Any EU / EEA or Third Country National who opts to reside in Malta for a period exceeding 3 months will need to apply to the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs for ordinary residence status and an e-Residence Card. The requirements to qualify for ordinary residence in Malta are fairly easily met, although the grounds on which EU / EEA nationals may become ordinarily resident in Malta differ from those for third country nationals, as further detailed below. While it is mandatory for property to be purchased or rented by the individual seeking ordinary resident status, there is no minimum value requirement for non-residents seeking to obtain ordinary residence in Malta, unless there is the need for an Acquisition of Immovable Property (AIP) permit. Local or international health insurance cover will also be required so as to ensure that recourse to the local health and social security system is not required.
Once ordinary residence status has been obtained, the said individual would be subject to the normal income tax rules which are applicable to any Maltese resident, namely a remittance based system of taxation where the resident is chargeable to tax only on foreign source income that is remitted to Malta and on local source income. Foreign source income not remitted to Malta and foreign source capital gains, whether remitted to Malta or otherwise are not subject to tax.
The e-Residence Card serves as both an identification document and a residency permit and should be obtained by any individual, not being a Maltese citizen, who intends to reside in Malta for a period longer than 3 months. A Third Country National in possession of an e-Residence Card will not need to apply for a Visa to travel within the Schengen area as the individual would be considered as a resident in a European Union country.
EU / EEA nationals may become ordinarily resident in Malta on the following grounds:
- Employment / Self-Employment: EU / EEA nationals may obtain ordinary residence in Malta if they are employed by a Maltese company. Alternatively, they may work for their own business if such business is established in Malta (self-employed).
- Economic Self-Sufficiency:EU / EEA nationals may obtain ordinary residence in Malta if they can show that they are able to provide for themselves and for their accompanying dependants by being financially stable and not being in need of any financial support from the Maltese government. The current thresholds for EU / EEA nationals are set at a minimum capital of €14,000 or a weekly income of € 92.32 for single persons, and at a capital of at least € 23,300 or a weekly income of € 108.63 for married couples. Furthermore, an extra €8.15 per week is required per added dependent.
- Education: EU / EEA students enrolled in an educational establishment recognized by law or who are in Malta for vocational training may obtain temporary residence for the duration of their educational or training period, provided that they are capable of sustaining themselves financially and have adequate health insurance cover for Malta.
- Family Members: EU / EEA nationals who intend to obtain ordinary residency in Malta may be accompanied by their relatives as long as such relatives are dependent on the applicant. In this context ‘relatives’ would refer to the spouse or dependent descendants, ascendants and extended family members. The term also includes life partners as long as there is evidence of a stable and durable relationship for a minimum of 2 preceding the date of application.
An ordinary residence permit allowing a non-EU / EEA national to reside in Malta for more than 3 months may be granted on a case by case basis, but generally speaking, non-EU nationals may apply for a residence permit if they will be working in Malta (under a valid employment licence), if they will be studying in Malta or upon opening a business in Malta, provided certain criteria are met. The criteria for those intending to apply for ordinary residence upon opening a business in Malta are as follows:
- The individual must invest in Malta capital expenditure of at least Eur500,000. The investment must consist of fixed assets and/or capital used for business purposes, and cannot include rental contracts.
- The individual is a highly skilled innovator with a sound business plan to be submitted with the application and must commit to recruiting at least three EEA / Swiss / Maltese Nationals within 18 months of establishment.
- The individual is a person leading a project that has been formally approved by Malta Enterprise and formally notified by the latter to the Employment &Training Corporation-ETC.
Third Country Nationals who intend to work and reside in Malta must submit a Single Work Permit Application with the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs, which comprises an application for a work permit and the application for an e-Residence card. The issued permit as a result of a submission of a Single Work Permit Application will thus be tied to a specific job for which the Third Country National came to reside in Malta and does not remain valid if the individual loses or changes such job. The permit is issued for a period of 1 year which can be renewed.
Once the EU / EEA national or the Third Country National has lived in Malta, under any of the grounds described above, for a continuous period of 5 years, he would be entitled to apply for permanent residence. In this context, ‘continuous’ means that the individual must not have been absent from Malta for more than 6 months in any given year of the aforementioned 5-year period, and further, must not have been absent from Malta for more than a total of 10 months throughout this same 5-year period.