$1.55 million passport? Malta thinks it's worth it

The southern European country sells citizenships to help with economic woes

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Citizenship to the country of Malta is now up for sale – with a hefty price tag.

The super-rich can now purchase the Maltese nationality for a meager $880,000 fee, paid in cash, and $677,000 in property and investments in the country, the New York Times reported.


The total $1.55 million dollar purchase does come with perks, however. While the southern European country may be the original destination, the passport also allows for impediment-free travel, work and life around the world.

Since Malta is a member of the European Union, buyers can travel to Europe passport-free throughout the 27 member states and can also live and work within these countries. The citizenship also allows visa-free travel to 69 non-European Union countries, including the United States.

While the scenic country's move is legal under EU regulations, it is not well-practiced. The move received backlash from the supranational group with the union’s justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, saying that European citizenship "must not be for sale."

Appeasing those in the EU who reject the move, Malta agreed this week to carefully vet applicants and require foreigners to be residents for at least one year. Capping the limit on how many passports available for sale was not agreed upon.

The move has also received criticism as it follows years of Malta's poor treatment of African migrants who fled to the island, juxtaposing it with the country's now open arm policy for the rich.

Citing financial woes for the motive behind the offer, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat estimated the program could bring in $1.35 billion of revenue over the next five years which would be spent in education, health care and job creation.

Those so far lured by the country's offer includes a former Formula 1 champion, a Chinese billionaire, an international pop star, a member of a prominent Persian Gulf royal family, an American press magnate and a South American soccer player, according to The Times of Malta, a daily newspaper.

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