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Money Transfers for Expats in Malta

Submitted: November 2013

Malta does not impose any restrictions on inbound and outbound money transfers. Freedom of capital is guaranteed by EU law.

In theory, transferring money to Malta should be straightforward. In practice, you should plan for this in advance. Do also check if your financial intermediary is reliable enough, be it in terms of service quality or value for money.

Money transfers within the Eurozone should be as easy as A.B.C., but charges may apply.

International bank transfers

The easiest way is transfer money to Malta is to have a Maltese bank account opened, and then to proceed with an international bank transfer.

It is possible to open an account prior to entering Malta. Many Maltese banks may be happy to open a bank account to non-residents, but it is advisable to enquire beforehand. However, you should at least get the following documents ready:

  • Proof of address
  • Proof of ID
  • Bank reference letter (your current bank may or may not charge you for this)

Alternatively, you can withdraw money from a cash dispenser in Malta and use the proceeds to open a bank account once you are in Malta.

Cheques

You may also consider requesting your bank to issue a cheque, which can then be cleared in an overseas bank account (from Malta to your home country, or from your home country to Malta). This process is quite lengthy though, and it may be expensive. Don’t forget that you might need to issue cheques before you can open a Maltese bank account (e.g. to find accommodation).

Fees

Maltese bank accounts are not necessarily fee-free. Euro bank transfers within the EEA or Switzerland (SEPA transfers) generally attract lower charges than any other international bank transfers. You might wish to check the applicable charges at your bank.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers. Typically, your charges are largely passed on to the applicable foreign exchange rate. See Foreign Exchange for Expats in Malta.

The fees charged by a company specialised in money transfers are without prejudice to the fees that your bank may charge on transfers to the money transfer company.

Cash control rules

You are free to carry as much cash as you like when you cross the French border. Nevertheless, you must make a declaration to the Maltese Customs Department if the amount exceeds €10,000.

Cash control rules cover hard currency, cheques, coupons, promissory notes, securities or other negotiable instruments, but not international wire transfers.

Euro-zone crisis and impact on Malta

No expat in Malta should forget the precedent set by the Cyprus banking crisis in March 2013. Some Cyprus-based bank accounts have been basically confiscated to save banks.

What happened to Cyprus cannot be ruled out for Malta, given that both countries are large offshore financial centres whose banking sector is very big compared to GDP. Should local banks need to be rescued, EU financial assistance would be needed.

Taxing banking deposits is something that today’s policymakers seriously consider. Once such a measure is announced, it is too late: you should have panicked beforehand.

Confiscation risks can be mitigated by parking your Euros in another Euro-zone country, but be careful to choose the right one. If you prefer to stay with a Maltese bank, check how safe your bank is.

 

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