Navigating Maltese Roots: A Comprehensive Guide to Maltese Citizenship by Descent for Canadians

Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig | 14 Feb 2024

Maltese Citizenship by Descent for Canadians img

Malta-Canada Emigration

The term Maltese-Canadians refer to citizens of Canada having Maltese descent or Maltese born people who emigrated to Canada. It is estimated that there are over 40,000 Canadian citizens of Maltese descent living in various cities across Canada, the most popular one being Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and St John’s. In Toronto, one can also find an area known as Little Malta due to a presence of various Maltese social clubs and businesses run by Canadians of Maltese descent. 

In a recent visit to Canada, Maltese President George Vella said that: “I am glad to see how the first generation of Maltese is passing on the baton to younger community members”.

The Maltese emigration to Canada started in the early nineteen hundreds, however most Maltese emigrants started settling in Canada after the second world war. Most of the Maltese emigrants to Canada were either young families or single men and women looking for a better future. Although the Maltese immigrants were new to Canada, they established various sports and social clubs in the 1950’s and 60’s and also built a church dedicated to St Paul the Apostle. The Maltese community living in Canada still organise various activities such as celebrating local feasts, organising Maltese language lessons and bake Maltese traditional food. 

Malta Dual Citizenship Legislation

When the Malta Citizenship Act was enacted, it did not allow the possibility of having dual or multiple citizenship. From the 21st September onwards, dual nationality was allowed only in case of minors who in order to keep Maltese citizenship were obliged to renounce their foreign citizenship between their eighteenth and nineteenth birthday. Failure to renounce their foreign citizenship on their 19th birthday meant that they would lose their Maltese citizenship. 

Maltese citizens who emigrated and acquired Canadian citizenship voluntarily, lost their Maltese citizenship once acquiring such citizenship. 

The Maltese legislators introduced the concept of dual nationality on the 1st August 1989 however this was limited only to Maltese emigrants who were born in Malta, obtained Canadian citizenship and had spent at least six years residing in Canada. 

The main changes to Maltese dual citizenship laws were introduced in 2000 when the concept of dual citizenship was liberalised. As of 10th February 2000, Maltese legislation started allowing not only dual but multiple citizenship. Hence a Maltese citizen could acquire and retain a foreign citizenship without any repercussions. 

Article 7 of the Maltese Citizenship Act – Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta now states that “it shall be lawful for any person to be a citizen of Malta, and at the same time a citizen of another country.”

Hence, those Maltese nationals who had emigrated to Canada and acquired Canadian nationality have reacquired their Maltese citizenship subject to satisfying certain conditions and submitting a citizenship application. Individuals who on the 10th of February 2000 had not yet attained their nineteenth birthday and held another citizenship, apart from the Maltese one, retained such citizenship as they were no longer required to renounce their foreign citizenship in order not to lose their Maltese one. 

When applying for Maltese citizenship through this route, together with the citizenship application the following documents are to be presented:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Parent’s birth and marriage certificate
  • Certificate showing date of acquisition of Canadian nationality
  • Canadian passport copy
  • Documentary evidence showing that the individual has resided in Canada for at least six years

Malta Citizenship by Registration

The Malta Citizenship Act also provides for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship for those who are descendants of Maltese nationals. Any person born outside of Malta who proves that he or she is a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent likewise born in Malta shall, be entitled, upon submitting an application and taking an oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Malta. 

Article 3(5) of the Malta Citizenship Act qualifies this article by holding that if any of the parents of a person applying for citizenship by registration was alive on 1st August 2007 and the 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 said parent had at any time acquired Maltese citizenship; so however that any such relevant parent who dies before 1st August 2010 and who would have been entitled to acquire such citizenship under subarticle (3) shall be deemed to have acquired such citizenship for the purposes of that subarticle.

How can we assist?

Our team of citizenship lawyers take pride in offering comprehensive legal assistance to Maltese emigrants seeking to reacquire Maltese nationality. Our team is dedicated to guiding individuals through the legal process in reclaiming Maltese citizenship and we are committed to facilitating a smooth and efficient path towards dual citizenship. 

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Key Contacts

Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker

Senior Partner, Corporate, Tax & Immigration

+356 22056122

Dr Antoine Saliba Haig

Senior Associate, Head of Immigration

+356 22056266

Marina Magri

Head of Immigration & Global Mobility

+356 22056147

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