Driving in Malta may not be as easy as it seems. Here are some key points to remember before getting started.
Malta is a rather small island, 28 km long and 15 km wide. But if you have decided to relocate there, you will probably prefer to travel alone or with your family, at your own rhythm, without having to wait for a taxi or for the bus. As Malta is a former British colony, you should expect to drive on the left. Hence, on your arrival, you can start by renting a car. Indeed, car rental is rather affordable in Malta.
You must be at least 18 years old to be allowed to drive in Malta.
Avoid parking your car on double yellow lines. Otherwise, your vehicle can be impounded.
Main roads are equipped with park-meters for one to two hours' parking time.
Give way to vehicles on your right while taking a round about. In Malta, driver's also overtake on the right. Moreover, some “pilots” feel free to overtake on the left. So be careful!
Wearing the security belt is compulsory both in the front and in the rear. Less than three years old children have to be strongly strapped in a car seat in the rear.
In case of accident, do not move your vehicle from the spot before the police arrives, unless it is a danger for you and other motorists. Try to take a few pictures of the accident as proof.
Some petrol pumps are open 24/7. Some of these do not accept cards as payment mode. Therefore, make sure to have some cash with you.
Speed is limited at 50 km/h in built-up areas and at 80 km/h elsewhere.
Honking is prohibited in residential zones between 11 pm and 6 pm the next morning.
The use of mobile phones, even if you are using a hands-free kit, is prohibited when driving. Infringement to this law is liable to high penalties.
In order to ensure the safety or motorists and pedestrians, Maltese authorities have introduced speed radars.
As regards the consumption of alcoholic drinks, a maximum of 35 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is allowed. Of course, drinking and driving is strictly prohibited. In case of infringement to this law, your driver's license can be suspended.
Road signs are similar to those you can find in the United Kingdom.
You are required to switch on your vehicle's headlights when passing through a tunnel, even in broad daylight.
Malta is a small island but with many vehicles and drivers. Therefore, beware of traffic jam in cities and villages, especially during peak hours and on week-ends.
Contrarily to what you must have read here and there on the Internet, Maltese roads have greatly improved since a few years, especially thanks to the European Union's financial help.
Maltese drivers are generally very polite and courteous on the road. They probably expect as much from foreigners.
Beware! The use of flashlights is not very common in Malta. Be careful when overtaking and turning. The same applies to priority on roundabouts. Drivers often tend to forget good driving habits.
Note that public buses and school buses have the priority on the road once these have taken a few passengers abroad at a bus stop.
Vehicles going down have to make way for those going upwards.
Valletta is now equipped with a CCTV system that can record the number of vehicles entering the capital city. This system aims at collecting tax according to the number of parking hours for each vehicle.
Note that you are likely to come across three types of parking lots in Valletta:
- white parking lots are public and can be used for 24 hours per vehicle
- green parking lots are intended for residents only
- blue parking lots are intended for the public from 8 am to 6 pm.
Exchanging your driver's license
Foreign nationals having a driver's license that has been issued outside Malta and the European Union are authorized to drive in Malta with their national driver's license for a maximum of 12 months as from their last entry date into the country.
Nationals of the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland and Australia having resided in Malta for more than 185 during the previous year can request for an exchange of their driver's license. The Maltese driver's license is valid for 10 years. The request has to be made at the Driver and Passenger Operator Licensing Unit, located in Florianan or at the Licensing Office in Gozo.
The following documents are to be produced:
- a driver's license exchange application for EU nationals or the equivalent for Australian nationals
- a color passport size identity photo
- a copy of your identity card
- a recto-verso photocopy of your original driver's license
- fees applies (some 80 euros).
Conversion does not take place immediately as Maltese authorities have to confirm all documents that have been provided by the applicant from his home country. Your new driver's license should then be issued within four days.
Obtain a local driver's license
You must be at least 18 years old to be eligible to a driver's license in Malta. Less than 70 years old drivers can renew their driver's license every 10 years while more than 70 years old people have to renew theirs every 5 years. If you prefer to apply for a driver's license once in Malta, you have to proceed as follows:
Find a driving school that has been accredited since more than 5 years and which has an insurance providing coverage both for you and the tutor during the whole training, including driving courses.
Once you have started your driving lessons, you will learn to understand a vehicle (different parts and their utility), besides oral driving lessons.
You will then have to apply for a learner's license through the following steps:
- fees applied (less than 30 euros)
- pass a medical capacity test
- produce a copy of your identity card
- produce a recent passport-size identity photo.
Note that the learner's license is valid for a year and renewable. It allows you to drive from Monday to Saturday, except on public holidays, in the company of your tutor only.
Thereafter, you have to pass a theoretical test which should last 45 minutes. To obtain the passing certificate, you must answer correctly to at least 30 questions on a total of 35.
You must be in possession of the learner's license, be at least 18 years old, have paid the fees applied and produced your identity card to be allowed to take the test.
To pass the practical test, provided you have passed the theoretical test, you must be in possession of your learner's license, have obtained your passing certificate, produce your personalized form issued by the driving school and the APPLICATION FOR DRIVING TEST (PRACTICAL) form and pay fees applied (less than 30 euros).
Finally, you will pass the practical test which will allow you obtain your probationary driver's license. The probationary driver's license is valid for 3 years and will be exchanged thereafter against a driver's license which will be valid for 10 years provided you have not lost your points during this trial period.
Transport Malta www.transport.gov.mt
Transport Malta – Highway Code
www.transport.gov.mt/admin/uploads/media-library/files/Highway Code EN.pdf_20130927083609.pdf
Transport Malta – Exchanging your driver's license (for EU and EEA nationals)
www.transport.gov.mt/admin/uploads/media-library/files/Exchange of Licence.pdf
Transport Malta – Application for practical driving test
Transport Malta – List of official driving instructors
www.transport.gov.mt/admin/uploads/media-library/files/Motoring School List - website as 10-06-13.pdf