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Caribbean Islands to lose access to visa-free access to the EU and UK

10th August, 2023
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visa-free access to the EU

Malta reaffirmed as top option for visa-free access to the EU for South Africans as Caribbean islands get axed

According to sources in the EU, Caribbean PMs were told they will shortly lose their access to visa-free UK and Schengen travel access, according to an article from 26 July 2023 as posted by the website

Leaders from the various island nations stated that the UK has already revoked visa-free travel privileges previously enjoyed by Dominica, Vanuatu, Honduras, Namibia and Timor-Leste. This is about to affect other Caribbean nations and was going to be implemented very shortly due to the abuse of citizenship-by-investment schemes. This is due to the granting of citizenship to persons that pose a clear risk to the UK. Additionally, very strong rumours are doing the rounds that this effort in regaining control of who enters and leaves the UK will most likely be followed by the whole of the EU, “as it was already indicated”. To make matters worse, apparently the EU has an even tougher stance on the matter. Clearly these island nations are not happy about what has already happened and things are about to get worse…far worse if the EU goes down the same road, which seems inevitable.

Why is this good news for Malta?

High-net-worth individuals have long realised what benefits can be derived from “investment migration” but up to now, wealthy Chinese and Americans preferred places like the Caribbean to obtain residency and citizenship. Seemingly that is no longer viable or even possible. There’s only one place in the EU that offers everything to HNWI/investment migrants and that place is Malta.

The main need for these groups of HNWI is to have world-wide mobility and having a weak passport with limited visa-free travel is only one of the driving forces they want to change. Having a Maltese residency visa or even citizenship is the perfect solution, even more so for Americans who already have had the benefits of a powerful passport up to this point. Americans  also want to have reassurance against economic and political turmoil and of course something that can ease the burden that comes with American taxation. This is where Malta with its advantageous tax regime and double tax treaties really flexes it muscle.


The options

Malta offers a simple route to citizenship or residency through Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment or the Global Residence Programme.

Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment

In November 2020 Malta officially launched its latest program which allows foreign nationals the opportunity to obtain Maltese and EU Citizenship – the Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment.

More commonly referred to as the Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalisation (MEIN) programme, or the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment regulations, the new rules allow individuals, along with their family dependents to obtain citizenship by making a direct investment in the country. This will also grant applicants a Maltese and EU Passport.

The rules aim to ensure that reputable applicants not only acquire an EU passport but also create a lasting bond with Malta – an EU Member State that is stable, neutral and highly respected – and also significantly contribute to the economic development of the island.

The core benefits of being granted Maltese Citizenship through the Malta Exceptional Investment Naturalisation procedures include:

Easy access to all EU member states, including the freedom the work, live or study across the EU block and visa-free travel to more than 170 countries.

All the benefits that living in Malta has to offer

A sound investment in a strong economy with a booming property market and financial services hub.

Financial Contribution for the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment

The direct investments that are required under the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment procedures include:

  • A contribution to government
  • A property investment
  • A donation to a non-governmental organisation


 Applicants may opt for one of two routes when applying for Maltese citizenship:

  • One may opt for the standard route, which requires 36 months before applying for citizenship, for which a contribution of €600,000 for the Main Applicant and an additional €50,000 for each dependent, is to be paid to the government ;
  • Or one may opt for an expedited procedure, which requires 12 months before applying for citizenship, against a contribution of €750,000 for the main applicant and €50,000 for each additional dependent.


The value of the property purchased, to satisfy the property investment criteria, must be of at least € 700,000. Alternatively, the applicant may opt to rent out a property for a minimum annual rent of €16,000. The qualifying property must be held for a minimum of five years from the date of the certificate of Citizenship and during this period, the applicant must show strong links to the island.

The applicant must provide an undertaking to donate at least €10,000 to a registered philanthropic, cultural, sport, scientific, animal welfare or artistic NGO


Eligibility for the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment Regulations

Only highly respectable clients and law-abiding citizens, will be allowed to acquire Maltese Citizenship. Apart from the financial contribution, to acquire Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment, applicants need to undergo a background check as part of a rigorous due diligence process.

To be eligible one must:

  • Take an Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of Malta and accept to promote the fundamental and democratic values of the island.
  • Undertakes to declare that the applicant and his dependents are fit and proper persons to hold Maltese citizenship.
  • Provide all the necessary documentation as requested during the due diligence process, including police certificate’s of conduct, and adequate proof of the source of funds and wealth of the principal applicant. Supporting documentation – like passport copies and birth certificates – must be legalised and counter-legalised.

The individual’s dependents can also benefit from the naturalisation process for a fee of € 50,000 per dependent. ‘Dependents’ are family members of the main applicant and include:

  • the applicant’s monogamous spouse,
  • the child (including adopted) of the applicant or of his spouse so long as he/she is below 18 years of age,
  • the child (including adopted) of the applicant or of his spouse who is a qualified person with a disability as per Equal Opportunities Act,
  • the unmarried child (including adopted) of the applicant who is above 18 but below 29 years of age and who is proven to be financially dependent by the applicant,
  • the parent or grandparent of the applicant or of his spouse who is at least 55 years of age and who is proven to be financially dependent by the applicant.


Processing Fees of the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment Regulations

Aside from the above qualifying investment criteria, acquiring Malta Citizenship through the Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN) procedures requires the payment of the following residence and due diligence fees:

Residence Application Fees:

  • €5,000 for the Main Applicant
  • €1,000 per each dependant

Eligibility Process Fees:

During the application for residency and the eventual citizenship, the applicant will also have to pay administrative fees to the Community Malta Agency (“Agency”)

Due Diligence Fees:

  • €15,000 for the Main Applicant
  • €10,000 for adult dependents who are over 18 years old

Making a direct investment in Malta and therefore being granted with Maltese Citizenship through the Malta Citizenship by Direct Investment Regulations, is one of the most efficient and recognised routes to also obtain access to all EU member states, whilst also benefiting from excellent Mediterranean weather and superb quality of life in an English-speaking country.

The Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment replaces the highly popular Malta Individual Investment Programme (MIIP). It is regulated by the Maltese Citizenship Act (CAP. 188) and the Legal Notice 437 of 2020.


Global Residence Programme

The Global Residence Programme is available to non-EU nationals, who are interested in taking up residence in Malta  whilst enjoying a favourable tax rate.

Applicants are also able to work or set up a business in Malta subject to applying for and obtaining the necessary permits.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The programme is available to Non-EU nationals.
  • To qualify for this programme, an applicant must also hold a qualifying property which the individual occupies as his principal place of residence worldwide, either by purchasing or renting:
    • In the case of purchasing a property, the minimum value must be of at least €220,000 for properties situated in Gozo or the South of Malta, or a minimum of €275,000 for properties situated in the rest of Malta;
    • If the applicant opts to rent a property this must be of a minimum rent of €8,750 per annum for properties situated in Gozo or the South of Malta or a minimum rent of €9,600 per annum for properties situated in the rest of Malta.
  • Applicant needs to prove that he/she is in receipt of stable and regular resources that are sufficient to maintain himself/herself and his/her dependents without recourse to the social assistance system in Malta.
  • Applicant needs to be in possession of health insurance which covers himself and his dependents in respect of all risks across the whole of the EU.
  • Applicant must be in possession of valid travel documents, for both himself and his dependents.
  • Applicant must also be able to communicate adequately in Maltese or English and must be a fit and proper person.
  • Beneficiaries of the Global Residence Programme have no minimum stay requirements, however they may not spend more than 183 days in a calendar year in any one particular foreign jurisdiction.


Tax Benefit

  • Through the Global Residence Programme, a flat rate of 15% tax is applicable on foreign income remitted to Malta, with a minimum tax of €15,000 per year. The minimum tax threshold covers both the main applicant and dependents included on the same application.
  • Any income arising in Malta is subject to a flat rate of 35% tax.
  • Beneficiary would also be able to benefit from double taxation relief.



  • A non-refundable administrative fee of €6,000 is applicable if property is purchased or rented in Malta and €5,500 if the property is bought or rented in the South of Malta.


    One must apply through an Authorised Registered Mandatory.

Malta’s political stability, human rights record and success as a democracy

Malta as a country is a multi-party republic and although tecnically a civil law country, it assimilated aspects of common law to operate as a high-functioning governing and legal system. The US welcomes Malta’s political environment as it it something they are familiar with and easily adapt to and this has been ideal for Americans when they want to retire abroad, in a place like Malta. With the US’s current political arena seemingly a bit jittery, this has been the perfect motivation for many to look elsewhere at obtaining legal residency status. Europe has always been a firm favourite with many American HNWI, thus Malta offers an excellent, familiar alternative with a straight-forward legal and human rights component that Americans have come to expect.

The mobility offered by a Maltese passport or residency

Visa-free mobility or access to other countries is a critical ingredient for HNWI and having a Maltese passport opens up the world to any investor, with visa-free entry to 187 destinations which includes the EU, UK, USA, Canada and many more.  Those with a Chinese passport can only enter 80 destinations visa-free and none of them are in the EU or North America. If they do not have a Maltese passport, those Chinese that have a Maltese residence permit also find that it is of huge benefit, with automatic access to the entire Schengen zone, one of the world’s greatest economical hubs.

Many Americans renounced their US citizenship within the first nine months of 2022. This period saw higher numbers of people giving up their US passports than the total figure for 2021. Most do this in favour of better taxation than that of the US. Malta’s robust passport comes with visa-free access to the US, so Amrican expats can come and go as they like, enjoying further access to the whole of the EU. Having a Maltese passport also allows former Americans citizens to choose from a plethora of countries in the EU to live in permanently.

As stated previously, Malta’s beneficial tax regime is also highly favoured by both the East and West and especially  by those who are looking for ways to make their money go further.

malta map mediterranean

Malta’s strategic location on the world map

Malta is halfway between the West and the East, making it the perfect hub to the rest of Europe, the Middle and Far East, the Americas and even Africa. With the ability of opening up doors for trading with the EU and MENA markets through citizenship and residency, Malta is also a hotspot of different cultures which makes expats and other foreigners feel at home right from the word “go”.

The takeaway

After facing the fall of the UK’s visa-free travel axe and soon that of the EU, it is likely that the majority of individuals that invested in the aforementioned Caribbean countries to gain visa-free travel rights, will be looking for worthy alternatives.

Countries that stand to benefit are the ones that already offer uncomplicated residency and citizenship options with short waiting times, are part of the EU and have proven that they can maintain sobriety when it comes to qualifying and vetting those very investors who are applying for and are awarded residency or citizenship.

Undoubtedly the country at the top of that list is Malta.

What’s next?

Get in touch with Frank Salt Real Estate if you are interested in finding out more about Malta and its residence or property investment options.

With a deep understanding of both the South African and Maltese markets, Frank Salt Real Estate offers a seamless transition for individuals and families seeking their new home in Malta. combining decades of industry expertise with an unwavering commitment to personalized service, the family run estate agency holds an impecable reputation for integrity and transparency. Its vast vast portfolio of properties ensures that your relocation process becomes an exciting and fulfilling experience.

Trust in Frank Salt Real Estate to guide you through every step of the way, making your dreams of a seamless transition to the captivating island of Malta a reality. 

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