By Anayat Durrani
Non-European residents who launch a startup in Malta will now get to apply for a three-year residency through a newly launched Malta Startup Residence Program.
“The Maltese Government has been working on this program for quite some time and in fact it was announced in the previous government annual budget,” says Dr. Antoine Saliba Haig, senior lawyer for Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates in Malta.
Saliba Haig says the program will be administered co-jointly by two government entities: Malta Enterprise and the Residency Malta Agency.
“It is different from other residence programs due to the fact that the granting of the residence permit is dependent on the development or extension of a new business venture in Malta,” says Saliba Haig.
How will the new Malta Startup Residence Program work?
Founders, co-founders, core employees and their family members are eligible for a renewable three-year residence permit.
“The aim under this program is to transform Malta into a hub for start-ups with innovative and sound business plans by offering residency to non-EU nationals involved in the startup. This thus grants beneficiaries, long-term business and family stability whilst running their start-up,” says Saliba Haig.
Those who receive the residency will be able to extend their residence for an additional five years but only if their startup is still in business and eligibility terms are met. Main employees making more than €30,000 a year will be able to renew it for three years. After residing in Malta for five years, applicants can apply for long-term residency.
Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli launched the Malta Startup Residence Program at a startup festival held by Malta Enterprise. Dalli said the Malta government is seeking to create a hub for startups in the country and emphasized strict due diligence would be undertaken, with only the most innovative businesses being considered. Residency Malta Agency will oversee due diligence when it comes to source of wealth.
“Applicants interested in the Malta Start Up Residence Program must have a concrete intention to develop or extend their business in Malta,” says Saliba Haig. “The applicant should be a founder or co-founder of a business which has been registered for no more than 7 years and has not yet distributed profits.”
He says applicants must also buy or rent a residential property in the country and have a health insurance policy.
Investment requirements for the new RBI program in Malta
Startups must have an investment or paid-up share capital of up to €25,000. When more than four co-founders, up to a maximum of six, seek to apply for a residence permit than an additional €10,000 each is required.
“Startups are only eligible if their business plan is approved by the government agency Malta Enterprise,” says Haig. “Qualifying industries include: software development, manufacturing, health, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, eco startups and other innovative economic activities.”
Startups founder and co-founders applying under this program are required to physically reside and pay taxes in Malta, he says.
“Potential investors should know that the benefits for entrepreneurs having Malta as their primary base are endless and these include a good English-speaking workforce, excellent healthcare facilities and a warm climate all year round,” says Saliba Haig.
Likewise, Maltese entrepreneurs will also benefit, he says, in that they will have investors with a different mind-set “and thus having an opportunity to interact with more experienced entrepreneurs from all over the world.”
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