Maltese Citizenship by Descent

February 14 00:00 2020 by The Editor Print This Article

Persons of Maltese descent may be eligible for Maltese Citizenship by Descent.  Citizenship may be acquired through birth of an ascendant and his/her parent Maltese in Malta, making them eligible for registration for Maltese citizenship by descent. A person born outside Malta who proves that he is a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent also born in Malta shall be entitled to be registered as a citizen of Malta. 

Am I eligible for Maltese Citizenship by Descent?

Thanks to the 2007 amendments to the Maltese Citizenship Act, Maltese citizenship by descent is open to persons of Maltese descent who are now eligible for Maltese citizenship by registration. A person born outside Malta who proves that he is a descendant in the direct line of an ascendant born in Malta of a parent also born in Malta shall be entitled to be registered as Maltese Citizen by Descent. This does not require any minimum physical presence in Malta as a pre-requisite for Maltese citizenship by descent.  If the applicant has parents or grandparents who are still alive and are also direct descendants themselves, the parents or grandparents are required to apply for Maltese citizenship to ensure the Maltese citizenship link is not broken.

Ineligibility for Maltese Citizenship by Registration

An important provision is the 'Citizenship link' provision in the Maltese Citizenship Act.  If the parent of an applicant was alive on 1st August 2007 and dies after 1st August 2010 without applying for Maltese citizenship, the citizenship link is broken and the applicant loses the right to apply.  If any of the ascendants died before 1st August 2007 or if the parent of the applicant dies within three years from this date without applying for citizenship, he or she would still be deemed to have acquired citizenship, safeguarding the eligibility for Maltese Citizenship by Descent. 

If I'm Stateless.  Am I eligible for Maltese Citizenship by Descent

Where a person is of full age and capacity and happens to be a citizen of a country other than that in which he or she resides, and whose access to the country of which he or she is a citizen is restricted, may acquire Maltese citizenship if he proves descent from a person born in Malta. This is subject to the Minister’s opinion that the grant is not contrary to the public interest.

Where a person is and has always been stateless and happens to have been born in Malta may also be granted Maltese citizenship if he or she has been ordinarily resident in Malta for a period of five years at the time of the application. The applicant must not have been convicted in any country of an offence against the security of the state or sentenced in any country to a punishment restrictive of personal liberty for a term of not less than five years.

Applying for Maltese Citizenship by Descent

Applications for Maltese citizenship by Descent are often made through Maltese lawyers specialising in citizenship matters.  This article should not be relied on as legal advice and you are advised to seek expert citizenship law advice from a suitably experienced lawyer based in Malta to assess and advise on your eligibility, assist with the preparation of the application and also help with following up your application after submission.


We would like to thank the lawyers at Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates for answering our questions in preparing this article on Maltese citizenship by Descent.

Other Ways of Acquiring Maltese Citizenship other than Descent

Other modes of acquiring citizenship in Malta include acquiring Maltese citizenship by investing in Malta. Here is how to become Maltese citizen through the MIIP - Malta Individual Investor Programme.

Alternatively, if you are not a national of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you are not eligible to become a Maltese citizen by descendant, you can opt for a residence by investment solution - the Malta Global Residence Programme. Here is how to apply for the Malta Global Residence Programme.

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