Detailed provisions dealing with citizenship now form part of the Maltese Citizenship Act rather than the Constitution and allow:
§Persons who before had to choose between a Maltese and a foreign citizenship to now hold both.This applies also to persons having more than one foreign citizenship.
§A "former" citizen by birth or descent who lived abroad for an aggregate period of six years and acquired or retained the citizenship of another country, shall be deemed not to have ever ceased to be a citizen of
§Those who had opted to give up their Maltese citizenship in order to acquire a foreign one can now re-apply for Maltese citizenship.
§Persons who were born abroad between 1964 and 1989 of a Maltese mother and a foreign father can now, for the first time, apply for Maltese citizenship.
§The foreign spouse of a citizen of
Definition of Citizenship
According to one of the latest international instruments on nationality - The European Convention on Nationality of 1997 - citizenship, which has the same meaning as nationality, is defined as the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person's ethnic origin.The concept of nationality was explored also by the International Court of Justice in the Nottebhom Case.The court defined nationality as a legal bond having as its basis a social fact of attachment, a genuine connection of existence, interests and sentiments, together with the existence of reciprocal rights and duties.All this goes to show the existence of a specific legal relationship between an individual and a State, which is recognised by that State.
How the various Maltese governments have tried to keep "alive" and effective that specific legal relationship, especially with Maltese migrants, is explained in the following paragraphs.
The Constitution of Malta, which came into effect on 21 September 1964 (the appointed day), laid down the principles of Maltese citizenship.It established who may become a citizen of
Freedom of Movement
Section 45 (now 44) of the 1964 Constitution established who could enjoy freedom of movement, which is defined by the said Instrument as the right to move freely throughout Malta, the right to reside in any part of Malta, the right to leave and the right to enter Malta.
Sub-section 4 of Section 45 stipulated that for the purposes of this section any person:
(a)who has emigrated from
(b)who emigrated from Malta before the appointed day and, but for his having ceased to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies before that day, would have become a citizen of Malta by virtue of Section 23 (1) of this Constitution; or
(c)who is the wife of a person mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of this sub-section
or of a person who is a citizen of
shall be deemed to be a citizen of
The whole text as it is in the Constitution has been reproduced because here we have the first real effective legal bond between the individual (the Maltese migrant) and the State (
The Maltese Citizenship Act 1965
This Act was enacted to complement the provisions set out in Chapter III of the Constitution and to establish, amongst others, the criteria for the acquisition of Maltese citizenship:
·by registration (citizens of the
·by naturalisation (citizens of all other countries).
Even in this case, the legislator wished to keep a lien with Maltese migrants through Maltese citizenship.Indeed, the Act provides that any person of full age and capacity who emigrated from
Amendments to the Constitution - 1974
A very important amendment to the Constitution was introduced in 1974 when a new subsection was added to the then section 24.The new provision stipulated that:
Any person who, in accordance with paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (4) of Section 45 of the Constitution, is deemed to be a citizen of Malta for the purposes of that section, and who has returned to, and taken up permanent residence in Malta shall be entitled, upon making application in such manner as may be prescribed and upon taking the oath of allegiance, to be registered as a citizen of Malta.
By virtue of this Constitutional provision, those Maltese migrants who returned to
Obviously, there was a snag in all this: those persons who re-acquired their Maltese citizenship had to renounce their foreign citizenship unless this was automatically lost when they acquired Maltese citizenship by a voluntary act (registration).This is why Maltese migrants clamoured for dual citizenship.
Introduction of Dual Citizenship - Amendments to the Constitution, 1989
The perennial wish of Maltese migrants to hold Maltese citizenship together with the citizenship of the country of adoption was granted in 1989.The amendments to the Constitution, which became effective on 1 August of that year, made it possible for those born in Malta (of at least one parent born in Malta, if born before 21 September 1964) who emigrated to another country and resided there for at least six years, to hold the citizenship of that country in addition to their Maltese citizenship.That is, such persons are deemed never to have lost their Maltese citizenship, which they acquired on 21 September 1964, or at birth, whichever is the case.Before the introduction of such legislation, such persons were deemed to have ceased to be citizens of Malta on the same day they acquired a foreign citizenship.By virtue of the new provisions, however, Maltese citizenship was "re-instated" thus enabling the persons concerned to be considered as never having lost their Maltese citizenship.
This was indeed a major step towards a complete rapprochement between Malta and its sons and daughters who had to leave home for better prospects. It was also recognition of the sacrifice that had to be borne by many Maltese when because of adverse economic situations, they had no alternative but to emigrate and over the years perhaps loosen their ties with Malta.The fact that they could now be again recognised as Maltese citizens restored in them a sense of pride in the country of origin.
Following the introduction of the said legislation, the Department responsible for citizenship matters was inundated with requests for confirmation that enquirers qualified to hold dual citizenship.The Department reacted positively to the situation and over the years has issued over 5,700 such confirmations.Many others, whose cases were assessed in Malta's Missions overseas, were issued with a Maltese passport to evidence their newly acquired status.
Acquisition of Maltese Citizenship through the Mother
Another significant amendment passed in 1989 enabled Maltese citizenship to be transmitted through the mother.Prior to 1989, citizenship could be transmitted to the children only through the father.This patriarchal predominance had been changing over the years.For example, Germany introduced legislation whereby the mother transmitted citizenship to her children in 1974 whereas Italy and the United Kingdom introduced similar legislation in 1983.Malta, as has been said, caught up with the trend in 1989 and since then many were those children who acquired Maltese citizenship through their mother.
The 1998 White Paper on Amendments to the Citizenship and Immigration Laws
Reacting to the wish of various Maltese associations abroad, in August 1998 Government published a White Paper on proposed changes to the citizenship laws.The White paper made known Government's intention to extend dual citizenship to children born abroad to Maltese migrants, providing:
·their country of birth, or the country of which they are now citizens, allows them to hold more than one citizenship;
·they have resided in their country of birth, or in the country of which they are now citizens, for an aggregate period of at least six years;
·that they acquired Maltese citizenship on 21 September 1964 or at birth, as provided in the Constitution.
The White Paper further stated that it shall be possible also for those persons who are citizens of Malta by registration or naturalisation or because they renounced the citizenship of origin between their 18th and 19th birthday and in respect of whom the preceding requirements also apply, to reacquire, if they could, the citizenship of origin and hold both it and the Maltese.
It was emphasised; however, that the persons mentioned above could not transmit the Maltese citizenship to their children.
Maltese Citizenship in the New Millennium: Amendments passed by the House of Representatives on 31 January 2000
Following a change in Government in 1998, more far-reaching proposals than were suggested in the White Paper were put forward.Indeed, it was now proposed that detailed provisions dealing with citizenship be incorporated in the Maltese Citizenship Act rather than the Constitution, and that it shall now be possible for Maltese citizens to hold dual citizenship on emigration as well as in other circumstances.This means that, henceforth, dual citizenship has become the rule rather than the exception.It is now lawful for any person to be a citizen of Malta and at the same time a citizen of another country.
The new Section 8 of the Maltese Citizenship Act provides that a person who, before the coming into force of the Act, had ceased to be a citizen of Malta because of the possession or acquisition, voluntary or involuntary, of any other citizenship, shall be entitled to apply for registration as a citizen of Malta.
On the other hand, Section 9 provides that a person who was at any time a citizen of Malta and who:
·resided in any other country outside Malta for an aggregate period of six years; and
·acquired or retained the citizenship of any other country,
shall be deemed not to have ever ceased to be a citizen of
The introduction to this page details the other measures forming part of the Maltese Citizenship Act as now amended.
Formal enquiries on the subject by those residing in
Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs
3 Castille Place
Valletta CMR 02
Tel: (+356) 250868Fax: (+356) 237513
MALTESE DUAL / MULTIPLE CITIZENSHIP
Under the new law it is possible to hold Maltese citizenship together with one or more other citizenships. The previous requirement that persons entitled to dual citizenship had to make a choice between the ages of 18 and 19 no longer applies; they can hold both citizenships.
However, dual citizenship is only open to persons who are citizens of another country and are:
at least one of parents also born in
at birth at least one of parents was a Maltese citizen
father was born in
at least one of the father's parents (one of the paternal grand parents) was also born in
either one of the parents, at the time of your birth was a citizen of
e) irrelevant irrelevant at any time a citizen of Malta by having resided in another country for an aggregate period of at least six years, acquired the citizenship of the foreign country.
Our Citizenship Services
if you were born before 1964
If you were born after 1964
To avail yourself of our citizenship service, please fill in, sign and fax / mail the appropriate form to us, together with the supporting documents indicated below:
1. Full birth certificate showing names of parents;
2. Father’s birth certificate;
3. Parents’ marriage certificate;
4. Certificate showing date when foreign citizenship was acquired by Registration/Naturalization;
5. Current passport;
6. Identity card (if applicable);
7. Documentary evidence to show that enquirer has resided abroad for an aggregate period of at least six years.
If you are not in possession of the necessary documents, simply provide us with as much information as possible. Our search in Public Records will enable us to obtain the missing documents for you.
Other ways of acquiring Maltese Citizenship
While there are no hard and fast rules regulating the acquisition of citizenship, by way of indication, Maltese citizenship may be acquired on the following criteria:
after five years of marriage to a Maltese person
other criteria on a case by case basis.
As in all other cases, there is no requirement on the person concerned to renounce any other citizenship he / she might hold.