If you’re thinking of making the sunny Mediterranean Islands of Malta your next home, here’s the good news: it’s a quick and straightforward pathway to residency and even citizenship – which gives you a golden ticket to stay and travel across the EU’s Schengen Region. But, it will cost you a significant investment, so you’ll want to be sure this is what you want to do.
Some of the visas are simple enough that many people can merely apply themselves. And although the government is known for some bureaucratic red tape, the websites, forms, and instructions are all in English, which makes it easier for expats to navigate the process.
There are also some temporary visas for which you may qualify for, if you’re interested in soaking in the history and culture of this unique archipelago for a short time, and see if it would be the right place for you.
Canadian and US citizens (along with 185 other nationalities) are permitted to stay in Malta for up to 90 days during each 180-day period with a valid passport. Beginning in November 2023, the entire EU will require the new ETIAS visa (European Travel Information and Authorization System) for all visitors from outside the EU.
Until the new ETIAS system is implemented, you can fly into Malta, and your Schengen visa will be stamped into your passport upon arrival in your gateway country (there are no nonstop flights from the Americas to Malta). Your Schengen short-stay C-Visa will be valid for 90 days. If you want to extend your visit, you can apply (before the initial 90-day expiry), at the Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an additional three months on a long-stay D-Visa. However, whether you receive this extra time is entirely at the discretion of the Maltese authorities.
You can also consider the Nomad Residence Permit if you work for a company overseas. Malta has hosted thousands of digital nomads before the term was even coined, partly due to the large digital workforce in iGaming and cryptocurrencies. You will not be required to pay Maltese taxes on your income if you can prove you pay income taxes to your home country.
If you want to stay in Malta even longer, you’ll need to apply for a permanent resident visa under one of Malta’s residence “schemes” or programs. Below is a basic outline of the most common scheme. Note that the details of each program are subject to change. For more information, see: identitymalta.com.
The Ordinary Residence Scheme/Economic Self-Sufficiency program is strictly for EU citizens. There was a time when non-EU or TCN’s (Third Country Nationals) could qualify for this annual, renewable residence in Malta. But recently, the Maltese government has made changes, and now it’s no longer possible for TNC’s, even though the application form can still be found on the Identity Malta website.
If you’re married to an EU national, you have the right to live in Malta with your spouse. If you’re from the US or Canada, you don’t need a special visa (except the ETAIS starting November 2023) to enter the country, but must apply for your e-Residence card upon arrival. Suppose your citizenship requires you to get a visa before entering Malta. In that case, you may either enter with your spouse or, if arriving separately, can apply for a short-stay Schengen visa (C-Visa) to enter.
If you’re affluent, the Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MMRP) may be of greater interest. Under this scheme, non-EU citizens may receive Maltese residence indefinitely, which can be renewed every five years.
Requirements and Documentation
For the new ETAIS EU visa, you’ll need to provide basic information like many online visas. European Union authorities are looking to track EU visitors better, so the basics will be what all they’re looking for - full name, contact info, passport details, the reason for travel, countries in the EU you will be visiting, and background questions. The online form only takes about 10 minutes to complete.
Nomad Residency Permit
You’ll need to prove you have a minimum of €32,400 ($34,495) annual income from a registered entity abroad, have approved healthcare insurance, and a long-term lease covering the period of the visa or a home purchase agreement. This application can be filed on your own.
Ordinary Residence Scheme/Self-Sufficiency for EU citizens
If you have residency in a different EU country, or an EU passport, the process is straightforward and can be filed yourself. You must prove you can support your lifestyle without needing to work in Malta. You must either have significant savings, or can supply receipts of ongoing income, such as a pension, trust fund, or annuity, Plus, you must substantiate your ties to Malta.
You will also have to provide proof of health insurance that covers you in Malta, (for all the visa and residency schemes), a rental agreement or mortgage contract, and that you have no criminal record. You must also file a Maltese tax return and comply with minimum tax requirements.
If you meet these requirements, you’ll be issued an e-Residence card. Note that it is entirely within the Maltese authorities’ discretion to grant residence, and you may be requested to provide additional information and documents as the reviewing official sees fit.
You will also have to ensure you reside in Malta for at least 183 days of the calendar year.
You will need to have official statements proving your capital assets are no less than €500,000 ($533,000) and proof that you have stable, ongoing financial resources to sufficiently maintain life in Malta.
A spouse is included in these fees. Plus, immediate family members can be covered, including children, grandchildren, and parents, for an extra fee.
You are eligible under this program if you purchase property at a minimum of €300,000 ($319,000) for real estate situated in Gozo or in the south of Malta, or €350,000 ($373,000) for a property situated elsewhere in Malta. The qualifying property must be held for a minimum of 5 years and cannot be legally leased during that time.
Renters also may apply for Maltese residence under this program if their annual rental payment is no less than €10,000 ($10,650) a year for a property situated in Gozo or in the south of Malta, or at least €12,000 ($12,775) a year for a property located elsewhere in Malta. No sublets allowed.
In addition to these requirements, you must have official documentation that proves you have no criminal record (anywhere you lived for six+ months in the last ten years) and that you are a person of good moral character.
Lastly, you will also need to possess a valid passport and a healthcare insurance policy to cover any health issues in Malta or when traveling across Schengen.
Third-Country Nationals applying for residency must submit the following documentary evidence in support of their request:
- A cover letter explaining the intentions of the applicant to apply for the long-term residence status and the applicant’s background. The information must include accurate information on the applicant’s first settlement in Malta and the existence of any family members.
- Full copies of the current passport prior to the submission of the application
- Government-issued photo ID cards
- Birth certificates (apostilled)
- Banks Statements for the last six months
- Military Records (if applicable)
- Marriage or Divorce certificates (apostilled)
- Any Corporate Affiliations (Business ownership or evidence of employment)
- Evidence of a Maltese Residential address (home purchase or lease)
- Police Clearance certificates from your home state/province
- One passport-sized photo
- Source of wealth documentation
- Other supporting documentation may be requested (University diploma, deeds of property acquisition, etc.)
There are a number of ways to gain citizenship in Malta. Here are some of the most common ones;
- Citizenship by Marriage
- Citizenship by Naturalization
- Citizenship by Investment
Citizenship by Marriage
This option is rather self-explanatory; if you marry a Maltese citizen, you gain the right to live and work in Malta without any visa. After five years of marriage, you’re eligible to apply for citizenship.
Citizenship by Naturalization
If you’ve lived in Malta for at least seven years, as a permanent resident, you can pursue Maltese citizenship, although the process involves some effort. You must have not left Malta for more than (a cumulative) six months during said seven-year period. You also need to:
- Confirm you have a sufficient income
- Possess Maltese health insurance
- Pass exams relating to Maltese history, law, and language proficiency lessons
- You must also get an endorsement from two Maltese citizens who are not within your family. If you can, get one of these endorsements from a lawyer, doctor, or any person in a position of authority.
Citizenship by Investment
Malta is one of only seven countries in the world, allowing high net-worth investors to become citizens of the country and, in turn, have a golden ticket passport for the entire EU. This program is called the Citizen by Investment (MEIN) scheme.
Upon attaining Maltese citizenship, investors can reside freely in Malta, and travel to over 180 countries without a visa. Malta has been a member of the EU since 2004 and of the Schengen Area since 2007.
To qualify for this program you must, among other things, be a citizen of excellent standing with a clean Interpol record, and possess the aforementioned health insurance. It is required to make a €600,000 ($641,778) contribution if you have resided in Malta for 36+ months or €750,000 ($802,22) if living in Malta for 12 months.
Property purchase must be a minimum of €700,000 ($748,740) in value or a lease for €16,000 ($17,114) annually. And you’ll be required to make an approved donation of €10,000 ($10,696) to a registered NGO or philanthropic entity. You must also prove legitimate ties to Malta.
Similar documentation for residency is required for citizenship. Only a maximum of 400 applicants are accepted annually, until it’s eventually capped at 1500, indicating this door in the future for a golden passport could change.
- ETAIS visa will take somewhere from four days to two weeks.
- Nomad Residence Permit typically takes up to 30 business days.
- Economic self-sufficiency is typically granted within six to eight weeks.
- Residency typical processing can be approximately three months
- Citizenship is a two-step process that starts with residency and can be granted in less than a month. Then the citizen process begins. It can take three to six months.
- ETAIS Visa: €7 Euro/pp
- Nomad Residence Permit: €350 euro/pp
- Residency: €100,000 (this is a rough estimate for a couple, not including a home purchase)
You must submit a non-refundable administrative fee of €40,000 ($42,785). Other fees include a government contribution of €28,000 ($29,950) if purchasing a property or €58,000 ($62,039) if renting, plus a donation to a Maltese NGO registered with the Commission of Voluntary Organisations in the amount of €2,000 ($2139). Most foreign applicants use an Advocate & Commissioner for Oaths notary with a residency agency to help navigate the application process. Current administration and filing fees average €6,000 ($6,418).
Citizenship €800,000 (estimate not including home purchase – the investment level decreases if you live in Malta for 36 months vs.12 months first before applying). Dependents can be included for an additional €50,000 per person plus the €650,000 contribution
Malta is a democratic state and enjoys a stable government. As one of the smallest countries in the European Union, it ranks well above its size by being among the fastest-growing economies among member states. Malta consistently registers high ratings from major credit rating agencies, while unemployment percentages are among Europe's lowest. Add to that temperate weather, rugged landscape, rich history, and English as an official language, Malta becomes a very appealing place to invest or retire.