How to move to
Find A Job
Malta is an attractive destination for people looking to live in a temperate climate with access to good beaches. Many of the new residents are retirees from Northern European countries, especially the UK. They are joined by freelancers who can work anywhere in the world, and by the rarer arrivals of people looking for work.
Malta has very low wage levels, which makes it an attractive place for global businesses to access a low cost workforce. However, this means expats have limited access to good wages. Whilst wage inflation has been low, the cost of living in Malta has been rising. The costs of energy and food are so high that Malta has the second highest living costs in Europe.
Malta’s tight regulation of its banking industry prevented the 2008 worldwide financial crisis from causing the massive bank bailouts and economic disaster seen elsewhere. However, a Caritas Malta study published in May 2016 examined the financial circumstances of Maltese families struggling to achieve an acceptable and decent standard of life. It is not unusual for individuals to work two jobs in order to support their families.
The conclusion to be drawn from these factors, and one which you will hear echoed by many expats who have worked in Malta, is that you must accept you are arriving to enjoy a different lifestyle. You are very unlikely to be improving your career prospects, and will be working for living costs without the prospect of making a large savings pot.
Citizens from the EU/EEA, as well as Swiss nationals and their family members, do not need an Employment License in order to work in Malta. Citizens from elsewhere must receive an Employment License from the Employment and Training Corporation before they begin work. Checks will be carried out to ensure a non-EU foreigner is not moving to Malta to do a job which could be done by an available Maltese worker.
Most residents in Malta speak Maltese. English is widely used and understood, but you will find most workplace conversations occur in Maltese. Many Italian speaking workplaces also exist on Malta, which do a lot of business with the Italian mainland and nearby Sicily.
If you are coming to Malta to work in a seasonal job, for example fruit and vegetable picking, you will find short-term work fairly easily. If you are looking for work in the hospitality industry, such as being a chef or a waiter or working in a hotel, you will easily find vacancies for the summer season but little is available all year round.
Even some skilled jobs are only seasonal. Diving instructors invest thousands into their careers through training, practice, equipment, exam fees and professional membership fees. They have often undertaken internships without pay for an entire season, in order to gain the qualifications and experience necessary for this job in which the lives of others are in their hands. Yet it is still badly paid and seasonal work.
Timeshare workers are highly unpopular. They are given ambitious sales targets and try to draw potential customers off the street. Locals, especially the expats who are most likely to be approached, find this intrusion annoying.
If you are looking for unskilled work available throughout the year, you may have difficulty tracking down opportunities. The population in Malta has the largest concentration of unqualified adults in the workforce of any country in the European Union. Family and friendship ties in this small state with its total population of just over 423,000 people mean that expats are likely to be overlooked for permanent work if they do not bring new and necessary skills to the table. When Malta entered the European Union in 2004 citizens of other EU countries gained the freedom to live and work in Malta, and the 2008 financial crisis which hit Spain and Greece particularly hard gave many the impetus to move.
It is not uncommon for expats to take a step down from where they previously were in their career. With less money and a smaller workforce, in a country where you are not known, you may have to build up expertise in Malta even if you arrived with an impressive CV.
When looking for work, the internet can be a useful starting point.
The recruitment website Jobs In Malta has a very useful Malta Tax and Net Salary Calculator. You can enter a salary figure, and the calculator will show you how much tax will be due and what your take home pay would be. You can set this for annually, monthly, weekly and daily pay.
The website Malta Park has a dedicated jobs page. Whilst it offers a range of classified and for sale pages too rather than being a dedicated recruitment site, the jobs page does attract a lot of listings.
The website for the Times Of Malta has a Careers section. Within this are four categories of current work vacancies: Finance and Legal, IT and Engineering, Sales and Marketing, and Management. These categories give you a good indication of the skill sets you need to succeed in finding permanent employment in Malta.
The Maltese government runs the Employment & Training Commission (ETC), and Jobsplus, which is Malta’s Public Employment Service. Once you have registered with Jobsplus, they will inform you when suitable vacancies are identified. The Jobsplus website allows you to create a profile, upload your CV, choose your work preferences and view suggested job vacancies. They can also identify any training or apprenticeship opportunities that you may be eligible for.
The European Employment Service (EURES) was set up by the European Union. The Employment and Training Corporation’s EURES advisers provide information and advice on employment opportunities in other European countries. They can also advise on conditions of work, health and safety issues, accommodation, the education, healthcare, training opportunities, transport, culture and the general lifestyle in particular countries.
Some vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, and others are placed with the private employment agencies which are located across Malta and Gozo.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Malta is one of the countries which has signed up to the Schengen Agreement. Residents from one Schengen area country can travel to another without having to produce passport or immigration documents at the common border. Citizens of 26 countries can freely travel into and out of Malta. Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are also members of the Schengen Agreement even though they are not members of the European Union. The Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands are not located within the European continent but have also joined the Schengen Agreement. Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus are seeking to join the Schengen area soon.
The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are not members of the Schengen Agreement.
Malta has arranged visa waivers with a number of countries, including the United States.
Citizens of the above countries can all stay in Malta for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period. Citizens from countries which are not part of the Schengen area and where no mutual visa waiver scheme exists must apply for a Tourist Visa. Once you have obtained the Tourist Visa you may stay for a maximum of 90 days.
If you want to stay longer than the 90 days, you may ask to receive an extension from the Maltese police.
If you are planning to stay in Malta for a long period, then you should apply to become a permanent resident. You can do this in advance of moving to Malta, or you can move to Malta under the Schengen Agreement / Tourist Visa terms and apply for permanent residency before the 90-day period expires. The application process is straightforward so you should be able to navigate it without professional help.
If you become a permanent resident in Malta it does not give you Maltese citizenship and you cannot register to vote there. However, you are free to leave and return to the country at any time.
Permanent residents living in Malta become liable for taxation there. If you bring income into the country, you must pay tax at 15%. Malta has a taxation agreement with a number of countries which means you will pay tax in Malta and not in your country of citizenship. The list of countries with which Malta has made arrangements can be found on the Malta Financial Services Authority website.
You may find it useful to discuss your tax affairs with an accountant who has the appropriate expertise, before you make the decision to move to Malta.
There are three different categories of Permanent Residence and you must apply for the correct one.
If you are a citizen of a European Union country, you may apply for the Ordinary Residence permit. Depending on your marital status and your annual income, your tax rate will be anywhere from 0% to 35%, with higher earners paying more tax.
Once you have been granted an Ordinary Residence permit, you will need to renew it every five years.
If you are not a citizen of a European Union country, you will have to apply for the Permanent Residence permit, which is renewed annually.
The Malta Global Residence Programme was introduced in July 2013. You can apply for this programme if you can satisfy strict criteria, which includes buying or renting property in Malta or Gozo for your own place of residence, and paying a minimum annual tax liability on foreign income received while you live in Malta. It is not available to citizens of EEA countries, or to Swiss nationals.
The Application Form for a Registration Certificate for EU citizens and the Residence Card for their non-EU dependants can be found here.
To obtain a Residency Permit your application must be submitted to the following location in Valletta:
Department for Citizenship and Expatriates Affairs
St Elmo Place
Valletta VLT 2000
Tel: 2590 4000, 2590 4800, 2590 4821
Fax: 2590 1830
You can submit the application yourself, have it submitted by someone on your behalf, or apply by post. Passports and ID cards must be shown, or if you are applying by post your photocopies of the documents must be certified by the police.
However, once the permit is ready for collection, you must attend in person. You will need to bring your passport and ID cards. You will be issued with an eResidence card. The eResidence card can be used as legal identification, and shows the immigration status of any foreigner living in Malta. It allows EU citizens to work in Malta without further official permission.
There is no charge made to EU/EEA/Swiss National applicants who wish to obtain a permanent residence status, or for the family members of an EU/EEA/Swiss National citizen. Be aware that some unofficial websites will try to charge you a fee for this free service.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss National or the dependant of one, and your Residency documents have been lost, stolen or destroyed, you will be charged a fee of €20 for new ones. €15 will be charged in respect of defaced documents.
Applicants who are not citizens of the EU must pay a fee of €25 when applying for Permanent Residency documents. The documents will be valid for one year. However, If you are married to a Maltese national and you hold the Exempt Person Status then a fee will not be charged.
Long term residents will be charged €125 for a five year permit.
If you have International Protection status and have just been released from detention, a fee will not be levied.
All EU citizens are permitted to work in Malta once they have received the eRegistration Card. However, most employers will require you to provide them with a Certificate Of Good Conduct issued by the police. You can obtain this easily and quickly by visiting the Police GHQ in Floriana and paying a small fee.
Citizens from outside the EU must obtain an Employment License before taking up employment in Malta. The Employment License is normally valid for a maximum of one year, and is for one job with one employer only. You cannot change employment without permission, or get a second part time job. You will only be issued with an Employment License if you have made a successful application for a residence permit.
There will be an examination of the role offered and the ability of the local labour market to meet the specific vacancy before the Employment License is issued.
There are four exceptions to the rule that non-EU citizens must obtain an Employment License in order to work in Malta:
• Family members of Union citizens, EEA/Swiss citizens;
• Overseas employees who are posted to Malta to work for the same company for a specific duration;
• Seasonal workers or au pairs who will not normally work in Malta for more than six months of any twelve months;
• Foreign national non-resident and non-executive directors who are not employees.
Remember to notify the Tax Office and Social Security Office in the country you are leaving about your plans for relocation, and provide a forwarding address.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
Anyone with the means to cover the costs can legally rent a property in Malta, regardless of their country of origin or residency status. However, if you are intending to apply for permanent residency status in Malta, please be aware that you must provide evidence that you are paying monthly rental costs in excess of €350 per month for a rental lease taken out on an annual basis.
Because Malta is a popular holiday destination, and tourism is an important part of its economy, it has an abundance of short term lets. These tend to be most sought after during July and August which is the peak of the tourist season. If an estate agent has arranged the lease, which could be up to six months, then the tenant and landlord will each pay the estate agent a fee of 10% plus VAT at 18%. However, many landlords now advertise online for a one-off fee, which means the tenant does not pay an estate agent’s fee but equally must act cautiously to protect their own interests.
Despite its small size Malta also has a good supply of long-term rental properties. This means they would be leased for more than six months, but in practice it is normal to have an annual lease signed by both parties. The monthly rental price should be lower than that for a short term let during the tourist season June to September.
Rental costs vary significantly according to the location and the degree to which the property is furnished. Small apartments in Goz can be found for a little as €300 per month, whereas apartments in Silema, Malta or with good sea views will average €1,800 per month.
The Sliema, St Julian’s and Swieqi areas are at the heart of Malta’s rental property market, and you can find a wide range of properties available. Good access to public transport, shops and other amenities, combined with good access to the employment market, make this a good location for many people arriving in Malta. Starting prices may be about €300- €400 per month but are more likely to average about €1,800 per month, especially if sea views are available.
For those looking for a rural retreat, traditional Maltese villages in the central locations of Msida, Naxxar, Attard and Balzan may be a good option. The rental costs will be lower and you have ready access to open space. Traditional houses and farmhouses in remote locations will require access to a car so you can visit the shops and other local amenities, although Maltese bread can usually be delivered fresh to your door. Before committing to an annual lease in a rural idyll, consider how you would manage if sudden illness were to prevent you from driving.
The tourist areas of Qawra, Mellieha and Bugibba, especially along the coast, are busy from June to September. They will become very quiet out of season. As a result rental prices can be very reasonable, even though they are only 40 minutes away from Sliema. Public transport is present but with a more limited service, whilst local amenities should provide everything you need for day to day living. Gozo also offers accommodation at a reasonable price.
Furnished apartments will normally include all bathroom and kitchen fittings, and a range of basic essential furniture in each room which would allow you to immediately live there. Because of the climate, floors are usually tiled. Apartments often include a small balcony as their outside space, but some houses may offer access to a small garden. Swimming pools are not a normal feature of rental properties, especially in built up urban areas, unless you are looking at the premium end of the market where prices can reach €10,000 per month.
In 2016 the government in Malta issued a White Paper called “Malta’s Property Code And Regulations”. It proposed a new system of compulsory registration for estate agents operating in Malta. Licensing would require satisfactory completion of initial and ongoing training, registration, and adherence to codes of practice. A new complaints system is also proposed, allowing action against individuals who are shown to have acted against consumer interests. The timescale for implementation is not currently publicised, so in the meantime consumers should seek recommendations and exercise caution when choosing an estate agent to help with a property search.
Some of the online sites which may help find your rental home in Malta include:
Before signing a rental contract or making any payment at all in connection to the rental property search, make sure you have visited the property in person and that the people you are dealing with are genuine. This can be hard to do if you are dealing with the landlord directly.
Make sure both parties are signing the rental contract. Do not move into a property on a verbal agreement, as you may unwittingly become liable to terms you did not understand or did not agree to.
Most landlords and estate agents will give you a contract in English. Many will be happy to forward this document to you in advance of signature so that you have time to consider the terms and conditions. Please make sure you are happy with all them, as once you have signed the document you must legally comply with all points within it. Consider the implications of unexpected events, such as your employer sending you to another country or the illness of a loved one requiring a prolonged visit home, and whether the contract would allow you to terminate the lease early.
When paying the deposit and all subsequent rental payments, only pay via bank transfer. Never pay in cash as the payments cannot be proven should a later problem occur. If you are making international transfers the SWIFT method of payment involves a lot of ID checks which should provide some protection, although your bank will charge you for this service.
Estate agents will normally charge the tenant a fee equivalent to half a month’s rent, plus VAT at 18%. The estate agent will receive an equivalent fee from the landlord.
It is usual for the tenant to pay the first month of rent in advance, and to continue this throughout the tenancy.
All tenants will be expected to place a deposit against damages and other losses, equivalent to one month’s rent. If the rent is paid in full and no identified loss or damage occurs, then the deposit will be returned at the end of the rental lease. It is best to place these funds into a client account or a bank account which requires both the tenant and landlord to sign for withdrawal. If you just transfer the funds directly into the landlord’s account then you will have to start legal procedures if the landlord unfairly fails to return the funds.
The monthly rental payments will only cover the cost of using the accommodation. Utility bills such as water and electricity, internet and TV services are additional costs paid by the tenant.
The Times of Malta recently estimated that foreigners were paying nearly double for their water and electricity than they should be. This is because primary residences should be charged the Residential Tariff, but many expats are paying the higher Domestic Tariff, which is aimed at secondary residences. This usually occurs because the landlord has not transferred the registered name for the utility company, saving them the paperwork when tenants change. The situation is then exacerbated because the tariffs are further adjusted according to the number of people living in the property. So if you have just taken out a lease, one of the first things you must do is register yourself with ARMS as the account holder for utilities, by filling out Form F and taking it to a contact centre with your ID. Also, ensure you are paying the Residential Tariff, by asking at the contact centre and then checking your bill for the word “Residential”. Ideally the landlord should complete a Form H, but the statutory requirement for them to do so has been removed so you can now obtain registration even if the landlord fails to complete and return the utility paperwork.
In 2016 the Maltese government introduced a white paper called “Malta’s Property Code And Regulations”. It aims to introduce regulations to the estate agency industry in Malta. Estate agents would be required to pass a relevant diploma level qualification before applying for an operating license. A new regulatory body, the Real Estate Agents Authority, would be responsible for regulating licensed individuals, who would have to comply with licensing regulations and a code of practice. The Real Estate Agents Authority would be responsible for keeping a register of the licensees, developing rules of practice and professional standards, issuing consumer information, prescribing training courses and setting fees. They would also investigate complaints and, where necessary, prosecute individuals where offences have been committed. Controversially, prison sentences could be sought for offenders, although fines are expected to be the usual penalty.
For the consumer, the new regulations mean that their licensed estate agent should give them written terms of business. This would set out all fees and charges, including VAT, and the payment terms including when the fee is due. It should be clear to the consumer whether they are being charged a fixed amount or a percentage of the property receipt. A clause should explain clearly what will happen if the client withdraws their instructions.
Although this white paper has yet to be implemented, consumers in the meantime would be advised to ask their estate agent for the written terms of business.
Once you have found the property you wish to buy, you must make an offer to the seller. If they accept it, perhaps after further negotiation, then you will both sign a preliminary agreement. The agreement will be legally binding for three months, committing each party to the sale, while the relevant searches and checks are made by the notary. You must pay a 10% deposit to the seller at this stage, with the money held in a client account. You must also pay 1% stamp duty to the Inland Revenue at this stage.
Once the final deed is issued, you will need to make a second stamp duty payment of 4% to the Inland revenue, bringing the total stamp duty paid to 5%.
If you are a first time buyer purchasing your sole residence, and meet a number of criteria, you can qualify for a reduction in stamp duty for the first €150,000 of the property’s value. This applies to those who have moved to Malta as well as native residents. First time buyers who are intending to restore their new home may be able to qualify for up to €100,000 of property related expenses from a scheme funded by the Maltese government.
Property rights are well defined and protected under Maltese law, but it is important to employ the services of an independent notary to ensure the law is correctly applied. Notaries file the purchase and sale deeds of the property with the Maltese authorities. They check that the deeds are full and accurate, that there are no outstanding loans on the property, and that there are no other claims on the property. You should avoid appointing a notary recommended by the seller or estate agent, and find someone independent. The Maltese Notariat have a website which lists registered members.
Notary costs usually start at about 1.5% of the property value but can be as high as 2.5%. You will have to pay the first third of these costs at the time the preliminary agreement is signed, with the remainder due on the day the final deed of transfer is signed.
If your personal and business situation is not straightforward, such as purchasing your Maltese property whilst being a foreign or overseas resident, then you will find the services of an independent lawyer helpful. For example, you must obtain an acquisition of immovable property certificate from the Ministry of Finance if you are an EU citizen purchasing a Maltese residence which is not your main residence. The permit requires you to pay in excess of €107,670 for an apartment and €179,400 (£140,346) for a house or villa.
It is a good idea to have the property checked by a surveyor, especially if you are buying a historic home. The traditional limestone houses can be hundreds of years old with structural problems that are not obvious on the surface.
If you are notified by the notary or by the surveyor that there is a problem, the matter should be urgently discussed with the seller. If the matter can be rectified within an agreed period, then the sale must still go ahead. If the problem cannot be rectified in the short term you can investigate pulling out of the sale. If you have good evidence that you cannot proceed because of an issue with the property, then you will be due a refund of both your deposit and the stamp duty paid to date.
Once all the checks have been completed, you can agree a transfer date with the seller. On that day, both you and the seller will sign the final deed of transfer. You can give power of attorney to your lawyer, allowing them to sign the final deed of transfer on your behalf. You will pay the remainder of the agreed sale price to the seller and the remaining stamp duty to the Inland Revenue. You will also have to pay your notary the remaining two thirds of the fee due, and a lawyer if you used one, at this point.
If the property you are purchasing has an annual ground rent due, you will also have to pay a recognition fee when you purchase the property. This is equivalent to a year’s ground rent. In practice, this means you will pay two years’ ground rent on the day you take ownership of the property.
Be sure to discuss the tax implications of your property ownership with your lawyer. When a property owner dies, 5% of the value of that property must be paid to the Inland Revenue. If the property is owned jointly and equally, then 5% of the deceased person’s half will be sold.
If you bought your property in Malta as your main residence and sell it before you have lived in it for three years, then you must pay capital gains tax. If you live in the property longer than three years, then you will not be liable for the capital gains tax as long as the sale is completed before you reach the one year anniversary of moving out.
If your property in Malta is a holiday home or held for investment purposes, then you will have to pay capital gains tax. This is 10% of the value of the property if you purchased it before 2004, and 8% if it was purchased after 1st January 2015. A rate of 5% applies to people who are not property traders who sell their holiday home within five years of purchase.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Malta health insurance
In the event of a serious, life-threatening emergency in Malta, you can call the ambulance, fire services and police on the free phone number 112.
Other important phone numbers that are useful to know in Malta are:
• +356 2545 0000 – main hospital, Malta
• +356 2156 1600 – Gozo Hospital
• +356 2122 4001-7 – Malta police force
• +356 2124 4371 – emergency helicopter rescue
• +356 2123 8797 – emergency patrol boat rescue
Malta has a publicly funded healthcare system, free at the point of delivery. It is paid for by workers contributing to the national insurance system, regardless of their country of origin. In 2017 a recently implemented health privatisation programme continued to be rolled out. Three hospitals have been leased to Vitals Global Healthcare, and there is some criticism that the contract has not been available for public scrutiny. Many Maltese residents are concerned that their world leading healthcare system is being used to generate profits.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked countries according to the standard of medical care, and Malta was 5th in the world. The average life expectancy for Maltese men is currently 79 years, and 82 years for women. This places it 16th on the global list of countries by life expectancy. It is slightly ahead of the UK in 20th position with approximately 4 months’ difference. It is well ahead of the US at number 31, where average life expectancy for men is 76 years, and 81 years for women.
Primary care is provided by local General Practitioners, who will make any necessary referrals to hospital for further investigation or treatment. There are eight public healthcare centres offering General Practitioner and Nursing Services in Malta and Gozo. They also offer a range of ancillary services such as speech and language therapy, immunisation, and so on.
Mater Dei Hospital, the acute general and teaching hospital based in Msida, is opposite the University of Malta. The newly built hospital was opened in 2007 as a flagship public hospital. In 2014 specialist oncology services were opened in the newly built Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Hospital.
There is also a general hospital located on Gozo.
A private healthcare industry also operates in Malta. The Maltese government strongly recommends foreigners take out private healthcare insurance and receive private treatment.
As in the UK and US, dentistry practices in Malta are run privately so payment is made after treatment.
Pharmacists usually provide a service during normal shopping hours. On Sundays, a roster system 9-12.30am on Malta and 7.30-11am on Gozo ensures patients have access to emergency prescriptions.
Anyone holding a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can have access to emergency treatment in Malta if they are taken ill or have an accident whilst on holiday or a business trip. However, it does not cover the medical expenses for any EHIC holder who has travelled to Malta for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment or giving birth. If seeking the services of a doctor, make sure you ask for a state funded doctor at the beginning of the conversation. If you accidentally enter a private healthcare facility because this was not discussed before treatment, the EHIC card cannot cover the costs. Dentistry costs are not covered unless you have received emergency acute dental treatment in a public hospital or health centre. Prescriptions for EHIC holders are provided free of charge whilst you are a hospital inpatient, and for the first three days after discharge. In all other cases the medication must be paid for by the patient.
Approximately one in four Maltese residents is a smoker, which is a higher proportion than many other European countries but well below Greece and Bulgaria. Since January 2013 smoking in an indoor public space is prohibited. Whilst this was also interpreted to include e-cigarettes, a recent court case successfully argued that e-cigarettes do not constitute a tobacco product. E-cigarettes and e-liquids are sold by a number of retailers in Malta.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Malta has the highest rate of obesity in the European Union, especially for men. 26% of Maltese adults are considered obese, compared to 24% in the UK, although this is lower than the US rate of 35.7%. Obesity normally increases with age, and like the UK almost a quarter of the population in Malta is over the age of 60. However, the WHO study found almost 30% of 11-15 year olds were overweight or obese.
Diabetes, a disease strongly linked to obesity, has been diagnosed in just over 10% of the population. The government has launched programmes to tackle obesity and diabetes, as these conditions cause personal cost to the sufferers as well as the medical costs for treatment. Schools are now only permitted to sell water instead of the range of soft drinks previously available. A screening programme has been implemented to monitor juvenile weight.
Part of the issue is dependance on cars and little interest in cycling. The terrain of the archipelago does not help promote physical activity during everyday tasks. But participation in sports and physical activity is also much lower than in many other countries. Combined with the westernised diet, rather than the mediterranean diet enjoyed by nearby Sicily and Italy, the lack of exercise is causing great concern to health experts and government departments because of the long term consequences for the population.
Mental health services tend to be based at the Mount Carmel Hospital, which treats both chronic and acute conditions in the same wards. A crisis clinic at Mater dei also treats outpatients. There is ongoing work by the Mental Health Services to assess the community based psychiatric services offered in other countries, as the Mount Carmel Hospital is dogged by debts and is seen to offer little collaboration with General Practitioners.
Recent changes to the Mental Health Act allow patients to discharge themselves from Mount Carmel, but there is concern that this could happen withouta care plan being implemented. The newly implemented Board of Directors for Mental Health are drawing up a strategy which is expected to include the refurbishment of parts of Mount Carmel hospital and opening a new mental health facility. There have been strong calls for the psychiatric services to be omitted from the current health privatisation programme being implemented in Malta.
Mental Health Malta is a non-profit organisation supporting those who suffer from mental health issues and their families. Their website gives information about the support they can provide and how to contact them.
Aġenzija Appoġġ is the Maltese Foundation for Social Welfare Services. Amongst the support services it provides is Supportline 179. This is a confidential telephone support line, run by professionally trained volunteers, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers are welcome from any age group regardless of whether you need to talk through a minor matter that is worrying you, or if you are in a crisis situation and need to talk to someone urgently. They can also refer you to other support agencies if required.
In November 2009 a European Commission directive reserved a harmonised set of numbers beginning with 116, to be used for services of social value that would be common across all EU member states. 24 hour emotional support lines, including the Samaritans in the UK and Aġenzija Appoġġ in Malta, can all be accessed by calling 116 123. The number connects you to the support line services operating from wherever you are making the call.
Another Maltese support service provided by trained volunteers is Programme Ulied Darna. Volunteers provide practical help to families under stress, including childminding help for parents attending Aġenzija Appoġġ appointments and providing transport to important appointments.
Trained volunteers from Home-Start Malta offer support, friendship and practical help to parents with children under the age of 5. The families may be struggling with such problems as health or financial issues, social isolation, or multiple births. The family and Home-Start Malta work together to agree an action plan which will be supported by the volunteers.
Open A Bank Account
Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004, and a member of the Eurozone since 1st January 2008. The Euro was introduced immediately although the Maltese pound stopped being legal tender twelve months later.
Today the Maltese national currency remains the Euro, divided into one hundred cents.
Malta has a stable political environment, being a democratic parliamentary republic operating within the independent country’s Constitution. It also has a stable legal environment which protects the registered ownership of assets. It is the EU’s smallest member state, so additional legal protection is offered to residents and businesses through EU legislation.
Overseas investors are attracted to Malta because of its highly efficient corporate structure, and its low cost base. Salaries are one third to one half of the average EU level.
Banks in Malta offer the same range of services you would expect to see in any EU country. Branch, telephone and online banking are available for all customers. Debit and credit cards are available, and ATMs are widespread. Customers can apply for current and savings accounts, and for a wide range of loan and mortgage products.
Because English is one of the official languages recognised in Malta and is widely spoken by the local population, you will be able to open a bank account and sort out banking transactions both in branch and on the telephone with someone who speaks fluent English. The online banking pages are also available in English.
In order to open a bank account in Malta you will need to visit a branch in person; it is a good idea to ring ahead and arrange an appointment. You must bring along the following original documents:
• Passport or an official government photo ID card
• Utility bill showing your name and full address, dated within the last 3 months
• Bank reference from your previous or current bank, showing your credit history
You will be asked to complete and sign an application form for the bank account. Many banks allow you to do this online prior to attending your appointment.
Banks will have a list of charges applicable to each bank account. Make sure you review this list and agree that the charges are reasonable for your own circumstances before you sign the application form.
There is a good choice of retail banks available in Malta, with both local and international banks offering current accounts. The list includes:
Barclays also offers banking services to expats living in Malta, but in 2015 notified customers that their accounts would only remain open if they had £100,000 invested with the bank.
Banks registered in an EU state must join that state’s €100,000 deposit protection scheme. Malta is part of the EU and registered banks belong to the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) depositor compensation scheme. In the event a bank can no longer operate, customers will receive compensation from the MFSA at the same level as their bank deposit, up to a cap of €100,000. However, it is up to the customer to research the financial institution they are about to invest in as some important caveats can occur. In 2013 UK newspaper The Guardian reported that a 2012 MFSA policy prohibited or limited the ability of any newly licensed credit institutions from creating undue liabilities on the local deposit compensation scheme. Newly licensed bank Agribank had received a license in Malta, which gave it the right to operate throughout Europe, but customers at the time would not have access to the deposit compensation. This highlights the need to thoroughly check the terms and conditions of any bank account you consider opening.
Bank branches are normally open:
Monday - Thursday: 08:30 - 13:30
Friday: 08:30 - 16:30, with some branches staying open until 7pm
Saturday: 08:30 - 12:30
Debit and credit cards are widely used across Malta, and ATMs are widespread.
Paypal has become a popular way to make fast, personal payments with charges against the pre-authorised bank account or credit card sources.
There are numerous places to exchange currency, including currency exchange shops which will list the charges and the exchange rates.
Malta is generally a safe country but robberies, handbag snatching, pick-pocketing and theft from parked cars does happen. The crowded afternoon buses on the 12 and 13 routes between Valletta and St Julian’s are targeted by pick-pockets so extra vigilance should be exercised here.
Scams involving romance, friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities target those living in Malta as much as elsewhere. When someone you have been corresponding with on the internet suddenly asks for money, or meets with you and you rapidly find yourself in a situation where money should be passed over to someone, then you have been targeted by scammers. Examples include paying for someone’s flight so they can meet you, paying for ‘lost’ documents that will allow your internet friend to have access to their inheritance or earnings, or money to start a business venture. If you are shown a suitcase of cash at any point, you know a scam is involved, whatever the circumstances it happens in. The victim is often unable to see the trap they have fallen into because they have built up a relationship with someone online over several months, and may be placed in a situation which gives them little time to think clearly. Even people on modest incomes can be targeted for the little they have, and pressurised to take out loans to hand over to the criminals.
As in other countries, many people in Malta receive telephone calls from complete strangers purporting to be the bank. The criminals tell the victim that urgent action must be taken to avert an unauthorised bank transfer of funds out of their bank account. If this happens to you, immediately put the phone down. From a different phone - in case you are still connected to the incoming call - phone your bank and ask for their fraud department.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
Owing to its size and geography, Malta has a long history of being conquered and run by foreign powers. The Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Order of St. John, French and, from 1800 until Independence, the British have all ruled the Maltese islands. In 1964 Malta became an independent state, and then became a fully fledged parliamentary republic in 1974 before joining the European Union in 2004.
The indigenous population of Malta, who are a distinct ethnic group, speak Maltese. The language is descended from a form of Arabic which developed in Sicily and arrived in Malta somewhere between the end of the 9th and 12th centuries AD. Much of the vocabulary can trace its roots to Italian and Sicilian, with a large input from English. The Maltese language has always been written in Latin script rather than Arabic, with the first known example dating from the late Middle Ages. In all these aspects it reflects the input of new people and rulers on a small island’s language development.
Today Maltese is spoken by approximately 98% of the population, as well as by thousands of Maltese emigrants. The urban and rural dialects are different, with the urban dialect considered to be ‘standard’ Maltese.
The Maltese language became the official language of Malta in 1934, along with the English language. Because Malta was an English crown colony, the English pronunciation and spelling follows the form from England and not the US.
Approximately 88% of the Maltese population can speak English. There are rural areas which have not been subject to an English speaking tourist influx, and an older generation who did not have the opportunity to learn English at school. However in urban areas young people can usually speak English fluently.
About 30% of Malta’s annual tourists arrive from the UK. Given that the tourist industry generates some 15% of Malta’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the importance of speaking English is clear to anyone looking for employment in the hospitality industry.
Italian was replaced by English as one of Malta’s two official languages in 1934. Today Italian can be spoken by approximately 66% of the population, with about 8% using it as their preferred first language at home. Because of Malta’s business links with nearby Italy, there are a number of workplaces where a fluent grasp of Italian will be essential.
Malta does have its own industry of TV production companies. There are examples of collaboration with overseas production companies, and initiatives which encourage screenwriters and TV technical staff to hone their skills. However, tight funding is an issue for the Maltese TV industry. Because they lack the advertising income of primetime slots, the home-grown programmes rely on product placement and sponsorship to provide production funds. Actors are poorly paid and frequently arrive on set after finishing their main job. Some are taken on without acting experience. Having to learn scripts extremely quickly is a key skill as they are finished very close to filming - and sometimes during filming. But for all that, Maltese TV is very popular with much of the local population.
For fluent Italian speakers, it is easy to receive TV broadcasts from mainland Italy.
The majority of radio broadcasts are in Maltese, followed by English. Italian speakers have good access to radio programmes broadcast from mainland Italy.
The newspaper and periodicals available on Malta are fairly evenly split between Maltese and English. Many of them have an online presence which can be read in both of the official languages. The Times of Malta, Malta Today, The Malta Independent and L-Orizzont are widely available across the islands.
On the internet, there are a limited number of websites available in Maltese. The government sites are available in both English and Maltese.
It is possible to obtain employment in Malta to teach English, especially to teenagers, in private language schools. If you are from outside the EU, a job offer is required in order to apply for a work permit, which you must receive before starting work.
Regardless of your country of origin or citizen status, you must obtain a twelve month Teaching Permit from the EFL monitoring board. In order to obtain the permit you must meet the following criteria:
• Be at least 18 years old;
• Have successfully completed a 60-hour TEFL Induction Course and have either an A’ Level in English with grades A,B or C; or successfully passed TELT; or possess a CELTA or Cert.Tesol or any comparable qualification (validated by the MQC);
• Have a matriculation level standard of education (for applicants under 25 years old);
• Have a clean and recent police history.
The police certificate can be produced quickly (usually within an hour) at the Police GHQ in Floriana following the payment of a small fee. You will need to present your original qualification certificates and your police conduct report to the ELF monitoring board for validation. The ELF monitoring board can usually issue a temporary permit straight away, with the twelve month permit arriving two or three weeks later.
For many people the simplest approach is to arrive in Malta, obtain the police report and visit the EFL monitoring board in the same day, and then start teaching from the following day. This saves a trip across to Malta in advance of starting work, though if the documents and temporary permit are not immediately available you will need to wait before starting to work.
The majority of English language school work will be found in the Silema and St Julians area, and vacancies are often filled by candidates writing directly to the school with their CV and a good covering letter. It is usually seasonal work, available from April to September, and the low rate of 7 to 10 Euros an hour reflects the low labour costs of Malta generally. Teaching is normally delivered in split shifts, so some evening work can be expected. The income tax rate is approximately 20%. Overall living costs in Malta are quite high compared to the income expected from these short term language teaching positions, so it should be seen as a way to cover the basic costs of experiencing a simple life abroad rather than a plan to earn a good savings pot for the future.
Teaching English on a private basis is rare and you would not have a good chance of obtaining a work permit without someone offering a decent number of hours for you to financially support yourself. Language schools do not allow you to take on pupils privately while you work for them.
Choose A School
Childcare centres operate across Malta and Gozo, providing care for children from three months to three years old. From April 2014 free childcare centres became available, with many private centres signing up to the scheme. The government childcare centres are registered with the Department for Social Welfare Standards and are managed by the Foundation for Educational Services (FES). All childcare centres must follow the standards set by the Policy for Child Care Facilities and must meet the National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities (2006).
The principle of “educare” is at the heart of the childcare centre standards. A modern, safe and fully equipped environment should be the setting for activities which stimulate social, emotional, physical, intellectual, communication and creative development. Parents and childcare centre staff are asked to work together so each child can reach their full potential.
The services of the government childcare centres are available to all children whose parents live, work or study in locally, but are targeted towards children at risk of social exclusion, in particular:
• Children who would benefit from spending time in the centre due to family circumstances.
• Children whose parents would need respite due to serious problems.
• Children of single parents, especially those who choose to follow a course or decide to start working to improve their financial situation.
• Children who have developmental delays and need more individual attention before starting kindergarten.
• Children who live within the locality or other college localities.
• Children whose parents work within or close to the locality.
Parents whose children attend a childcare centre which is registered with the Department for Social Welfare Standards can apply to receive a deduction in the tax amount payable to Inland Revenue.
Kindergarten classes are available for children aged 3 to 5 years, and are held in local primary schools. To obtain a place, parents or guardians should register with the head of the primary school no earlier than at the age of 2 years and 9 months. The ID of both parents must be presented. If parents are no longer living together, then the court documents proving separation/annulment must be shown.
Primary schools are attended by 5-11 year olds, with streaming introduced for the final two years. Children take a national test at the age of 11, with those who achieve the highest marks being offered a place at the junior lyceum. The others will attend secondary school.
Education from the age of 5 until the age of 16 is compulsory. Many young people choose to enter tertiary education after taking their Secondary Education Certificate exams at the age of 16. Matriculation exams will be taken two years later at the age of 18, for those who wish to progress on to higher education.
There are many families who home school. They argue that under the Constitution of Malta (1964) only education, and not school attendance, is compulsory.
There are four types of school run in Malta:
• State (government) schools
• Church schools
• Independent schools
• Specialist schools
Children attending state schools in Malta do so entirely without any tuition costs. They also receive free transport to and from school, and free resources such as exercise books and the loan of text books. The parents must, however, provide school uniform. Lessons will be taught in Maltese, except for English lessons, and Maltese is usually the language used by children in the playground. The curriculum is largely modelled on the British system. Children take mid year and end of year exams. About 60% of the school population attend the free state schools.
Although classes in religious instruction are a compulsory part of school life, non-nationals do not have to attend them. Should the parents request this, the child can spend the lesson in the library rather than in the classroom where the religious instruction is being given.
Church schools are extremely popular and places are often allocated by ballot. Whilst they do not have a mandatory fee structure because the government covers the cost of salaries, there is an annual donation which all parents are expected to make so the school can buy all non-staffing resources. Whilst nuns and priests will have a presence in church schools, the majority of staff will be lay people. Like state schools, church schools are regulated by the ministry of education, so the curricula will be similar.
There are a number of independent schools offering places to fee paying pupils. Again, they are regulated by the ministry of education with a similar curriculum to that of the state and church schools, although the international schools may offer a more varied curriculum. Lessons are normally taught in English, except for Maltese language lessons.
There is a small number of schools dedicated to the education of children with special needs. Many children living with a disability will be helped to access mainstream education, but for some children a dedicated centre is the right choice.
In 2014 the government introduced free breakfast clubs to help working parents on school days. The clubs run in every primary school, allowing children to be dropped at school from 7am and receive a healthy breakfast whilst their parents travel to work. Application is easy, requiring the completion of a simple registration form.
School days normally end at 2.30pm at primary school and 3pm at secondary school. It is unusual to find an afterschool club being run by the school, so private childcare is needed if you are at work. Some day care centres pick them up.
Extra curricular activities outside school are normal for many families. To receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation, children must attend additional evening doctrine lessons. Private tuition for entrance to the Junior Lyceum and for O-Level exams are common.
Homework is a normal part of the education system in Malta. Some schools may give as much as two hours’ homework each night.
School summer holidays are 30th June to the last week in September. In addition are national holidays, saint holidays and carnival holidays, Easter (March or April), Autumn (November) and Christmas (December/January). Childcare is expensive, though many privately run clubs offer a more affordable solution.
Only 85% of 16 year olds register for the School Education Certificate exams. Malta has a high percentage of early leavers from education and training (18-24 year olds); almost 20% compared with the EU average of 11%. The country ranks below average in the Pisa tables for science, maths and reading. According to a European Commission report in 2016, despite recent investment in education, Malta still has the highest proportion of low-qualified adults in the EU.
Approximately 11,000 students attend the University in Malta, which is located in Msida. Full time, part time and diploma courses are offered. With teaching delivered in English, approximately 650 international students have joined the student body. Overseas Universities are also building a presence in the country.
The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology has ten centres around Malta and Gozo. The full time and part time courses, from certificates to degrees, are delivered in partnership with many local businesses and industries.
Tourism is an important industry in Malta, so the The Institute of Tourism Studies was set up to train those aged over 16 to deliver high quality services to future island visitors. It is located in St Julian’s, with a branch operating from Gozo.
Ongoing adult education receives government funding, so a wide range of courses are provided to participants, usually free of charge. The courses are offered across the country both during the day and in the evenings.
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