The Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP)
Passed into law via L.N. 288 of 2015, the MRVP grants South Africans and other non-Maltese citizens, the opportunity of acquiring a lifetime residence in Malta and visa-free travel within the 26 European Schengen states.
Also referred to as the “Golden Visa”, this programme is ideal for individuals seeking European residence rather than citizenship, granting interested parties many of the benefits that could be obtained via the more costly and permanent Citizenship by Investment Programme (MIIP) through a briefer process.
Moreover, for individuals who are considering the MIIP and whose country of origin forbids dual or multiple citizenships, such as in the case of China, the MRVP offers the opportunity of a trial period, before the citizenship of origin has to be given up irreversibly.
Why choose Malta?
The Mediterranean island of Malta gained independence in 1964, entered the European Union (EU) in 2004, and has been part of the Schengen Area since 2007. This allows Maltese residence holders unfettered movement and countless opportunities for conducting business, within Europe.
In recent years, the island country has enjoyed one of the most stable economies within the EU, with a current estimated budget surplus of 1.0 % of GDP. In fact during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, Malta and Germany were the only two EU states which maintained economic growth. This, coupled with the local attractive tax conditions, has drawn diverse businesses to the island leading to a dynamic economy.
The Maltese archipelago is strategically positioned in the center of Mediterranean Sea, at crossroads between the European and African continents. Due to this, it’s ideal climate and natural harbours, in past centuries the island was aimed at, battled for and conquered by numerous great powers. This has resulted in a unique language, rich history and an eclectic architectural and cultural inheritance.
These factors have in the last decade attracted many foreign nationals to the Maltese islands, leading to yet another departure from the status quo of the previous decades, to a more cosmopolitan society. Despite this ongoing transition, Malta still boasts a relatively safe and crime-free environment, as well as a stable political climate, making it an ideal relocation haven for families and businesses alike.
The Benefits of a Maltese Residence for South African Nationals
- The right to reside in Malta indefinitely (permit renewable every five years)
- Visa-free travel within all 26 countries forming the Schengen area and the right to stay in any one of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days in every 6 month
- Application open to the entire family including children, parents and grandparents of main applicant and spouse,
- No age limits set for dependent children’s applications
- The right of application for the spouse/partner and any direct dependents of the main applicant’s children, subject to an additional fee contribution and due diligence checks
- Once obtained, residency permits will not be withdrawn from dependents irrespective of age and change in marital status
- No residence requirement
- The eligibility to apply for long term resident status after residing in Malta for 5 years continuously, gaining access to benefits such as free healthcare and education
- Since Malta is a former British colony, local education is based on the British system, ensuring a high level of education
- State schools are free to all students and include free transportation and books
- Malta is a bilingual country and English is one of the two official local languages
- The qualifying investment is required solely for the initial five years
- Safe place to relocate family due to low crime rate
- No tax on foreign capital gains
- Foreign income not transferred to Malta is not taxed in Malta
- No world-wide taxation
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The Prerequisites for an MRVP Applicant
- Must be at least 18 years old
- Be earning a stable income on a regular basis, and able to support self and dependents
- Earn an income of €100,000 minimum per annum outside of Malta, or be of a global net worth of €500,000 in excess
- Be in possession of a global medical insurance scheme that covers self and dependents
- Must be able to present an official document certifying good health
- Be of good repute and a possess a clean criminal record
What are the Required Steps for a Successful MRVP Application Process?
- A one-time contribution to the Government of Malta
- Purchasing or renting a local property, in adherence with the stipulated price limits
- Investing in Government-approved bonds/investment schemes
A non-refundable contribution of €30,000 is required. Of this, €5,500 is an administrative fee which is to be paid upon submitting the MRVP application, while the remaining amount is due only after the application has been approved.
Interested parties must bear in mind that while the total €30,000 fee covers the main applicant, spouse/civil partner and their children, an additional €5,000 must be paid for every parent and grandparent of the main applicant and their spouse, included in the application. Furthermore, another €5,000 per application would have to be paid for any dependents that may be added later, such as adult children’s spouses.
The main applicant is required to purchase a property costing a minimum of €270,000 or €320,000 (the lower value limit is applicable for property located in Gozo or in the Southern region of Malta). Alternatively, the applicant may rent a property at a minimum cost of €10,000 or €12,000 (the same “price to region” considerations apply) per year.
Both arrangements are to be based on 5 year contracts, after which the beneficiary may sell the property in the case of purchase, and is not obliged to renew the lease on the qualifying property in the case of rental. However, in order to retain residence, the applicant must provide a valid residential address, which at this stage would no longer be required to meet the qualifying criteria.
3.Investment in Government Schemes
A minimum investment of €250,000 in bonds or other government-approved investment schemes is required. Interested parties can select from debt or equity securities listed on the Official List of the Malta Stock Exchange, and/or from licensed collective investment schemes also listed in the Malta Stock Exchange. The selected investment must be held for 5 years.
A Financing/Loan Opportunity for ProCitizenship Clients
Interested parties who are unable to fulfill the financial criteria required for the MRVP application, may benefit from a financing/loan arrangement with ProCitizenship. This opportunity is available to South African nationals and all other nationalities, with the exception of North Korean, Afghan and Iranian nationals.
Here at ProCitizenship we are currently offering this exclusive service, through a fully licensed and reputable Law and Investment Firm, with whom over the years we have forged a solid professional relationship.
After it is determined that interested parties qualify for this financing arrangement, ProCitizenship clients wishing to benefit from it, would be required to issue a one-time non-refundable payment of €65,000, in place of the refundable €250,000 contribution towards Government Schemes. Once transferred, the €65,000 payment will be at the Investment Firm’s disposal to invest as they see fit.
Therefore, under the financing agreement, applicants’ would be able to pay the following minimum amounts:
- €65,000 (instead of Govt. Bonds’ invst.) + €30,000 Fee + €10,000 Home Rental per year
- Total: €120,000 for main applicant, partner and dependants (excluding the additional fees for parents and grandparents).
ProCitizenship clients who choose to take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity, would be benefitting from the most cost effective “Golden Visa”/ Permanent Residence Programme, available within Europe.
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The Timeline for the MRVP Application Process
Our highly competent team at ProCitizenship will be at your service, thoroughly ensuring that the application process is made as uncomplicated and expeditious as possible.
- Payment of professional fees
- Initial background check required for compliance approval
- Signing the letter of engagement
- Payment Bank Charges, Government Due Diligence fee and balance of professional fees
- Submission of Complete MRVP application (including initial €5,500 deducted from the €30,000 Govt. contribution) to the MRVA.
- Commencement of due diligence checks by the MRVA
- Government due diligence investigation
- Possibility of clarification questions by the MRVA
- MRVA notifies about application outcome
Payment of remaining contributions (upon application approval):
- Remaining contribution fee balance
- Qualifying Govt. Schemes Investment
- Required Property Investment
- Acquisition of a Global Health Insurance Plan
- Applicant and all family members added to application, must be present to submit Biometrics
- Issuance of Lifetime Residency Document
- Issuance of Residency Card
Tax Considerations for Malta
- Any locally generated income for Malta tax residents who are not domiciled in Malta, will be taxed as per the standard progressive tax rate
- Foreign sourced income remitted to Malta will be taxed at a fixed rate of 15%
- Capital gains arising outside Malta will remain non-taxable even if remitted to Malta
- One may avoid double taxation via double tax treaties (to date Malta has in place over 72 double taxation agreements)
Our tax advisors will be able to clarify any queries.
Frequently Asked Questions
1: What nationalities are eligible to apply for the Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP)?
Interested parties must be non-EU nationals, as the provisions of the programme’s terms automatically make EU nationals non-eligible. South Africans and all other nationalities, with the exception of Afghan, Iranian and North Korean nationals, are eligible to apply.
The list of eligible nationalities is always subject to change in accordance with any agreement policies’ changes between governments.
2: Which family members can be included in the main applicant’s MRVP application?
The main applicant’s spouse/civil partner and their unmarried and financially dependent children, may be included at no extra charge. Any parents and/or grandparents of both the main applicant and their spouse, who prove they are not financially active and are mainly dependent on the main applicant, may be applied for as dependants at an additional fee of €5,000.
The appropriate valid documentation (such as birth certificates) must be procured in order to prove the stated relational link between the main applicant and dependents in question.
3: Does the application fee vary according to the size of one’s family?
No. The €30,000 MRVP application fee covers the applicant, spouse/civil partner and all their qualifying children. However, a residence card must be renewed every five years, and the processing fee is of €137.50 per person for 5 years (€27.50 per year for each dependant).
4: Do the residence certificate and residence card expire?
The Residence Certificate does not expire. The Residence Card is valid for 5 years, or until the stipulated cut-off dates, set at ages 14 and 18 for children.
5: Is it possible for applicants to open a bank account under the MRVP?
Yes, applicants are able to open bank accounts at their discretion.
6: What form of investments are acceptable under the Malta Residence and Visa Programme?
As per the MRVP, a Qualifying Investment will consist of Government Stocks/Schemes that hold a market value equivalent to €250,000. These stocks/bonds can be purchased from a suitable stockbroker, and the Identity Malta Agency will need the original certified true copy of the purchase agreement, on submitting the required documentation.
7: With regards to the qualifying investment, can the applicant sell the government bonds and still hold a Maltese residency after the initial 5 years?
Yes, the Maltese residency remains valid if the qualifying investment is sold after the required 5 years and as long as any other requirements stipulated in L.N. 288 of 2015 are satisfied.
8: Do applicants need to own, purchase or rent a property during the application stage?
No, the applicant only needs to purchase/rent a property after receiving the Letter of Approval from the MRVA. However, in the event that a property would have been purchased or rented ahead of the application submission, it would be considered acceptable only if it meets the qualifying criteria as per L.N. 288 of 2015.
9: Is the applicant allowed to sell or stop renting the declared qualifying property during the first five years and replace it with another qualifying property?
Yes, as long as it is replaced by another property that meets the criteria stipulated by the programme, the beneficiary may sell the qualifying property and buy/rent a new property. ProCitizenship clients would be required to inform us of this change and pass on the relevant documentation (ie. a certified true copy of the purchase/rent agreement) and in turn we would submit this documentation to the Identity Malta Agency on behalf of our clients.
10: Is an AIP permit required for an MRVP applicant to buy/rent the qualifying property, even if the property in question is not in the “special situated area”?
Yes, an AIP permit would still be required under these conditions.
11: Would the minimum property requirements still apply after a qualifying property has been held for the initial 5 years?
After the initial 5 years, applicants are not obliged to own or rent a property that meets the stipulated qualifying criteria. However, in order to retain residence, they must provide a suitable residential address.
12: Can the qualifying property be co-owned by the main applicant, his/her spouse, children and/or other dependents? Would this be accepted as part of the €500,000 capital assets required to qualify for the programme?
Yes, co-ownership is allowed but only up to spouse and children, as long as the spouse and children are included in the application. Therefore, in the case that the main applicant is applying on his/her own, only the value of his/her individual share will count as part of the qualifying property value.
No, the property value does not count as part of the required €500,000 capital assets (see question 13).
13: Is the qualifying €500,000 capital requirement, distinctive from the required property value and the €250,000 worth of government stocks?
Yes, the above are three different and distinctive requirements, and interested parties must fulfill all three:
- €250,000 investment in government-approved bonds/shares
- Property purchase valued at €270,000/€320,000 or rent value of €10,000/€12,000 p.a.
- Own a capital of €500,000 and/or €100,000 (arising outside Malta) income per annum.
In addition to the above, applicants must pay a one-time €30,000 MRVA application fee.
14: With regards to the required capital amount, given that most people do not keep cash in a bank account for lengthy periods, do investments count? May an applicant present a security/investment portfolio and/or property appraisal and/or company financial accounts, as proof of capital?
Yes, these documents are acceptable as long as they are issued by reputable and official firms/entities. On submitting the MRVP application, such documents would need to be submitted with the required forms, including form MRVP2, which includes a statement of Source of Wealth and Source of Funds.
The Identity Malta Agency’s main concern is that applicants are in possession of enough funds to sustain themselves and their dependents, and that they would be a financial asset, not a burden on Maltese economy.
15: Is the applicant’s spouse considered a dependent if he/she has assets or sources of income?
Yes, the spouse will still be considered a dependent, however, this does not preclude him/her from being in possession of assets and/or sources of income in any way.
16: Would the relevant authorities require the presentation of original documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and so on, at a later stage?
No, such certificates are required only at the application stage and they may be submitted either as originals or certified true copies of originals. These documents must be either apostilled or legalized.
In the case that such documents are in any other language besides English, they must be translated to English, and translations carried out abroad must be apostilled or legalized, while translations carried out in Malta must be done by a registered translator.
17: Would the main applicant need to submit a copy of divorce certificates, signature and passport copy of the divorced partner(s) in case of dependent children?
If the main applicant or qualifying dependent is divorced, a divorce certificate must invariably be submitted.
In the case the main applicant and/or their spouse has sole legal custody, there is no need to procure the signature of the divorced partner, or a copy of the divorced partner’s passport, they would just need to provide a court document indicating that they have sole custody of the child/children.
However, if the applicant and/or their spouse have shared custody of the child/children (dependents), they would need to procure the signature of the divorced partner and submit it on Form MRVP 4, together with a certified true copy of his/her passport.
In the case that the divorced partner has sole legal custody, the main applicant and/or their spouse may still include the child as their dependent as long as the divorced partner signs the MRVP4 Form.
18: Is there a minimum amount of health insurance required for each MRVP applicant and dependent?
Yes, there is a minimum required amount of €30,000 (thirty thousand Euros).
When submitting the proof of health insurance, applicants must submit an endorsement letter from the insurance company (or equivalent) clearly listing details of cover, including:
- List of persons insured
- Minimum cover per person per year
- Covers EU countries
- The validity of cover must be 1 year minimum, and renewable after 5
- Not a travel Policy
- Covers full hospitalization
- No exclusions in cover
19: Which are the official documents that must be submitted to the MRVA and in which format?
The required official documents are:
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate
- Divorce Certificate
- Police Conduct (only original is accepted)
- Military Records
- Award of Custody
Original and official documents must be apostilled/legalized by the government authority of the issuing country, but certified true copies of apostilled/legalized originals are acceptable.
In the case that certification is done abroad, an apostille/legalization of the certifier is required. Translations (to English) of original, or of certified true copies of these official documents, need to be apostilled/legalized if carried out abroad.
20: In which language does a self-declaration have to be submitted?
A self-declaration must be signed and dated by the issuer and has to be submitted in the original language. However, any self-declarations not in English must be translated into English. Translations carried out abroad must be apostilled or legalized, while translations carried out in Malta must be done by a registered translator.
21: If the applicant resides in a country where there is no Maltese embassy/ consulate such as in South Africa, or if they so prefer, can a local lawyer/solicitor/notary act as witness for the signature on form MRVP1 and any other affidavit? Also, can a local court of law be the signature witness?
Yes, a commissioner of oaths could be available in local Courts of Law. Moreover, any entity empowered to administer oaths in a respective jurisdiction, may bear witness to the signing on Form MRVP 1 and other affidavits, as long as the MRVA is presented with proof of their qualifying authority.
Note: All signatures must bear the stamp and relevant details of the authorising office/entity.
Malta has no consular post in South Africa. However the Consulate of Italy in CapeTown and the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, act as representatives of Malta for all legal intents and purposes.
22: How would the initial payment of €5,500 of the contribution be effected?
The €5,500 must be transferred on your behalf by us at ProCitizenship, via an electronic bank transfer into Bank of Valletta account number: 40023969188, in the name of Identity Malta Agency (IMA). When the application pack is accepted by the IMA, a request for payment is handed over to the ProCitizenship team, after which we will initiate the payment quoting the client’s IMA Application Reference number.
23: What happens following the submission of application packs?
A receipt confirming the application pack submission is given to your ProCitizenship agent, who will also be required to pay the initial fee of €5,500 on your behalf. Once the pack is received by IMA, a due diligence process is carried out on the Main Applicant and dependents.
If this process is successful, the Letter of Approval in Principle is issued by the MRVP team. Following this process, which may take between 4 to 8 months, the main applicant will be required to purchase/rent the qualifying property, purchase the qualifying investment and also the necessary Health Insurance Cover.
The main applicant will be allowed a timeframe of three months (which can be extended if the need arises) from the receipt of the Letter of Approval in Principle to effect the required purchases. Once the applicant provides all the required documentation, the IMA will issue a letter of invitation to the beneficiary, inviting them and their dependents to call at their offices in order to submit the required biometric data. Within 3 to 5 days, the IMA will issue the Residence Certificate and Cards.
24: Will the MRVP residence card holder be allowed to travel visa-free throughout Europe or only to Schengen countries?
MRVP residence card holders may travel only to Schengen countries and for a maximum period of 90 days, within 180 days. Card holders should invariably carry a valid travel document together with the residence card.
25: Which is the best “Golden Visa” programme in Europe?
The local MRVP given the financing option, followed by the visa programmes of Portugal and Greece.
26: Which is the best Golden Visa programme in Europe with regards to investing in real estate?
Malta offers the most popular programme with regards to real estate, as it allows for a minimum €270,000 investment, with a minimum capital appreciation of 5% per annum.
Greece offers the cheapest real estate investment at €250,000, however Greek property prices remain lower in comparison to other EU countries.
Portugal’s golden visa programme requires a €350,000 real estate purchase, and may lead to citizenship after 6 years.
27: Which is the cheapest Golden Visa programme in Europe?
The Maltese programme which starts at €120,000 minimum if one avails from the financing option with ProCitizenship, followed by Greece at €250,000.
28: Which country has the fastest Golden Visa programme?
- Malta – 3 months (Currently up to 9 months due to high volume of applications)
- Portugal – 4 months
- Greece – 4 months
29: What is the general process required for obtaining a Golden Visa?
The process for obtaining a Golden Visa goes as follows:
- Payment of initial 50% on engagement letter
- ProCitizenship assists its esteemed clients with the real estate acquisition (hotels, residential properties, etc.)
- If one is already in possession of a Schengen visa they may travel to Malta/Greece/Portugal, and apply for a long term residence permit at a Migration office. If one is applying from their home country, they may apply for the Schengen C/D visa at the nearest consulate
- On Approval the remaining 50% legal fees must be settled
- The residence permit may be collected after arrival. This typically takes 4 months processing time for Portugal and Greece, and 3 to 9 months (due to the high volume of applications) for Malta
Our dedicated team at ProCitizenship is available to clarify further and assist with any of the above.
30: Are personal visits to the country one is applying for residence in required?
Yes, while this varies from country to country, personal visits are required for biometrics’ submission and the signing of documents. With regards to Malta, a personal visit is required in the final stage, only on approval.
What is the difference between a Visa and a Residence Permit (RP)?
Visas are issued for short term stays of maximum 90 days, and allow for one or multiple entries. These may only be renewed at the consulate/embassy of the applicant’s home country.
Residence Permits grant a long term residency status of 90 days or more, with unlimited entry/exit concessions, and may be renewed in the country for whence residence is applied for.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the lawful process by which an individual acquires the citizenship of a country, after living in it for a certain number of years, as stipulated by local regulations. The qualifying requirements vary from country to country.
Successful MRVP applicants are eligible to apply for Maltese naturalization.
What is the difference between a Residence Permit (RP), a Permanent Residency (PR) and Citizenship?
A Resident Permit (RP) is issued for the purpose of long term residency, which equates to residing in the applied for country for over 3 months, and its validity is time-based, normally up to 1 or 2 years, which is why they are also called temporary residence programmes.
On the other hand, a PR status is granted to immigrants who have resided uninterrupted in a country for 5 years or more. PR permits tend to be valid for approximately 5 to 10 year periods. In Malta, under the MRVP, residency is granted for life.
A citizenship programme such as the MIIP, leads to the applicant obtaining the local passport, therefore granting the same absolute rights and freedoms as citizens by birth.
Malta Residency and Visa Program details was updated the 04-03-2020.