The cheapest way to get a Maltese passport is to purchase residency, though even this doesn’t come cheap.
In order to get a Maltese passport via the Malta Residency and Visa Program, South Africans need to pay a non-refundable deposit of approximately R100,000 before anything is confirmed.
If successful, the applicant must then pay an additional flat fee of approximately R400,000.
The direct investment route requires applicants to put at least R4.1 million into government bonds, and leave it untouched for a minimum of five years.
Another way to gain Maltese residency is to purchase or rent property, either in Malta or on the island of Gozo.
In order to qualify, purchased property must have a minimum value of around R5.2 million. The minimum property price in Gozo is slightly less – there, applicants will need to spend a minimum R4.4 million.
If renting, applicants must commit to an annual rental in Malta worth approximately R200,000. In Gozo, the annual rental amount must be approximately R165,000.
Residency status doesn’t require applicants to remain in Malta, and the entire process can be completed in just two physical trips, one to sign the application in the presence of a commissionaire of oaths, and another to submit the residency permit. After this, and the financial commitments, the applicant can enjoy all the benefits from abroad.
The process is also relatively quick – the Maltese government typically turns these applications around in under six months.
Rich South Africans are securing “Plan B” passports in record numbers, and many are choosing to pay millions to the government of the tiny island state of Malta in order to secure a possible future abroad.
Just how many South Africans are emigrating – or making plans to do so – is not clear, but several indicators show a sharp increase in everything from farmers leaving for Canada to middle-class skilled South Africans heading abroad.
Emigration options for South Africans are fairly limited, though. Most countries require special skills applied towards applications for specific jobs, or for the applicants to dig deep into ancestral histories.
But when it comes to Malta, the applicants only need to provide cash, lots of it. Unlike ancestral visas, the process of obtaining Maltese residency or citizenship via investment is relatively quick, and awarded largely without prejudice after a due diligence process.
And this is the route many high-net-worth South Africans appear to be following.
The Maltese government offers both residency and citizenship programmes, which require applicants to spend and invest millions. Each offer the right to live and work in Malta, easy access into the Schengen Zone as a traveller, and in the case of citizenship, it’s also possible to live and work anywhere in the European Union.
The application process is relatively straightforward – but it requires applicants to invest a significant amount of cash, or purchase or rent properties in order to obtain residency.
Citizenship requires both cash investments and a property purchase or rental, and a significantly higher non-refundable “donation” to the Maltese government.