Cover of a Maltese biometric passport
|First issued||29 September 2008 (biometric passport)|
The Maltese passport (Maltese: passaport Malti) is a passport that is issued to citizens of the Republic of Malta. Every Maltese citizen is also a citizen of the European Union and a Commonwealth citizen. The passport, along with the national identity card, allows for free rights of movement and residence in all member states of the European Economic Area, as well as Switzerland.
Maltese passports share the common design standards of European Union passports. The cover is burgundy with the coat of arms of Malta emblazoned in the centre. The words "UNJONI EWROPEA" (English: European Union) and "MALTA" are inscribed above the coat of arms, with "PASSAPORT" (English: Passport) and the international biometric passport symbol below.
The passport contains a note from the issuing authority addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of Malta and requesting that they be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note inside of a Maltese passport states:
The Maltese Government requests all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer every assistance and protection as may be necessary.
Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a non-EU country in which the Member State of which he is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State, on the same conditions of the nationals of that State.
Visa requirements for Maltese citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Malta. As of January 8th, 2019, Maltese citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 182 countries and territories, ranking the Maltese passport 9th in the world according to the Henley Passport Index. Additionally, Arton Capital's Passport Index ranked the Maltese passport 5th in the world in terms of travel freedom, with a visa-free score of 161 (tied with Australian, Icelandic, Malaysian, and New Zealand passports), as of 20 October 2018.
Maltese citizens can live and work in any country within the European Economic Area (consisting of the states of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association) as a result of the right of free movement and residence granted in Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Investment-based citizenship scheme
In January 2014 Malta started granting citizenship for a €650,000 contribution plus investments, contingent on residence and criminal background requirements, under the so-called "Individual Investor Programme", also known as a "golden passport" scheme. Henley & Partners was originally appointed as sole agent for the sale of Maltese passport, but the Muscat government later opened the scheme to Maltese firms too. The procedure is managed formally by the governmental agency Identity Malta.
The number and background of persons granted Maltese citizenship based on investment is unknown, as the Maltese government does not publish such data. Malta's Data Protection Commissioner confirmed that the publication of the number of passport buyers and their country of origin “may prejudice relations with a number of the countries of origin” and that revealing the agencies that handled their application “could reasonably be expected to prejudice commercial interests and, ultimately, the competitiveness of approved agents as it would reveal commercially-sensitive information”.
The list of persons who were naturalised Maltese in the year 2015 includes over 900 names (listed by first name) without indication of previous/second citizenships and of reasons for naturalisation. This was criticised as not transparent enough. Most "investors" are understood to be interested in acquiring Maltese citizenship only as a tool to exploit EU citizenship rights and reside elsewhere in the Union, including the UK. The European Parliament had objected to the programme as a sell-out of EU citizenship.
The income from Malta's passport sale amounted to €163.5 million in 2016. Of this, 70% is deposited in the so-called National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), which was set up in July 2016. The use of the fund by the government is not regulated.
The scheme has often come under fire for being a fraudulent scheme where the Maltese Government sells EU citizenship to anyone willing to pay the price, legitimately or illegally, to the detriment of the Maltese people and the European Union as a whole. Many who were granted a Golden Passport were found to be large-scale international criminals with ties to money laundering in multiple countries. The background checks performed on those willing to pay for citizenship have been criticized as being almost non-existent.
Although the scheme is leaving money in the Maltese economy, it is doing so at the expense of the average Maltese citizen, as the Golden Passport scheme is partly responsible for the enormous inflation of the Maltese Housing Index since its introduction. This phenomenon occurs because passport applicants are required to purchase or rent a property in Malta in order for the passport to be granted. Many of these properties have been found to left vacant with the owner in many occasions never even stepping foot in Malta.
With the contraction of the housing supply playing its part in pushing property prices to record levels, the average Maltese citizen is being priced out. With rents also on the increase the island has started to see the prevalence of homelessness, something which before these last few years was non-existent in Malta.
- Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index
- Immigration to Malta
- Maltese identity card
- Maltese nationality law
- Passports of the European Union
- Visa requirements for Maltese citizens
- "Home". www.consilium.europa.eu.
- "Passport Office – Identity Malta Agency".
- "Global Ranking - Passport Index 2019" (PDF). Henley & Partners. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
- "Global Passport Power Rank | Passport Index 2020". Passport Index - All the world's passports in one place.
- "Treaty on the Function of the European Union (consolidated version)" (PDF). Eur-lex.europa.eu. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
- Clenfield, Jason (11 March 2015). "Passport King Christian Kalin Helps Nations Sell Citizenship – Bloomberg Business". Bloomberg.com.
- "Attracting Talent and Trustworthy Investment".
- "Passport buyers' origins to remain 'a secret'". Times of Malta.
- "Sorry. The page you are looking for does not exist" (PDF).
- Cooper, Harry (17 August 2018). "Malta slammed for cash-for-passport program". Politico. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "EU citizenship should not be for sale at any price, says European Parliament | News | European Parliament". www.europarl.europa.eu. January 16, 2014.
- "Passports without a soul - Michael Briguglio". Times of Malta.
- "[Opinion] Time to end EU golden visas for corrupt elites". EUobserver.
- "Fifth Malta cash-for-passports client charged with financial crime this year". October 18, 2019.
- "Central Bank Housing Index".
- "When a Russian billionaire is registered to half a basement flat, something has got to give - The Malta Independent". www.independent.com.mt.
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