Malta’s new investor citizenship scheme

malta, citizenship, investor 13 January 2014

In December 2013, Malta became the latest in the list of countries to announce its programme of citizenship by investment. This comes at a time when there is increasing debate over free movement within Europe.

Investment schemes offer investors citizenship in exchange for financial contributions. These citizenships come with a number of benefits, including the option of long-term residence in 28 EU countries, a second passport and visa-free travel to 163 countries around the world.

Malta’s scheme requires a total investment of €1.15 million: a financial investment of €650,000 to buy a passport, a €350,000 property investment and €150,000 in bonds or shares for at least five years. The programme does not require the investor to be resident in the EU country. Applications take between six months and two years and could provide citizenship for up to four people, with additional fees of €25,000-€50,000 per applicant. Due diligence fees also apply.

Maltese citizenship by investment will be capped at a total of 1,800 successful applications, after which the programme would be closed. The Maltese government hopes that the programme will help to boost Malta’s economy and bring in around €30 million a year.

The scheme is facing great opposition: the original proposed level of investment was just €650,000, which was increased following criticism in both Malta and other EU countries. The European Parliament will hold a debate on the scheme on 15 January 2014. However, the EU cannot interfere with citizenship decisions made by individual EU countries.

There are concerns that Malta’s scheme could reduce interest in the UK’s own investor scheme, as an investor in the Maltese investor scheme would be allowed restriction-free residence in the UK. The UK programme requires an investment of at least £1 million, although there are discussions about raising this minimum level to £2 million.

To find out more about the different citizenship-by-investment schemes on offer around the world, please contact us today.

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