Political stability, high standards of living and favorable business climate are the reasons why Malta became a popular jurisdiction for applying for the second passport. Malta citizenship by investment program (The Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta; MIIP) was launched in January 2014. The Government of Malta sets strict quotas for granting citizenship. Only 1800 applicants can obtain a Maltese passport.
How many investors have already acquired the citizenship of Malta? Shall we expect the re-launch of the passport program? Why is Malta’s passport so attractive to wealthy businessmen? More details in our today’s material.
MIIP program: reaching the limits
According to the annual report on the results of Malta passport program, from July 2016 until the end of June 2017 the citizenship was granted to 1409 investors. Apart from 386 main applicants, the passports were issued to 294 spouses, 487 minor children and 242 adult dependents. During the preceding 12 months, only 137 investors received citizenship. This is due to the fact that for many participants of the program a one-year naturalization period required for the grant of citizenship has ended. Since the launch of the program until June 2017, 566 applicants have been granted citizenship that is 31.4% of the quota of 1800 applicants set by the government.
MIIP PROGRAM HELPED MALTA TO ATTRACT € 500 MILLION OF INVESTMENT FROM ABROAD
Experts believe that in 2018 Chinese investors will take the lead in the number of citizenship applications and will become the driving force in reaching the established limit.
The government plans to re-launch the passport program
In November 2017, Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, said that the country’s immigration program is likely to be extended. It is not yet known what innovations to expect, but he announced that the second version of the program would be “more exclusive”.
In January 2018, Identity Malta, an agency responsible for the administration of the databases of all country’s passports, published a list of questions to be addressed to Maltese people at the referendum on the extension of Malta citizenship by investment program. The key points are the increase of the applicants’ quota, changing the criteria and timing of applying for citizenship.
The main purpose of the re-launch of the program is to protect its reputation, make the jurisdiction more appealing for wealthy investors, improve the conditions for successful implementation of the program, as well as to regulate the case review process.
Why is Malta so attractive for the investors?
Malta’s government respects confidentiality and offers extensive tax planning opportunities.
Check out 5 main benefits offered by the passport of Malta:
- Great opportunities for business travel and tourist trips. Holders of the Maltese passport can freely travel to 160+ countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as to reside, work, study and operate a business in any EU country. A resident of Malta enjoys a full set of rights and freedoms of an EU citizen.
- Personal safety in case of emergencies in the home country.
- Tax privileges. Residents of Malta do not need to pay inheritance tax, donation tax, and in some cases property tax. There is a wide range of countries with which Malta has a treaty for avoidance of double taxation.
- High-quality medical care. Malta’s high level of healthcare is recognized all over the world. The quality of medical services meets international requirements and standards.
- Prestigious European education. Investors’ children can study in the best European universities. Maltese citizenship makes them eligible for participation in free education programs. But even if the residents of the jurisdiction pay for studies, the cost of study is several times lower than for those who do not have Maltese citizenship.
Malta’s passport program is regarded as one of the top-ranked and most rigorous in the investment immigration market, as each candidate must undergo a four-tiered due diligence check. However, it’s worth a shot since in the recently published annual Passport Index Malta was ranked 9th among the total of 200 countries and territories surveyed in 2018.
Malta Citizenship: requirements for obtaining
Under the MIIP program, to obtain a Maltese passport an investor is required to make a donation of € 650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund established by the government. But there is more than this. An applicant is also required to invest € 150,000 in government bonds and purchase a real property with a market value of € 350,000 or more. As an alternative, there is an option of renting a residence for at least € 16,000 per year during 5 years.
Important note: the owner of housing purchased in Malta under the passport program cannot act as a landlord.
To be eligible for participation in the program an investor should be of full age, without a criminal past, and with a clean reputation. Financial and criminal history is strictly checked. A year before issuing a certificate of naturalization, the investor must obtain a resident card. The passport is issued for life and can be inherited.
Alternative option in the EU
Malta’s only competitor is Cyprus. This country’s passport program has been running since 2014. Since then, about 2,000 investors have become residents of the jurisdiction. The Cyprus passport costs more than the Maltese (€ 2 million or more), but the citizenship application process in Cyprus takes only 6 months. There are three options of participation in the program, namely investment in real estate, investment in a business project or the combination of these options.