Driving in Malta

Updated 2023-01-21 19:34

Malta is a relatively small island measuring only 27km long and 14,5km wide, so it seems on paper to be very easy to get around everywhere quickly. However, when it comes to driving in Malta, the country is infamous for traffic, collisions, and general congestion. The per capita ownership of vehicles in Malta is one of the highest in the entire world!

As Malta is a former British colony, driving is done on the left-hand side of the road, and roundabouts are usual. Road signs are similar to those you find in the United Kingdom.

If you would like to hire a car upon initial arrival, car rental is rather affordable in Malta. As with car hires everywhere, always be aware of the terms and conditions in your rental contract and give a thorough inspection of the vehicle before leaving the car rental agency.

Practical information for driving in Malta

For a comprehensive look at the Highway Code in Malta, visit the Transport Malta website to see the full PDF.

  • 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 parking meters for one to two hours of parking time.
  • Give way to vehicles on your right while taking a roundabout. In Malta, drivers also overtake on the right. But be careful, as some drivers don't see anything wrong with overtaking on the left.
  • Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory both in the front and in the rear.
  • In the case of a collision, do not move your vehicle from the spot before the police arrive unless it poses a danger to you or 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 payment by card, so always be sure to have cash with you.
  • Speed is limited to 50km/h in built-up areas and 80km/h elsewhere. Rules may vary according to the road you are driving on, so always pay attention to the road signs.
  • Honking is prohibited in residential zones between 11 pm and 6 am the next morning. There is no enforcement of this rule, as you will likely witness.
  • The use of mobile phones, even if you are using a hands-free kit, is prohibited when driving. Infringement of this law is liable to high penalties.
  • In order to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians, Maltese authorities have introduced speed radars.
  • A maximum of 35 µg per 100 ml of breath alcohol level or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is allowed. Of course, it is strictly prohibited to drink and drive. In the case of infringement of this law, your driver's license can be suspended.
  • You are required to switch on your vehicle's headlights when passing through a tunnel, even in broad daylight.
  • Vehicles going downhill should give way to those going uphill.

Maltese roads have greatly improved in recent years, especially thanks to the European Union's financial help. However, given the volume of traffic and the climate, proper road conditions can be a challenge to upkeep. Always beware of potholes and bumps.


Public buses and school buses have priority on the road. Give way to buses pulling back into traffic after passengers have boarded.

Driving in Valletta

Valletta is now equipped with a CCTV system that can record the number of vehicles entering the capital city. This system aims to collect the 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. From 6 pm to 8 am the blue lots are reserved for the residents.

However, it is rather advisable to park in the immediate vicinity of Valletta, for example, the public car park located beside the Floriana Football Grounds or the MCP Parking Garage in Floriana.

Exchanging your driver's license

Foreign nationals having a driver's license that has been issued outside of the European Union are authorized to drive in Malta with their national driver's license for a maximum of 12 months from their last entry date into the country.

Nationals of the European Union (EU) may continue to drive using their national license. They are also entitled to exchange their driving licenses for a Maltese license, like Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, Australia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK).

To exchange your EU/EEA/Swiss/Australian/UAE/UK license for a Maltese license, you must have resided in Malta for at least 185 days during the previous year. The Maltese driver's license is valid for 10 years, until your 70th birthday if you are between 60 and 70, and 5 years if you are 70 or more.

The request must be made at Transport Malta's offices located in Paola, Ħal Lija, or Gozo.

The following documents are to be produced:

  • A driver's license exchange application form (there are different ones according to your country of origin, which can be found here);
  • a color passport-size identity photo;
  • a copy of your Maltese residence permit; and
  • a copy of your foreign driver's license (back and front).

If your residence card does not indicate that you have been in Malta for the minimum 185 days, you can alternatively prove your residence through your Maltese income tax returns, end-of-year FS3 forms, Jobsplus engagement form registering a client with an employer, lease contract, real estate purchase contract, or a letter from the educational institute in the case of international students.

Fees do apply. For all current requirements and fees, confirm with the Transport Malta website.

Obtain a new driver's license in Malta

You must be at least 18 years old to be eligible for a driver's license in Malta. Drivers less than 70 years old can renew their driver's license every 10 years, while those over 70 years of age are required to renew their licenses every 5 years.

If you prefer to apply for a driver's license once in Malta, you have to proceed as follows:

First, identify an instructor. You may use a driving school or a non-licensed driving instructor who meets specific qualifications outlined by Transport Malta.

You will then have to apply for a learner's permit through the following steps:

  • Pay the fee (€23.25);
  • Pass a medical capacity test;
  • Produce a copy of your identity card;
  • Produce a recent passport-size identity photo
  • Submit the application endorsed by your instructor.

Thereafter, you have to pass a theory test, which takes about 45 minutes. To obtain the passing certificate, you must answer correctly to at least 30 multiple-choice questions out of a total of 35. You may apply for your practical test once your training has been completed and you have passed your theory exam.

For the practical test, you must be in possession of your learner's permit, have obtained your passing certificate for the theory test, produce your personalized form issued by the driving school, submit the application form, and pay the fee according to the day of the week of your test (€23.25 for weekdays - €40 for Saturdays).

Finally, once you pass the practical test, you will obtain your probationary driver's license. The probationary driver's license is valid for three years and will be exchanged after that for a full driver's license, which will be valid for ten years, provided you have not lost your points during this trial period.

Good to know:

The learner's permit is valid for three years and renewable. It allows you to drive from Monday to Saturday, except on public holidays, in the company of your tutor only.

Useful links:

Transport Malta

Transport Malta - Exchanging your driver's license

Transport Malta - Obtain a new driver's license

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.