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Culture Shock in Malta

Culture shock is an extricable part of the expat experience. Moving to a new country means expats may have to form new routines and habits in unfamiliar places.

Many people are attracted to Malta because of the mild yet sunny climate, the proliferation of English among locals, and the island's affordability compared to other European destinations. Malta offers a broadly Mediterranean lifestyle but has a large expat population and hosts countless tourists, which may ease the transition. Despite some things being unfamiliar, expats will have to get used to some details about life in Malta.


Language barrier in Malta

How expats approach the language barrier in Malta depends on their expectations. Since most people in Malta speak English, most expats do not learn Maltese and get through their daily business without much trouble. However, this often means they don't make local friends and spend most of their time with other expats.

Expats who value integrating into their new community should learn some Maltese. The language stems from Arabic, uses a Latin alphabet and borrows words from European languages, particularly, Sicilian Italian, reflecting the island country's interesting history. A few basic phrases can go a long way to bridging cultural differences.


Religion in Malta

Roman Catholicism is the state religion in Malta and is the foundation for many of its customs. The most important and celebrated dates on the Maltese social calendar are the Catholic festivals and saints’ feast days.

An emphasis on the traditional family structure affects every interaction in Malta, and the island's small size further reinforces this. Gender roles in Malta are more traditional and the social groups are tight-knit. Making local friends can be challenging, but is ultimately worthwhile for a fuller experience.


Time in Malta

Many of the expats living in Malta are retirees attracted to the idea of living a slow paced life. While this sounds easy enough, recent retirees and expats who come for work might take a while to adjust.

People do not mind taking their time perusing the stores of specialised traders to get their groceries, so there aren't many supermarkets. Siestas are common among smaller businesses, with many staying open later. The general service can seem slow-moving, which may be frustrating for some expats.

Understanding and accepting that things take a bit longer are vital to adjusting to life in Malta – and stopping to appreciate the little things can improve an expat’s stay in the island country.

Healthcare in Malta

Malta has earned recognition as one of the world's top healthcare destinations. Despite its small size, the archipelago has a lot to offer when it comes to excellent care standards. Malta's healthcare system comprises both public and private sectors, and the islands have numerous facilities. Healthcare services in Malta are well priced, but in-hospital costs can add up.


Health insurance in Malta

Maltese citizens and expats with work permits have access to free healthcare in Malta. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can use their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC post-Brexit. Expats who are not in these categories will need to take out private insurance.

Luckily, there are multiple inexpensive medical insurance policies to choose from, which makes a private policy a worthwhile investment. Since healthcare in Malta is so affordable, some expats only take out basic hospital cover and pay out of pocket for day-to-day medical expenses, such as GP appointments and medication.


Public healthcare in Malta

Public healthcare in Malta is provided at two levels: public health centres (clinics) and hospitals. Waiting times at clinics are generally shorter as residents are assigned a public health centre based on their residential address.

Health centres provide specialised services such as immunisation, gynaecology, physiotherapy and mental health care. There are also general practitioners and nurses on-site.


Private healthcare in Malta

Although the sector is small, private healthcare in Malta is accessible and highly regarded. Private hospitals offer the benefit of shorter waiting times and superior facilities, though naturally at a higher price than public facilities. That said, private hospitals in Malta are more affordable than in other European countries and are particularly popular with British patients who want to avoid the long NHS waiting lists.


Pharmacies in Malta

Every village in the archipelago has at least one pharmacy, but most have more. Pharmacies in Malta dispense medication and provide GP services, while some have on-site specialists during specified times.

Most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday from 8am or 9am to 6pm or 7pm, sometimes closing for a few hours around midday. On Saturdays, pharmacy hours are from 8am or 9am to 12pm. On Sundays and public holidays, pharmacies operate on a rotating schedule.


Emergency services in Malta

The emergency number in Malta is 112. Operators can speak both Maltese and English, and the line provides access to various emergency services.

Education and Schools in Malta

As a former British colony, Malta’s education system takes its cue from its former parent country and will be familiar to many expats. Malta's education system consists of the public and private sectors. School is compulsory for children between the ages of five and 16. 

Expat parents who want their children to continue with a globally recognised curriculum will be pleased to find that Malta has plenty of international schools.


Public schools in Malta

Public education in Malta runs from kindergarten to primary, secondary and high school. Although state schools are free, including transport and textbooks, parents are responsible for buying their children’s uniforms.

The language of instruction in public schools is Maltese, except for English lessons, so older children may have difficulty adjusting. That said, this may be a fantastic opportunity for cultural assimilation for expat families looking to stay in Malta long-term, especially if the children are young enough to grasp a new language.


Private schools in Malta

Private schools in Malta are either affiliated with the Catholic Church or are independent. But, they are all overseen by the Ministry for Education and, like state schools, offer the national curriculum. They typically use English as the language of instruction, which gives expat families an alternative to the Maltese-language state schools.

Independent schools

Independent schools are considered better than state schools, and while the quality of the education is high, so are the costs. Tuition fees are far from cheap, and additional expenses, such as study materials and transport, are not included in the tuition.

Church schools

By arrangement with the government, church schools in Malta do not charge tuition. However, parents are obligated to pay a set annual donation, although this is still far below the cost of private schools.

Spaces are limited, and students' eligibility for enrolment is through a lottery system. These institutions are usually same-sex schools.

Families aren't required to follow the school's religion to gain admission, but it is generally expected of children to attend a religious education class. It's possible to obtain permission for the child to opt-out of these classes, though.


International schools in Malta

Several English-language international schools cater for expat students in Malta, and they teach a range of curricula, including the International Baccalaureate and the US and UK syllabi. These education systems are widely offered around the globe in international schools, with the main advantage being an easier transition between schools.

International schools often have high standards, qualified teachers and excellent facilities, but expats naturally have to pay for this privilege. Fees can be exorbitant, and expat parents moving to Malta for work should negotiate for international school fees to be subsidised in their relocation package.


Special-educational needs in Malta

The Maltese government operates on a principle of inclusion concerning students with special education needs. The island has four Resource Centres which were once known as Special Schools. The name change reflects a change in focus – where these institutions once operated separately from mainstream schools. Today, they run as support services for special-needs students attending mainstream schools.

Services offered include providing specialised support for Autism Spectrum Disorder, specialist teachers for children with hearing or visual impairments and running early intervention services.


Tutors in Malta

There isn't much of a tutoring culture in Malta yet, so options are limited. There are a few online tutor directories, such as LearnD, as well as specialised companies like Online Tutoring Malta. Some tutors also advertise their services in Facebook groups.

Parents should be aware that some tutors hold classes of 10 or more students rather than one-on-one lessons. This is less than ideal for a child who needs individual attention. Concerned parents should confirm the details of the lessons before hiring a tutor.

Embassy contacts for Malta


Maltese embassies

  • Malta Embassy, Washington, DC, United States: +1 202 462 3611

  • Malta High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7292 4800

  • Consulate General of Malta, Toronto, Canada: +1 416 207 0922

  • Consulate General of Malta, Melbourne, Australia: +61 3 9670 8427

  • Consulate of Malta, Johannesburg, South Africa: +27 11 706 3052

  • Embassy of Malta, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 676 2340

  • Consulate of Malta, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 970 2509


Foreign embassies in Malta

  • Embassy of the United States, Malta: +356 2561 4000

  • British High Commission, Malta: +356 2323 0000

  • Consulate of Canada, Malta: +356 2552 3233

  • Australian High Commission, Malta: +356 2133 8201

  • South African Consulate, Malta: +39 2248 5441

  • Embassy of Ireland, Malta: +356 2133 4744

  • New Zealand Consulate, Malta: +356 2034 1717

Weather in Malta

Malta has a Mediterranean climate with fantastic weather year-round. Summers are hot, while winters are generally mild. 

During summer (June to September), average temperatures reach higher than 84°F (30°C); however, the weather is humid but still pleasant and sunny. In some instances, the powerful Scirocco winds may bring unseasonably hot weather.

Malta experiences very little rainfall, with most of the wet weather occurring in winter (December to April). Winters on the island are a bit chilly but not too bad, with average lows reaching 50°F (10°C).

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Malta

Malta is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes and charming medieval architecture. The island country's best feature, though, is its warm and rich quality of life that attracts expats the world over. Be that as it may, just like any destination, living in Malta comes with advantages and downsides. 

Below is a list of pros and cons of moving to Malta.


Lifestyle in Malta

+ PRO: Awe-inspiring natural scenery

The Mediterranean islands are famed for their spectacular coastlines, stunning beaches and rugged landscapes. The island country is also a renowned film set thanks to its diverse and vibrant scenery. Malta is a scuba diving, snorkelling and canoeing haven, and expats can look forward to an exciting outdoor lifestyle.

+ PRO: Rich culture and history

Once occupied by powerful nations, Malta has a unique and vibrant culture. History and culture buffs will love the country, as it is home to some of the oldest temples in the world and beautiful Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Expats will always have something new to discover and explore.


Working in Malta

+ PRO: Stable job market

Malta is strategically located between the Middle East, Africa and Europe, making the island country an attractive choice for foreign investors. This has created a robust job market with plenty of employment opportunities in the online gaming, film production, manufacturing and logistics industries. 

- CON: Difficult for non-EU citizens to obtain a work permit

While it is fairly easy for EU citizens to live and work in Malta, non-EU citizens may experience some challenges acquiring a work permit. The requirements for securing a work permit for nationals from outside Europe include possessing scarce skills and landing a role in an industry experiencing labour shortages.


Accommodation in Malta

+ PRO: Most accommodation is furnished or semi-furnished

Accommodation in Malta comes in many forms, including apartments, maisonettes, villas and townhouses. The commonality between them is that rentals come furnished, significantly reducing moving costs. 

- CON: Housing standards are varied

While the older Maltese townhouses and houses of character may be charming and architectural, their interiors can be outdated and might require some maintenance.


Getting around in Malta

+ PRO: Extensive and reliable public transport

Owing to its small size, Malta boasts an efficient and extensive bus network on the larger islands of Valletta and Gozo. Taxis and ride-hailing services are also abundant and reliable. 

- CON: Aggressive driving 

The Maltese have a reputation for being erratic drivers, making driving in the country a brave yet dangerous choice for expats. Those who intend to get behind the wheel are encouraged to drive defensively.


Cost of living in Malta

+ PRO: Relatively affordable housing 

Compared to other European countries, Malta has affordable housing options. Expats will get more bang for their buck in the island nation, especially outside the city centres, where prices tend to be lower. This is changing, however, as Malta’s expat population grows and drives up the demand for housing. 

+ PRO: Local produce and restaurants are fairly cheap

Expats’ cost of living in Malta will largely depend on their preferences. Fresh local produce is available from roadside markets at a low cost. Expats can also enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine at moderate prices in local restaurants. 

+ PRO: Reasonable healthcare costs

Malta is one of Europe’s top healthcare destinations and offers excellent facilities and highly skilled practitioners. Healthcare services in the country are well-priced with short waiting times.  

- CON: International and independent schools are expensive

While Malta offers free education for all children between six and 16, most state schools teach in Maltese. This may be a barrier for older expat children, leaving costly independent or international schools as the only option.


Climate in Malta

+ PRO: Great weather year-round 

As a subtropical Mediterranean oasis, Malta enjoys hot summers and mild winters, meaning the weather is warm throughout the year.


Culture shock in Malta

+ PRO: Strong family values

Malta has a small-town community feel with a culture centred around the importance of family. This environment can make settling in an easier task.

- CON: Basic knowledge of Maltese is key for building relationships

Expats will certainly enjoy a full life in Malta without learning to speak Maltese. That said, expats who value integrating into their new community should learn some Maltese. Learning even basic phrases can help bridge the cultural barrier.

Moving to Malta

Malta's breathtaking island landscapes, centuries-old architecture and quality of life have lured many an expat to the country's sunny shores ­– whether to find work or spend their retirement lounging on the beach.

Living in Malta as an expat

Located south of Italy, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, Malta holds a strategic position between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The island has been the source of contention among many countries, and was even occupied multiple times by powerful nations such as Ancient Greece and the British Empire. 

Due to Malta's rich history, the country is a wonderland for arts and culture lovers, with plenty of fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, such as the island’s capital city of Valletta, founded by the Knights Hospitaller in 1566. Another must-see is the underground chambers of the Hypogeum, which date back to 3000 BC.

Along with Maltese, English is the official language of Malta, and 90 percent of the population is fluent in the language, while many locals also speak Italian. As an EU state, Malta allows EU citizens to live and work in the country on an Ordinary Residence Permit, which is renewable yearly. 

On the other hand, non-EU citizens will only be eligible for a work permit if they have specialised skills and a job offer. The manufacturing, tourism, film, online gaming and financial services sectors are some of the country’s biggest employers.

Cost of living in Malta

The cost of living in Malta is relatively affordable compared to other European countries. Accommodation outside the city centres is reasonably priced, though this is changing owing to Malta’s growing expat population. Education will likely be the highest expense expat parents will face, as international schools can be quite steep. Fortunately, groceries and dining out are fairly inexpensive, provided expats stick with local products.

Expat families and children in Malta

Malta is an ideal destination for raising children. The island’s small-town feel combined with its strong family values and the plethora of excellent healthcare and schooling options makes it perfect for expat families. 

The island country offers free public education for all children between the ages of six and 16. Most state schools teach in Maltese, while the independent and church schools offer English-language instruction at a lower cost than international schools. Though, international schools can be a great option for expat parents who want their children to continue in their home country’s curriculum or learn a global syllabus such as the International Baccalaureate.

There is also plenty for expat families with children to do in their leisure time. Thanks to the island country’s abundance of picturesque green spaces and convenient access to the Pacific Ocean, sports and outdoor activities are sure to become expats' favourite pastimes. There are also plenty of historical sites, aquariums and museums to explore.

Climate in Malta

Malta is blessed with warm weather all year round. Its Mediterranean climate ensures that summers are hot and dry, while winter is mild with little rainfall. Perhaps, the only downside to Malta’s weather is the Scirocco winds that may bring unseasonably hot temperatures during the summer months. 

With so much to love about Malta, many expats end up staying far longer than they intended. The relaxed lifestyle, rich culture and friendly locals make for a pleasant and laid-back life.


Fast facts

Population: Around 533,300

Capital city: Valletta

Neighbouring countries: Malta is an island nation and shares no physical borders with any other country, but is located south of the Italian island of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya.

Geography: Malta is an archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea. There are three inhabited islands: the main island of Malta, and the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino. 

Political system: Unitary constitutional parliamentary republic

Major religion: Roman Catholicism

Main languages: Maltese and English

Currency: The currency of Malta is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. It is relatively easy for expats to open a bank account in Malta, though there is a fair amount of bureaucracy involved.

Tipping: Tipping is customary in Malta. Between 5 and 10 percent is common if a service charge isn't already included.

Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Flat three-pin plugs are standard.

Internet domain: .mt

International dialling code: +356

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Malta has an established transport network consisting of buses.

Public Holidays in Malta

 

2022

2023

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Feast of St Paul's Shipwreck

10 February

10 February

Feast of St Joseph

19 March

19 March

Freedom Day

31 March

31 March

Good Friday

15 April

7 April

Worker's Day

1 May

1 May

Sette Giugno

7 June

7 June

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

29 June

29 June

Assumption of Mary

15 August

15 August

Victory Day

8 September

8 September

Independence Day

21 September

21 September

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

8 December

8 December

Republic Day

13 December

13 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December

Cost of living in Malta

The reasonable cost of living in Malta is one of the archipelago's major drawcards. While it's true that Maltese salaries are significantly lower than in other parts of Europe, so is the cost of living, evening out into a comfortable and affordable lifestyle.

Valletta, the Maltese capital, and Sliema are popular with expats. They offer resorts, retail shops and modern housing and are generally more expensive and populated than other areas.


Cost of accommodation in Malta

It's possible to find a modern, furnished property with one to three bedrooms and a small garden and get better value for money in Malta than in major European destinations such as the UK. Utilities are also less expensive, and most rentals come furnished.

Expats should choose where they want to live carefully, as their decision can be the difference between affordable and expensive rental costs. Accommodation in smaller outlying towns is cheaper than in major cities. In larger cities, the city centre will have the highest rental costs, with prices decreasing the further away one moves from the centre. Newer property developments are also more expensive than older homes. That said, these will typically require less maintenance.


Cost of groceries in Malta

Local products are cheaper than imported brands, and supermarkets are more affordable than smaller grocery stores. Produce from roadside markets is inexpensive and fresh.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Malta

Eating out in Malta is also cheaper than in much of Europe. Restaurants aimed at locals are moderately priced, while entertainment in tourist areas are less budget-friendly.


Cost of education in Malta

Public education in Malta is free, including transport and textbooks. The curriculum is modelled on the British education system, but the language of instruction is Maltese. As a result, many expats enrol their children in private or international schools. Parents moving for work who intend to enrol their children in an international school are advised to negotiate with their employer for education subsidies because the fees are exorbitant.


Cost of transport in Malta

Getting around in Malta is relatively easy and cheap thanks to the island's small size. Most expats find the bus and ferry system adequate for their travelling needs, using taxi services as an adjunct where necessary. Generally though, cars are a more expensive option due to taxes, insurance and petrol. Street parking is usually free of charge, but spaces are limited.


Cost of living in Malta chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Valletta in October 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 930

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 800

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 2,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,400

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

EUR 3

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.14

Rice (1kg)

EUR 2.73

Loaf of white bread 

EUR 1.56

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 10.96

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 5.09

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2

Cappuccino

EUR 3

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 3

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 80

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.27

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

EUR 44

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

EUR 92

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

EUR 3.60

Bus/train fare in the city centre

EUR 1.50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

EUR 1.40

Doing business in Malta

Doing business in Malta is relatively straightforward, owing to the country's largely western business practices and etiquette.

Thanks to its investment incentives, central location, political stability and modern infrastructure, Malta is the main Mediterranean business hub. The tourism and service sectors are some of the country's biggest and most lucrative industries. Malta also offers a low-cost centre for manufacturing operations, particularly for electronics, shipbuilding and pharmaceuticals. In addition to being the capital, Valetta is also Malta’s commercial centre.


Fast facts

Business hours

Office hours are typically between 8am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.

Business language

Maltese and English.

Dress

It is expected of professionals to dress in formal and conservative business attire. Men should wear suits, while women may wear dresses or suits for meetings. Some business sectors may accept casual clothing.

Gifts

Gifts are not mandatory, but a small present is always a nice gesture. Giving something from an expat’s home country, such as a beverage or sweets, is standard and appreciated.

Gender equality

Gender equality has improved in Malta, but women still do not have equal representation in senior business positions.

Greetings

Handshakes and exchanging business cards on the first meeting are standard greetings in Malta.


Business culture in Malta

Communication

Malta has a well-educated population, and all schools teach English. Nearly everyone speaks Maltese and English, and many also speak additional languages such as French and Italian.

English is the official business language, and most documents, including legal, commercial and official correspondence, are in English, which limits communication barriers for most expats.

Time

Businesspeople in Malta expect prompt service and correspondence; expats should acknowledge emails and phone calls quickly. Though, expats will need to be patient – doing business in Malta takes time, usually due to restrictions and regulations.

Traditional values

Malta is a conservative and family-orientated country. Although no longer the case, it was once tradition for women to resign after getting married because men were supposed to provide for their families while women looked after the home. Today, women receive equal treatment in business, and more women are landing senior management positions.

This patriarchal, family-focused view still affects business in Malta. Traditional notions of company loyalty and a family atmosphere persist, especially in small businesses, making for a pleasant work environment but complicating resignation and changing jobs.

Titles

New arrivals should acknowledge their Maltese associates by their personal or professional titles (Mr, Mrs, Dr). Once expats have established a good working relationship with them, they can move to a first-name basis.


Dos and don’ts of business in Malta

  • Do acknowledge the receipt of emails and phone calls

  • Do maintain eye contact and be direct

  • Do address those in a senior position formally

  • Don’t be late for appointments or meetings

  • Don’t dress casually for business meetings

Banking, Money and Taxes in Malta

In addition to abundant sunshine and warm winters, Malta is an excellent expat destination thanks to the easy banking and relatively low taxes. The island country is renowned for its advanced financial sector and is also an offshore banking haven.


Money in Malta

The Maltese currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR

  • Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 EUR and 2 EUR


Banking in Malta

Most Maltese banks will open an account for new arrivals that have not yet finalised their residency, even though banks with no foreign interests are likely to take longer. International banks are accustomed to the workings of expat finances, although choosing an account with fewer services can expedite the process.

Expats who need banking access as soon as they arrive will have to research the processes and requirements ahead of time. There is a lot of inconsistency in documentation requirements – not only between banks, but sometimes even between individual branches of the same bank. Generally speaking, expats will need a deposit, their passport, proof of address and a reference from their previous bank to open a Maltese account. But, it is always best to double-check with the relevant branch ahead of time.

ATMs and credit cards

ATMs are available all over the islands, near retail shops and restaurants. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted, but expats who want to use a debit card should ensure it has international authorisation.


Taxes in Malta

Malta's tax planning and asset protection policies are major drawcards for many expats, but the benefits vary widely. In general, income tax in Malta is fairly low, ranging up to 35 percent. Expats who fulfil certain conditions – including owning or renting a property within a specific threshold or those working in the gaming, aviation or finance sectors– will only be required to pay 15 percent of tax on their income.

Malta is in a rather unique situation concerning living off savings, as capital gains can be remitted tax-free. We recommend enlisting the services of a reputable wealth manager for navigating the sometimes tricky details of finances and retirement in Malta.

Visas for Malta

Malta is a Schengen member state, meaning citizens from several countries can enter for short stays without applying for a visa. Those who require a Schengen visa to enter Malta should fill in an application from a diplomatic mission or official website and submit the necessary documents and biometrics.


Tourist visas for Malta

Expats from non-Schengen countries who want to visit Malta will have to enter the country to obtain a tourist visa.

Tourist visas are valid for one or multiple entries of up to 90 days during a 180-day period. Applicants must submit proof of travel insurance, adequate funds and onward travel along with a letter of invitation. They will also need to show evidence that they've secured accommodation for the duration of their visit. This can either be a booking for short-term rental or written confirmation stating they will be staying with a personal acquaintance.


Residence permits for Malta

Expats looking to stay in Malta for longer than 90 days will require a residence permit. The Maltese residence permit comes in the form of an e-Residence document, which functions as a form of identification. Once an initial application is submitted, expats must attend an appointment at the Expatriates Unit at Identity Malta to submit their original documents.

There are two residence permits: the Ordinary Residence Permit and the Permanent Residence Permit. The main difference between the two permits is the different tax obligations attached to each permit.

Permanent Residence Permits are open to any nationality and are renewable once every five years. Holders of this permit pay a flat income-tax rate of 15 percent. Only EU citizens are eligible for Ordinary Residence Permits, which are renewable annually. Expats on this permit pay income tax on a scale from 0 to 35 percent.

Work permits in Malta, also known as Single Permits, also function as residence permits, so expats only need to make one application to gain the right to work and live in Malta.

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their nearest Maltese consulate for the latest information.

Working in Malta

Malta has an industrialised and service-based economy with robust sectors and opportunities. Expats working in Malta will find themselves conveniently located between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, attracting foreign companies and investors, who are a source of employment for expats.


Job market in Malta

Malta's economy largely depends on foreign trade, manufacturing, tourism, IT, online gaming and financial services. There is also a growing film industry, with many well-known movies filmed in Malta. It also houses one of the largest merchant marine fleets in the world, which attracts international shipping companies with favourable legislation and low taxes.

Most expats who do not speak Maltese end up working in IT, internet gaming and at call centres or setting up businesses in the country. Smaller companies prefer local candidates who demand lower salaries and do not need to adapt to the local culture as much, while corporations often hire from abroad. Another possible avenue for expats is to work for a Maltese company with foreign interests.


Finding a job in Malta

Although it is easier for EU citizens to find work in Malta, expats from other countries may experience some challenges. These foreign nationals require a Maltese work permit, which they are eligible for only after securing a local job offer. Permit requirements for third-country nationals (TCN) include, possessing scarce skills and working in a sector experiencing labour shortages.

Jobseekers in Malta should start the search online or consider working with a recruitment agency. Organisations such as the Malta Chamber of Commerce host seminars and gatherings, which are good platforms for networking.


Working culture in Malta

The working week in Malta is different across industries, but a standard 8am to 5pm workday is common. Overall, Malta's working culture is similar to that of the UK or the USA. Preparedness and punctuality are valued, and meetings may skew towards formality. After work, however, the Maltese are social and often grab drinks with co-workers. Expats should expect frequent invites and accept if possible, as this is a great way to make friends and assimilate into a new environment.

Work permits for Malta

Officially classified as Single Permits, work permits in Malta are processed and issued by the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC). Foreign workers from the EU don’t need a work permit for Malta, while expats from elsewhere do.

Expats will need a job offer from an employer in Malta to start the process, since only registered employers can apply for Maltese work permits. Maltese employment licences are valid for a maximum of one year and are renewable annually.


Work permit applications for Malta

Employers must submit an application form with supporting documents supplied by the prospective employee to apply for a work permit for non-EU nationals. The ETC then processes the application and grants or denies the work permit. The Single Permit functions as both a work and residence permit.

To renew their Single Permit, expats can apply from 90 days before the old one expires. They must also submit proof of insurance and income tax payments. 

*Visa and work permit regulations may change at short notice, and expats should contact their nearest Maltese consulate or the Maltese Employment and Training Corporation for the latest information.

Accommodation in Malta

Securing accommodation in Malta is relatively straightforward, and expats will likely find good-quality housing to suit their lifestyle and budget. 

The stability of the real-estate market relies on several factors, including demand, building space limitations in Malta, and a growing expat population. Expat investors capitalise on high-end properties for eventual returns, while pensioners often choose dwellings with lower property taxes, and young professionals prefer reasonably priced accommodation close to work prospects.

Property prices in Malta are more affordable than in major European capitals, but there are regional variations and restrictions on foreign property ownership, so many expats decide to rent initially.


Types of accommodation in Malta

There are various kinds of accommodation in Malta, including apartments, villas, townhouses and maisonettes. Maisonettes are similar to apartments, but have a private entrance rather than the shared entrances typical of apartment blocks.

Maltese townhouses are either new or old. Older stone townhouses usually have numerous floors and have traditional features such as patterned tiles, wooden floors and stone arches. The new townhouses, or terraced housing, have a more contemporary style.

The house of character is a distinctly Maltese building. It is common in rural areas and small villages. These typically have thick, unpainted stone walls, a central courtyard and sometimes even a well. Three- and four-bedroom houses are the norm, with some dating back to the 17th century. Supply is limited, although there are newer houses that replicate this traditional style with a modern twist.


Finding accommodation in Malta

Real-estate agents can be helpful for expats who are unfamiliar with the local market. Aside from taking their clients through the process of renting or buying property and presenting homes matching clients' specifications, some agents assist with setting up utility accounts such as electricity and internet access. The downside is that real-estate agents charge a fee for these services, usually equivalent to a percentage of the rental price. For expats with money to spare, though, this is the most convenient way of finding a new home in Malta.

Online property portals and community groups on social media are other popular ways of finding accommodation in Malta, but the listings may be outdated and don’t always give an accurate representation. Groups on social media are a great source of current listings, but the properties don’t stay on the market for long.


Renting accommodation in Malta

Even though plenty of Malta's rental accommodation is short-term and aimed at tourists, expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to renting residential property. The best time of the year to begin the house hunt is autumn and winter, as lower-priced accommodation is abundant in the off season.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Most rental properties are furnished, so expats may have to make special arrangements if they want to bring in their furniture. Overall, properties are well equipped, but some may have outdated interiors, especially the houses of character.

Leases

After finding and securing a property, the tenant and the landlord sign a tenancy agreement. The lease specifies the duration of the contract, the notice period and how bills will be separated and paid. Long-term leases are usually between six and 12 months, with an option to renew at the end of the rental period.

Utilities

Utility bills such as electricity and internet are often not included in long-term rentals. This may take the form of a fixed price or can vary according to the monthly bills. We recommend expats ensure any fixed costs are listed in writing before they sign the tenancy agreement.

Deposits

Deposits are typically equivalent to one or two months’ rent and are refundable at the end of the lease, with any damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear subtracted.

Transport and Driving in Malta

Given its small size, Malta's public transport system consists only of buses, with extensive routes on the two larger islands. Other options include taxis and driving. Expats who prefer driving around Malta can hire a vehicle. That said, most people find it unnecessary to own a car in Malta.

Travel between the islands is made possible by ferry, seaplane and the centuries-old water taxis known as dgħajsa (pronounced ‘dysa’).


Public transport in Malta

Buses

Malta Public Transport operates bus services on the islands of Malta and Gozo. Buses on both islands usually run between 5.30am and 11pm, seven days a week, with reduced night services on weekends.

Buses in Malta travel outwards from central hubs on both islands. Victoria Bus Station is the main transport hub in Gozo, while the mainland hub is at Valletta Bus Terminal. When consulting a schedule, one- or two-digit routes are mainline routes that operate to and from Valletta, while routes marked ‘X’ are express routes that run to the airport.

Single- and multiple-journey tickets are available at ticket booths and vending machines at central locations. Bus drivers sell specific tickets, but expats should preferably pay with exact change, as drivers may refuse large notes.

Frequent commuters should consider buying a Tallinja Card, which offers better deals on fares and is rechargeable online or at vending machines and ticket offices.


Taxis in Malta

The most common taxis in Malta are painted white, with a ‘taxi’ sign on the roof and a registration number on the front doors. New arrivals can catch a taxi from the airport to various destinations at standard fees. Taxis can also be hailed off the street or found at taxi ranks, but expats should agree on a price with the driver beforehand. There are also black taxis, which are more comfortable, but expats will have to book these in advance.

Uber is currently not operational in Malta, but other ride-hailing applications, such as eCabs and Bolt, are available.


Driving in Malta

Expats driving in Malta should do so defensively, since the country has a reputation for erratic driving. To drive legally, expats will need a valid driving licence. Licences from other EU countries are accepted and are exchangeable for a Maltese licence if the holder has lived in the country for six months. Expats from elsewhere can use their home country licence for up to 12 months, after which they will have to get a Maltese driving licence.