Banking in Malta

by Barclays Wealth International on May 19, 2010

Moving to Malta?

Your guide to expatriate banking services in Malta

The Republic of Malta is situated in the Mediterranean Sea in southern Europe, South of Sicily (Italy). As well as the main island, Malta also includes the smaller island of Gozo. Malta joined the EU in May 2004 and began using the Euro as currency in 2008.

Malta’s financial services industry has expanded in recent years, and during the recent international financial crisis, escaped largely unscathed, helped in part because the banking sector is not yet fully modernized.

The national language is Maltese, which is the co-official language alongside English. In general, the majority of bank staff are English speakers, with most Maltese nationals being bi-lingual.

The official currency unit is the Euro (EUR). As of April 2010, the exchange rate was approximately €1.14 EUR to £1 GBP (pound sterling).

Banks in Malta

Central bank

  • Central Bank of Malta

Commercial banks in Malta

  • Bank of Valletta
  • FIMBank
  • Izola Bank

Foreign banks in Malta

  • Barclays Bank
  • Inveskredit International Bank
  • Lombard Bank
  • Mediterranean Bank
  • Raiffeisen Bank
  • Sparkasse Bank
  • BAWAG Malta Bank
  • CommBank Europe
  • Erste Bank
  • Finansbank
  • Fortis Bank Malta
  • HSBC
  • Turkiye Garanti Bankasi
  • Volksbank

Bank opening times

Standard bank opening times in Malta are;

  • 8.30am to 12.30pm (Monday to Thursday)
  • 8.30am to 3.30pm (Fridays)
  • 8.30am to 12.00pm (Saturdays)

Some bank opening hours are longer, however, and opening times may vary between the winter and summer seasons.

Banking services in Malta

Malta offers a wide choice of banks, and branches are in plentiful supply, with financial services becoming one of the fastest growing sectors of the Maltese economy.

The Maltese banking system generally follows the UK’s established banking tradition. Banking law and regulation are firmly in line with all European Union directives.

Online banking is commonplace, and many transactions and services can be performed online. Telephone banking is also provided with certain accounts, and the use of credit, debit and cash cards is widespread. Bank statements and correspondence are available to customers in both Maltese and English.

The main types of bank account in Malta

Current, savings and deposit accounts are the most common bank accounts used in Malta;

  • Current accounts – low interest rates, used for day-to-day banking, easy access to available funds
  • Savings accounts – offer lower interest rates, with some restrictions on withdrawals and access to funds
  • Deposit accounts – offer higher rates of interest, but typically offer limited access to funds held on deposit

Depending on the account and the issuing bank, you may receive an ATM card, a chequebook or even a credit card with a savings or deposit account.

Offshore banking in Malta

Malta used to be a popular offshore banking destination. However, in recent years it has moved to more mainstream banking and is no longer considered to be a tax haven.

Opening a bank account when you arrive in Malta

If you meet the required terms and conditions, opening a bank account in Malta is relatively simple, even as a non-resident.

You will almost certainly be asked for some documentation before opening an account – acceptable forms of ID include a copy of your passport, national identity card and a recent utility bill, plus proof of address and a reference from your current home bank. This reference must prove that you are debt free and have a good credit rating.

Some banks may require you to have been a Maltese resident for a set period of time if you have a history of debt or bankruptcy. In such instances, you may only be allowed to open a basic current account or basic savings account, which offer limited services and facilities.
Opening a bank account before you arrive in Malta

With some international banks, it is possible to open a bank account before you arrive in Malta. You should check with your chosen bank for details, along with application requirements.

A convenient alternative to a local bank account in Malta is an international account. In addition to giving you access to a wide range of international banking services, you will also benefit from a range of other services and banking facilities. These services include tax efficient offshore account options, online banking and a debit card available in major currencies.

An international bank account can be used by clients living or working in Malta or Gozo, and when travelling between international locations.

Credit and debit card usage in Malta

Major credit cards are widely accepted in Malta as a means of payment (particularly MasterCard and Visa) – whilst some of the less widely used cards, such as American Express, may be accepted in certain establishments and retail outlets. Look out for signs displaying the card logos in restaurant, hotel and shop windows. It should be noted that not all debit cards (such as UK Solo/ Electron cards) are accepted in Malta.

Cash machines (ATMs) can be found throughout Malta, and most machines will accept both credit and debit card cash withdrawals. You should expect to pay a fee if the ATM you are using is not within your own bank’s network, and cash withdrawals made using a credit card will incur substantially higher charges.

Foreign exchange services

Banks, bureaux de change and a number of hotels, shops and restaurants will exchange currency and traveller’s cheques. Most bureaux de change are open 24 hours a day, and in general offer a more competitive rate of exchange than using exchange facilities located in hotels and retail outlets.

Money transfers to and from Malta

Currency regulations relating to the import and export of currencies are subject to frequent change. As of April 2010, amounts over €10,000 EUR being brought into or taken out of Malta must be declared to Customs.

For further information, visit: http://finance.gov.mt/

SEPA

Malta has joined the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) initiative, which treats all electronic payments in euros as domestic transactions, making them simpler and cheaper. By the end of 2010, SEPA payments will become the dominant form of electronic payments, replacing all other payments within the zone by 2011.

Bank charges in Malta

Bank charges vary from bank to bank, although you should expect to pay more than in the UK. With such a wide choice of banks and accounts, and competition between banks and financial institutions to attract new customers, it is worth shopping around to compare the products and services and the associated charges.

Banking in Malta – other information

Malta ombudsman

If you have a complaint, you should contact the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), which can be found at http://www.mfsa.com.mt

More information on banking with Barclays Wealth International

For further information about the benefits of opening an International Account before you move to Malta, you can speak to a specialist adviser at Barclays Wealth International by calling +44 (0) 141 352 3902.

Alternatively, find out more about the overseas banking services and expat banking that are available from Barclays Wealth International.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Annalisa September 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

Another bank which you haven't mentioned is that of APS Bank – http://www.apsbank.com.mt.. Might be worth taking a look at it for those interested :)

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