Home Banking Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta

13 November, 2018 24 comments

Opening a bank account as an expat in Malta has changed a lot over the last few years and from speaking to people I meet who moved here recently, it sounds as if it is becoming harder and harder to get yourself set up.

For the most part, I’d recommend not opening a bank account in Malta and instead just using Revolut. Some companies may not be willing to transfer wages there, but most will be able to. You can have a free account, opened up in minutes, with a proper IBAN and account number. The app is amazing, a thousand times better than any banking app in Malta and the service is top notch. If you require more features, they also have a few paid options for faster service, lower fees and additional benefits. Here you can read all about using Revolut in Malta.

Some things to know about banking in general in Malta;

Cash Machines

There is a serious lack of ATM cash machines. In general you only really find them on the outside of banks, meaning they’re mainly in busy, popular areas. You’re not guaranteed to have a cash point within walking distance, so try to be organised about always having enough cash on you as Malta is still way behind when it comes to card payments in general. Often, a place wont accept cards (but of course wont tell you until it comes to paying, even in a restaurant), they usually have a minimum card spend between €10 – €20 and they still don’t allow you to insert your own card; you have to hand it over whilst they mess about with it. Oh and contactless? Haha. No.

Using the Banks

Actually going in to your bank and seeing a cashier or personal banker is an absolute nightmare. They only open part-time, usually between 08:00 and 13:00 and rarely have enough cashiers to deal with the scrum. In general, I find the banks so busy they’re almost unusable. On many occasions I’ve spent over an hour waiting in line and still not had a chance to see a cashier and ended up having to leave as I just didn’t have time. This can be very frustrating, so avoid going into the bank unless absolutely necessary.

Choosing Banks

A bank is a hugely personal thing and not everyone will have the same experiences. I personally use BOV and would recommend them, mainly for a lack of better options. HSBC is the next biggest on the sland, and a popular choice. Other options include Banif and APS, both of which I’ve been unsure about in the past, but which these days seem to be the better banks for foreigners. Read on and make up your own mind on opening a bank account in Malta.

Opening A Bank Account in Malta

This is the Mediterranean, with all the good and bad that goes along with it. Everything here is slow, so don’t expect opening a bank account to be any different. I had to provide references for some colleagues and you wouldn’t believe how long the banks took to process them. After claiming they never received it in the post, and refusing to accept a scanned copy via email I went and physically handed iintoto the right person who still claimed she never got it. But this kind of thing is pretty common in Malta, as long as you do all you can, it’s a pretty simple process.

  1. Your ID– they will accept either a Maltese ID card or a passport. If you have a Maltese ID card, always use this as it makes the reference process easier. You have to have one to live here anyway, so I’d recommend just waiting to open the account until your ID card is sorted.
  2. A general reference– if you have an ID card then the reference can be from a bank, your employer, a lawyer and so on. The easiest way is your employer, on company headed paper they simply have to complete a form that BOV will be happy to send you via email. It asks for things like name, address and salary (not sure why this is necessary). If you don’t have an ID card then you’ll need a reference from your bank, which you cannot provide- BOV will contact your bank directly. Due to the slowness with banks in general, on both sides, this can take a while.

Cashlink vs Visa Debit

However, when you eventually do get your account and card, chances are it’ll be a cashlink and not a visa card. I have no idea why BOV is so strict on giving Visa debit card to foreigners as this isn’t a credit card! It’s just a card you need to access your own money. The cashlinks don’t have a chip and can’t be used outside of Malta. After approx one year of using your account, you can then apply for a debit Visa card so you can pay for things abroad.

Banks in Malta

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta BOV

BOV in Malta (Bank of Valletta)

This is the bank I currently use and the bank I would recommend if you’re opening a bank account in Malta. They’re not perfect, but I’ve had fewer problems with them than with other banks on the island. Most gaming companies on the island will use BOV, so if you work in gaming especially they’re ideal as you’ll get your wages faster and it’s probably the most used bank on the island.

Their mobile app is bordering on useless, so I actually use a company called Revolut for most of my spending. BOV I have my wages paid into and keep my savings in. The app is very slow to update, often not showing purchases for 5+ days after the transactions and on the mobile app you can only see around 30 of the last transactions. If often crashes (but keeps you logged in, so if you try and get back into it, you get an error that you’re already logged in) and generally can’t be used between 17:00 – 19:00 each evening. With BOV it does cost if you withdraw cash from an ATM in Malta that is not a BOV ATM. At the last try, it cos me €3.50, which is absolutely atrocious in my opinion.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta HSBC

HSBC in Malta

When opening a bank account in Malta, you should consider that HSBC in Malta are hugely anti-gaming. They’re an international brand so really should be more open minded and accepting. But, if you own a gaming company then you cannot have a HSBC account and if they find out your account is being used as a gaming companies corporate account they will shut you down.

As a normal customer this doesn’t really affect you- even if you work for a gaming company you wont have any problems, it’s more on a corporate level they don’t like it. However, you cannot process payments to gaming websites if you have a HSBC credit card. They keep threatening to do the same for debit cards, but as of yet, you’re still able to deposit into online gaming sites with your HSBC debit card.

If you have a HSBC account already, in another country then it’s fairly simply to transfer over your details. In the past I know this has been a troublesome and drawn out process but from more recent reports, it’s clearly been streamlined and is a simple case of letting your bank know you want to transfer to Malta and they’ll do the rest.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta Banif Bank

Banif Bank in Malta

I banked with Banif almost 10 years ago and had a lot of problems with them. They were very slow to process my wages each month, often taking 5+ days to show the funds in my account. A few times they even ‘lost’ the transfer and continually blamed BOV (who sent them the funds) but each time it turned out to be a Banif issue.

At Banif you do not need a reference letter in order to open a simple bank account, however, they also won’t give you a reference which makes things hard if you want to switch accounts later on.

Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Malta APS Bank

APS Bank in Malta

APS is a ‘church bank’, which immediately makes me quite wary. I don’t know anyone who uses them and I’ve never used them myself. When I first moved here I did try to open an account with them, but I was in there for 30 minutes and the woman couldn’t figure out how to do it.

However, when it comes to getting a loan as a foreigner in Malta, APS is one of your best bets. BOV do not want to lend money to foreigners, no matter how long you’ve lived here or how much you earn, but APS are, surprisingly, much more open minded and actually have some of the best terms on the island.

24 comments

R 8 January, 2015 - 6:38 pm

hsbc… I worked as a casino dealer in Edinburgh, and tried to open a bank account with Hsbc. After 3 delays due to ” you need this form and this piece from your employer…blabla” I came back with all the required forms ( and a letter from my big boss himself)only to hear
– for how long do you want this account?
– euh… For as long as I am alive. ( Ithought that was a clever answer)
– yes but you know we are very cautious with new people opening a bank account, you know because of money laudering…
– i have full police clearence in France, where I am from and in the U.K, you know and I work as a dealer it’s not like I make a fortune, as you know tips are not allowed.
After few seconds the lady looked at me and said ” Sorry but you cannot open a bank account here”
So I am pretty sure I will never recommand Hsbc to anyone and go to B.o.V when I come to Malta!

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Rhi 8 January, 2015 - 6:41 pm

Wow thats incredible, I’ve never used them myself but never heard of that! They’re really conservative considering they’re the international bank on this island, I’m surprised at their attitude, but I think it’s for the best- BOV all the way :)

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Scott Lee Holloway 9 January, 2015 - 12:00 am

This is really interesting thank you. One of my pet hates is paying to withdraw my own money so sounds like the only real drawback with BOV. Do you know if HSBC Malta charges customers to use non HSBC ATM’s?

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Rhi 9 January, 2015 - 12:05 am

HSBC doesn’t as far as I know. Most cash points on the island are BOV so its not so bad, i use BOV & have never had to suffer the charge :) but at least with hsbc you never need to worry

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Scott Lee Holloway 10 January, 2015 - 3:14 pm

Great info! Super helpful as always thanks! :) Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a great week.

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Jean 10 January, 2015 - 2:45 pm

Hey Rhi,

Does BOV charges you for direct debits?

Thanks

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Rhi 10 January, 2015 - 6:35 pm

They don’t charge for DD’s no :) they do charge for manual bank transfers to other banks but direct debits are free!

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Jean 11 January, 2015 - 1:16 pm

Well, I discovered that HSBC do charges for direct debits and i found that outrageous!

I also found a nightmare story from an american in Malta using an HSBC credit card: http://www.an-american-in-malta.com/2011/02/why-you-shouldnt-get-a-credit-card-in-malta.html

BOV is the safest choice.

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Rhi 11 January, 2015 - 2:08 pm

Ah credit cards- thats a good point, i added those to the guide now. Same story with BOV, very odd credit cards here but there are companies that do them properly :)

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Tom Allan 25 June, 2015 - 2:52 pm

hsbc.

I currently have an hsbc account here on Malta and a Credit Card account. I find them excellent as I can transfer monies from the UK in a split second from the UK. Using there facility Global pay.

banif

Superb. My partner and I opened an account on Gozo. The Manager is superb. We have a joint account and are just opening our business account with them.

Bov

I went into the Gozo branch some four weeks ago as I am wanting to transfer my Amex card from UK. I am still waiting four weeks on. No account open. The lady on the desk was exceptionally hostil. Unlike Victoria Attard at HSBC and Marie Joset at Banif the latter two were superb.

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Rhi 25 June, 2015 - 2:56 pm

Glad to hear you had some good experiences!

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Ab 14 September, 2018 - 9:48 pm

Tom Allan is a cunt, don’t believe a word he says

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Rhi 15 September, 2018 - 8:03 pm

some comment drama. Awesome.

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Rachel 8 November, 2016 - 9:12 am

Hey! I just moved to Malta from the Uk… and opened up a bank account with HSBC a couple weeks ago. What a nightmare. But, I went through a similar process trying to open up a bank account in the UK last year (originally from Canada).
Do you transfer money back to the UK ever? Any advice on that?

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Stefano Breschi 1 December, 2017 - 1:54 pm

Hi there. Do you knwo if it’s possible to open a corporate bank account in Malta for a company registered in HK? We have no residents in Malta in the company! We do have of course a bank account in HSBC in Hong Kong.

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G 4 March, 2018 - 9:00 pm

From now on, BOV will not accept your passport, nor National Insurance or in fact ANY documentation if you dont have Malta’s citizen ID card and you have to have that plastic card as the original paper you get before you receive the card will not suit the bank. These banks are full of shit and they dont care about the customer for some reason. Just open Revolut and your problems are solved. Unless your work pays you in cheques like my one does, then you probably have no choice. In short terms, Malta is like 10 years behind the tech from any other EU country

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Rhi 5 March, 2018 - 6:56 am

But if you live in Malta you have to have an ID card anyway, so that shouldn’t be an issue. And to get an ID card all you need is an address. It will be harder coming from outside of the EU but that’ll be harder anywhere in Europe. If I could get paid into my revolut account I would though, the app is really good and I have a much better grip on my finances.

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Matthew 26 April, 2018 - 9:54 am

Hey Rhi,
Came upon your blog while scoping for potential issues wth this little mediterranean paradise. We are actually heading to Malta on Monday to open a guesthouse, is the struggle with banks still the same? We will be looking to open a business account, will try BOV first by the sounds of it. Also any recommendations for a reference? Our other bank is in Canada and we are self employed.

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Rhi 26 April, 2018 - 12:11 pm

Hey! Banks have got worse since then if anything. When I got here I at least got a VISA card right away, however it seems like now they are only giving cashlink cards to foreigners until they’ve lived here over a year. This means you can pay for things in Malta, get cash out here, but can’t use the card whilst travelling.

If the banks still look for references then a letter from your bank in Canada should be fine. Might be a good idea to check with them now, just in case, if they provide references at all. Good luck, let me know the name of your guesthouse!

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Tanguy De Keyzer 10 September, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Hi, i would suggest to add Revolut as your global bank app. They make opening bank accounts B2C & B2B seamlessly

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Rhi 11 September, 2018 - 1:58 pm

The banner at the top of the post directs to my post all about Revolut.

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alama 7 November, 2018 - 10:57 pm

BOV treat foreigners as a worse sort of people. We didn`t come here to cheat, to steal and to wash the money! We are hard working people but BOV when you are going there they don`t treat you with respect they treat you like “I am the master and you my slave”. I don`t recommend BOV to anyone. The worst experience ever!

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John Russel 13 June, 2019 - 11:10 am

Hello, i’m creating an offshore company in Malta and i need an account in a Maltese Bank. The company through which i’m creating my company suggests i use the banks in this list http://www.confiduss.com/en/banks/list/malta/ . What do you think, which bank should i choose?

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Rhi 13 June, 2019 - 7:45 pm

I would not trust this list or the company who gave you that list. So far as I know, Pilatus had its license revoked last year for money laundering and was recently shut down by the EU.

The only banks I really hear much about in Malta as HSBC, BOV and APS. I don’t know the pros and cons from a company perspective but HSBC is international (could be a plus) and APS is much better as an individual, but I can’t speak for their corporate service. But they are the big 3 on the island.

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