If somebody told you that you could gain citizenship to a country by simply ‘buying’ into it, you probably would laugh and shrug it off. However, this is the case in Malta where, since 2014, it has been possible to obtain Maltese citizenship through the Individual Investor Program. The pretty relaxed program enables outsiders to gain citizenship by satisfying a few simple criteria, including having lived there for one year or by buying in through an investment scheme.
Malta is one of a few European countries which offer citizenship through an investment program. It is a highly-respected scheme which has worked wonders for the country, with major investment being put into major industries, helping the country’s economy grow enormously. The Individual Investment Program is the very first investment program which has been officially recognized by the European Commission. It was a program designed for high net-worth individuals who want to obtain full citizenship within an EU country.
Here is a quick guide to the Individual Investment Program. If you would like to learn more, CSB Group has a complete guide to the program. Find out more information on how to apply for the Malta Citizenship by investment programme.
#1: Requirements for the Malta Individual Investor Program
To be eligible for consideration on the Individual Investment Program, you must meet a few requirements –
- Be 18 years of age;
- Pass a due diligence test;
- Provide proof of residence in Malta for the last 12 months; and
- Meet some investment requirements.
If you are not already a permanent resident in Malta, you must obtain a residential address in the country and apply for an e-residence card. You do not actually have to be physically present in the country for the 12-month period, you simply have to officially be a resident of the country.
Although it seems easy to gain Maltese citizenship on paper, the process is rigorous, and applicants must really get themselves together and get organized in order to be successful. The Individual Investment Program timeline can vary, and it is difficult to predict. In general, the Maltese government advises that it can take one year to obtain Maltese citizenship from the date of submitting an initial application. The process can be simplified into eight steps –
- Application preparation and pre-approval.
- Application submission.
- Due diligence checks and processing by the Maltese government.
- Approval in principle.
- Contribution by the applicant to the National Development and Social Fund.
- Investment in real estate and financial institutions within four months of approval.
- Completion of the 12-month residency requirement.
- The issue of citizenship certificate and passport.
#2: Options for Investment
The crux of the Individual Investor Program is an actual investment! If an applicant is unable to satisfy these investment requirements, the application simply will not be approved. The Maltese government requires applicants to the Individual Investment Program to contribute to the National Development and Social Fund, make an investment in a government-backed financial institution and invest money in some form of property.
- The National Development and Social Fund
Applicants to the Individual Investment Fund must make a contribution towards this fund to the tune of €650,000 as a bare minimum, plus a further contribution of €25,000 for any spouse or children under the age of 18 and a €50,000 contribution for any dependent children who are aged between 18 and 26, or any dependent parents above the age of 55.
- Real Estate
Applicants to the Individual Investment Fund must also commit to owning and retaining a residence in Malta for at least five years. This can either be through purchasing property (with a minimum value of €350,000) or through renting a property where the annual rent must exceed €16,000.
- Government-Backed Financial Institutions
Applicants to the Individual Investment Fund must also commit to making an investment of at least €150,000 in a Government-backed financial institution or instrument, such as stocks and shares, which must be kept and not sold for a minimum of five years.
Although these requirements seem stringent (and expensive) they exist to ensure that only serious investors are given Maltese citizenship.
#3: Thinking of Applying? Make Sure You Have This Key Documentation
Unsurprisingly, there are several documents which you need to produce should you decide to apply for Maltese citizenship through the Initial Investment Program. All the documents required must be in English or accompanied by a translation which is authentic and provided by a professional organization. The following documents must be submitted in support of any application –
- A health certificate stating that you are in good health and are not a carrier of contagious disease;
- A report from the Maltese police force and your local police force, or the police force of anywhere you have resided in for longer than six months within the last ten years;
- An official declaration that you intend to remit all your contributions to Malta;
- Evidence that family members under the application are in good standing;
- A declaration of your commitment to invest in the country; and
- Any other documentation related to yourself, your travel habits, financial documentation and any other documentation requested by the Maltese authorities.
The Maltese authorities will properly vet you and verify that all information and documentation provided by you is true, proper and up to their standards. The Maltese Initial Investment Program is a selective process which has a cap of 1,800 people — when all these places are gone, there is no guarantee that the program will continue.
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