta for 4 cumulative years within 6 years before the 12 months mentioned above;
  • are a person of good character, which two sponsors of Maltese citizenship confirm; 
  • can prove adequate knowledge of the Maltese or English language.  

Naturalisation is also available to former citizens of Malta, foreign nationals with parents of Maltese citizenship, foreign nationals who were born in Malta and had at least one parent of Maltese citizenship, and children of Maltese nationals who obtained citizenship on any ground. 

Malta citizenship by birth or descent

Who can qualify for citizenship by birth or descent? There are two main categories of applicants:

  1. A child of a mother of Maltese nationality if, at the time of birth, the mother was a citizen of Malta by birth, naturalisation or registration.
  2. A descendant of a Maltese national in a direct line. If the applicant is under 18, their guardian should accompany the application process.

Descendants of Maltese nationals can obtain citizenship remotely and submit their documents to any of the Maltese Representations Overseas

Conditions of obtaining citizenship by birth or descent

Date of birthPlace of birthRequirements
Before 21.09.1964MaltaAt least one of the parents was born in Malta
Outside MaltaThe father and at least one of their parents were born in Malta
20.09.1964Not relevant Was a subject of Great Britain or one of its overseas territories
From 21.09.1964 to 31.07.1989MaltaThe mother is a citizen of Malta and was such at the time of birth of the applicant 
Outside MaltaThe father is a citizen of Malta by birth, naturalisation or registration
1.08.1989 or laterNot relevant At least one of the parents is a citizen of Malta by birth, naturalisation or registration

Malta citizenship by marriage

The case of obtaining citizenship by marriage falls under the category of acquisition of citizenship by registration. This path to a Malta passport applies to the following: 

  • spouses of Maltese citizens by birth, naturalisation or registration;
  • widows and widowers of Maltese nationals;
  • same-sex married couples. 

In all cases, the marriage must have lasted at least five years and be still in force at the time of application.

5+ years
Marriage duration to qualify for citizenship

If the applicant is a widower or widow, they will be granted citizenship only if their marriage was not terminated at the time of the death of their Maltese national spouse.

Obtaining Malta citizenship by registration in special cases

Aside from descent, here are some other cases of obtaining Malta citizenship by registration. 

ApplicantConditions
Spouse of a Maltese citizenHas been married to a Maltese citizen for at least 5 years and, at the date of application, is still married to them and living with them  
Widow or widower of a Maltese citizenWas married to a now-deceased Maltese national for five years or more

Or was married to a Maltese national, and had they not died, their marriage would have lasted five years at the time of application

Or was married to a person who was born before September 21st 1964, and if it weren't for their death, they would have automatically become a citizen of Malta
Former citizen of MaltaCannot obtain dual citizenship for the reason of not residing abroad for six years

Was a citizen by registration or naturalisation 

Benefits of Malta citizenship

An option to live in Malta and other EU states. Citizens of Malta can enter the country at any desired time and stay there for as long as they wish. Moreover, they can reside, work and do business in any other country in the European Union. 

Visa-free travel to 180+ countries. Maltese nationals can travel visa-free to 185 countries, including all of the Schengen states, the USA, the UK, Australia, and Canada. 

Access to high-quality healthcare. Maltese citizens get free medical care in the country's hospitals and clinics. The healthcare system of Malta ranks among the best in the world, according to the Lancet’s Healthcare Access and Quality Index.

Education opportunities. Maltese citizens can study at local universities and educational institutions all over the European Union. They have the freedom to choose their place to study — and their tuition fees will be significantly lower than those for non-EU citizens. 

Option to have two passports. Malta citizens are allowed to have second citizenship. It means that people who obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation or registration will not have to give up the passports of their country of origin. 

Mild climate. Malta has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers, snowless winters and rainy springs. The warmest it’s in June and August, when the temperature hits +30ºC. In January and February, it drops to +10ºC. 

Malta citizenship | Golden Bay beach
The swimming season in Malta lasts from May to October — residents of the islands and tourists can enjoy Blue Flag beaches with crystal clear water six months a year. One of the most popular beaches on the island of Malta is the Golden Bay beach next to the Radisson hotel

Is it possible to obtain dual citizenship in Malta?

The rules for dual or multiple citizenships in Malta changed in 2000 when it became legal for any Maltese citizen also to hold a passport from another country. Before that, this option was only available to nationals who obtained their citizenship by birth. 

As for now, any Maltese citizen, including those who obtained their status by naturalisation or registration, can have dual or multiple citizenships. 

Investors who become citizens by naturalisation for exceptional services can keep the passports of their country of origin.

Frequently asked question

How to become a citizen of Malta?

The Maltese law defines four ways of obtaining citizenship of the country:

  • by birth;
  • by registration — this includes those obtaining citizenship by marriage and by descent;
  • by naturalisation — this path is for foreigners who have been residing in Malta for over seven years;
  • by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
How hard is it to get citizenship in Malta?

There are multiple ways to obtain Malta citizenship. The least time and money-consuming among them is acquiring citizenship by descent. This option is available only to direct descendants of Maltese nationals. For others, the acquisition process can take from 1 to 3 years.

Citizenship by registration can be granted to people married to nationals of Malta. In this case, getting a Malta passport will take at least five years.

The naturalisation path is available to third-country nationals who have already been residing in Malta. This way, the applicant will have to live in Malta for over 7 years to be eligible for citizenship.

Finally, foreign nationals can obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. This path implies renting or purchasing real estate in Malta, residing in the country for 1 or 3 years and making a non-refundable contribution to the government fund and a charitable donation to an NGO.

Who is eligible for a Maltese passport?

To obtain citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment, the applicant has to be over 18 years old and be able to provide proof of legality of their income and a medical record.

Other naturalisation cases require foreign nationals to be residents of Malta for at least 7 years before application.

When obtaining citizenship by marriage, the applicant must be married to a Maltese national for at least 5 years before applying.

What are the advantages of Malta over other EU states?

In 2018, Malta’s GDP increased by 6.8%, with an inflation of 1.7%. This allows for the classification of Malta as one of the European Union’s strong and stable economies. The following facts also demonstrate this:

  1. The country is in the top 3 of Europe’s countries with the lowest unemployment rates.
  2. The Maltese government has been lowering taxes for their citizens for the past five years.
  3. Malta’s budget has been in surplus for two years in a row. If the public debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 70% five years ago, it would be 50% by 2020.
  4. According to the WHO classification, free medical care in Malta is among the best. Citizens have access to free universal childcare and education.
  5. Malta’s economy is diverse, ranging from microchip manufacturing to financial services, from highly specialised currency printing to digital gaming, and from tourism to blockchain-related businesses. Malta is the world’s first country to regulate this sector.
What are the benefits of Maltese citizenship?

A Maltese passport provides such benefits as:

  • an option to live in Malta indefinitely or reside in any other EU country;
  • visa-free travel to 180+ countries, including the Schengen states, the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia;
  • access to one of the world’s top 3 healthcare systems;
  • an opportunity to study at any EU university at relatively low tuition costs.
Are there other ways to move to Malta aside from the naturalisation option for investors?

Foreign investors can obtain residency permits or permanent residency by investment. Both options will take up to six months. Find the conditions of the programs below:

How to obtain Malta permanent residence by investment?

To obtain permanent residence by investment, the applicant need to fulfil the following conditions:

  • rent or purchase real estate;
  • pay contribution fees;
  • make a charitable donation.

Real estate investment implies renting or purchasing accommodation in Malta at these minimal prices:

  • €10,000 if the rented property is located on the island of Gozo or the south of Malta;
  • €12,000 if the rented property is located in the central or northern parts of the island of Malta;
  • €300,000 if the purchased property is located on the island of Gozo or the south of Malta;
  • €350,000 if the purchased property is located in the central or northern parts of the island of Malta.

The contribution fee for applicants who rent a property is €58,000. For those who purchase real estate, the fee is €28,000.

The charitable donation has to be no less than €2,000.

Aside from that, applicants have to pay €40,000 in administrative fees.

How strong is a Malta passport?

Malta passport is one of the strongest in the world. Malta citizens can travel visa-free to 185 countries with all the Schengen states, the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia among them.

Does Malta provide favourable conditions for business?

Malta’s tax residents benefit from the following tax breaks:

  • a resident company registered in Malta that earns income abroad is taxed at a reduced rate of 5%;
  • dividends and royalties are tax-free;
  • and VAT can be reduced to 7—8%.

The advantages do not stop there. More information can be found in the blog post with a thorough breakdown of Malta’s tax system.

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Zlata Erlach
Caribbean Investment Program Expert
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