How to obtain Maltese Citizenship based on Merit


On the 28th January 2017, the Maltese Government launched a public consultation process on an initiative for granting Maltese citizenship based on merit. This consultation brought the implementation of Legal Notice 335 of 2017 entitled ‘Grant of Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations’ which has to be read in conjunction with Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta entitled Maltese Citizenship Act.

Through this novel initiative to the Maltese legislation, individuals shall be granted Maltese citizenship on the basis of exceptional services to the Republic of Malta or to humanity, or on the basis of exceptional interest to the Republic of Malta. According to the Legal Notice, an ‘exceptional’ service means an unusually excellent or manifestly superior service at a national level. The said service has to relate primarily to contributions by scientists, researchers, athletes, sports people, artists and cultural performers. Apart from an exceptional service, an individual must claim his naturalisation on the basis of exceptional interest to the Republic of Malta in which case an endorsement by the designated competent body should be provided.

As with other citizenship programmes, Citizenship based on Merit also has its requirements in order for an individual to qualify under the said Programme. Indeed, an individual is required to:

  • Prove that he resided in Malta for at least eight (8) months in the period preceding the date of application;
  • Prove that he purchased, or taken on lease, immovable residential property in Malta;
  • Prove that citizenship is being required on the basis of exceptional services rendered to the Republic of Malta or to humanity; and
  • Obtain two recommendations by individuals who are qualified to act as sponsors for persons that apply for Maltese Citizenship by naturalisation.

The application also requires a number of eligibility criteria which must be satisfied in order for citizenship to be awarded. These criteria include:

  • the attestation that the applicant is fit and proper following a due diligence process carried out by Identity Malta;
  • that the individual is not indicted before any International Criminal Court;
  • that the individual is not a potential threat to national security;
  • that the individual has not been found guilty or has charges against him regarding sexual criminal offences;
  • that the applicant shall not be a person listed with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) at the time of the application;
  • the issuance of a police certificate issued by the competent authorities where the applicant has resided for a period of more than six (6) months during the last ten (10) years;
  • that the individual has no pending charges in relation to crimes that infringe upon the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as established by the European Convention on Human Rights; and
  • that the applicant shall not be an individual who at any time was found guilty, being interrogated or suspected for a crime that is punishable with more than one (1) year imprisonment.

Each application shall be evaluated by an Evaluation Board, composed of a Chairperson and two other members which must prepare a reasoned opinion on each application which will in turn be referred to the Minister responsible for citizenship whom shall determine whether a certificate of naturalisation as a citizen of Malta shall be granted to the particular applicant.

Malta has followed the footsteps of foreign countries that have already included the possibility of granting citizenship to deserving individuals, whose acquisition of citizenship adds prestige to these countries. Indeed, the Maltese islands shall benefit as a whole from this initiative as not only would Malta be acquiring a certain class of personnel, whom possess a very high intellectual level but also they shall pass on their knowledge and experience to the local individuals and Malta as a whole.