Opening a bank account in Malta

Updated 2023-01-21 19:47

If you have relocated to Malta, whether you are working or you have retired, you will probably want to open a bank account. This shouldn't pose a problem as the country hosts many national and international banks.

Why open a bank account in Malta

If you live in Malta, having your bank account there has many advantages:

  • The account is in euros or in dollars and you can use your debit or credit card anywhere in the world;
  • You can make withdrawals free of charge;
  • Currency conversion is not subject to fees;
  • You can open a multi-currency account;
  • The banks are supervised by the MFSA (Malta Financial Services Authority);
  • You can manage your account online.

In some cases, opening a bank account in Malta is essential, for example, if you are setting up a business, if you need to collect a salary in Malta or if you opt for a pension scheme that requires beneficiaries to collect their pension in Malta.

With a strong positive GDP, the Maltese economy is good. The banking sector is estimated to be around 15% of the GDP. The country's growth is sustained, the political situation is stable and pro-business, and the Maltese tax system is advantageous, so your money is safe. It is also worth noting that Malta is a very important offshore financial center.

Banks in Malta

In general, Maltese banks are very professional and provide fair treatment to individuals, professionals, and companies, as well as residents and non-residents. All you shall do is choose the bank where you would prefer to open your account and gather the necessary documents.

If you intend to work in Malta, you can check with your new employer about direct deposit payments to verify which bank is best. Some industries tend to use certain banks, so it's best to confirm before opening an account.

You will find a variety of options for your banking in Malta, for both personal and business accounts. For EU/EEA Nationals, opening a bank account is relatively straightforward and simple. Third-country nationals should expect a longer delay in opening an account as local banks process applications and verify foreign information.

Cash machines are sorely lacking in Malta, with fees added if you withdraw from a machine other than your bank's ones. Keep this in mind and plan your cash accordingly.

Bank of Valletta (BOV) is quite popular, with cash points and branches more frequently around the islands. HSBC is also an option in Malta, as is APS Bank, BNF Bank, and many others.

Which bank to choose in Malta

If you are planning to open a bank account in Malta, you should look for a bank that provides excellent customer service with relatively high efficiency.

The Maltese banking system is sophisticated and modern. It offers options for both local and international investors. It is important to consider the proposals carefully, as service and transaction fees can vary considerably. There are many banks in Malta; you will find a link to the list in the “Useful links” section below.

So what are the best Maltese banks to open a bank account with?

Bank of Valletta (BOV) is the most popular local bank, with about 39 branches in the archipelago (34 in Malta and 5 in Gozo).

HSBC is a well-known international bank with 12 branches in Malta.

Sparkasse Bank is less present, but its good reputation attracts many customers.

IIG Bank has only two branches on the island, but many locals choose this bank.

Good to know:

If you are a resident and have a fixed income, it can be easier to open a bank account in Malta. If you have no debts, it can even be done in less than two hours!

Procedures for opening a bank account in Malta

There are many banks in Malta offering a wide range of accounts and services for both individuals and businesses. Before you decide, visit different branches to compare offers and find the bank that suits you best. There are four main types of accounts:

  • The current account: This is the equivalent of a checking account in some English-speaking countries. It is made for everyday use. People use this type of account to process cashless payments.
  • The business account: For companies.
  • The savings account: This is not for everyday use. This type of account allows funds to be deposited for saving purposes. There are restricting withdrawals and (historically) accruing interest.
  • Deposit account: This type of account is made to deposit money on it. You can secure the account for a certain amount of time.

It is possible to open a bank account in Malta without being a tax resident, but you must have an address in Malta. You will then be able to manage your account on the internet, from your mobile device, or from a landline phone.

The necessary documents to be produced to open a bank account will vary according to the type of bank account and the bank. However, you can follow these guidelines and then inquire at your bank and branch for further details.

Individuals are generally required to produce the following documents:

  • A letter from their primary bank stating that they are not indebted and that they are eligible for bank credit;
  • a copy of their passport or Maltese ID;
  • proof of address in Malta; and
  • a duly filled and signed application to open the appropriate type of account.

In case you are indebted and non-eligible for bank credit, the bank may request you to become a Maltese resident for a certain period before allowing you to open a bank account.

Once the bank account has been opened, beneficiaries can manage it either by phone, online, or by mobile services. They will also receive a bank card, along with a password.

You can have a VISA or MasterCard debit or credit card. The type of card depends on your annual income. For example, at HSBC, you need to have a minimum income of €25,000 a year (or €35,000 if you apply jointly with your spouse or partner) for an Advance account and have an annual income of €50,000 or €70,000 on a savings account or invested for a Premier account.

Good to know:

If you are just moving to Malta, it may help expedite the opening of your new bank account if you bring an original letter from your bank at home indicating your status and history there.

If you do not bring this with you, the Maltese bank might need to contact your bank for confirmation, which could delay the opening of your account by several weeks.

Opening a business bank account in Malta

A Maltese company must have a bank account in Malta. A foreign company can also open an account in any currency it wishes or in multi-currencies. To open a business account in Malta, the following documents must be provided:

  • A photocopy of the identity card or passport of the director, each shareholder and beneficiary;
  • A certificate showing that each beneficiary has a personal account;
  • Photocopies of the company's articles of association;
  • A certificate showing the good reputation of the company;
  • A utility bill for each shareholder and director showing their address.

Unfortunately, it is quite difficult for companies to open a bank account in Malta. Maltese residents often struggle to do so. It is even more difficult for non-residents. Opening a business bank account in Malta used to be easier before. Maltese banks hardened the conditions to open such accounts because they had to take derisking measures in recent years.

If you don't manage to open a business bank account, consider where else you can open a European business bank account online.

Alternatives to opening a bank account in Malta

Is opening a bank account difficult in Malta? Unfortunately, as mentioned above, many expats and foreigners struggle to open a bank account there.

In many countries, opening a bank account for foreign citizens involves presenting an ID with proof to the bank. But that would probably not take you to Malta. Although major banks such as HSBC, BOV and BNF Bank state that you simply must visit their branches to open your account, the real processes aren't quite as easy and efficient.

If you do not manage to open a bank account in Malta, or you find the conditions too strict, or you simply do not wish to do so, there are some alternatives.

The best alternative to opening a bank account in Malta is using online banks. Because of the strict conditions to open a bank account in Malta, a lot of expats and even Maltese are opting for this solution. Online banks are fully-fledged banks. They offer all or at least most of the usual banking services. The main difference with traditional banks (in Malta or in any country) is that they don't operate out of branches. All banking services are managed online. Although online banks might not offer all the services a traditional bank offers, they offer other advantages: their fees are less, and they offer a user-friendly web or mobile app. Of course, you do not need to be a resident of Malta to open an account with an online bank. Let's see what are the best online banks to open a bank account in Malta (and anywhere else):

  • Revolut

Revolut is the most popular online bank in Malta among both Maltese and expats. Revolut offers plans for personal and business purposes. As for personal plans, the standard one is free. Unlike traditional bank accounts, this plan does not require you to pay a fee each month. There are other plans available upon subscription, like the Premium one. For those, you have to pay a fee each month in exchange for more services and benefits. Revolut offers you the possibility to order and receive a physical card in Malta. A delivery fee applies.

In Malta, you can pay with a Revolut card everywhere. Some businesses even offer the possibility of paying using NFC technology.

Revolut is a really good solution for travelers and expats alike. You can get the best exchange rate and pay zero commission. You will also get free worldwide ATM withdrawals (with a limit).

Finally, you can invest in cryptocurrencies.

  • Wise

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is another well-known online banking solution. It is a British peer-to-peer international money transfer company of Estonian origin. By registering, you get an online account to send money abroad and get paid in another currency. You can even spend abroad with the Wise debit card.

  • Vivid

Vivid is another online bank you can use in Malta and anywhere in the world. It offers very competitive fees, together with a current account and a credit card. Vivid is also known for investments. You can invest in fractions of companies and cryptocurrencies.

There are other online banks you can use in Malta. Do not hesitate to compare them and their offers to choose the best fit for your needs in Malta.

To open an account online, all you have to do is use the financial institution's app or visit its website from a computer. You can choose between different offers, select the one that suits you and fill in the application form for opening an account, providing the supporting documents that are requested.

And finally, know that you can keep and use your bank account from your country of origin. It is even easier if you are from another European Union country. Just keep in mind fees can apply when you withdraw cash at the ATM. If you are working in Malta and wish to receive your salary in your foreign bank account, it will be easier if you have a bank account in a country part of the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area), namely the EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Monaco, Switzerland and San Marino. In general, no fees apply. Ask your company to make sure it accepts to pay your salary on your foreign bank account, as some companies may refuse.

Good to know:

Although the alternative banking solutions listed above are interesting, opening a bank account in Malta will let you establish a banking history. This will allow you to get a local mortgage if you need one day, for example, to buy a property in Malta.

Useful links:

Economic indicators for Malta

Malta Financial Services Authority

List of banks in Malta

HSBC Malta

Bank of Valletta

Malta Bankers' Association

Central Bank Malta

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.