Residency Malta Agency is the official management body for the popular Mediterranean island’s residency-by-investment programme. Offering access to Malta’s real estate market, permanent residency for up to four generations from day one of approval, and visa-free travel across the Schengen area, it’s an ideal solution for investors seeking to secure the future of their families. Residency Malta Agency CEO Charles Mizzi explains why Malta is such an attractive destination, the unique features of Malta’s Permanent Residency Programme, and the new schemes recently introduced by the agency for digital nomads and start-up businesses.
World Finance: Charles, I’m sure many viewers will be aware of Malta’s attractions as a holiday destination; but beyond that, what attracts people to become residents?
Charles Mizzi: Yes, Malta is a fantastic destination. We have a wonderful climate with 300 days of sunshine; our outdoor life is fantastic, the nightlife is second-to-none, and our cuisine is top-notch.
We are very well connected, with daily flights to the major airports. Communication is also very easy, because we are an English-speaking nation.
But when looking for somewhere to live, people think about the future of their families. They want to make sure that they give a better education to their children, and they have the comfort in knowing that they are in a country that has one of the top five healthcare services in the world.
People also look for safety and security; and Malta offers all of this.
Of course, they are also thinking about their business. We have a pro-business climate, and government offers full support to entrepreneurs.
World Finance: You offer a permanent residency programme; what benefits does it offer, and what makes it unique?
Charles Mizzi: So as I said, people are often thinking about their families, which are at the heart of our programme.
The MPRP is also one of the few that offers residency from day one. You also get access to the real estate market, by buying or leasing a home. In fact, the MPRP is one of the few that gives the opportunity to lease: it gives you the chance to discover the island.
And of course as a resident of Malta, you will be entitled to visa-free travel across the Schengen area: for 90 days every 180 days.
World Finance: So I need to either lease or buy a property; what other requirements are there for the scheme?
Charles Mizzi: Apart from acquiring a property, you make additional contributions dependent on the property you opt for.
One must also make financial contribution which goes to the government’s consolidated fund.
On top of that, you make a donation to a registered NGO.
We also require residents to have health insurance that offers cover in Malta.
And finally we capture biometric data to issue the residence card.
World Finance: Now, for you as the official government body behind this programme, it’s not enough that people tick all those boxes – there are also some important due diligence checks that you carry out?
Charles Mizzi: Yes, due diligence is the backbone of our programme. It’s the basis of our strong reputation.
It starts with KYC, which is done by the licensed agent. Then once the application is submitted to us, we carry out checks for completeness and correctness of all the documentation we have in hand. We also conduct further due diligence checks on open sources, police checks including Interpol and Europol, and we also look at the source of wealth and source of funds of each applicant. We conduct checks on dependents, donors, benefactors and business associates.
In the meantime we also commission a background verification report from international due diligence companies. And finally our specialised analysts prepare a report which is presented to the board of approvals.
Once an application is approved, the applicant is subject to annual compliance and ongoing monitoring. The agency also has the right to revoke a permit in case of any wrongdoing by the applicants, at any point in time after approval.
World Finance: So if I’m looking at Malta as a residency option, where do I start?
Charles Mizzi: So you start on our website: there is a full list of licensed agents, and you need to choose one from there.
The agents will guide you to fill in an application form. They collate all the required documentation, and then submit an application on your behalf. Then we conduct due diligence; we promise a four to six month timeframe to give a reply on each and every application we receive.
World Finance: Permanent residency is just one of the programmes you offer; tell me about the digital nomad permit, and also the startup residency programme coming later this year.
Charles Mizzi: The nomad residence permit is for non-EU nationals. They can apply for a one-year temporary permit to work remotely from Malta, which can be renewed up to two times. It is designed for those people who work for an employer registered abroad, or are self-employed with a business registered abroad, and also for those who offer freelance services to clients registered outside of Malta.
The Malta startup residence programme will be for third country nationals: non-EU nationals who want to use Malta as a launchpad for business.
Malta is the perfect ecosystem for startups and micro-businesses: government offers a lot of support to businesses, such as financial grants. We are a small country, but a fully developed market. Being an English speaking nation also helps a lot.
Malta is very well connected to other countries; we also have a very strong broadband infrastructure, and we are also blessed to have highly skilled workforce.