Important factors to consider in residence planning
Stuart MacFeeters, Managing Partner, Henley & Partners Malta
The Mediterranean state of Malta offers its citizens rare beauty and a distinctive cultural heritage. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the humble archipelago has a history that dates as far back as 5,000 BC when the inhabitants of neighboring Sicily (Italy) crossed the waters to settle there. They built infrastructure unlike anywhere else, and these buildings still exist today as the oldest megalithic structures known to man.
The country covers a mere 316 square kilometers and has a population of roughly 400,000. Although its capital city, Valletta, is one of the world’s smallest, it is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
Despite its small geographic stature, Malta has developed an effective business infrastructure over the past 15 years, strategically positioning itself as an international business hub. Since the island nation joined the EU in 2004, its financial industry has experienced constant growth, offering a number of key advantages for businesspeople. From a tax perspective, Malta places one of the lowest tax burdens globally on its residents, with the system combining corporate taxation with favorable tax-credit incentives.
Secured by the Government of Malta under a Public Services Concession, Henley & Partners was chosen as the Concessionaire for the Malta Individual Investor Program (MIIP) in 2014. The MIIP is ranked worldwide as the top citizenship-by-investment program in the Global Residence and Citizenship Programs 2016 report published by Henley & Partners. The report considers a broad range of factors such as immigration law, tax and quality of living, as well as transparency, risk and compliance issues from multiple sources.
On almost all the benchmarks, the MIIP comes out head and shoulders above the rest. Critically, the MIIP not only offers citizenship in a well-respected and stable country within the EU; it also endows citizens with the right of settlement in 31 European countries, including the 28 EU member countries, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The capital requirement is reasonable and the application process efficient.
The MIIP has one of the world’s strictest and most advanced due-diligence processes and standards, ensuring only the very best applicants are admitted. Besides these key advantages, the MIIP has a cap of 1,800 applicants, making it one of most exclusive citizenship-by-investment programs in the world. The highly successful program has already secured significant new capital for the country within the first three years of operation, generating more than EUR 320 million which is being reinvested into the economy. A further EUR 133 million has been donated to the National Social Development Fund and EUR 76 million invested in property. The program has contributed over 2% to the country’s GDP.
All individuals and families applying for the citizenship-by-investment program are required to make a contribution to the country’s National Development and Social Fund. There is also an obligation to maintain a residence in Malta, either purchased or rented. In return, investors enjoy the benefits of full citizenship of Malta and access to the EU. Further attractions include Malta’s safe environment, world-class childcare and medical facilities, and an attractive tax regime. Residential settlement is focused on the two largest islands in the archipelago, Malta and Gozo.
The Mediterranean archipelago holds the 10th-highest ranking on The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017 with visa-free access to 168 countries around the world. It is also placed 22nd on The Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), with excellent scores in terms of Human Development, Travel Freedom, Settlement Freedom, and Stability and Peace.
In a world where the human race is more interdependent and mobile than at any other time in its history, and the concepts of borders and belonging are constantly being challenged, Malta’s focus is to attract top international talent, wealthy investors, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals and their families to this beautiful island.
Attractive Citizenship by Investment
By offering greater choice, opportunity, freedom and security to talented and wealthy individuals, the Maltese government is securing much-needed foreign investment, which helps drive economic growth and enriches its own citizenry by attracting people with proven business success, valuable networks and interesting personal experiences.
In order to qualify for citizenship through the MIIP, an applicant would need to meet all the following requirements:
The applicant must have been a legal resident of Malta for one year prior to the certificate of naturalization being issued.
A person who is deemed a potential national security risk, a reputational risk or who is subject to criminal investigation will be denied citizenship. Malta has developed a four-tier due-diligence system which is exceptionally thorough.
For such a small, densely populated country, Malta offers a mutually beneficial solution that meets the needs of both the Maltese government and the growing movement of global citizens.