Malta Citizenship and Malta Residency - The Top 13 Differences

Updated: June 25, 2020 | 8 minute read

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Malta somehow manages to blend the slow-paced Mediterranean lifestyle with the bustling city energy, resulting in a fantastic quality of life. This fusion is probably due to the incredible climate and business opportunities Malta offers to its residents.

Although small in size, the island boasts top-class health care and education system. It also boasts a robust and stable economy which promises continued, steady growth.

Another reason that might convince you to move to Malta is its status as a member of the European Union and the Schengen area.

You might be thinking, “This all sounds great! But how do I get to live in Malta?”

The good news is that living in Malta is a possibility through the options and programs which are  offered in terms of the Laws of Malta:

  1. Residency; or
  2. Citizenship by Investment

So, which one is for you?

Below, we have highlighted the top 13 differences between Malta Citizenship and Residency to make your decision easier.

The below will also help you understand how the Malta Residency and Visa Programme bridges the gap between Citizenship and Residency. The programme achieves this by providing increased rights even if only under residency status.

Malta Citizenship Malta Residency for Third Country Nationals
You will be granted with a full set of rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities equivalent to those of Maltese Citizens. You will have the legal right to live in Malta and ancillary rights thereto.
You have the automatic right to work in Malta. Once you are offered a job, a work permit must be obtained.
Maltese Citizenship never expires unless given up. Residency cards have to be renewed from time to time before expiry.
Maltese Citizenship is hereditary - once obtained it is passed onto future generations. Maltese Residency has to be obtained on an individual basis and cannot be transferred. This is not the case under the MRVP where it is possible to pass on residency rights to future generations in certain instances.
Maltese Citizenship cannot be revoked easily. Maltese residency can be revoked
In terms of the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP), you have to fulfil and satisfy the investment requirements for a minimum of 5 years. Certain requirements must continue to subsist to retain the residency status.
You can vote as a citizen. You can not vote as a resident.
You can travel visa-free e/TA to an ever-increasing list of countries, currently 183 countries. You can travel visa-free to 26 Schengen states.
You can work in all 27 EU member states. You need a permit to work in other EU member states
You can stay in all 27 EU member states for as long as you like subject to certain registration requirements that may be applicable in the respective country. You can stay up to 90 days per every 180 days within the Schengen Zone.
Your children born in Malta or outside of Malta will automatically be Maltese citizens. Your children, even if born in Malta, will not be Maltese citizens but may be entitled to Maltese residence as a family member.
Eligible dependents may apply together with the main applicant under the MIIP. The primary applicant and eligible family members must apply for residence separately (MRVP covers eligible dependents at one go).

You can acquire Citizenship through various routes, like:

  • Malta Citizenship by Registration including  registration after marriage;

  • Malta Citizenship by Birth or Descent; and

  • Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation including through the IIP.

You can obtain residency through a resident permit on different basis including under various schemes, like:

  • Residence on the basis of inter alia employment/self-employment, study purposes, economic self-sufficiency, long-term residence and as a family member;

  • Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP); and

  • Malta Global Residence Programme.



Citizenship and Residency - further clarified

To gain a better insight into the two different programs available, there are a few factors you would need to consider.

First, let's discuss your;

#1 Relocation Options (by Investment)

The three highly popular investment programmes available at Maltese law  are the following:

You can either go down the citizenship route with a unique investment program called:

Otherwise, a third-country national may opt to become a Resident of Malta through the following two exclusive programmes:

It is worth noting that MRVP grants you indefinite residency rights in Malta subject to fulfilment of the applicable criteria. Whereas, GRP entitles you to a special tax status subject to the fulfilment of the applicable criteria.

Depending on your needs and circumstances, you can even couple the MRVP and GRP programs to enjoy enhanced benefits.

#2 Business

Through Citizenship by Investment (IIP), you are automatically allowed the opportunity to work or establish your business in Malta. Automatically, you are granted the right to work and do business in any of the 27 European Union countries. Registration requirements in the respective EU Country may be applicable.

Additionally, you are also able to:

  • Benefit from Malta’s tax-efficient system on individual and corporate income;

  • Freely move your capital and income;

  • Invest in property in Malta and take advantage of the stable and lucrative real estate market.

Through the Residency options, you can:

  • Still do business in Malta and other EU member states, through a separate process;

  • Opt to make use of the special tax status under the Global Residence Program.

#3 Travel

By acquiring citizenship through the IIP, you will benefit from:

  • One of the world’s most powerful passports;

  • Travel easily to 183 countries including USA, Canada and Australia without the need to apply for visas;

  • Travel and cross Schengen borders without checks across the other 26 Schengen member countries.

By acquiring Maltese residency, you gain the right to travel and cross all Schengen borders without any checks.

#4 Family

When you become a Maltese citizen, your family benefits too. By obtaining citizenship status through programmes such as the IIP, you will:

  • Protect your family legacy by allowing future generations to inherit citizenship. This protection even applies in the case of the descendants being born outside Malta;

  • Ensure your children’s future through a world-class education system;

  • Gain access to leading health care institutions;

  • Have peace of mind in what was voted as one of the safest countries in the world.

In the instance of Residency, you and your family can:

  • Apply for a European Long-Term Residence permit after 5 years of residing in Malta subject to the fulfilment of the requirements at law;

  • Work or do business with a  permit obtained to that effect;

  • Secure your children’s future through a top-class education system;

  • Gain access to leading health care institutions.

The primary difference here is that residency status cannot be transferred, albeit an eligible family member may apply for residence on the basis of your status. The same, however, cannot be said with respect to indefinite residence obtained in terms of the MRVP, where, in certain instances, it is possible to pass on your residency rights to future generations.

Learn more about it Malta Residency by Investment.

#5 Live

Citizenship through investment grants you settlement rights in the following countries:

Austria Latvia
Belgium Liechtenstein
Bulgaria Lithuania
Croatia Luxembourg
Cyprus  Malta
Czechia Netherlands
Denmark Norway
Estonia Poland
Finland Portugal
France Romania
Germany Slovakia
Greece Slovenia
Hungary Spain
Iceland Sweden
Ireland Switzerland


United Kingdom


The Malta Residency and Visa Program allows you to:

  • Indefinitely reside and settle in Malta;

  • Gain increased rights in the following countries once European Long-Term Status is achieved:

Austria Italy
Belgium Latvia
Bulgaria Lithuania
Croatia Luxembourg
Cyprus Netherlands
Czechia Poland
Estonia Portugal
Finland Romania
France Slovakia
Germany Slovenia
Greece Spain
Hungary Sweden


Final Words

When comparing the two programs, it is apparent that Citizenship by Investment (IIP) holds more prestige and privilege. However, the Malta Residency and Visa Program is a unique programme in its own right. Maltese residency is also a gateway to the European Union.

Wedged between the South of Europe and the North of Africa, Malta’s unique geographical position opens a doorway to European, African and Middle Eastern markets.

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