What could be more ironic than citizens of China, the world’s largest nation, acquiring dual nationality with Malta, the smallest country in the EU? And yet, the real irony is that Maltese citizenship might just be the perfect option for high net worth investors from the Peoples Republic looking to establish themselves in the European Union.
Malta is an island nation blessed with beautiful natural scenery and populated by charming, strong willed and characterful inhabitants. Malta, which is sometimes called the “Heart of the Mediterranean” is located off the coast of southern Europe, geographically closest to Italy (255 km from Sicily). Malta is unique in being the only country that is part of the “Big Four” of the EU, the Schengen Area, the Eurozone and the British Commonwealth, although Mediterranean island neighbors Cyprus comes close, ticking the boxes marked EU, Eurozone and Commonwealth, but not being part of the Schengen Zone.
Malta may be a country that covers just 316 km2 and has 450,000 inhabitants, but in terms of its economy and its importance to Southern Europe, it punches well above its weight. What’s more, Malta has a killer of a CBI (Citizenship By Investment) program that is arguably the cheapest, fastest and most in demand on the second citizenship market. There are only three EU countries offering CBI programs; Austria, Cyprus and Malta, with the Maltese option being by far the most economical. For around €1.2 million, an investor who can pass a thorough background check can gain Maltese citizenship and its passport, which will grant its holder visa free access to 167 countries, making it the tenth most powerful passport in the world. By comparison, the Chinese passport has access to just 51 countries visa free.
Malta launched their citizenship by investment program in 2014, and initially put a cap of 1,800 on the amount of “Individual Investor Programs” or IIPs that would be made available to the general public. By August 2016 more than 1,100 programs had been sold, the majority to Chinese investors. The income Malta generates from its CBI program is already double the annual amount the country receives from the European Union. Needless to say, it’s going to be very tough for the country to call a halt to the program, if indeed they do.
The amount of investors who procure Maltese citizenship via a CBI program who actually choose to live on the island permanently is miniscule. The Maltese government and the EU parliament are likely concerned that the island will end up with an abundance of privately owned, unoccupied properties. If that is the case, the tariff could be adjusted to an investment in Maltese government bonds, either refundable after five years or non-refundable and charitable. That way Malta could carry on with its CBI program ad infinitum, without fear of overdeveloping the island.
Malta For Banking and Tax
One of the key reasons why Malta is so appealing to Chinese investors is its broad range of investment opportunities. Malta’s location means it is in touching distance of Europe, North Africa and at a stretch, South East Asia, and with its fully developed, open market economy, its large well-educated multilingual workforce, it is perfectly positioned to capitalize on those markets and grow as a business hub, much like Singapore has done in the Far East.
Citizens of Malta are not eligible to pay global tax, nor do they have to pay taxes on the proceeds of overseas assets. Malta’s banking system is rated as world-class, ranked 10th in the global health banking system, yet crucially regarded as an offshore tax haven and was once “the Southern Europe Switzerland”, back when Switzerland was itself a tax haven, before it too fell into line with the rest of the EU. While Malta’s banks are not yet as discreet as those of the Caribbean and Central America, by EU standards they are pretty discreet.
A good indicator of this is the amount of online sports betting and gaming websites choosing to move from Gibraltar and choosing Malta as both their place of licensing and their location for banking. These sites earn millions of euros in profits weekly, and guard their privacy jealously. The fact that they choose to bank in Malta indicates just how discreet the island’s banks really are, which will be music to the ears of wealthy Chinese investors wishing to safeguard their own assets.
Of course, the vast majority of Chinese investors who acquire Maltese citizenship via the CBI route do so because it delivers them that all-important EU passport. While Malta is a perfectly charming island and an excellent location to spend a holiday, it can prove to be somewhat claustrophobic, especially for people used to a vast sprawling land with cities bigger than whole countries like the Chinese.
Thanks to EU laws, a European Union passport allows its holder the right to live and work in any other EU country without time restrictions. What this means is a Chinese investor who acquires Maltese citizenship is free to live and work in a country like France or Germany for as long as they so wish. Also, EU citizens have the same rights in other European Union countries as they do in their own, so a Chinese investor with a Maltese passport would also be entitled to French or German education and healthcare.
Life In Malta
As for those Chinese investors who do choose to remain in Malta, they will be privy to one of the best standards of education and healthcare found anywhere in the world. The Maltese are a plucky, brave, resilient people who withstood the might of Nazi Germany in 1942 and were subsequently awarded the George Cross by King George the sixth of Great Britain. The George Cross continues to be featured in the Maltese flag today.
According to the Economist Intelligence Units Democracy Index, Malta is the 15th most Democratic country in the world today. The Maltese economy is one of the strongest in Europe, with unemployment below 5%. Its workforce is highly educated, motivated, tech savvy and bi-lingual. Malta’s health system model is based on the UK’s National Health system.
Malta has an outstanding array of luxury properties, from large, ultra-modern apartments to sumptuous villas that match anything found on the French, Spanish and Italian coasts. In short, there are far worse places a wealthy Chinese business person could pick for their base of operations than Malta!
If you are a Chinese citizen who is considering Malta as your preferred choice of citizenship by investment, we are ready to help you take the next step.
If you visit our homepage you will see our Malta CBI program, plus a large selection of the very best residency and citizenship programs from the EU, the Caribbean plus many other parts of the world. We can give you all the information on Malta’s IIP, and also advise you on any other programs that will suit you, and help you make the right choice.
Feel free to contact us via email, WhatsApp or Telegram. If you prefer you can chat to one of our expert representatives directly – you can call us using our encrypted phone and Skype lines. All of our contact details are listed at the top of the 2ndPassports.com homepage.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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