Acquisition of Maltese Citizenship in 2022

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | 15 Feb 2022

Acquisition of Maltese Citizenship in 2022

Maltese Citizenship in 2022 is regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act, Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta. Together with other legal notices and subsidiary legislation, it provides for the modes of acquisition, deprivation, and renunciation of Maltese citizenship. The first laws regulating Maltese citizenship were found in the Maltese Constitution and later complemented by the Maltese Citizenship Act in 1965. Along the years, there were significant amendments mainly in 1989, 2000 and 2007. 

When Malta gained its independence in 1964, the Constitution established who would be entitled to claim Maltese citizenship by birth, descent or through registration. Such provisions later on were removed from the Constitution and included in the Maltese Citizenship Act. 

 

Malta Citizenship by Birth 

The acquisition of Maltese citizenship by birth is today regulated by Article 5 of the Maltese Citizenship Act. 

Previously, Article 23 of the Malta Independence Order stipulated that persons who held the status of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who were born in Malta before 21st September 1964 became citizens of Malta provided that one of the parents was also born in Malta. This article also provided that persons born outside of Malta before independence, and held the status of citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies also acquired Maltese citizenship if their father became or would but for his death have become a citizen of Malta. 

Nowadays, Malta does not grant citizenship to individuals who are just born in Malta without having Maltese parents. 

This was not the case however for individuals who were born in Malta between 21st September until August 1989. Persons who were born in Malta during this period became automatically Maltese provided that their father, who was not a citizen of Malta, did not enjoy diplomatic immunity. 

After 1989 persons born in or outside Malta and at the time of their birth their father or mother are Maltese citizens also become Maltese citizens. 

Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation

The Maltese Citizenship Act provides a route for individuals residing in Malta for a number of years (without Maltese family ties) to apply for Maltese citizenship through a process called naturalisation. This is regulated by Article 10(1) of Chapter 188. In such cases it is important to point out that ultimately even if one qualifies to apply for Maltese citizenship through naturalisation, it is the Minister responsible for this matter who has the ultimate discretion to grant or refuse an application. The Minister is not obliged to give a reason on his decision and such decision is not subject to any appeal. 

Under this route, an applicant needs two sponsors to submit a citizenship application. The first sponsor can be any citizen of Malta who knows the applicant for at least two years. The second sponsor needs to be either a lawyer, notary, medical practitioner, parish priest, judge, magistrate or a police officer not below the rank of inspector. 

Who is eligible for Maltese citizenship through naturalisation?

  1. He/She has resided in Malta throughout the period of 12 months preceding the date of the application, and
  2. During the 6 years preceding the said period of 12 months has resided in Malta for periods amounting in the aggregate to not less than 4 years, and
  3. The applicant has an adequate knowledge of the Maltese or English language, and
  4. The applicant is of good character and the applicant would be a suitable citizen of Malta

An applicant would also need to submit their current and all other expired passports covering their period of residence in Malta together with supporting documents evidencing their stay in Malta. 

 

Malta Citizenship by Marriage

The Maltese Citizenship Act also provides for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship to persons who marry a Maltese national. Article 6(1) of Chapter 188 holds that any person who has been married and residing with a Maltese national for at least five years can apply for Maltese citizenship through registration. The granting of Maltese citizenship under this provision is subject that the Minister responsible for Maltese citizenship is satisfied that the grant of citizenship to such person is not contrary to public interest. 

Malta Citizenship by Descent

An individual can also apply for Maltese citizenship if he/she has any Maltese ascendants. It is possible to apply for Maltese citizenship through registration if one is a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent likewise born in Malta. The applicant here needs to present the birth and marriage certificates of the applicant’s ascendants to provide evidence of the direct link with the two consecutive generations of ascendants born in Malta. 

Where any of the parents of a person applying to be registered as a citizen of Malta by virtue of this route was alive on 1st August 2007 and the relevant parent is also a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent likewise born in Malta, such person shall not be entitled to be registered as a citizen of Malta unless the relevant parent had at any time acquired Maltese citizenship. The law further clarifies that if any such relevant parent who dies before 1st August 2010 and who would have been entitled to acquire such citizenship under sub article (3) shall be deemed to have acquired such citizenship for the purposes of that sub-article.

Malta Citizenship by Investment 

It is also possible to apply for Maltese citizenship by investment through the Granting of Citizenship by Exceptional Services Regulations which was launched by means of Legal Notice 437 of 2020. Applicants under this route must show evidence of legal residence in Malta for at least 3 years or exceptionally 1 year against a higher investment, preceding the date of application. 

An applicant under these regulations can include in a citizenship by investment application the following dependents:

  • Spouse or partner having the same or similar status to marriage
  • A child of the main applicant or of the spouse under the age of 18
  • An unmarried and economically dependent child of the Main Applicant or the spouse who has not yet attained the age of 29
  • An economically dependent parent or grandparent of the Main Applicant or spouse above the age of 55

The main requirements to submit an application under these regulations are: 

  • Donate €10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic nongovernmental organisation approved by the citizenship agency, and
  • Purchase a residential property in Malta having a minimum value of at least €700,000 or rent a property for at least €16,000 annual rent, and
  • Make an exceptional contribution of €600,000 if applying after 3 years or €750,000 if applying after 1 year of residency. An additional contribution of €50,000 applies for each included family member.

The number of certificates to be issued under these regulations shall not exceed four hundred (400) per annum, and a total of 1,500 for the duration of the citizenship by investment regulations.

How can we assist? 

Our Maltese citizenship lawyers have over the years assisted a number of individuals and families from across the world to obtain citizenship in Malta through various routes including descent, marriage and investment.  With our extensive knowledge on Maltese citizenship law, we can guide you and your family in becoming Maltese citizens.  

 


 

 


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Dr Jean-Philippe Chetcuti

Senior Partner, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056111
jpc@ccmalta.com

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122
pmp@ccmalta.com

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