The Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (ESDI)

By virtue of Legal Notice 437 of 2020, the granting of Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (ESDI), as regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188), has been recently introduced in Malta. These regulations allow individuals and family dependants to acquire Maltese citizenship, and by extension a Maltese Passport, by making a direct investment in the country, […]

Written By Liana Falzon

On January 7, 2021
"

Read more

By virtue of Legal Notice 437 of 2020, the granting of Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (ESDI), as regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188), has been recently introduced in Malta. These regulations allow individuals and family dependants to acquire Maltese citizenship, and by extension a Maltese Passport, by making a direct investment in the country, which investment is always subject to a very strict due diligence process, including but not limited to very meticulous background checks of the individual applicants. 

Who can apply?

Any individual and his dependents may apply fpr Maltese citizenship under these regulations, as long as they are commited towards a  direct investment in the country. 

The qualifying dependents as defined by the above-mentioned Legal Notice are:

  • the spouse in a monogamous marriage. Life partners, including a civil union, domestic partnership, common law marriage also qualify. The term “spouse” in these regulations is to be understood as being gender-neutral;
  • children of the main applicant or of his dependent, including adopted children, who are under 18 years of age at the time of submission of application;
  • children of the main applicant or of his dependent, including adopted children, who have turned 18 but have not yet turned 29, at the time of submission of application. These children should be able to prove that they are not married and that they are financially dependent on the main applicant;
  • children of the main applicant or of his dependent, including adopted children, who at the time of submission of application have turned 18, and are qualified as persons with a disability;
  • parents or grandparents of the main applicant or of his dependent over the age of 55, at the time of submission of application, who are not married and who can prove that they are financially dependent on the main applicant.

How to apply?

There are three main steps one must satisfy before being granted Maltese citizenship under these regulations:

  1. Application for Maltese residency – one of the requirements of these regulations is that an applicant and all adult dependants must hold a Maltese residence card for a minimum of 36 months or by exception for a minimum of 12 months. Applicants who are already in possession of a Maltese residence card will automatically proceed to point (2) hereunder. If an application is submitted correctly to the Agency, it takes around 15 working days for the card to be issued;
  2. Application for elgibility assessment – this should be submitted within 12 months from the issuance of the residency card; and finally
  3. Application for Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (ESDI) – as per point (1) above, applicants may opt to obtain citizenship either after 3 years or after 12 months. In each case, submissions should be made after the expiration of the respective residency periods.

The direct investments linked to point (3) above are the following:

  • A Government Contribution: The applicant has the obligation to pay a contribution to the Maltese Government, before being granted Maltese citizenship, which can vary as follows:
    • Procedure 1: If applying after 36 months of residency in Malta, a contribution of €600,000 is due for the Main Applicant and €50,000 for every additional dependant;
    • Procedure 2: If applying after 12 months of residency in Malta, a contribution of €750,000 is due for the Main Applicant and €50,000 for every additional dependant.
  • A Property Investment: The applicant may either buy an immovable property in Malta with a minimum value of €700,000. Alternatively, he may lease one for a minimum annual rent of €16,000. In both cases, the immovable property needs to be retained for at least five years from the date of issuance of the certificate of citizenship;
  • A Donation: The applicant is obliged to give a donation of €10,000 (minimum), prior to the issuance of the certificate of citizenship to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal  welfare  or  artistic  non  governmental  organisation  or society.

Processing fees

Apart from the above qualifying investment criteria, applicants are required to pay the following due diligence fees to the Government Agency:

Fees and Investments
    
Residence Admin FeesCard FeeInvestment*
Applicant€ 5,000€ 27.50€ 10,000
Dependant€ 1,000€ 27.50 
    
EligibilityAdmin FeesDue Diligence Investment**
Applicant€ 1,000€ 15,000€ 10,000
Dependant€ 1,000€ 10,000 
Benefactor € 15,000 
    
CitizenshipAdmin FeesInvestment < 3 Yrs of residence in MaltaInvestment > 3 Yrs of residence in Malta
Applicant€ 500€ 740,000€ 590,000
Dependant€ 500€ 50,000€ 50,000

*Part payment of non-refundable deposit
**
Non-refundable deposit of the investment re: donation to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic non-governmental organisation or society, or as otherwise approved by the Agency

The  number  of  certificates  by  Maltese  Citizenship  by Naturalisation  for  Exceptional  Services  by  Direct  Investment granted, excluding dependants, has been currently capped at 1,500.

Our firm is in a position to assist you with the compilation and submission of the documentation required for such an application. For further information and a tailor-made quote, please contact Stephen Balzan, one of the firm’s partners, on [email protected], or Liana Falzon, who is the manager in charge of the firm’s private clients on [email protected].

How can we help?  

For further information, please contact one of the firm’s tax partners, Stephen Balzan on [email protected] or Elaine Camilleri [email protected]. ACT can help you understand the changes to the tax rules and how these can impact your business.  

Apart from its offices in St. Julian’s Malta, ACT operates from a second office in Gozo, which is situated in the capital city of Victoria.  For an appointment in our Gozo office, please call on 00356 21378672 or send us an email on [email protected]. 

Disclaimer: This article contains general information only and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. ACT, by means of this article is not rendering any accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or service. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your finances or your business. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. Before making any decisions or before taking any action that may affect your finances or your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. ACT shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this article.