The Maltese Citizenship Act, Chapter 188 of the Laws of Malta provides for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship through birth and descent. Citizenship by descent is a legal act by which a non-Maltese citizen acquires Maltese citizenship through his Maltese ascendants.

Maltese Citizenship by Birth: Dual Nationality

When Malta acquired Independence in September 1964, Maltese legislation at the time did not allow dual nationality. Hence, Maltese citizens were required to renounce their foreign nationality in order to retain their Maltese citizenship. Maltese citizens who acquired another nationality lost their Maltese citizenship automatically on acquiring a foreign citizenship.

The concept of dual citizenship was introduced in Malta in August 1989 however this was limited to Maltese emigrants who were born in Malta, emigrated to another country of which they became citizens and had spent at least six years in that country.

Amendments to the Maltese citizenship law were made in 2000 whereby dual and multiple citizenship was fully introduced. By means of this amendment, a Maltese citizen could acquire another nationality without having any effect on the current Maltese citizenship. In addition, Maltese citizenship was automatically reacquired by those Maltese nationals who had ceased to be Maltese nationals prior to such amendments.  To this effect, Article 3 of the Maltese Citizenship Act states that every person who was born in Malta before the 21st of September 1964 shall be deemed to have acquired Maltese citizenship if at least one of his/her parents was born in Malta.

Persons who were/are born in Malta after August 1989 shall be entitled to Maltese citizenship only if one of the parents is a citizen of Malta.

The Maltese Citizenship Act now stipulates that it shall be lawful for any person to be a citizen of Malta, and at the same time a citizen of another country.

Maltese Citizenship by Descent: Registration

The Independence Constitution of 1964 originally regulated the acquisition of Maltese citizenship through registration, up until the year 2000 when the provisions were moved to the Maltese Citizenship Act. Further amendments were introduced in 2007 where second and subsequent generations of Maltese born abroad became eligible to acquire Maltese citizenship by registration under a number of criteria.

With the 2007 amendments, an individual born outside of Malta who provides evidence that he is a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta, of a parent also born in Malta is eligible to apply for Maltese citizenship. If the applicants’ parents and grandparents are still alive and are also direct descendants, it is important that they also apply for Maltese citizenship to ensure that the Maltese citizenship link is not broken. An important provision found in the Maltese Citizenship Act holds that if the parent of an applicant was alive on the 1st of August 2007 and dies after the 1st August 2010 without applying for Maltese citizenship, the link is broken, and the applicant loses the right to apply.

If the descendant is a minor, the person who has authority over the said minor would need to submit the application on his behalf.

Malta Citizenship by Descent: Applications

Malta Citizenship by Birth or Descent Applications are to be submitted to the Maltese Citizenship Agency.  Our immigration firm has submitted numerous applications under this route.  Led by Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker, our winning Immigration & Relocation Law team is the oldest specialised immigration law practice in Malta. We have successfully represented individuals and families ranging from expatriate retirees, emigrants seeking citizenship and residence, to HNW individuals on the Forbes List.

We are able to advise you on the tax and legal implications and requirements of the Malta citizenship application process and indicate expected time frames based on the specific circumstances and nature of your application. Our advice covers the rules applicable to immigrating to Malta under a number of available residence and citizenship programmes as well as practical relocation assistance ranging from transportation and insurance to schooling and health insurance coverage.