How to move to
Find A Job
Malta is an appealing choice for expats seeking work, with some beautiful scenery, pleasant climate and a prosperous economy. It also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and a developing tech sector, including the gaming industry and financial services.
The island has become home to a number of tech start-ups and this sector is continuing to grow. If you have qualifications and experience in IT, and are looking to relocate, then it is worth exploring Malta as an option. However, there are other opportunities available and we will look at some of your options below.
If you are from an EU/EEA member state, with the exception of Croatia, you will not need a visa or a work permit and will be able to work legally in Malta although you will need an e-residence card.
If you are from outside the EU/EEA then your employer must apply for a work permit for you from the Employment and Training Corporation, and must also show why they have hired you in preference to a worker from a member state. This will be valid for one year, and is employer and job-specific: you will not be able to transfer it to another job, although you can apply for an extension.
Experts advise that there are relatively few work permits available and that your chances of securing one remain low unless you have highly specialist skills. You will need a visa before you can apply for a work permit, and note that obtaining a permit can take from several weeks to several months.
Permits come under the following categories:
• work permits for completing specific projects, as per your contract • employment permits for completing work in a specific location (usually temporary) • employment permits requested by companies for employees for a special project • work permits for specific occupations for which there is a shortage in Malta
You will need to submit the following documents:
• a completed application form (ECT 35)
• a cover letter from your employer
• a document listing your skills and qualifications
• a CV/resume
• your visa + copy
• your passport + copy
• your recruitment letter or contract
• a job description
• passport size photos
Digital skills are in high demand due to the number of tech start-ups setting up in Malta. Gaming and e-commerce are booming and if you work in this sector, you will find that there is a demand for your services. Tech hub Smart City Malta is due to emerge soon and there will be jobs relating to this.
In addition to these newer industries, Malta has a long history in shipping and navigation and remains a Mediterranean hub. The island has a large shipping register. If you are involved in trans-shipping or import/export, then you may well find work in this sector.
Tourism remains a strong sector and is making a recovery after the recent recession.
You are unlikely to find work in the public sector unless you speak Maltese. English is widely spoken across the island and you should have few problems if you are not bilingual, although you may wish to learn the basics of Maltese.
Maximum working hours in Malta are set at 48 hours per week, but typically people work around 40 hours (the extra 8 hours will garner overtime pay). Business hours are usually 8/8.30 a.m – 5/5.30 p.m.
You will be entitled to 25 days of annual leave, plus the island’s 14 public holidays.
The minimum weekly wage is currently €168.01. Average salaries are relatively low compared to other European nations: currently around €18,643. You may also find that the taxation regulations in Malta are favorable to you.
You will be entitled to maternity leave of 126 consecutive days (18 weeks). 42 days (6 weeks) is compulsory and is taken after birth. 4 weeks leave may be taken before birth while the remaining leave (8 weeks) may be taken immediately before or after birth. Maternity benefit is paid at a flat-rate of €94.35 but there are variances between benefits for women who are self employed and those who work for someone else.
Your spouse will be able to work without a permit if they are an EU/EEA national, but otherwise must go through the standard application process as above.
You can make speculative applications to companies while you are still in your home nation. If you are an EU national, you may wish to consider taking up a temporary job on the island as a ‘stepping stone’ while seeking other employment.
There are a number of job boards covering Malta, and you can also check the local press for vacancies. If you are working in IT, there are recruitment agencies in this industry that cover Malta.
Applying For A Job
A standard CV/resume format is acceptable when applying for a job.
Malta is currently revising its equality legislation and this should cover protection from discrimination on the basis of gender and other factors.
Qualifications And Training
It is worthwhile to have copies of any diplomas or certificates apostilled, but you will not typically need to have your qualifications or CV translated into Maltese.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Whether or not you are allowed to enter the beautiful island of Malta without a visa will depend on your nationality. It may be that you need to apply for a Schengen visa, which is a short-term entry visa applicable to the countries in the Schengen Area. Read on to better understand your options.
Your need for a visa will depend on your country of origin. If you are from an EU/EEA member state or the UK, you will not need a visa for the first 90 days of your visit. Similarly, if you are American or Australian, or a member of one of the nations with which Malta has a visa arrangement, you will be able to enter the country using just your travel documents. After 90 days, EU/EEA nationals must register their presence in Malta.
If you are a non-EU/EEA foreign national, you must apply for a uniform residence permit if you are staying in Malta for more than 90 days.
If you are a third country national from a country that does not have a visa-free agreement with Malta, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa.
Non-EU/EEA nationals, or third country nationals, cannot stay in Malta on a 90-day visa for more than 90 days (three months) in any 180-day period (six months).
Third country national visitors to Malta must also have documents substantiating the purpose of their stay in Malta. You will need to have sufficient means of support for your stay, and be able to prove return transit to your country of origin, unless you are in possession of a residence permit from a Schengen member state.
In order to apply for a Schengen type D long-term/national visa, or a Schengen type C short-stay visa, you will need:
• A completed application form
• Two passport-format photos
• Your passport and any copies of previous visas
• Travel insurance (including medical coverage) with confirmation of a minimum of €30,000 coverage within the entire Schengen area
• A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and itinerary
• Proof of civil status (for example, your marriage certificate, the birth certificates of your children etc.)
• Flight itinerary
• The address of your accommodation, including hotels
• Proof that you are able to support yourself financially throughout your stay (for example, a recent statement from your bank for the last three months that shows funds of at least €50 (£40) per day, or traveller’s cheques, or proof of sponsorship)
You may need further documentation depending on your status. If you are employed, you may need to supply:
• A contract of employment
• A letter of leave from your employer
• A bank statement for the last six months
• An income tax return
• Your business license (if you are self-employed)
If you are a student, you will need to include your certificate of enrolment at the relevant educational institution.
If you are retired, you will need a statement of your pension for the last six months.
The standard cost of a visa is €80, but you will be exempt if you are one of the following:
• A child younger than six years of age
• A family member of an EU/EEA national
Documents required for exemption are:
• Original marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
• Original full birth certificate
• EU/EEA national’s passport
You will also be exempt if you are travelling for the purpose of study or educational training, such as if you are a school pupil, an undergraduate student or a postgraduate student. You must be accompanied by your teachers/professors. In addition, invited researchers are exempt.
Documents required for exemption are:
• An invitation letter from your destination institution
• A letter from the university/organisation in the UK
There is a reduced fee of €35 for nationals of countries that have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU.
Fees are non-refundable and are not a guarantee that you will be issued with a visa.
It will take a minimum of 15 days to process your visa application.
If you are from an EU/EEA member state, with the exception of Croatia (which does not currently have a reciprocal agreement with Malta), you will not need a visa or a work permit. You will be able to work legally in Malta, as long as you have an e-residence card.
If you are from outside the EU/EEA, then your employer must apply for a work permit for you from the Employment and Training Corporation. They must also show why they have hired you in preference to a worker from a member state. The permit will be valid for one year, and is employer- and job-specific, i.e. you will not be able to transfer it to another job. You are allowed to apply for an extension.
Experts advise that there are relatively few work permits available and that your chances of securing one remain low unless you have highly specialist skills. You will need a visa before you can apply for a work permit, and note that obtaining a permit can take from several weeks to several months. Permits come into the following categories:
• Work permits for completing specific projects, as per your contract
• Employment permits for completing work in a specific location (usually temporary)
• Employment permits requested by companies for employees for a special project
• Work permits for specific occupations for which there is a shortage in Malta
You will need to submit the following documents:
• A completed application form (ECT 35)
• A cover letter from your employer
• A document listing your skills and qualifications
• A CV/resume
• Your visa and a copy
• Your passport and a copy
• Your recruitment letter or contract
• A job description
• Passport-size photos
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?.
Save On Health Insurance
Compare quotes from leading international health insurance providers
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.
Save On Moving Costs
Compare quotes from leading international moving companies
Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Malta health insurance
The Maltese state uses taxes to fund a percentage of public health insurance. The system is also funded from contributions and if you come to work in the country you will need to pay these in order to be eligible for public healthcare. If you are self-employed, you will also need to make contributions.
This should be around 10% of your income and will be deducted at source from your salary if you are employed.
If you are an EU citizen and have an EHIC card, then this can be used for emergency care, though it is not a substitute for comprehensive health coverage.
Everyone who pays into the national insurance system is eligible to receive the benefits of public healthcare in Malta, including expats.
Both the UK and Australia have a bilateral healthcare agreement with Malta, so if you are from either of these countries, you will be eligible for free medical care including a hospital stay for up to a month if you are from the UK, or six months if you are Australian. The British population in Malta is so high that you can get an RHC (reciprocal health) card from the Maltese government enabling you to access treatment.
Your employer should sort out health insurance for you, but you will need to register yourself via the government website if you are self-employed. It is not mandatory, but the pay-as-you-go system can be expensive.
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.
Save On Money Transfers
Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers
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.
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.