Conditions and requirements for buying property in Malta by non-residents
Restrictions on the purchase of the real estate. Citizens of other countries, including the European Union, can usually buy only one property in Malta. Maltese property may be purchased without restrictions only by Maltese citizens or EU citizens who have lived in Malta for at least 5 years before the property’s purchase date.
It eliminates the possibility of unlimited real estate purchases by foreigners in Malta. It reduces the potential risk of distortion of local property prices, which is an important sector of the local economy.
Conditions for purchasing real estate. To buy property in Malta, a foreigner must obtain the Immovable Property Permit (AIP) by the AIP section of the Capital Transfer Duty (CTD). The time to obtain a permit takes 35 days. The fee for issuing the permit is 233 euros and does not depend on the property's value.
Conditions that AIP applicants must meet in order to obtain a permit:
- The real property will be used for residential purposes and therefore cannot be rented out.
- After publication, a copy of the final notary deed must be submitted to the AIP department.
- The real property may not be sold piecemeal or into more than one dwelling unit.
To obtain AIP permission, the purchaser first selects the property, then fills out the AIP application form entirely and submits a copy of the promise of sale or preliminary contract of the property to be purchased, if one has been entered into.
Applicants who have never applied for an AIP permit must also provide two passport-sized colour photographs and a photocopy of the applicant's passport.
No permit is needed if the property in Malta is located in Specially Designated Areas, SDA. In such areas are built where luxury residential complexes with security, a closed yard, recreational facilities, a swimming pool and a gym.
Real estate in SDA can buy individuals and companies, and the transaction of sale can be completed in two months instead of the usual four or six. Demand for housing in SDAs is steadily increasing, with prices rising even during construction.
The cost of real estate in Malta
There is almost constant construction taking place in the north of Malta. Tens of thousands of square metres of new housing enter the market, and properties are offered on sale in new large residential complexes every six months.
Demand for real estate is supported by year-round tourism, with up to 3 million tourists visiting Malta yearly, while the country’s population is about half a million. As a result, renting a residential property yields 5 to 10% per annum. In the most popular cities, Sliema and St. Julian’s, properties can be rented for 15% per annum.
It results in real estate in Malta being quickly sold, and prices for it have been growing at 5—7% per annum. Even during the difficult period of the pandemic, prices did not fall at the end of 2020. Although the rental market declined by 20%, Eurostat's Maltese property price index continued to grow.
The average cost per square metre in the central business and tourist areas is about €6,500, and €4,500 elsewhere. You can read about Maltese property prices in different areas of Malta in our article Real estate in Malta: purchases, benefits, and costs
Maltese real estate prices are high due to the following reasons:
- Interest from investors worldwide who want to get Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. One of the conditions for investors is to purchase or rent housing. Approximately half of such investors buy real estate because they receive a highly liquid and profitable asset.
- The huge popularity of Malta among British pensioners who consider the island as a suitable place to own a holiday home and willingly buy or rent a property there.
- Lack of new space, as Malta's land resources are limited.
Types of real estate in Malta
Apartments are the most common type of property in Malta. Larger new buildings often have terraces for more comfort and light. Apartments are usually located on one floor, but duplexes and triplexes exist. The apartments share an entrance, staircase and an elevator. They are part of a condominium, where the maintenance and cleaning costs of these common parts are shared between the owners of the different apartments in the block.
Maisonettes are similar to apartments. But the main difference is that the main door of a maisonette leads directly outside, while apartments lead to a common area. Maisonettes are usually smaller than apartment buildings. Most duplex maisonettes are located in blocks of two houses: the one below the other has a small garden or courtyard. The house above uses all or part of the roof of the lower house. Single maisonettes are often part of a larger building, with garages located on the first floor below the dwelling.
Townhouses or detached dwellings are located in the old part of the city or village. Townhouses with a double frontage have a wider frontage or frontage on two streets. Characteristic features of townhouses include original wooden openings, patterned shingles, and a small back garden or courtyard.
Farmhouses. Traditional Maltese farmhouses were once owned by Maltese farmers. Such houses are located in old villages or on the outskirts of towns. They can be up to 500 years old. Nowadays, such places are restored and combined with all modern conveniences. Many farmhouses have a garden.
Character houses are similar to farmhouses but are more often located in urban environments. They may have two or more stories, unlike farmhouses. Character houses have traditional architectural features: stone arches, traditional Maltese patterned tiles, and large windows. These houses can be up to 500 years old.
Terraced houses are usually two-story. Such houses may have a porch, modest garden, patio, or garage. Many terraced houses were built between the 1960s and 1980s and have become much rarer.
Villas are completely detached homes with extensive grounds, swimming pools and comfortable outdoor and indoor spaces. Villas are often located in areas such as Santa Maria Estate in Mellieha, High Ridge and Madliena in Swieqi, as well as many other areas in Malta and Gozo.
Penthouses are built on top of apartment buildings, where all the living space is on one floor. Duplex penthouses face another floor below, connected by an internal staircase in the building itself. The top floor of a penthouse often has terraces, barbecue areas or a swimming pool.
What is an SDA residential property?
The SDAs are designed to bring down the property prices in other areas for the Maltese. Due to the high demand from foreigners, real estate costs have been growing rapidly, making housing unaffordable for the local Maltese citizens. Foreigners can buy real estate in the SDAs under simplified rules.
We wrote about the costs incurred by an investor after buying real estate in our article Maintenance of real estate in Malta: costs and features.
There are 16 SDAs in Malta and Gozo. Of these, two SDA complexes are under construction, and two are planned, according to the data released for 2021. Please note that an investor needs to purchase a finished property to apply for citizenship or a residence permit, as it is initially considered the investor's registered residential address.
List of SDA regions in which foreign investors can purchase apartments, penthouses, and villas under a simplified procedure:
- Portomaso Development plus Extension I, St. Julians, Malta
- Cottonera Development, Malta
- Manoel Island/Tigne Point, Gzira, Malta
- Tas-Sellum Residence, Mellieha, Malta
- Madliena Village Complex, Malta
- Smart City, Malta
- Fort Cambridge Zone, Sliema, Malta
- Ta' Monita Residence, Marsaskala, Malta
- Pender Place and Mercury House Site, plus Extensions I, II, III, IV, and V, St Julian's, Malta
- Metropolis Plaza, Gzira, Malta
- Quad Business Towers, Mriehel, Malta
- Southridge, Mellieha, Malta
- Mistra Heights, Mellieha, Malta
- Fort Chambray, Mellieha, Gozo
- Kempinski Residences, San Lawrenz, Gozo
- Vista Point, Marsalforn, Gozo
SDA complexes are planned so that they combine the convenience of urban and resort life. They are located on or near the coast and close to historical areas.
The properties overlook the sea, and an SDA complex always contains a swimming pool, gym, underground parking, 24-hour security, restaurants, cafes, and shops. Usually, there are ferry stops, water taxis, and shopping centres nearby.
Benefits of buying real estate in Malta in an SDA complex
No need to obtain permission to purchase housing from the authorities of Malta. Buying a property in an SDA is twice as fast as in non-SDAs. It saves the buyer time and money.
The ability to buy multiple properties at the same time. For example, buying three apartments for €250,000 will allow you to fulfil the minimum price condition for investment in real estate when applying for citizenship. In contrast, if investors purchase property outside an SDA, they can only buy one property.
Higher return on investment. The ability to purchase multiple properties allows you to make a more profitable investment. Practice shows that the liquidity and profitability of these smaller properties are higher than that of one, more expensive property. Investors can sell the properties or rent them out 5 years after becoming Malta citizens.
Rapidly rising prices. For non-EU investors, buying property in the SDA complexes is faster and more profitable. At the same time, the value of the real estate in SDAs grows on average twice as fast as the price growth of properties located outside SDAs. The price of an SDA property bought at the construction stage often increases by 8—10% per annum compared to price growth of 3—5% per annum for residential real estate in Malta outside SDAs.
The path to citizenship in Malta. Moreover, buying a property in Malta can also result in the investor getting citizenship or a residence permit in an EU country. It offers them the freedom to travel visa-free around the world and the opportunity to move with their family to a country with a high standard of living and outstanding medical and educational systems.
We compare the features of the procedures for buying property in an SDA compared to other areas.
Comparison of conditions for buying an apartment in Malta
|Procedures and costs||SDA||Non-SDA|
|Issuance of an AIP permit upon purchase||Not required||Required|
|Time required for purchase||2-3 months||4-6 months|
|How many properties can be bought||Not limited||1 property|
|Rent out||Possible||Not allowed|
Conditions for buying real estate in return for citizenship
Investors who apply for citizenship for special services by direct investment and decide to buy a property must meet the following two conditions:
- As indicated in the purchase-sales contract, the cost of the property cannot be less than €700,000.
- For the first 5 years of ownership, they can only use it as their residence and cannot rent it out or earn income from it.
If the property was purchased before submitting the citizenship application, its value must be assessed by an architect. However, the evaluation cannot be done until the citizenship application has been approved.
We discuss the costs related to buying a property in Malta in our article Guide on costs when buying property in Malta.
It is important to remember that a property bought in return for citizenship must cost at least €700,000. It is the cost of a three-bedroom apartment 2 km from the sea.
We recommend considering properties worth at least 1 million euros. For this price, you can purchase a fully furnished penthouse in a modern residential complex near the coast.
To apply for Malta permanent residence, an investor must buy a property costing at least €350,000. However, if the investor chooses a property in sparsely populated areas in the south of Malta or on the island of Gozo, the threshold is €300,000.
In our experience, there are only a limited number of transactions for these properties, as investors prefer developed areas.
Under the terms of the Malta residence permit by investment program, the property must cost at least €275,000, or €220,000 if located in Gozo or the south of Malta.
How to buy property in Malta
Buying a property in Malta takes from a few weeks to 3 months. The cost of the entire transaction is 7—15% of the value of the property. There is no need to come to the country and participate in the registration if the investor arranges a power of attorney for lawyers to conduct the transaction.
Property selection. Immigrant Invest will help you find the right property and contact the seller or estate agent to view it or discuss the sale details.
Hiring a notary. The notary does the essential work: applies for a purchase permit, performs the basic duties of the transaction, represents your interests before the seller's notary and is responsible for drafting the purchase agreement.
Only the notary has the right to certify transactions, keep the deposit and be the intermediary for fees and taxes.
Signing the preliminary agreement for the sale of real estate. When the investor has made his choice, their notary contacts the seller or their real estate agent. The notary verifies that the selected property is legally clear: and free of encumbrances and obstacles. Then the notary draws up a preliminary contract of sale with the seller or their lawyer.
The purchase agreement must contain the following terms:
- Price of the property.
- Technical condition and description of the property.
- Land taxes.
- Any repairs or other work to be done by the seller before the final sale.
- Furniture and appliances, if included in the transaction price.
- Contract term: most often 3 months, less often 6 to 12 months. Until that time, the seller must complete all agreed-upon work.
- The deposit amount remains to the seller if the buyer cancels the deal.
- The purpose of the purchase. The document should reflect the record if the investor buys real estate for permanent residence or citizenship. Then, if the investor is denied this status, they can cancel the transaction without loss.
Payment of stamp duty and deposit. The buyer deposits 10—15% of the transaction price. All transfers in a real estate transaction shall be executed at the notary. At this stage, we help the investor arrange a mortgage if they buy the property with borrowed funds.
After signing the preliminary contract, the notary then submits a notice of the pending transaction and remits the stamp duty of 1% of the property's value to the Malta Internal Revenue Department, IRD. The IRD confirms that the transaction is registered.
Signing the real estate purchase agreement. The notary prepares the final contract of sale. The buyer pays the remainder of the stamp duty of 4% of the property price, notary fees and registration fees. If a buyer needs a permit to purchase the property (AIP Permit), the notary executes it.
The notary delivers the original contract to the Central State Archive of Malta, and the buyer and the seller keep a copy of the document.
What is necessary to know about the Energy Performance Certificate
According to European laws regarding the construction and purchase of the real estate, the seller must submit an EPC and the real estate documents. This document contains the energy data of the building about to be sold. The EPC is issued by assessors registered with the Building Regulation Authority in Malta.
Step-by-step procedure for obtaining Malta citizenship
The purchase of real estate worth 700,000 € or more allows you to apply for Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment. Property can be sold after 5 years.
Depending on the investment amount, citizenship can be obtained after 1 or 3 years. In both cases, the procedure is similar, and only some documents are different if the investor decides to apply after 3 years.
|1. Preliminary Due Diligence|
|An Immigrant Invest expert conducts a Preliminary Due Diligence to assess whether the Maltese authorities will approve the investor's application.|
An Immigrant Invest Certified Anti-Money Laundering Officer reviews the investor's documents and identifies possible risks that could cause rejection of the application.
If any issues may cause the rejection of the investor's application, we offer other paths to a second citizenship.
Pass a quick test and evaluate your chances of passing Due Diligence
|2. Police Clearance Certificate|
Up to 2 weeks
|The Maltese police check the investor and their family members over 12 years old against Interpol and Europol databases.|
|3. Residence permit in Malta|
|A Malta residence permit is granted to the investor and all family members over 18 years old. |
As a licensed agent, Immigrant Invest:
|4. Documents collection for Eligibility Test|
|Immigrant Invest applies for the Eligibility Test on the investor's behalf. It must be done within 12 months of receiving the residence permit card. |
All applicants over 12 are subject to the Eligibility Test.
|5. Check and approval|
|The Minister responsible for Maltese citizenship approves or rejects applications. |
After passing the Eligibility Test, applicants can apply for citizenship one to three years after receiving their residence permit.
|6. Applying for citizenship|
1 or 3 years after the residence permit
|If the investor applies after one year, they must indicate any significant changes in their circumstances. For example, the MRQ form must be amended in case of serious illness.|
If the investor applies in 3 years, they confirm the permanent residence address and provide an updated police clearance certificate. If any other documents have been updated, they must also be resubmitted.
|7. Final approval by the Minister|
|The Minister confirms the decision in written form and entitles the applicant to citizenship.|
|8. Fulfilment of the investment condition|
Up to 4 months
|The investor fulfils all conditions within 4 months of the Minister’s written approval. In addition, the main applicant proves their residence in Malta. The residency requirements are set out in the new law:|
|9. Receiving a passport in Malta|
Up to 2 months
|Applicants over 6 years old must pick up their passports personally at the Malta Passport Office.|
Frequently asked questions
Yes, it is. Prices for Maltese real estate continue to rise. Demand for real estate is supported by tourism. Every year, Malta is visited by up to 3 million tourists, while the country’s population is about half a million.
Renting a residential property brings from 5 to 10% per annum. In the most popular cities, Sliema and St Julian’s, real estate can be rented with an annual yield of 15%.
Real estate in Malta sells quickly, and prices increase by 5—7% per year. Even during the pandemic, property prices have not fallen.
Citizens of other countries, including the European Union, can usually buy only one property in Malta. Maltese property may be purchased without restrictions by Maltese citizens or EU citizens who have lived in Malta for at least 5 years before the property’s purchase date.
The cost of the house depends on the location of the house, its area and the condition of the property. The average cost per square metre in the central business and tourist areas is about €6,500, and €4,500 elsewhere. You can read about Maltese property prices in different areas of Malta in our article Real estate in Malta: purchases, benefits, and costs.
The real estate tax is only charged once on the real estate purchase. The tax rate is 5% of the value of the property.
Buying a property in Malta takes from several weeks to 3 months. To buy a property in Malta is not necessary to come to the country and participate in the registration if the investor draws up a power of attorney on the lawyers to conduct the transaction.
First, the buyer must select the property, inspect it, or discuss the sale details. The buyer or his legal representatives then select a notary who performs the main duties of the transaction, represents the buyer’s interests before the seller’s notary and is responsible for drafting the purchase and sale agreement.
The transfer of ownership of the property occurs when the following conditions are met:
- the signing of the real estate purchase and sale agreement;
- payment of the contract amount;
- payment of property tax and other fees;
- registration of the transaction with the Malta Revenue Department (IRD).
The notary delivers the original contract to the Central State Archive of Malta, and the buyer and the seller keep a copy of the document.
The best properties for investment in Malta are located in Specially Designated Areas (SDA). In such areas are luxury residential complexes with security, closed yard, places for recreation, swimming pool and gym.
Individuals and companies can purchase real estate in the SDA, and the sale can be completed in two months instead of the usual four or six. Demand for housing in the SDA is steadily increasing, with prices rising even during construction.