10 benefits of the Maltese passport
Before discussing how to acquire Malta citizenship, let’s discover its advantages. Here is the list of reasons why the Maltese passport is worth obtaining:
- Ability to travel visa-free to 180+ countries, including the Schengen states, the USA, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and South Korea.
- Malta citizenship allows children to study at European universities and to stay and work in the European Union after graduation.
- Maltese citizenship allows you to study at European universities and to stay and work in the European Union after graduation.
- Access to high-quality medicine, ranked 5th among health systems by the World Health Organisation.
- You don't have to give up your current citizenship.
- It is easier to obtain a residence permit for the UK and other Commonwealth of Nations countries, e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and South Africa.
- English is one of the official languages, along with Maltese. Children will be able to get an education in English schools.
- A high standard of living: Malta has a stable economy, political tranquillity, and advanced educational, medical and banking systems.
- Comfortable Mediterranean climate and a relaxed and unhurried pace of life.
- Ability to move quickly for permanent residence in case of an unforeseen situation in the home country.
All the ways of acquiring Malta citizenship
Citizenship by naturalisation is granted to those who have lived in Malta permanently and for a long time and have been able to integrate into the local society.
The process of obtaining citizenship by naturalisation takes 7 to 18 years. You will have to go through the following steps one after another: apply for a long-term or Schengen visa, then a residence permit. After that, you must apply for permanent residence, live in the country for five years, and pass a language proficiency, Maltese history and law exams. And only after that, you can apply for citizenship.
Citizenship by investment — by naturalisation for special services. Malta citizenship can be obtained if an applicant invests at least €690,000 in the local economy.
An investor can apply to have citizenship for the whole family at once. Other ways of obtaining citizenship allow the applicant’s family to apply for passports only after five years of permanent residence there.
Malta citizenship by naturalisation for special services by direct investment doesn’t require the applicant to know the language, pass exams or live permanently in the country, before or after obtaining the passport.
It takes 14 or 36 months to obtain citizenship, depending on the investment sum.
Citizenship through marriage to a Maltese citizen is the least expensive way to obtain a Maltese passport. You can apply for citizenship after five years of marriage. It is not necessary to live on the island during this time.
Entering into a sham marriage is a bad idea. If this is established, offenders could face up to two years of prison.
Nationality by descent or birth is only suitable for children and descendants of the Maltese. Birthright citizenship can be obtained entirely remotely. Applying for a residence permit or living permanently in the country is unnecessary. However, you will have to prove your origins with documents.
Citizenship through family reunification is only suitable for those with close relatives among Maltese citizens living permanently in the country, e.g. parents, siblings, or grandparents.
Citizenship for distinguished service to Malta. For special merit to the country, a passport is awarded personally by the President of Malta. Most often, outstanding scientists, athletes, cultural figures, politicians, and people in business are granted citizenship in this way.
It is impossible to plan to obtain citizenship in this way: there are no clear criteria for whether merit is considered outstanding.
Citizenship for refugees and political asylum is a forced option. 8,000 to 9,000 refugees, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, arrive on the island yearly. If a refugee stays in Malta, they can obtain a passport after six years.
Refugees do not take language and integration tests or pay the state fee for registration. To be granted asylum or refugee status, a person must prove that their life is threatened or they are discriminated against in the country of origin.
Can you get Malta citizenship by investment?
Wealthy foreigners ready to invest in the country’s economy can apply for citizenship after a year of residency. It is the fastest way.
It is possible to obtain citizenship for the whole family at once: a spouse, children up to 29 years of age, and parents of the applicant or the spouse. Parents on both sides must be over 55 years of age. Another important condition is that children over 18 and parents must be financially dependent on the investor.
Immediately after the application, the investor receives a temporary residence permit with which they can travel across Europe freely.
From 2014 to 2020, the Malta Individual Investor Programme has been running in the country. The European Commission acknowledged the Maltese programme as the “golden standard” amongst investment passport programmes.
Starting in November 2020, investors obtain Malta citizenship under one of the articles of the Maltese Citizenship Act — by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment.
After the Malta Individual Investor Programme closed, the procedures for investors became stricter, and the conditions for obtaining citizenship changed. But an important opportunity remained, i.e., obtaining Malta citizenship under a simplified and faster path.
Investment amount and conditions. To obtain a Maltese passport, you need to invest at least €766,000 to €1,500,000 for a family of two. If an investor has a large family, the costs will increase. Investments in the purchase of real estate can be repaid after five years.
Under the new conditions, only 1,500 people will be able to obtain citizenship but no more than 400 people a year. The law will be valid for around four years. After that, the conditions are likely to be revised again.
Investor’s expenses on obtaining Malta citizenship are the following:
- €600,000 or €750,000 is a contribution to the National Development Fund for the main applicant. €600,000 if three years have passed since the residence permit was issued, or €750,000 after one year of residency;
- €50,000 is an addition to the contribution to the state fund for each family member;
- €10,000 is a donation to a non-governmental organisation;
- €700,000 is for the purchase of a property. It could be rented out or sold after five years of ownership. It is possible to rent housing instead of buying it. The rent price must be at least €16,000 per year.
Examples of residential real estate in Malta
Eligibility Test. The applicant's family must pass a background check, equivalent to Due Diligence.
The investor and adult family members must prove the legality of their income and assets with the necessary documents. The Maltese officials will verify that all the applicant's income and capital are legal, they have no criminal record, no ties to the criminal world and no obstacles to citizenship.
The check is rigorous. Every fifth applicant fails to pass it nowadays. In rare cases, already-issued passports are withdrawn. But once an investor has passed the test, they can be sure that Malta citizenship will stay for a lifetime.
The Eligibility Test is subject to a fee. The cost of the test will be the following:
- €15,000 一 for the main applicant;
- €10,000 一 for the spouse, each child aged from 12 to 29, parents aged 55 and over;
- €1,000 一 administrative fee for each applicant.
Malta and other EU countries share data about the results of screening applicants. So if an investor’s application is rejected in one country, it will probably be rejected in another.
To prevent rejection, we recommend addressing Immigrant Invest, a licensed agent that conducts a preliminary check. The company’s Compliance Anti-Money Laundering Officers are experts with certificates from an international association on combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
Additional costs are connected with payments to lawyers and solicitors, translation and legalisation of documents, and state fees. If an investor buys property, they will have to pay for the realtor’s services and taxes.
Timeline. It is possible to apply for Malta citizenship for the whole family after 12 or 36 months of residency. Six months are required for the Eligibility Test and another year for the collection, preparation and issue of documents.
Malta citizenship by naturalisation
General naturalisation is the longest way to get Malta citizenship, taking anywhere from 7 to 18 years. Therefore, it is only suitable for those who already live in Malta and do not intend to leave for a long time.
Five categories of people can obtain a Maltese passport by naturalisation. Four of them relate to those born in Malta or of Maltese origin.
Foreigners with no family ties to Malta can obtain a passport by naturalisation if they meet the following conditions:
- They have lived in Malta for a cumulative period of four years in the last six years, having obtained a residence permit and a permanent residence permit. During this time, they have not spent more than six consecutive months or ten months in total outside the country.
- They continuously lived in Malta for a further 12 months before the date of application.
- They have a permanent place of residence, either bought or rented.
- Several Maltese nationals vouched for the applicants in writing.
- They have confirmed a regular legal income sufficient to support themselves and their families.
- They have a Maltese health insurance.
- They have passed language proficiency, history and law exams (Employment and Training Corporation, ETC). The exam is in the form of a test. The minimum pass mark is 75%. Preparation for the exam is taken in a compulsory course of 100 hours.
The application and all documents must be submitted in person to the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs. The application will be processed within three months.
The applicant has to prove that they can benefit Maltese society and are trustworthy. Therefore, the application can be accompanied by letters of reference from local residents indicating the activities the applicant has engaged in while living in Malta. For example, they worked in a hotel and went on weekend excursions.
Two guarantors must sign the citizenship application. They cannot be the applicant’s family members.
The first guarantor must hold one of the positions:
- a lawyer;
- a doctor;
- a civil servant of at least a certain rank;
- a magistrate;
- a notary;
- an officer with the status of captain or above;
- a police officer of a rank not lower than an inspector;
- a prosecutor;
- a parish priest;
- a judge;
- an MP.
The second guarantor is any Maltese citizen over 18 who has not obtained a passport by naturalisation.
Both guarantors confirm that the applicant is a person of integrity and worthy of obtaining a passport to the country. Their signature must be notarised.
The minimum period for obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalisation is seven years. But in practice, if a person has lived in Malta for less than 12 years, the application is often rejected without explanation or right of appeal. In rare cases, obtaining citizenship only after 18 years of living in the country is possible.
Living in Malta that long is not easy either. One must obtain a Maltese residence permit through one of the resident programmes, for example, the Malta Permanent Residence Programme for investors.
The cost of obtaining Malta citizenship by naturalisation depends on the path chosen, the applicant's status, lifestyle, and luck on how quickly their application is approved.
The cost of Malta citizenship by naturalisation will amount between €200,000 and €400,000 for 12 years. The applicant pays for legal support, annual residence permit renewal, and buying or renting housing. In addition, there are various administrative fees throughout the process.
Malta citizenship through marriage
Legal marriage to a Maltese citizen is another way of obtaining citizenship. Once married, the foreign spouse can reside in the country without a visa and work without a work permit. They can also open a bank account, rent a flat and travel around the Schengen Area without a visa.
The conditions for obtaining citizenship. It is only possible to apply for citizenship after five years of marriage. The birth of a child does not affect this deadline. It will take another year for the application to be processed.
Divorced and widowed spouses can also obtain a Maltese passport if their marriage has lasted longer than 5 years.
Malta citizenship by marriage is retained even in the event of divorce or death of the spouse.
There is no need to live permanently in Malta. Spouses may live in any country in the world.
A sham marriage is a criminal offence in Malta. A special committee checks the relationship's genuineness: it is a compulsory procedure before documents are submitted to the local registry office. If it is proved that the applicant is only marrying for citizenship, they may face a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.
Since 2014, Malta recognises same-sex marriages: spouses have the same rights and opportunities as traditional unions. The conditions for obtaining citizenship for such couples are no different from the standard ones.
Malta citizenship by descent and family reunification
This option is only suitable for children of Maltese or former Maltese citizens. Expenses are low — about €80 of a state fee.
The applicant who can obtain Malta citizenship by descent and family reunification are the following:
- Born in Malta to one or both Maltese parents since 1989.
- Born between September 21st, 1964 and July 31st, 1989, outside Malta, to a Maltese father.
- Born on September 21st, 1964, in Malta, or to Maltese parents, on the day of the country's independence from the United Kingdom.
- Born in Malta to one or both Maltese parents before September 21st, 1964.
- A former subject of the United Kingdom or its colonies before September 21st, 1964.
- Born abroad to a Maltese father also born abroad, if a grandfather or a great-grandfather was born in Malta.
- A former Maltese national.
- A child from another country, adopted or fostered by Maltese nationals.
- A grandson or granddaughter of a Maltese citizen.
- A sibling of a Maltese citizen.
- A child of foreign parents, one of whom subsequently obtained Malta citizenship.
- Guardians of a minor Maltese national.
These categories of applicants do not need to obtain a residence permit or live permanently in Malta. Citizenship can be obtained without travelling to the country: through an embassy or consulate.
The fact of paternity or maternity and birth dates must be documented on birth and marriage certificates. In some cases, two Maltese guarantors will also be required.
Required documents for getting Malta’s passport
An applicant for Malta citizenship provides original documents or certified true copies. All documents must be translated into English. Besides, there are several forms the applicant needs to fill in. The type of the form depends on the application status.
Documents for a residency application include the following:
- International passports and foreign residency cards for all applicants.
- Evidence of dependencies, such as acts of marriage, civil union, cohabitation, or birth.
- A property lease agreement for 36 months or a purchase agreement.
- Level 1 Due Diligence report.
- Curriculum Vitae of the main applicant.
- Health insurance for each applicant.
- Bank statements for 6 months.
To pass the Eligibility Test, the investor prepares the following documents:
- International passports.
- Residency proposal letter stating the main reasons for applying for Malta citizenship, commitment to satisfy the requirements, and chosen residency period.
- Bank statements showing 6 months of recent transactional activity.
- Government-issued photographic identification documents for all applicants.
- Residence permits and Maltese e-Residence cards.
- Birth certificates.
- Military records, if applicable.
- Corporate affiliations, evidence of employment, or source of income.
- Marriage or divorce certificates, if applicable.
- Evidence of residential address.
- Police Clearance Certificates.
- Applicable affidavits for each dependent applicant over 18, except for the spouse.
- Tax residency declarations.
An investor must confirm their eligibility with the Minister to apply for Malta citizenship by naturalisation after 12 months of residency. Apart from the required forms to fill in, they submit an affidavit declaring no changes in the applicants’ state of affairs. If changes occur, they must be reflected in an affidavit with the relative forms.
To apply for Malta citizenship after 3 years of residency, an investor must submit updated documents and forms, including recent bank statements, company documentation, Police Clearance Certificates for all applicants over 16, and evidence of a residential address.
Different documents might be required if a foreigner obtains citizenship on grounds other than naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. For example, here is the list to apply for a Maltese passport by descent:
- A passport-size photo.
- A birth certificate.
- Parents’ birth certificates.
- A passport or an ID.
- The Oath of Allegiance.
- A letter stating why the applicant does not have evidence of living abroad for six years or a copy of the Malta citizenship renunciation letter.
Step-by-step procedure for obtaining Malta citizenship
Becoming a Maltese citizen by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment is the quickest and most hassle-free path to the country’s passport. The whole process usually takes 14 to 36 months.
Investors don’t have to take an examination or have an interview. However, getting a residence permit and passing the Eligibility Test is important.
This provisional check evaluates the applicant’s chances of obtaining Malta citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment. It helps to identify possible issues and suggest solutions.
Immigrant Invest experts check information about the investor in international databases and verify the documents. An applicant will not be able to become a Maltese citizen if they have a criminal record or are under EU sanctions.
Police Clearance confirms that the applicant passed a check by the Maltese police through Europol and Interpol. They verify the information about all applicants over 12 years of age. The certificate is required to apply for a residence permit.
To become a Maltese citizen, applicants over 18 must get a residence permit and hold it for one or three years. The residency confirms the applicant’s immigration status in the country and guarantees their intention to acquire Maltese nationality.
The investor submits the required documents for all family members. Immigrant Invest lawyers prepare a Level 1 Due Diligence report and help the investor collect, translate, and apostille the documents. They can also find housing since a residential address in Malta is an obligatory requirement for a residence permit.
Residency cards are usually issued two weeks after the investor and their family members visit Malta to submit an application and have their fingerprints taken.
The Due Diligence check is considered one of the most complex steps. It is carried out during the first 12 months after the investor and their family receive the Malta residence cards. Since every detail is considered, the procedure typically takes 4 to 5 months.
The investor should submit the required documents and pay €15,000 for the Eligibility Test. The cost increases by €10,000 per family member over 12.
The citizenship application can be submitted no earlier than after one or three years of residency in Malta. A completed Due Diligence check is required.
Investors contributing at least €750,000 to the Malta National Development and Social Fund can apply for a Maltese passport after 12 months of residence. Those who make the minimum contribution of €600,000 apply for citizenship after three years of residency.
The investors must notify the Community Malta Agency of any significant changes in the applicants’ state of affairs. They also need to receive a letter of approval from the Minister.
After the written approval from the Minister is received, the investor has four months to fulfil the program requirements. The conditions include the following:
- a charitable donation of €10,000;
- contribution to the Malta National Development and Social Fund;
- state and administrative fees;
- an investment in real estate for five years — at least €700,000 if purchasing and €16,000 per year if renting.
It is possible to buy or rent real estate in Malta remotely. A lawyer will help to choose a property and close a deal. The lawyer will also sign an agreement of sale and purchase by proxy.
The future citizens travel to Malta. Within two months, they must submit the biometrics again and take the Oath of Allegiance. Children under 6 can pass the procedures without coming to Malta.
The passports will be issued in 2 months. Adult applicants and children over 12 are to receive the passports in person at the Malta Passport Office.
Other ways of obtaining Malta citizenship are more complicated. While applications for marriage, descent or naturalisation are processed, applicants must undergo several interviews with officials. The applicant must also go to the country, live there, take language tests, attend interviews and apply in person.
An investor wanting Malta citizenship must address a licensed agent: the responsible government agency doesn’t accept direct applications for naturalisation for exceptional services.
Summary: how to get Malta citizenship quickly
We have investigated the main ways to get Malta citizenship. Here is the ultimate comparison of the requirements for applicants, timeframes and expenses of getting a Maltese passport based on one or the other ground.
Comparison of the main conditions for obtaining Malta citizenship
|Grounds for citizenship||Expenses||Timeframe||Special requirements|
|Naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment||€690,000+ for a single applicant||1 or 3 years||• Pass the Eligibility Test|
• Invest in the Maltese economy
• Own or rent a residential property
|Naturalisation||€200,000—400,000, but depends on the cost of living||7 to 18 years||• Live in Malta permanently for at least 7 years|
• Pass language proficiency, history and law exams
• Have two Maltese guarantors
|Marriage||Fee of €20 to €80||5 years||Stay married for at least 5 years|
|Birth, descent or family reunification||Fee of €20 to €80||1 year||Confirm ancestry or kinship with documents|
|Exceptional merit||Free||1 year||Make an exceptional contribution to the development of Malta|
|Seeking refuge or political asylum||Free||6 years||Prove of danger to life or discrimination in the country of origin|
The most affordable way is to prove one's Maltese ancestry. But this option is only suitable for those with parents, relatives or ancestors on the island.
The longest way is to live permanently in the country and undergo naturalisation.
Investing in the local economy is the quickest and most reliable way to become a Maltese citizen. Part of the investment can be returned. A plus is that those passports can be obtained for the whole family, including parents.
Non-investment ways of obtaining a Maltese passport take many years and require knowledge of the language and culture of the country, interviews and references. It is impossible to obtain citizenship for the whole family through these paths: family members can only apply for citizenship after several years.
Frequently asked questions
A Maltese passport holder receives the rights and benefits of a Maltese national:
- Visa-free travel to 180+ countries, including the Schengen Area, the USA, the UK, and Canada.
- The opportunity to live, work, study and do business in Malta or any other EU country.
- Access to the European banking system, the ability to open deposits, register assets, real estate and purchase securities in your name.
- Access to high–quality medicine.
- Malta citizenship allows you to study at European universities and to stay and work in the European Union after graduation.
An investor who wants to obtain Malta citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment gets a residence permit first. At this point, the investor bears the expenses of renting housing. There are no limits to renting costs. The average renting cost in Sliema is €1,500 per month.
The investor applies for citizenship through a licensed agent after a year or three years of residency. By applying, they assure they will:
- Contribute to the National Development Fund: €600,000 if three years have passed since the residence permit was issued, or €750,000 after one year of residency. €50,000 is an addition to the contribution to the state fund for each family member.
- Donate €10,000 to a non-governmental organisation registered in Malta.
- Purchase housing costing at least €700,000 or rent residential property. The rent price must be at least €16,000 per year. The investor must rent or own housing for five years. After that, they can purchase or rent another housing for any sum.
- Pay for the Eligibility Test: €15,000 for the main applicant and €10,000 for the spouse, a child aged 12 to 29, and a parent older than 55.
Yes, if the applicant obtains a Maltese passport for exceptional service by direct investment. In this case, they may include family members in the application. Malta citizenship can be obtained together with:
- a spouse;
- children under 29;
- parents up to the age of 55.
Children and parents must be financially dependent on the main applicant.
In all other ways, i.e. obtaining Malta citizenship by marriage, descent, naturalisation, exceptional merit or as a refugee, family members can only apply for citizenship a few years after the main applicant has obtained a Maltese passport.
The process of obtaining Malta citizenship for exceptional service by direct investment takes 14 to 36 months. For citizenship by descent, the procedure will take 1 year; by marriage — 5 years; by naturalisation — 7 to 18 years.
- By naturalisation after 7 years of permanent residence.
- By descent or birth, if an applicant meets the criteria of one of the categories.
- Through marriage to a Maltese citizen after five years of marriage.
- Through family reunification, if a foreigner has close relatives among Maltese nationals.
- For exceptional services by direct investments after one or three years of residence.
- As a refugee and for political asylum after six years of staying in Malta. Such applicants must prove their life is threatened or discriminated against in their country of origin.
Obtaining Maltese nationality is difficult, but the exact steps and time frame depend on the chosen way. In any case, an applicant must fulfil all requirements and pass several rigorous checks.
The fastest option is to get Malta citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment. The process takes one or three years, and the minimum investment starts at €690,000.