The Key Employee Initiative


Third-Country Nationals (“TCNs”), whether entering Malta from a visa-exempt country or through a Schengen Visa, may reside in Malta for a maximum of 90 days, unless there is a valid legal basis to remain. All TCNs require a work permit in order to be able to work in Malta.

There are a number of different routes by which a TCN can obtain a permit to reside and work in Malta (kindly refer to our article on TCN Residence in Malta:

The Key Employee Initiative

The Key Employee Initiative (KEI) was introduced to serve as an expedited Single Permit (combined work and residence permit) application procedure available to highly-skilled TCNs.


In order to be eligible to file an application under the KEI expedited procedure, the applicant must:

  • Hold a managerial or highly-technical post which requires specific qualifications or adequate experience;
  • Have a signed contract with a Maltese company with an annual gross salary of at least €35,000;
  • Provide proof of professional qualifications directly related to the employment or of a minimum of 3 years’ previous experience in the field;
  • Provide a declaration by his employer that the applicant has the necessary credentials to perform the duties being assigned.

The applicant must first complete the full application, consisting of:

  • The Residence Application Form;
  • A full copy of the Applicant’s Passport;
  • A covering letter by the Employer;
  • The work contract;
  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV);
  • A Declaration of Suitability;
  • Proof of the Applicant’s Qualifications or Reference Letters;
  • Health Screening;
  • Property Lease or Purchase Agreement and Housing Authority Approval;
  • Health Insurance Policy
  • Any other document requested by Identita’ (the Maltese competent authority).

The application is to be filed online and can be made before the applicant even arrives in Malta.

Identita’ will then review the application and given a decision within 5 working days. If approved, a Single Permit will be issued with a validity of one year, which may be renewed for further periods of up to three years.

Taxation of TCNs Residing in Malta


TCNs not domiciled but resident in Malta are only taxed on income sourced in Malta as well as any other income received in Malta. This means that any foreign capital gains are not taxable in Malta.

TCNs are usually taxed at progressive rates ranging from 0-35%. However, individuals employed in certain roles or offices may benefit from a 15% flat tax on income.

Social Security

All employed TCNs between the ages of 16-65 are to pay social security contributions. However, a TCN may request to be exempted from paying social security in Malta if a state contribution is being paid in their country of origin.

Rights of TCNs Residing in Malta

Long-Term Residence

Third-country nationals who have lawfully resided in Malta for an uninterrupted period exceeding 5 years are eligible to apply for long-term resident status.


Third-country nationals are also entitled to bring their family members to Malta, which include (i) the spouse or long-term partner, (ii) unmarried minor children and (iii) unmarried children who are dependent on the TCN for financial support. Family members are given residency, but should they wish to seek employment in Malta, they must make a separate work permit application.


Third-country nationals and their family members have access to the Maltese public healthcare system if they pay social security in Malta.


Third-country nationals and their family members also have access to the educational system.

Driving Licence

Driving licences issued by non-EU/EEA member states are recognised for a period not exceeding 12 months from the date of entry of the TCN into Malta. Following the expiration of the 12-month period, TCNs are required to exchange the licence for a Maltese driving licence.

Immovable Property

Third-country nationals usually require an AIP permit when purchasing immoveable property in Malta. However, there are Special Designation Areas (SDAs) where TCNs do not require an AIP permit to purchase immoveable property.

How can Zeta Assist?

Our team of experienced professionals specialise in guiding both employers and prospective employees through the residency application, assisting in the preparation of the application and communicating with the regulatory authority.

Contact us today to see how we can assist you in achieving your goals.