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The Ultimate Guide to Maltese Citizenship: Requirements and Benefits

In today's interconnected world, the concept of citizenship has gained immense importance. Citizenship not only serves as a legal status but also grants individuals access to various rights, privileges, and opportunities in their adopted country. One country that has become an attractive destination for those seeking citizenship is Malta. Situated in the Mediterranean, this small island offers a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a strategic location. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the requirements and benefits of obtaining Maltese citizenship.

Ways of acquiring Maltese citizenship explained

Acquiring Maltese citizenship involves a formal process that necessitates meeting specific criteria.  There are seven avenues to obtain Maltese Citizenship, as explained hereunder: 

Citizenship by birth

The inclusion of Maltese Citizenship by birth in the Maltese constitution has a historical significance that dates back to its inception on September 21, 1964, coinciding with the establishment of the Independence Constitution. This constitutional framework delineated the criteria for automatic acquisition of Maltese citizenship by birth. Formerly, the constitution stipulated that any individual born on Maltese territory was to be inherently recognized as a Maltese citizen as of birth. This right extends its protection to all individuals born within the geographical boundaries of Malta, encompassing even newborns discovered abandoned in any location within Malta and Gozo, and who may otherwise be considered stateless

Subsequently, on August 1st, 1989, an amendment was instituted, specifying that those born on or after this date could claim Maltese citizenship if at least one of their parents held Maltese citizenship.

Citizenship by marriage

Another avenue for attaining Maltese citizenship entails entering into matrimony with a Maltese citizen. This matrimonial union grants foreign nationals certain privileges, including the prerogative to reside in Malta without the requirement of a visa and the ability to engage in gainful employment without the necessity of a work permit.

It is imperative to note, however, that the eligibility to seek citizenship through this route is contingent upon the maturation of a legal marriage, spanning a minimum period of five years. Malta steadfastly upholds strict sanctions against sham marriages, categorizing them as a criminal offence and individuals who engage in marriages solely for the purpose of acquiring citizenship may face legal repercussions, including financial penalties or a potential term of imprisonment of up to two years. 

It is noteworthy that the dissolution of the marital bond, through divorce or the unfortunate demise of the spouse, does not eliminate the right to retain Maltese citizenship once the same has been legally obtained. This entitlement persists provided that the marriage lasted for a period of not less than five years.

Furthermore, the birth of a child during the marriage does not reduce the five-year requirement. 

Citizenship by Naturalisation

The Maltese Citizenship Act establishes who may become a citizen of Malta by naturalisation, provided that certain criteria are met.  A foreign person who is over 18 years of age and has resided in Malta throughout the twelve months immediately preceding the application and can proof that he resided in Malta for an aggregate minimum period of four years, during the six years preceding the twelve months period may apply.  The applicant must be of good character, has adequate knowledge of Maltese or English.  During this timeframe, it is imperative to ensure that one's absence from Malta would not have exceeded six months in a single absence or ten months in total.

Additionally, applicants are obliged to maintain uninterrupted residency in Malta for a subsequent twelve years following the initial application. 

Maltese citizenship by family reunification

Citizenship by family reunification is a legal avenue primarily available to individuals with direct ties to current or former Maltese citizens. This pathway is subject to specific criteria.

Eligibility for this citizenship category must include one of the following circumstances:

  • If you were born in Malta with at least one Maltese parent in 1989.
  • For individuals born outside Malta with a Maltese father between 21 September 1964 and 31 July 1989.

Additionally, Maltese citizenship by family reunification may be sought under various other conditions, such as being born in Malta or to Maltese parents on 21 September 1964 (Malta's independence date from the United Kingdom), or being born in Malta to at least one parent before 21 September 1964. Other potential qualifiers encompass individuals who were subjects of the United Kingdom or its colonies prior to 21 September 1964 and individuals born outside Malta to a Maltese father who was also born outside Malta, provided their grandfather or great-grandfather was born in Malta.

This category further encompasses former Maltese citizens, those adopted or fostered by Maltese nationals from outside Malta, grandchildren of Maltese citizens, siblings of Maltese citizens, children of foreign nationals who have obtained Maltese citizenship, and guardians of minor Maltese citizens.

Applications for citizenship by family reunification can be processed through a Maltese embassy or consulate.

Citizenship for giving an exceptional service to the Maltese Islands

The Republic of Malta offers the distinction of Maltese citizenship to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional merit and accomplishments in the fields of science, culture, business, politics, and sports. 

It's essential to note that the criteria for defining "exceptional" merits are not explicitly defined or standardized. 

The Granting of Malta Citizenship for Exceptional Services regulations (CDI):

The Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations, issued by Legal Notice 437 of 2020, allows foreign individuals and their families to apply for Maltese citizenship by contributing to the economic development of Malta. These regulations shall attract reputable applicants, who will bring useful knowledge and experience to the country, create new opportunities and contribute to the country’s economic development. 

The general requirements broadly include:

  • A substantial financial contribution to the Maltese National Development and Social Fund.
  • Investment in real estate.
  • A period of residency in Malta.

The applicant initiates the application by following a specified procedure and undergoes a comprehensive due diligence process. This procedure is segmented into distinct stages, namely the Residence stage, Eligibility stage, and Citizenship stage. The minimum required residence duration is either 12 or 36 months, contingent on the scale of the applicant's investment. Read Choosing the right path to Maltese Citizenship for more information.

Asylum Seekers

Annually, Malta receives a significant influx of thousands of refugees, necessitating the consideration of citizenship and political asylum as a compelled option for many. In this context, refugees are exempt from the requirements of undergoing tests or paying state fees.

Nevertheless, the imperative requirement for refugees remains the substantiation of life-threatening circumstances or experiences of discrimination in their country of origin. This evidentiary burden underscores the gravity and necessity of their need for refuge and protection.

Benefits of Maltese Citizenship

Acquiring Maltese citizenship brings about a range of benefits that extend beyond just mere legal recognition of one’s citizenship:

EU Citizenship: One of the most significant advantages of obtaining Maltese citizenship is the access it provides to the European Union. Maltese citizens can live, work, and study in any EU member state, enjoying the benefits of freedom of movement within the EU.

Global Mobility: Having a Maltese passport can facilitate travel to a multitude of countries. Maltese citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries across the globe.

Stability: Malta boasts a robust economy with a favorable business environment. Citizens can benefit from economic stability, business opportunities, and a competitive tax regime.

Superior Quality of Life: With its mild climate, rich cultural heritage, and picturesque landscapes, Malta offers a superior quality of life. From historic sites to modern amenities, the country caters to a diverse range of interests and is undoubtedly a thriving nation.

Educational and Healthcare Benefits: Maltese citizens have access to the country's reputable education and healthcare systems. This is particularly appealing to families seeking top-notch education and healthcare services.

Real Estate and Property Investment: Becoming a Maltese citizen opens doors to investing in the country's real estate market, and consequently associated financial growth.

Whether through naturalization or CDI, the journey towards Maltese citizenship requires fulfilling specific criteria and adhering to applicable regulations and processes. It's advisable to consult experts in the field to navigate the process successfully and stay informed about any updates or changes in the requirements.

DZ Advisory is a licensed agent [AKM-DZAD] who can assist eligible applicants and their families through the whole regulatory process in accordance with the Maltese regulations. Please provide us with your contact details and one of our team members shall be in contact with you promptly.

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