The world is currently struggling with its identity. Overnight, from a place of globalisation where cross-border movement was at its height, humankind found itself in a state of travel limitations, border restrictions and introspection, and all because of a microscopic but highly contagious virus. Media coverage of curfews, quarantines and doctors decked from head to toe in full protective body gowns at hospital beds looked like cuts from post-apocalyptic movies. Citizens of the world put their physical and mental brakes on, to take stock of their personal, professional and social situations, while political contexts baulked under pressure.
Never before had we felt our freedoms so restrained, checked and limited. Never before has liberty of movement been so valuable. And never before has second residency been a more attractive proposition. Traditionally, families look at residency-by-investment as a means to have an alternative home in a safe and secure place, in case things go wrong in their country of domicile – a plan ‘B’ that puts their mind at rest. From geopolitical unrest to lack of educational opportunities for their children or a dearth of investment possibilities, a second residency gives individuals and families a kind of insurance, a guarantee of a sound fall-back position, and a plan for a better future and lifestyle for their families.
Our industry has not been spared the impact of COVID-19. However, ironically, there has also been increased interest in residency-by-investment propositions. It is easy to see why. People want to live in jurisdictions where their health and safety are guaranteed. Families want fast and easy access to good healthcare that can be life-saving. Entrepreneurs want to operate in markets that are sound and that have growth potential even in the face of adverse economic conditions.
An attractive proposition
There is an excess of motives as to why Malta is an alluring destination for investment migration. Malta combines island life with European standards and a multi-cultural ambience. An archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean just south of Sicily, the country boasts a mild climate and over 300 days of sunshine, pristine beaches, a rich history and heritage and an outdoors lifestyle. This, however, is contrasted with a strong economy, highly regulated industries, and membership of the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Schengen Area and the Eurozone.
Malta combines island life with European standards and a multi-cultural ambience
Malta’s strategic location and its geographical proximity to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East means it is well connected to the main regions and markets of interest with numerous air and sea links. Malta has world-class healthcare services, easily accessible via reasonably priced health insurance. The country registered impressive Covid vaccination stats that dominated the EU tables – the result of a strategy that coupled opting for full allocation when purchasing vaccines, with a general awareness of the importance and benefits of getting vaccinated. At the height of contagion, health authorities gave daily public briefings to keep citizens well informed while introducing general restrictions that helped mitigate the spread.
The country offers excellent educational opportunities with a range of state, church and independent schools, as well as a 400-year-old university and a college of arts and sciences. With English being an official language and the language for doing business, expats will have no issues communicating with locals and settling in will be easy. Indeed, Malta is one of the safest countries in the world, with a negligible crime rate. This should attract families who would like to spend their time in an environment where children are safe and women go out for early-morning jogs, secure in the knowledge that no harm will come to them.
Investors and entrepreneurs look for jurisdictions with robust and growing economies, high regulation, government support and industry demand. Malta has all these elements while constantly garnering positive ratings from credit agencies and topping the EU charts for economic growth, even in Covid’s aftermath. The government has in place a number of interesting business support agencies that are geared to help entrepreneurs startup or expand their operations.
And with Malta’s size and composition, it doubles up as a fully-fledged test market for new products and services. Booming industries include hospitality, aviation, pharma, maritime, financial services, gaming, film and the knowledge industry. These industries are supported by a strong broadband infrastructure and e-government services.
Stay, settle and reside
The Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP) is a property-based residency-by-investment programme that gives beneficiaries the right to stay, settle and reside permanently in Malta with visa-free access to the Schengen area for 90 out of 180 days. Investors have the option to purchase or lease property, while making a direct contribution to the Maltese government. They should also make a donation to a local registered non-governmental organisation in the areas of philanthropy, culture, sport, science and animal welfare. The aim of this initiative is to build links between residents and the local community.
Up to four generations may apply, enabling family relocation. Applicants and their dependants must go through a four-tier due diligence exercise that ensures that only fit-and-proper individuals and families are given Maltese residence status. To ensure rigour in the application process, applications are submitted via regulated and licensed agents, who will act on behalf of applicants. The programme is straightforward and competitive and we promise a processing time of four to six months from the submission of a complete and correct application. With such a brand promise, applicants can put their mind at rest that it will not be a long-drawn-out procedure.
Embracing the nomadic lifestyle
The pandemic also gave the final blow to the concept of the traditional workplace. When remote working kicked in for the masses in order to control the spread of the virus, it was a first test of a more flexible working arrangement for many. The future augurs well for sustainable hybrid arrangements that give flexibility and improve work-life balance, but also reap benefits for employers.
So, with teleworking no longer the prerogative of the few, many will be seeing how to best exploit this newfound way of working remotely. For those in the knowledge-based industries, working from one country while giving services to employers and clients based in other parts of the world is now even more doable. Malta was quick to react to this trend with the launch of a new Nomad Residence Permit intended to give non-EU nationals the opportunity to work remotely from Malta for a temporary period. Malta already hosts a significant digital nomad community made up mostly of EU nationals who do not require any permits due to freedom of movement. The new permit is intended to reach new niches beyond Europe, as travel restrictions ease once again enabling global mobility.
Applicants who wish to work remotely from Malta, for a temporary period of up to one year, must prove they can work remotely, independent of location. They should either work for an employer registered outside of Malta, conduct business activity for a company registered outside of Malta, and of which they are partners or shareholders; or offer freelance or consulting services to clients whose permanent establishments are in a foreign country. The process is straight-forward and Residency Malta promises an efficient service that discerning nomads expect. To conclude with a famous quote – “the only constant in life is change”. We must all react with agility to what happens around us and find solutions to personal, social and professional challenges that offer us better futures. We believe these solutions can be found on the Island of Malta.
More information about the MPRP and about Malta’s Nomad Residence Permit may be found online at residencymalta.gov.mt.