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.
Maltese citizenship solves several problems for investors at once:
- Live without restrictions in the European Union and not wasting time applying for visas to travel.
- Do business in European countries, strengthen ties with European partners and save on taxes.
- Children have the opportunity of a European education that will enable them to live and work in the European Union after graduation.
- Lead a sedate life in a Mediterranean climate.
11 benefits of a Maltese passport
- Ability to travel visa-free to 160+ countries, including Schengen countries, USA, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and South Korea.
- Tax optimisation for business. Malta has a favourable tax system: you can recover most of your taxes by reducing tax rates to 5% or lower. It is most profitable to do business in Malta if you are involved in IT, computer games or film production.
- Access to the European banking system, the ability to open deposits, register assets, real estate and purchase securities in your name.
- 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, South Africa.
- English is one of the official languages along with Maltese. You will find it easier to find a common language with the islanders or deal with officials if you want to live and do business in Malta. Children will be able to get an education in English schools.
- A high standard of living: Malta has a stable economy, political tranquillity, advanced educational, medical and banking systems.
- Comfortable Mediterranean climate with a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere.
- 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.
Ways of acquiring a Maltese citizenship
A Maltese passport can be obtained in one of the following cases.
1. Citizenship for investment.
Maltese citizenship can be obtained by investing in the local economy:
- 600,000-750,000 € to the national fund.
- 10,000 € is a charitable contribution.
- 700,000 € – purchase of property or rent from 16,000 € per year for five years.
An investor can apply to have citizenship for the whole family at once. Another way of obtaining citizenship allows the applicant’s family to apply for citizenship only after several years.
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 12-36 months to obtain citizenship. It is the quickest and most comfortable way to become an EU citizen.
2. Citizenship through marriage to a Maltese citizen.
This 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. Concluding a sham marriage is a bad idea. If this is established, offenders could face up to two years in prison.
3. Citizenship by naturalisation.
By naturalisation, citizenship 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 and “put down roots”.
This is the most unpopular way of obtaining Maltese citizenship. It 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, a residence permit, apply for permanent residence, live in the country as a resident for five years, then pass an exam about the language, history and law of Malta – and only after that you can apply for citizenship.
Therefore, naturalisation is only suitable for those who live in Malta and do not intend to leave the country.
4. Nationality by descent or birth.
This option is only suitable for children and descendants of Maltese. Birthright citizenship can be obtained entirely online. 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 through means of documentation.
5. Citizenship through family reunification.
This option is only suitable for those who have close relatives – parents, siblings, grandparents – among Maltese citizens living permanently in the country.
6. Citizenship for distinguished service to Malta.
For special merit to the country, a passport may be 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. As far as we know, no Russians have yet been granted Maltese citizenship for outstanding services.
7. Citizenship for refugees and political asylum.
It is a forced option. Every year, 8,000-9,000 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. You do not need to take language and integration tests or pay the state fee for registration. If you want to be granted asylum or refugee status, you must prove that your life is threatened or you are discriminated against in your country of origin.
Now for more details on the first five options for obtaining Maltese citizenship.
Maltese citizenship for investment
This is the quickest way for wealthy applicants to obtain Maltese citizenship.
It is possible to obtain citizenship for the whole family at once: the spouse, children up to 26 years of age and parents of the applicant. 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.
The Malta Individual Investor Programme has been running in the country since 2014, which allows you to obtain Maltese citizenship without the need for permanent residency.
The Malta programme is unique. It is recognised by the European Commission as the ‘gold standard’ amongst investment passport programmes. It is also the most popular investment citizenship programme among our clients.
The Malta Individual Investor Programme had a limit – only 1,800 people could be granted citizenship under this programme. The quota was exhausted in the summer of 2020. But that does not mean that it is no longer possible to obtain a passport for investment. The programme will soon be re-launched with new conditions.
Size and conditions of investment. To obtain a Maltese passport, you need to invest between €800,000 and €1,250,000 for a family of two. If you have a large family, the costs will increase. A significant part of the investment can be repaid after five years.
Under the new conditions, only 1,500 people will be able to obtain citizenship under the investment programme, but no more than 400 people a year. The programme will last for around four years. After that, the conditions are likely to be revised again.
Cost of participating in the Maltese citizenship by investment programme
Investment in the Maltese economy consists of four mandatory parts:
- 600,000-750,000 € to the National Development Fund for the main applicant:
600,000 € if three years have elapsed since the residence permit was issued,
750,000 € if one year has elapsed since the residence permit was issued.
- 10,000 € 一 charitable contribution.
- 700,000 € — purchase a property (you can rent it out or sell it after five years) or rent from 16,000 € per year for five years.
- 50,000 € will have to be paid additionally for each family member of the investor.
About half of the investment can be repaid after five years – citizenship will still be there. If you’re lucky, the investment will even turn a profit. The average annual yield on Maltese securities is 3% per annum, the rental yield is 5%. Yields will partially offset the administrative costs of citizenship registration.
Eligibility Test. The applicant’s family must pass the Eligibility Test. This is the equivalent of Due Diligence.
The investor must prove the legality of his income and provide all the necessary family documents. With the help of the International Criminal Police, 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 vetting process is rigorous. About 23% of applicants fail it now. In rare cases, already issued passports are withdrawn. But once you have passed, you can be sure that the Maltese authorities and the EU will not question you.
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 12 and over and parents aged 55 and over;
1,000 € 一 administrative cost of Eligibility Test for the each applicant.
Malta and Cyprus share data about the results from the screening of applicants for the programme. So if you are rejected in one country, you will also be rejected in the other.
Additional costs. You will also need to pay for lawyers and solicitors, translation and legalisation of documents, and state fees. If you buy a property, you will have to pay real estate agents’ fees and taxes.
Timeline. It takes 12-36 months to obtain citizenship for the whole family. Of these, six months are required for the security check 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.
The status that marriage gives. Once married, the foreign spouse is entitled to reside in the country without a visa and to work without a work permit. They 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.
Fictitious marriage is a criminal offence in Malta. The relationship’s genuineness is checked by a special committee, 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 has recognised 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, naturalisation is only suitable for those who already live in Malta and do not intend to leave for a long time.
There are five categories of people who can obtain a Maltese passport through naturalisation. The first four relate to those who were born in Malta or are of Maltese origin. These are discussed below.
As a foreigner with no family ties to Malta, you can obtain a passport from the country by naturalisation under the following conditions:
- 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, you can leave the country for more than six consecutive months or ten months in total.
- Continuously lived in Malta for a further twelve months before the date of application.
- You have a permanent place of residence – you don’t have to buy a property, renting is enough.
- Several Maltese nationals can vouch for you in writing.
- You have a regular legal income that is sufficient to support yourself and your family.
- We took out a Maltese health insurance policy.
- Have passed the Maltese language, history and law exams (Employment and Training Corporation, ETC). The exam takes the form of a test. The minimum pass mark is 75%. You have to prepare for the exam 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.
The citizenship application must be signed by two guarantors. They cannot be relatives.
The first guarantor must hold one of the positions:
- a civil servant of at least
- a certain rank
- an officer with the status of captain or above
- a police officer of a rank not lower than an inspector
- parish priest
The second is any Maltese citizen over 18 who has not obtained a passport from 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.
By law, the minimum period for obtaining Maltese citizenship by naturalisation is seven years. But in practice, if a person has lived in Malta for less than 12-15 years, the application is often rejected without explanation or right of appeal. In rare cases, it is possible to obtain citizenship of the island only after 18-20 years of life 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.
The cost of obtaining Maltese citizenship through naturalisation depends on the programme chosen, the applicant’s status, their lifestyle and luck – how quickly their application is approved.
- Legal support.
- Administrative fees.
- Annual renewal of residency status.
- Buying or renting a property.
In our experience, this amount can vary by a few hundred thousand dollars, but the average is around €200,000-400,000 over 12 years.
Maltese citizenship by descent and family reunification
This is a cheap and easy option for obtaining Maltese citizenship, but it is only suitable for children of Maltese or former Maltese citizens.
Registration costs are low – just the state fee.
There are several options for obtaining citizenship by descent. They depend on the year of birth of the applicant and his/her parents. Each of these cases will require a slightly different set of documents.
Categories of applicants:
- Born in Malta to one or both Maltese parents since 1989.
- Born between 21 September 1964 and 31 July 1989 outside Malta to a Maltese father.
- Born on 21 September 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 21 September 1964.
- People who were subjects of the United Kingdom or its colonies before 21 September 1964.
- Born abroad to a Maltese father, also born abroad if his grandfather or great-grandfather was born in Malta.
- Former Maltese national.
- A Maltese adopted or fostered child from another country.
- The grandson or granddaughter of a Maltese citizen.
- A brother or sister of a Maltese citizen.
- A child of foreign parents, one (or both) of whom subsequently obtained Maltese citizenship.
- Guardians of a minor Maltese child.
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.
Maltese citizenship: deadlines and documents
Time frame for obtaining Maltese citizenship
|Grounds for citizenship||Time of receipt|
|By birth or descent||1 year|
|Reunification with family||1 year|
|Exceptional merit||1 year|
Basic conditions for citizenship in Malta
|Grounds for citizenship||Expenses||Special requirements|
|Investments||From €800,000 per principal applicant|| Pass the Eligibility Test (Due Diligence) |
Invest from 800,000 €
Own or rent residential property
|Marriage||Fee of 20-80 €||Have been married for at least 5 years|
|Naturalisation||Depends on the cost of living||Living in Malta for 7 to 20 years|
|By birth and descent or through family reunification||Fee of 20-80 €||Documenting the relationship|
|Exceptional merit||Free||Make an exceptional contribution to the development of Malta|
Procedures for obtaining Maltese citizenship
If you are applying for citizenship for investment, lawyers will prepare all the documents for you. You can invest, buy securities and real estate remotely. A solicitor will help you choose and process your real estate transaction – he or she will sign the sales contract under power of attorney.
You do not need to take an examination, live in the country or have an interview. It is important to pass the Eligibility Test (Due Diligence). Unfortunately, a quarter of applicants fail it.
For other ways of obtaining Maltese citizenship, it is more complicated. While applications for marriage, descent or naturalisation are processed, you will have to go through several interviews with officials. In all these cases, you have to go to the country, live there, take language tests, attend interviews and apply in person.
Brief summary: how to get Maltese citizenship quickly
We have looked at seven main ways for Russian residents to get Maltese citizenship. The most reliable and democratic 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 naturalisation process.
These 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 methods: family members can only apply for citizenship after a number of years.
The quickest and surest way to become a Maltese citizen is to invest in the local economy. Part of the investment can be repaid. A big plus is that passports can be obtained at once for the whole family, including parents.
Frequently asked questions
A Maltese passport holder receives all the rights of an EU citizen:
- Visa-free travel to 160+ countries, including Schengen, USA, UK, Canada.
- The opportunity to live, work, study and do business in any EU country.
- The investor can obtain citizenship for the whole family at once.
- Business tax optimisation.
- The opportunity to live in a country with a high standard of living.
600,000-750,000 € to the National Development Fund for the main applicant:
10,000 € 一 charitable contribution;
700,000 € - purchase of property or rent from 18,000 € per year for five years.
50,000 € - in addition for each family member of the investor.
The cost of the Eligibility Test will be:
7500 € - for the main applicant;
5,000 € for the spouse, each child aged 18-26 and parents aged 55 and over;
3,000 € for children aged 13 to 18 years.
Yes, if the applicant obtains a Maltese passport for an investment, he or she may include family members to the application. A Maltese passport can be obtained together with:
- A spouse
- Children under 28 years of age
- Parents up to the age of 55
Children and parents must be financially dependent on the applicant.
In all other ways of obtaining Maltese citizenship - through marriage, by descent, through naturalisation, special merit or as a refugee - family members can only apply for citizenship a few years after the main applicant has obtained a Maltese passport.
It takes 12-36 months to obtain Maltese citizenship under the investment programme. For citizenship by descent, 1 year; by marriage, 5 years; by naturalisation, 7 to 20 years.