Citizenship through investment in Malta

James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, discusses the Malta citizenship programme that grants citizenship to foreign individuals based on a minimum investment

Ideally located in the heart of the Mediterranean are the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino. Enjoying the hot and sunny summers and mild winters that the Mediterranean climate has to offer, the islands have become sought after lifestyle and investment destinations. The largest of the three islands, Malta, covers 316km2 in land area, which makes it the smallest state within the European Union (EU).

According to James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co, a market leader in facilitating citizenship, property and investment options, Malta has become an ideal investment destination the world over for many reasons. “Malta offers a secure environment in which to invest and hedge in hard currency, boasting a very stable property market that offers steady capital growth. As an EU member country, Malta offers political stability and EU benefits such as a low inflation rate. Perfectly located, it is a mere 2.5 hour flight from the UK and 90 minutes away from mainland Europe by sea with your vehicle,” he says. “Aside from the excellent investment benefits, the lifestyle on offer in Malta is unparalleled. Virtually crime free, the island is surrounded by clear seas and is steeped in culture with more than 7 000 years of heritage.”

Over the past few years, Malta has seen a drive by successive governments to promote the islands’ development as a reputable international business, financial and maritime centre. The result is that Malta complies with the policies and directives of international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Added to this, Malta also enjoys an excellent reputation and track record and is not included on any ‘black-list’ of tax havens.

Bowling says that all these factors have added to the country’s allure, with many investors from around the world taking up residence in Malta, given its advantageous tax regime and competitive cost of living. Last year the Maltese Government established a citizenship programme known as the Individual Investor Programme, through which Malta grants citizenship to foreign individuals and their families, based on a contribution to the economic development of the country. “This means that the investor and their family members become a citizen of Malta which entitles them to carry a Maltese passport.”

In order to qualify for citizenship under this programme, Bowling explains that applicants need to be at least 18 years old and must make the following three investments. The first investment is a EUR650 000 contribution to the National Economic and Social Development Fund for the main applicant, plus EUR25 000 for a spouse and each additional dependent under the age of 18, plus a further EUR50 000 for each dependent over the age of 18.

The second investment is the purchase or lease of immovable residential property. Here an investor can either purchase immovable residential property from a minimum of EUR350 000 upward or lease immovable residential property from a minimum value of EUR16 000 annually. The third investment is the purchase of stocks, bonds or debentures to the value of EUR150 000.

Bowling points out that the application process can take anywhere from six to twenty-four months, provided all conditions are satisfied. Applicants will undergo various due diligence checks including a background check. Under the programme, all main applicants as well as their spouses and dependents have to be covered by health insurance. He says that once the application has been approved in principle, the main applicant will have four months in which to provide evidence of health insurance cover as well as a contract reflecting the property investment or lease agreement at the relevant minimum values or more.

“The certificate of naturalisation will only be effective and made available to the applicants once they have taken an oath of allegiance.”

Various application fees are payable by applicants, including due diligence fees, bank charges and professional and administrative fees, all of which are non-refundable. Passport fees of EUR500 per person are refundable, in case passports are not applied for.

“Once applicants receive their citizenship they will be able to work and set up a business in Malta. Investors through the Individual Investor Programme will be taxed at a flat rate of 35% on any income earned in Malta. The standard 15% flat rate will be applicable on income declared in Malta from overseas,” adds Bowling.

“The programme is restricted to just 800 main applicants,” says Bowling, “which means that interested investors have a limited opportunity to take advantage of Maltese citizenship benefits. The Individual Investor Programme offers non-EU members the opportunity to become a citizen of a country that offers both sound investment options and all the lifestyle benefits the Mediterranean provides,” he concludes.

For more information contact:

South Africa

James Bowling at Monarch & Co on 011 883 9018 or visit www.monarchandco.com