Malta: Residence permit and citizenship by the purchase of real estate

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 17 minutes read
The Maltese flag against the background of the city symbolizes obtaining a residence permit in Malta when buying real estate

There are no problems in moving to Malta on a residence permit and eventually obtain a passport of this country, already having your own home, it is quite possible. Previously, foreigners could obtain Maltese citizenship by the purchase of real estate immediately under the investment program, but in 2020 it was suspended. Nevertheless, it is still quite easy to acquire a residence permit in Malta by purchasing real estate. And after obtaining it, and fulfilling a number of simple conditions, after a certain period of time you can become a citizen of the European Union. This status provides new rights, including visa-free entry into more than 160 countries around the world.

There are other states that offer residence permits in Europe by purchasing a property, but in terms of tax optimization, Malta is one of the most profitable. In addition, the Maltese residence program is popular because of the processing speed and lower investments. Time to obtain a residence permit in this European country is about 6-8 months, and the amount of investment required is less than in some other countries (eg Spain). That is why the option of a residence permit when buying property in Malta is popular among citizens of the CIS countries. Learn how to apply for residence permit below.

Benefits of residence permit in Malta

A Maltese residence permit gives an immigrant a number of advantages:

  • The possibility of permanent residence in a democratic state where human rights are protected by EU legislation.
  • Legal stay in Europe in case of force-majeure in the country of permanent residence.
  • Access to European education and medicine. Quality of services in EU countries is superior to that in the post-Soviet states.
  • Visa-free entry to Schengen countries.
  • Path to citizenship status in 5 years. In most other European states naturalization periods are longer.

Also, a foreigner who applies for a Maltese residence permit when purchasing a home has the right to include their family members (spouses, children, parents and grandparents) in the application. The disadvantage of the residence program is the need to stay in the territory of Malta for at least 183 days a year. Staying in other countries for more than six months can lead to the loss of the residence permit.

What is the idea of residence permit program by the purchase of property in Malta

A citizen of any country outside the European Union may meet the conditions established by the legislation of the state and receive a residence permit for this. The investor must buy or rent a residential property on the island for a certain amount, pay an administrative fee, pay into the budget and donate money to one of the charities of the country.

In return, the foreigner and their family members receive residence, which gives them the right to live on the island and enjoy most of the opportunities that are available to permanent residents (except for participation in elections and work in the government). After 5 years, it is possible to apply for citizenship and acquire it in the manner set by law.

Cost of the residence permit in Malta by purchasing or renting a property

The following costs are provided for participants of the Malta residence program:

  • Renting/purchasing a real estate object. On the island of Gozo, you can rent a house for 10 000 EUR per year, in any other part of the state – for 12 000. Tenant must sign a contract for at least 5 years. Thus, you will need 50 000-60 000 EUR when choosing the lease option. If you buy a house or apartment in the south of the country or the island of Gozo, the cost must be at least 300,000 EUR, in other parts of the state – from 350,000.
  • Administrative fee – 40 000 EUR.
  • Contribution to the state budget is 58,000 EUR if you choose to rent, and 28,000 in the case of purchase. For each relative, except for spouses and children, you will have to pay an additional 7,500 EUR.
  • Charity donation of at least 2 000 EUR.
  • Translation of documents, apostilling and notary services will cost approximately 4,000 EUR.
  • Health insurance for each family member included in the application costs 400 EUR.

If it is a lease, all costs are non-refundable. In the case of a purchase, after 5 years, the object can be sold and the funds invested can be recovered. There is a high probability that the value of the property will increase, and if it is sold, it will be possible to increase the capital. But the initial cost will be more impressive. Purchased housing can be leased and produce income.

It should be noted that in order to get a residence permit it is not enough to have this money. You must meet all the conditions, otherwise even an approval that has already been granted can be revoked.

Who can participate in the program

There is no ban on the purchase of real estate by foreigners on the island. Foreign investor must confirm the availability of legal capital in the amount of 500 000 EUR. At the same time, not less than 150,000 EUR must be in assets of high liquidity – stocks, bonds, cash on deposit. Since applicants are tested for trustworthiness, it is important to prove the legitimacy of the origin of wealth. Doubts about the legality of the origin of the fortune or the applicant’s ineligibility will not allow for a residence permit.

Reasons for refusal of a residence permit in Malta may include:

  • Providing false information;
  • criminal record or pending investigation of the applicant;
  • identified links with radical and extremist groups.

After fulfilling all the conditions of the program, the investor will be granted a Maltese residence permit. In order to maintain the status of a foreign citizen, he/she will need to stay on the territory of the country for more than half of each calendar year. After 5 years of residence in the country will be able to apply for a passport.

Dual citizenship legislation in Malta is not prohibited. As in some other states, it is possible only on the basis of interstate treaties.

Requirements for the applicant

A foreign national applying for a Maltese residence permit is required to:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have citizenship of a non-European Union country.
  • Have legal capital and income outside the island.
  • Do not have diseases that pose a danger to others (AIDS, open form of tuberculosis, severe mental illness, drug addiction). This requirement also applies to family members of the investor, registering with him.
  • Rent or buy a house, having previously obtained the consent of the country’s migration authorities to participate in the program, and make all established fees, payments, and donations.

Maltese real estate on the coast, by purchasing which you can obtain a residence permit and citizenship in Malta

The documents

The procedure for issuing a Maltese residence permit by the purchase of real estate is a multi-step procedure. The number of documents required at each stage is different. Those in a language other than English must have a notarized translation into English. Some of the documents must be apostilled.

All of the documents required to acquire residency status can be divided into the following groups:

  • Personal documents. Passport and documentary proof of kinship with the other persons, included in the application (certificates of marriage, birth, adoption, etc.).
  • Documents confirming eligibility for the program. It is required to prove availability of the necessary capital and legal sources of its origin. Package is formed depending on the circumstances of each individual applicant. What documents are required, you can ask the employees of the immigration agency.
  • Documents, confirming fulfillment of investment conditions. A purchase or rental agreement of a real estate property, made in accordance with the requirements of Maltese law, is required.
  • Payment of fees. Receipts of payment of other program fees.
  • Medical documents. These include a certificate of no diseases dangerous to others and a health insurance policy. For the period of COVID-19 restrictions, a vaccination certificate or a certificate of absence of coronavirus is required.
  • Certificate of no criminal record.

You can apply for the program only through licensed migration agents. They can also help you prepare and collect documents.

Step-by-step procedure for obtaining a residence permit

The algorithm of obtaining a residence permit involves the consecutive passing of several stages. Those who are interested in obtaining the status of temporary resident of Malta will find the following information useful.

Applying to a migration agency and the initial verification of the candidate

For a successful residence permit through the acquisition of real estate will have to pass a check of reliability – Due Diligence. It is carried out by employees of the state agency responsible for the management and promotion of the Maltese residence program through investments (Residency Malta Agency). Licensed specialists of individual immigration companies have access to the same databases as the employees of the government department.

Initial screening helps save time and money for those who are rejected. Compared to the cost of the next steps, it is a paltry amount. Denial at the next steps will cost more.

Preparing the documents and applying for the program

After preparing required documents, including translation, certification and apostille, an application for a residence permit through the purchase of real estate. When submitting it, a EUR 10,000 administrative fee must be paid.

Due diligence and approval of the application

During the screening, additional documents may be requested regarding the business of the applicant and the legality of the origin of his capital. If successful, the foreign national receives approval to invest from the agency.

Making the necessary investments

Once the application is approved, time is counted down to fulfill the investment obligations. The remainder of the administrative fee must be paid within two months. The remaining payments, including the purchase or rental of the property, are made within 8 months. In the same period must be purchased and health insurance policies with coverage of at least 30,000 EUR. When all the supporting documents are collected, the investor submits them to the Maltese agency.

Submission of biometric data

The investor and all his relatives included in the application must arrive in the state and submit fingerprints. It is possible to visit the island when the investment obligations have not yet been fulfilled.

Obtaining a temporary resident card

Once the investment conditions are verified, a residency card is issued. From then on, the investor acquires a significant portion of the rights of a citizen of the state.

Verification of compliance

Proof of own or rented real estate and the necessary financial security will have to be confirmed annually for the first five years. If at the end of the five-year period, for any reason the investor has not received citizenship, you should apply for a new residence card. The validity of this document – 5 years.

Investment in real estate

The process of rental/purchase of a dwelling can be divided into two stages:

  1. Selecting property. The choice of real estate for making investment on the island is wide, more than 1000 new offers appear on the market every year. You can make the search yourself or use the services of realtors. You can view suitable homes and apartments in person, arriving on the island, or remotely. Before making a purchase, foreigners must obtain permission from the Ministry of Finance to purchase housing. It takes 6-8 weeks to get approval.
  2. The transaction and registration of property rights. The property purchase on the island is subject to stamp duty. Its amount is 5% of the property value. The transaction is carried out in two stages.

First, a preliminary agreement is made. This is a contract of intent to sell and buy a house or apartment. The document indicates the object, its cost, the deadline for final signing and payment. Usually, 3 months are given for the conclusion of the contract. During this time, the seller prepares all the documents, and the buyer and a lawyer check that the property belongs to the seller and there are no encumbrances on it. At the conclusion of the preliminary agreement, the buyer deposits 10% of the value of the property and pays 1% as part of the prescribed stamp duty.

After the preliminary agreement, the final contract of purchase is signed at the notary. The full settlement of the contract is made, the remaining part of the stamp duty is paid.

The original agreement on the purchase is sent by the notary to the state archive. The parties to the agreement are issued notarized copies. This copy and the stamp duty receipts are used by the buyer for the final registration of the property rights for themselves at the local authorities. You should be prepared for the fact that the legal and notarial costs of registering the title to the property will amount to up to 3% of its value.

Tax residence in Malta

A resident of the country is obliged to pay 15% tax on income from abroad, which is transferred to the island. Part of the tax can then be refunded.

Maltese resort coast, where you can move and get a residence permit in Malta when buying real estate

Other ways to obtain a residence permit in Malta

There are other options for obtaining a Maltese residence permit.

  • Employment. It is not easy to find a job at a local company. It primarily requires professionals with a high level of education and considerable work experience. You will have to compete for a job with locals and citizens of other European Union countries who have priority for employment. If you find a job and conclude a contract, you can use it to obtain a work visa, and with it a temporary residence permit.
  • Family reunification. Close relatives of citizens or permanent residents have the right to move to Malta to live together. These are primarily spouses and minor children. It is much more difficult to issue a residence permit to other relatives, you will have to prove that neither independently, nor someone else can take care of them. When it comes to marriage to a foreigner, in the EU, each case is carefully checked. If it turns out that the purpose of the marriage was not the creation of a family, but immigration, the foreign spouse will be deported from the country and banned from entering the EU.
  • Education. Enrollment in a local educational institution is the basis for obtaining a study visa and a residence permit. The residence permit is issued for the period of study, but not more than one year. The document can be extended while studying. Graduates of higher education institutions have chances of employment and obtaining a residence permit on a new basis.
  • Business. The state government is interested in economic growth and offers foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain a residence permit through registration as a self-employed person. This process is more complicated if the businessman is not a citizen of the EU / EEA, as a work permit is also required to carry out activities on the island.

Obtaining a Maltese residence permit by the purchase of property remains today a popular immigration option for wealthy residents of post-Soviet states. If the conditions of the program are fulfilled, the granting of a residence permit is guaranteed.

Residence permit by the purchase of real estate in other states

Some European countries have similar procedures for obtaining a residence permit. They differ in the amount of investment required, the possibility of including the investor’s relatives in the application, and the time to obtain citizenship.

In Spain, an investment of 500,000 EUR or more is required. Only the spouse and children up to 26 years old can be included in the application. There are no requirements for the time of stay in the country. Citizenship can be applied for after 10 years.

In Portugal, you can buy a property worth 350 000 EUR and more. Application includes children under 26 years old and spouse. The minimum annual stay in the country is 7 days. You can apply for citizenship after 5 years.

In Greece, the minimum amount of investment is 250 000 EUR. Spouse and children under the age of 21 can obtain a residence permit. With an increase in the amount of investment is possible to obtain a residence permit also for parents and grandchildren. There are no requirements for staying in the country. Citizenship can be applied for no earlier than after 10 years of residence.

Citizenship by real estate in Malta

Previously, citizenship in Malta by purchasing real estate could be obtained in a year and a half after the following conditions:

  • Passing the due diligence. The price of the procedure was 7,500 EUR for the investor, 5,000 for the spouse and 3,000 for the remaining family members.
  • Transfer to the national fund of 650,000 EUR per investor. For the spouse and minor children were to pay 25,000 EUR and 50,000 EUR for the other family members. The contribution was non-refundable.
  • Purchase of government bonds worth 150,000 EUR with a ban on sale for the first 5 years.
  • Purchase of a real estate object of 350,000 EUR or lease for 5 years at a price of at least 16,000 per year.

Persons over the age of 18, who were not citizens of the European Union, could apply for Maltese citizenship by investment. In addition to passing due diligence, the investor had to prove that he or she did not suffer from an illness that was dangerous to others.

The procedure to obtain citizenship under the investment program was as follows:

  1. Submission of the application. The application had to be registered through accredited agents. At this stage, it was necessary to provide documents, confirming the origin of the state, pay the fees for the security check and passport (500 EUR each) for all persons listed in the application. In addition, the application was accompanied by a bank fee of EUR 200.
  2. Confirmation by the Maltese identity agency. A notification was sent to the accredited agent or applicant within 5 days of submission of the application. In some cases the notification may have included information about the need to provide additional documents.
  3. Due diligence. The check was divided into two stages. After 85 days, a formal declaration of compliance of the application and documents was received. After that, an additional review was conducted, which took 30 days. If approved, the applicant had to fulfill financial obligations. A formal request for this was sent to him 5 days after the end of the verification.
  4. Making the investment and payment of all prescribed fees. The main contribution to the state fund was made within 20 days. The rest of the investment obligations could be fulfilled within 95 days. Making of all established investments was documented.
  5. Obtaining citizenship. The applicant took an oath of allegiance to the state. He was given a certificate of naturalization and a national passport.

The whole procedure took up to 240 days. The investment program was very successful among citizens of countries outside the European Union. At present, it has been suspended, but it is not permanently closed.

The procedure for obtaining a residence permit in Malta by the purchase of real estate is one of the most budget-friendly in Europe. A lower investment rate is required only in Greece, but after issuing a residence permit it takes twice as long to obtain citizenship.

The process of obtaining a Maltese residence permit through the purchase of an apartment or house is strictly regulated by law. Mistakes in the preparation of documents and the wrong sequence of steps may lead to rejection. Therefore, it makes sense to seek help from a company, whose specialists are well versed in the residence permit programs and provide immigration services to Malta.

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