Digital nomads in Malta are mainly European citizens taking advantage of their right to move freely to other Member States. Following the increasing need for remote working schemes due to the pandemic, Malta opted to expand the possibility to third country citizens as well. The recently launched Nomad Residence Permit enables holders to retain their employment based in a foreign country while legally residing in Malta.
The Nomad Residence Permit is open to third country individuals who normally require a Visa to travel to Malta. Applicants must prove they can work remotely from an independent location using telecommunications technologies.
The permit is valid for one year and can be renewed by application. Such renewal is made at the discretion of Residency Malta Agency, provided the applicant still meets the eligibility criteria.
Applicants who intend to spend up to 180 days in Malta will be issued with a National Visa. Meanwhile, persons who intend to spend up to 365 days or more will be issued with a Nomad Residence Permit.
The Single Work Permit or the Nomad Residence Permit?
The Nomad Residence Permit is distinct from the Single Work Permit. The Single Work Permit allows third-country citizens to reside legally and engage in employment in Malta for a defined period. Such period can be renewed at the discretion of Identity Malta Agency, in line with Subsidiary Legislation 217.17 of the Laws of Malta.
In contrast, the Nomad Residence Permit program allows holders to keep their employment based abroad while residing in Malta, i.e. working remotely from Malta. Although the permit is issued for a definite term, individuals may renew their permit at the discretion of Residency Malta Agency, meeting the required eligibility criteria.
Third country individuals applying for the permit must prove that they can work remotely, independent of location using telecoms.
Applicants must also prove that they satisfy any one of the following three categories:
· Work for an employer registered in a foreign country and have a contract of work;
· Conduct business activities for a company registered in a foreign country and of which applicant is partner or shareholder; or
· Offer freelance/consulting services to clients whose permanent establishments are in a foreign country, and with whom the applicant has contracts.
In addition, the applicant must reach a maximum monthly income of €2,700 gross of tax. Thresholds for additional family members are set according to the Residency Malta Agency Policy.
Applicants are also required to:
· Hold a valid travel document;
· Be in possession of a health insurance covering risks in Malta;
· Hold a valid property rental or purchase agreement; and
· Pass a background verification check.
In addition to the proof of eligibility, standard rules and procedures for obtaining visas and similar permits apply.
The first step to applying for a new Nomad Residence Permit is to gather the documents required. This should include a letter of intent explaining the motivations behind the desire to obtain the permit. The letter of intent should also specify whether the intended duration of stay is between 91-180 days or 181-365 days. If the duration of stay is up to 180 days, a National Visa will be issued. A Malta Nomad Residence Permit will be granted to applicants (freelancers, digital nomads, offer freelance work, etc) who intend to spend up to a year in Malta.
The application review is expected to take up to 30 days. The Agency and other local authorities conduct background checks and applicants are notified by email once the process is complete. If the permit is granted, the applicant is invited to proceed to Malta, following instructions provided on the approval letter.
Following approval, third country nationals who require a Visa to enter Malta, can apply for a Premium Visa offered by Identity Malta Agency. This is regulated in provisions established by EU Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code). Successful applicants may be issued with a National Visa valid for 90-180 days, depending on their intended duration of stay. The National Visa will authorize the applicant to enter and reside in Malta for the duration of the Visa issued.
Other third country individuals who do not need a Visa may proceed to Malta immediately after receiving an approval letter. Guidelines are given on the mentioned approval letter. A National Visa of 90 days – 180 days may be issued depending on the applicant’s intention of duration of stay.
If the applicant was issued with a National Visa but decided to extend the stay further, he/she may complete the process of application for a Digital Nomad Residence Permit. Such applicant must submit biometric features and documentation required by the Checklist issued by Identity Malta Agency. This should be done in person at the offices of the Residency Malta Agency.
Dependents of the applicant may also be considered. The following persons are allowed to apply for the Permit under the same conditions as the holder:
· Applicant’s spouse,
· Applicant’s minor children (under 18 years of age),
· Applicant’s adult children (over 18 years of age) unable to cope independently due to a medical condition or disability,
· Applicant’s adult children economically dependent on the main applicant.
Decisions on spousal Visas or Permits are made on a case-by-case basis.
It is also possible to add family members at a later stage. This can be done by applying for each additional family member.
Since the holders’ employment is taxed at origin, Nomad Residence Permit holders are not subject to personal income tax. However, they are subject to consumption tax like all other Maltese residents.
Local Maltese taxes apply to self-employed individuals offering services to companies registered and based in Malta. Such individuals must also request a residence permit based on their self-employment.