All Ways of Obtaining Maltese Citizenship

How to obtain Maltese citizenship by investment, marriage, naturalisation, birth or family reunification
How to obtain Maltese citizenship by investment, marriage, naturalisation, birth or family reunification

Maltese citizenship offers the opportunity to live, work, study and build a business in the European Union. The country’s government attracts wealthy foreigners willing to invest in its economy. They can count on tax benefits, the freedom to travel without visas and to live in a country with a high standard of living.

10 benefits of a Maltese passport:

  1. Ability to travel visa-free to 160+ countries, including Schengen countries, USA, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and South Korea.
  2. Access to the European banking system, the ability to open deposits, register assets, real estate and purchase securities in your name.
  3. Maltese citizenship allows you to study at European universities and to stay and work in the European Union after graduation.
  4. Access to high quality medicine, ranked 5th among health systems by the World Health Organisation.
  5. You don’t have to give up your current citizenship.
  6. It is easier to obtain a residence permit for the UK and other Commonwealth of Nations countries: e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, South Africa.
  7. English is one of the official languages along with Maltese. Children will be able to get an education in English schools.
  8. A high standard of living: Malta has a stable economy, political tranquillity, advanced educational, medical and banking systems.
  9. Comfortable Mediterranean climate with a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere.
  10. Ability to move quickly for permanent residence in case of an unforeseen situation in Russia.

There are seven ways to become a Maltese citizen. We will tell you more about each in this article.

10 benefits of Maltese citizenship
Malta is a small island state in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. Only 440,000 people live here. Pictured is the fortress city of Valletta, the capital of Malta

All the ways of acquiring Maltese citizenship

A Maltese passport can be obtained in one of the following cases.

Citizenship by investment. Maltese citizenship can be obtained for special merit if an applicant invests in the local economy from €690,000.

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 citizenship only after five years of permanent residence in the country.

For investment citizenship, you do not need to know the language, pass exams or live permanently in the country, either 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.

Citizenship by naturalization 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 naturalization takes from 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 need to apply for permanent residence, live in the country as a resident for five years, pass a language proficiency, Maltese history and law exams . And only after that you can apply for citizenship.

Therefore, naturalization is only suitable for those who live in Malta and do not intend to leave the country.

Nationality by descent or birth is only suitable for children and descendants of the Maltese. Birthright citizenship can be obtained entirely remotely. It is not necessary to apply for a residence permit or to live permanently in the country. However, you will have to prove your origins with documents.

Citizenship through family reunification is only suitable for those who have 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 not possible to plan to obtain citizenship in this way: there is no clear criteria as to whether merit is considered outstanding.

Simply investing money in the country’s economy will not work.

Citizenship for refugees and political asylum is a forced option. Every year, from 8,000 to 9,000 refugees arrive on the island, most of them from Africa and the Middle East. If a refugee stays in Malta, he or she 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 his or her life is threatened or he or she is discriminated against in the country of origin.

Now for more details on the first five options for obtaining Maltese citizenship.

Maltese citizenship by investment

Wealthy foreigners who are 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 he or she can travel freely in Europe.

From 2014 to 2020, the Malta Individual Investor Programme has been running in the country. The Maltese programme was acknowledged by the European Commission as the “golden standard” amongst investment passport programmes.

In 2021, investors can obtain Maltese citizenship under one of the articles of the Maltese Citizenship Act — for exceptional services by direct investment. After the Malta Individual Investor Programme closed, the procedures for investors became stricter and conditions of obtaining citizenship changed. But an important opportunity remained, i.e. to obtain Maltese citizenship without the need to live permanently in the country.

The Maltese citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment is the most popular way to obtain citizenship by investment among our clients.

How to obtain Maltese citizenship by investment and pass it as inheritance
Investment citizenship can be passed on to children and grandchildren

Investment amount and conditions. To obtain a Maltese passport, you need to invest from €766,000 to €1,500,000 for a family of two. If an investor has a large family, the costs will increase. Investments in 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 Maltese citizenship by investment:

  • €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.
  • €10,000 is a donation to a non-governmental organization.
  • €700,000 is for purchase of 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 from €16,000 per year.

€50,000 is an addition to the contribution to the state fund for each family member.

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 necessary documents. The Maltese officials will verify that all the applicant’s income and capital is legal, he or she has 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, he can be sure that the Maltese citizenship will stay for a lifetime.

The Eligibility Test is subject to a fee. The cost of the test will be:
  • €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 the screening of applicants. So if an investor’s application is rejected in one country, it will probably be rejected in another.

To prevent the rejection, we recommend to address to Immigrant Invest. The company is a licenced agent and conducts a preliminary check. Due Diligence is conducted by lawyers — Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officers. They are experts with certificates from an international association on combatting 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, he will have to pay for real estate agents’ services and taxes.

Timeline. It is possible to apply for citizenship for the whole family after 12 or 36 months of residency. Of this time period, six months are required for the Eligibility Test and another year for the collection, preparation and issue of documents. It is not necessary to live in the country during this time.

Maltese citizenship through marriage

Legal marriage to a Maltese citizen is another way of obtaining Maltese citizenship. Once married, the foreign spouse is entitled to reside in the country without a visa and to work without a work permit. He or she will also be able to 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.

Maltese 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.

How to obtain Maltese citizenship by marriage
After marrying a Maltese citizen, the foreigner gets a Freedom of Movement status. It is an equivalent of a Permanent Residence Permit. After five years of residency it is possible to obtain a Maltese passport

A sham marriage is a criminal offence in Malta. The relationship’s genuineness is checked by a special committee: 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, he or she 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.

Maltese citizenship by naturalisation

This is the longest way to get Maltese citizenship. It can take anywhere from 7 to 18 years. Therefore, naturalization 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 naturalization. The first four relate to those who were born in Malta or are of Maltese origin.

Foreigners with no family ties to Malta can obtain a passport by naturalization if they meet the following conditions:

  1. 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.
  2. They continuously lived in Malta for a further 12 months before the date of application.
  3. They have a permanent place of residence, either bought or rented.
  4. Several Maltese nationals vouched for the applicants in writing.
  5. They have confirmed a regular legal income that is sufficient to support themselves and their families.
  6. They have a Maltese health insurance.
  7. 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 he or she can be of benefit to Maltese society and is 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, he or she worked in a hotel and went on excursions on weekends.

The citizenship application must be signed by two guarantors. 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;
  • a MP.

The second guarantor is any Maltese citizen over 18 who has not obtained a passport by naturalization.

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.

Who is eligible to obtain Maltese citizenship by naturalization
Retirees from all over the world like to live in Malta

By law, the minimum period for obtaining Maltese citizenship by naturalization 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, it is possible to obtain citizenship only after 18 years of living in the country. Living in Malta that long is not easy either. One must obtain a Maltese residence permit through one of the resident programmes.

7 years

is the minimum term of obtaining citizenship by naturalization

The cost of obtaining Maltese citizenship by naturalization depends on the path chosen, the applicant’s status, their lifestyle and luck on how quickly their application is approved.

Cost of Maltese citizenship by naturalization will amount from €200,000 to €400,000 for 12 years. The applicant pays for:

  1. Legal support.
  2. Administrative fees.
  3. Annual renewal of a residence permit.
  4. Buying or renting housing.

Maltese 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 citizenship by descent and family reunification is granted in several cases. Each one requires different documents for application.

The applicant who can obtain Maltese citizenship by descent and family reunification:

  1. Born in Malta to one or both Maltese parents since 1989.
  2. Born between 21st of September, 1964, and 31st of July, 1989, outside Malta to a Maltese father.
  3. Born on 21st of September, 1964, in Malta, or to Maltese parents, on the day of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom.
  4. Born in Malta to one or both Maltese parents before 21st of September, 1964.
  5. Former subject of the United Kingdom or its colonies before 21st of September, 1964.
  6. Born abroad to a Maltese father also born abroad, if a grandfather or a great-grandfather was born in Malta.
  7. Former Maltese national.
  8. A child from another country, adopted or fostered by Maltese nationals.
  9. A grandson or granddaughter of a Maltese citizen.
  10. A sibling of a Maltese citizen.
  11. A child of foreign parents, one of whom subsequently obtained Maltese citizenship.
  12. 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.

Time frames for obtaining Maltese citizenship

Grounds for citizenship Time of citizenship obtainment
Exceptional services by direct investments 1 or 3 years
Marriage 5 years
Naturalisation From 7 to 20 years
Birth or descent 1 year
Reunification with family 1 year
Exceptional merit 1 year
Refugee 1 year

Main conditions for obtaining Maltese citizenship

Grounds for citizenship Expenses Special requirements
Investments From €766,000 for the main applicant Pass the Eligibility Test (Due Diligence)

Invest from €690,000

Own or rent residential property
Marriage Fee from €20 to €80 Stay married for at least 5 years
Naturalization Depends on the cost of living Live in Malta from 7 to 20 years
By birth and descent or through family reunification Fee from €20 to €80 Confirm ancestry or kinship with documents
Exceptional merit Free Make an exceptional contribution to the development of Malta

Procedures for obtaining Maltese citizenship

An investor who wants to obtain citizenship addresses a licensed agent. Lawyers prepare all the documents for application on obtaining a residence permit in Malta and then for applying for citizenship.

It is possible to buy or rent real estate in Malta remotely. A lawyer will help to choose property and close a deal. The lawyer will also sign an agreement of sale and purchase by proxy.

An applicant does not need to take an examination, live in the country or have an interview. It is important to pass the Eligibility Test. Unfortunately, a quarter of applicants fail it.

For other ways of obtaining Maltese citizenship, it is more complicated. While applications for marriage, descent or naturalization are processed, an applicant has to go through several interviews with officials. The applicant also has to go to the country, live there, take language tests, attend interviews and apply in person.

If you are interested in details of how to obtain Maltese citizenship by investment, we have prepared a step-by-step guide.

Brief summary: how to get Maltese citizenship quickly

We have investigated seven main ways to get Maltese citizenship. The most reliable and affordable way is to prove one’s Maltese ancestry. But this option is only suitable for those who have parents, relatives or ancestors on the island.

The longest way is to live permanently in the country and go through the naturalization process.

Non-investment ways of obtaining a Maltese passport take many years, require knowledge of the language and culture of the country, as well as interviews and references. It is not possible to obtain citizenship for the whole family through these paths: family members can only apply for citizenship after a number of years.

The quickest and reliable way to become a Maltese citizen is to invest in the local economy. Part of the investment can be returned. A plus is that passports can be obtained at once for the whole family, including parents.

Frequently asked questions

A Maltese passport holder receives the rights and benefits of a Maltese national:

  1. Visa-free travel to 180+ countries, including the Schengen area, the USA, the UK, Canada.
  2. The opportunity to live, work, study and do business in Malta or any other EU country.
  3. Access to the European banking system, the ability to open deposits, register assets, real estate and purchase securities in your name.
  4. Access to high quality medicine.
    Maltese 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 Maltese citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment gets a residence permit first. At this point, the investor bears expenses on renting housing. There are no limits for renting cost. An average renting cost in Sliema is €1,500 per month.

In a year or three years of residency, the investor applies for citizenship through a licensed agent. By applying, he or she assures that he or she will:

  1. Make a contribution 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.
  2. Donate €10,000 to a non-governmental organization registered in Malta.
  3. Purchase housing costing at least €700,000 or rent residential property. The rent price must be from €16,000 per year. The investor must rent or own housing for five years. After that he can purchase or rent another housing for any sum.
  4. Pay for the Eligibility Test: €15,000 for the main applicant and €10,000 for the spouse, a child of the age from 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, he or she may include family members to the application. A Maltese passport can be obtained together with:

  • a spouse;
  • children under 29 years of age;
  • 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 Maltese citizenship by marriage, descent, naturalization, 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 Maltese citizenship for exceptional service by direct investment takes from 14 to 36 months. For citizenship by descent, the procedure will take 1 year; by marriage — 5 years; by naturalisation — from 7 to 20 years.

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