Malta Startup Residence Programme (MSRP) was officially launched on the 13th October 2022 by the Enterprise Minister Hon. Miriam Dalli. The new Startup Residence Programme falls under the administration of Malta Enterprise as the entity responsible for business evaluation and Residency Malta Agency when it comes to the residence permits issued to the beneficiaries of this programme. This new programme is aimed to attract foreign entrepreneurs to use Malta as their starting base for their business ventures.
Throughout the years Malta has proved itself to be a perfect environment for entrepreneurs starting their business ventures on the island. Malta is not only a great strategic location, but it offers favourable conditions for businesses to launch from and expand their operations. Maltese government offers various incentives, fiscal benefits and support schemes, which provide a great support mechanism for start-ups in their early stages of development. Thanks to the continuous support of various government agencies and systems in place, Malta has become the first choice in terms of ease and potential of doing business.
The new Startup Residence Programme is a great opportunity for non-EU entrepreneurs to bring their innovative ideas and technology to a stable and steadily developing European market and grow their business.
Benefits of Malta Startup Residence Programme (MSRP)
- Maltese residence permit cards are issued for a period of 3 years to develop the business. The residence permit can further be extended for a further period of 5 years.
- Residence application may include founders, co-founders, core employees and dependant family members.
- All applicants will have the right to apply for long-term residency after legally residing in Malta for a period of 5 years.
Main requirements of Malta Startup Residence Programme
An individual wishing to apply for the Malta Start-up Residence Programme must satisfy the following eligibility criteria:
- Have a concrete intention to develop and/or expand his business in Malta;
- Is the founder or the co-founder of an enterprise, which has been registered for not more than seven (7) years anywhere globally (including Malta), which fulfils the following:
- it has not taken over the activity of another enterprise,
- it has not yet distributed profit,
- it has not been formed through a merger.
- A co-founder would be one of the first entrepreneurs to have set-up the start-up.
- Third-country nationals, excluding EU, EEA and Swiss are eligible. Nationals from (or have close ties with) Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Venezuela are ineligible. The list of ineligible countries may be revised from time to time;
- A founder, co-founder or core employee applying under this programme must be 18 years and older;
- The incorporated Start-up in Malta is required to place a tangible investment and/or paid-up share capital of not less than EUR 25,000. In case where more than four (4) co-founders apply for the Start-up Residence Permit, an additional EUR 10,000 needs to be placed per additional cofounder. In any case, the maximum number of co-founders eligible for the Start-up Residence Programme is six (6);
- The founder and/or co-founders benefitting from this programme need to have a physical and tangible presence in Malta not only from a business point of view but also in terms of living in Malta. Thus, those benefitting need to be living and paying their taxes in Malta;
- Has recognised health insurance covering risks in Malta for himself/herself and dependants;
- In possession of sufficient financial resources in own bank statement to support himself and any other dependents within existing regulations;
- Has no criminal record or pending criminal charges and does not pose any potential threat to the national security, public policy, public health, or public interest; and
- Must not have previously had applications for a residence status or citizenship rejected in Malta or abroad.
Malta Startup Residence Programme Application procedure
To obtain a Startup Residence permit, the applicants are first required to submit a business plan or an application for the programme to Malta Enterprise and undergo the evaluation process. Upon approval from Malta Enterprise, applicants can proceed with their residency application under the Startup programme with the Residency Malta Agency.
It is important to note that prior to the collection of the final residency card, the start-up should be been fully incorporated in Malta and registered with the relevant local authorities. Residence permits issued for founders and co-founders, core employees and families under the Start-up Residence Programme are subject to the start-up maintaining the business activity as approved by Malta Enterprise and no criminal charges are faced by the applicants following the approval.
Start-up eligibility criteria
Start-up undertakings shall be considered as eligible if they are, or will be engaged in one or more of the following activities in Malta:
- software development;
- industrial services analogous to manufacturing;
- health, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and life sciences;
- eco startups involved in the blue, green and sustainable industries;
- other innovative economic activities which are enabled through knowledge and technology providing services or products which are currently not readily available in the relevant market or which shall be provided through a process which is novel.
Eligible business projects must meet at least two of the following criteria:
- propose products and/or services that have the potential to generate income from various geographical markets;
- produce products and/or services which are new, innovative or substantially improved compared to complementary products on the market;
- utilise process which are new or substantially improved compared to those adopted in current complementary activities.
For the scope of the Malta Start-up Residence Programme, the following are not eligible:
- Any company where the business plan is not approved by Malta Enterprise;
- Any other company where the business activity is not in line with the requirements of the local National FDI Screening office.
Residence Permits issued under the Startup Residence Programme
The residence permit will be issued for an initial period of three (3) years following the approval of Malta Enterprise and Residency Malta. This will be renewed for a further (5) years once Malta Enterprise and Residency Malta confirm that the start-up is still ongoing and the founder or cofounder(s) still meets the eligibility criteria of the Programme.
Furthermore, beneficiaries who hold the residence permit issued under the start-up residence permit programme should follow the below conditions:
- Have a physical and tangible presence in Malta during the whole period of the programme.
- Pay taxes in Malta.
This programme is also open for core employees who are vital for the start-up to start operating in Malta and who have specialised skills and earn not less than €30,000. In addition, this employment needs to take place within the timeframe in which the venture is classified as a start-up. The residence permit will be issued for three (3) years, which upon successful completion will be extended to a further 3-year period. The application for core employees is to be submitted online after the Malta Start-up Residence permit is approved for the co-founders.
The Malta Start-up Residence Programme is open to family members of start-up founders, co-founders and core employees. Their permits will have the same validity period of the residence permit of the start-up founder/co-founder or core employee. These include spouse, de-facto partner, minor children and adult sons or daughters who are principally dependent on the founder/core employee. The residence permit issued to family members does not grant beneficiaries automatic access to the labour market. However, one can make use of existing lean processes to submit the necessary applications to take up employment in Malta.
The fees applicable for applying for the Malta Start-up Residence Programme are as follows:
- EUR 750 for each adult applicant / dependant for a 3-year Start-up Residence Programme.
- EUR 82.50 to Identity Malta Agency for the issuance of the residence card, for each individual applicant covering a 3-year permit.
The article is intended to serve as a general guide on the subject matter. For further information and guidance on the subject we recommend seeking professional assistance.
SMM Consultancy Department
SMM team will be glad to provide further information and confirmation of your eligibility, as well as step-by-step assistance and guidance through the whole application process. You can get in touch with us via email on [email protected] or call +356 2123 7167 or fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.