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Malta Issues New Citizenship Programme for Exceptional Services

The Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulation has been enacted by virtue of Legal Notice 437 of 2020 with the scope of regulating the granting of citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services to the Republic of Malta on the basis of humanity, or on the basis of exceptional interest to the Republic of Malta.

A person may apply for a certificate of naturalisation if that person:

  • undertakes to take the oath of allegiance to the Republic of Malta and to abide by the Constitution of Malta
  • undertakes to promote the fundamental and democratic values of the Republic of Malta
  • undertakes to support the Maltese community in the spirit of social justice and equity
  • has rendered an exceptional contribution, meaning manifestly superior and refers primarily to contributions by scientists, researchers, athletes, sportspeople, artists and cultural performers, to the Republic of Malta
  • has rendered an exceptional contribution to humanity
  • is of exceptional interest to the Republic of Malta
  • is willing to contribute through an exceptional direct investment in the economic and social development of the Republic of Malta

On the other hand, a person is disqualified from applying for the grant of a certificate of naturalisation as a citizen of Malta if the person or any of the dependants:

  • is or was indicted of an offence before an International Criminal Court or has been arraigned at any time before an International Criminal Court, whether such person has been found guilty or otherwise
  • are listed with INTERPOL or EUROPOL
  • is an actual or potential threat to Malta’s national security, public policy or public health
  • has been charged or found guilty of terrorism, money laundering, funding of terrorism, crimes against humanity, war crimes, defilement of minors, indecent assault and other serious crimes
  • has been found guilty or suspected or has criminal charges brought against him for any criminal offence punishable with more than 1 year imprisonment, other than an involuntary offence
  • is or is likely to be involved in any activity which may cause disrepute to the Republic of Malta
  • has been denied a visa to a country with whom Malta has visa-free travel arrangements, and has not subsequently obtained a visa from that country
  • is named or listed in international sanctions
  • makes a false statement or otherwise omits material information

Upon satisfaction of the above-mentioned eligibility criteria, a prospective applicant who is desirous to apply for the eligibility assessment may submit the forms which must be accompanied by:

  1. a declaration that the applicant and his dependants are fit and proper persons to hold Maltese citizenship
  2. a declaration duly filled and certified by a recognised medical practitioner attesting that the applicant and his dependants are in good health and are not suffering from any contagious disease and are not likely to become a burden on the Maltese public health system
  3. a clean police conduct certificate from the countries where applicant has resided for at least 6 months during the last 10 years; and
  4. a title to residential property in Malta.

The Agency may require further documents from time to time.

Special Provisions applicable to Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Merit

In addition to the above-mentioned general requirements, the Regulations provide that the application for a certificate of citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by merit, shall be accompanied by the following:

  1. proof of residence in Malta for at least 8 months in the period preceding the date of application;
  2. proof of the exceptional services rendered to the Republic of Malta or to humanity, or if the individual claims that his naturalisation is of exceptional interest to the Republic of Malta, provides an endorsement by the designated competent body;
  3. a recommendation by two people who are qualified to act as sponsors for the applicant.

Special Provisions applicable to Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment

This new programme is intended to succeed the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) which facilitated Maltese citizenship by investment.

The application for naturalisation through exceptional services by direct investment must be accompanied by the following:

  1. proof of residence in Malta, for a period of 36 months preceding the date of application or 12 months subject to (c) below
  2. an undertaking to either purchase, an immovable residential property in Malta having a minimum value of €700,000 or to lease a residential immovable property in Malta for a minimum annual rent of €16,000, which property must be kept for a minimum period of 5 years from the date of issue of the certificate of citizenship
  3. an undertaking to make an investment of €600,000 when the application is submitted after 36 months of residence, or €750,000 when the application is submitted after 12 months of residence
  4. an undertaking to donate, prior to the issue of the certificate of naturalisation, a minimum of €10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic non-governmental organisation or society, or as otherwise approved by the Agency
  5. an undertaking to make an investment of €50,000 for each dependant

Further to the above, the following fees apply when submitting an application for citizenship under the exceptional investment route:

 Main ApplicantPer Dependant
Due Diligence Fees€15,000€10,000
Residence Permit€5,000€1,000

On behalf of the Minister, the newly founded Community Malta Agency administers the due diligence and verification process of the eligibility of the applicant.

Upon satisfaction that the applicant meets the necessary criteria, the Minister authorises the applicant to submit an application for Maltese citizenship. If the application is approved, the Community Malta Agency shall issue a Letter of Approval in Principle to the Applicant who shall be required to complete the process and take the Oath of Allegiance within 6 months from the approval. 

During the first 5 years from the grant of the certificate of Maltese citizenship, the Agency may request the applicant to provide any information or documentation and may also subject the applicant to an interview.

The number of certificates for Maltese citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment granted shall not exceed 400 hundred per annum, and a total of 1,500 for the duration of the regulations. Applications for Maltese citizenship by direct investment must be submitted through a duly licensed agent.

This article was written by Dr Maria Attard and Dr Cherise Abela Grech.

For more information on applications for Maltese citizenship or Malta’s residence programmes please contact Dr Cherise Abela Grech or Dr Maria Attard.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.