Banks in Malta (What You Need to Know)

Banks in Malta tend to attract foreigners and business owners seeking quasi-offshore accounts. Unfortunately, banks in Malta are difficult to access, frustrating to deal with, and are only suitable for certain client groups. But, for some, they can offer value. And, for everyone else, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

Accessing Banks in Malta

Opening an account with banks in Malta may not be for everyone. In fact, better alternatives are usually available elsewhere. That said, it is possible to open with banks in Malta if you know which banks and bankers cater to your client profile and you’re able to meet the bank-specific requirements. 

In this article, we’ll share the information you need if you decide to open an account with banks in Malta. Of course, this will include who should consider banks in Malta, the challenges you’ll most likely face, and which other alternatives you might want to consider.

But, before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your free Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents open accounts in top banking hubs around the world.

Understanding Banks in Malta

Whether you’re a resident of Malta or a non-resident, chances are, you’re going to have a tough time opening accounts with banks in Malta. The main reason for this is that Malta is currently under significant regulatory pressure. This is due to Malta being added to the FATF greylist in mid-2021. As a result, banks in Malta are treading very carefully.

Not surprisingly, this has forced Maltese banks to “de-risk” their operations due to compliance concerns. In other words, potential customers that fall outside the bank’s acceptable risk parameters are being denied. And, existing clients that don’t pass compliance reviews will likely have their accounts terminated.

Of course, in some instances, opening accounts with banks in Malta is still possible. So, let’s take a deeper look into the available options for both businesses and individuals along with the unique challenges (and opportunities) each client type may face.

Business Banking in Malta

Banks in Malta Options
As mentioned, Malta is currently on the FATF greylist. One of the catalysts for Malta’s inclusion on this list was the apparent facilitation of money laundering and criminal activity. Not surprisingly, Malta is working hard to correct its mistakes. And, from a banking perspective, that means banks are much more strict about who can open accounts. This is especially true when it comes to foreign entities.

So, if your business is incorporated in another offshore jurisdiction or even a more reputable foreign country, opening in Malta is going to be difficult. In other words, companies from outside of Malta should consider opening elsewhere.

But, it’s not just foreign companies that have a hard time opening accounts with banks in Malta. Non-resident Maltese companies also have difficulty opening accounts here. Again, this is largely due to the de-risking by Maltese banks and their desire to avoid higher-risk business clients, which non-resident businesses are considered.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be able to open a business account with banks in Malta. But again, the chances of that happening are very slim. Instead, you’ll most likely be faced with challenges, be turned away, and forced to consider alternatives. We’ll discuss some of these below. But, for now, let’s jump into personal banking in Malta.

Personal Banking in Malta

Opening a personal account with banks in Malta is easier than opening a business bank account. That said, it still has its challenges. And, you also need to consider why you would want to bank in Malta in the first place.

Like elsewhere, banks in Malta have a strict account opening process, bank-specific requirements, and challenges you’ll need to overcome. And, even though opening an account is possible, banks in Malta may not be the best option for you.

So, since banks in Malta can be difficult to access, you may want to consider some of the alternatives instead. But, before looking at these alternatives, we’ll take a closer look at who should consider opening accounts with banks in Malta in the following section.

Who Should Consider Opening With Banks in Malta?

Banks in Malta for Specific Clients
Malta has seen dramatic changes in its banking industry over the years. Making it tough for almost anyone to open a bank account here.

That said, those who typically consider opening accounts with banks in Malta include the following groups:

  • Residents of Malta
  • Non-residents that require a Malta bank account
  • Tourists frequently visiting Malta
  • Individuals that own a business in Malta
  • Foreign companies that do business in Malta
  • Non-residents looking to invest in Malta

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Kind of.

Even though each of the groups listed above can consider opening in Malta, it doesn’t mean they should. In fact, opening bank accounts in most countries can still facilitate the goals listed above. So, a question you may still be asking yourself, is why would people want to open accounts with banks in Malta?

Well, there are a few reasons why…

Why People Want to Open Accounts With Banks in Malta

  1. Looking to purchase Maltese real estate
  2. Required to make local business transactions
  3. Looking to establish Maltese residency
  4. Living or working in Malta (required to pay local expenses)

So, if you plan on moving to Malta, doing business in Malta, or purchasing real estate in Malta, then an account with banks in Malta can make sense. For everyone else, you may want to look elsewhere. But, before considering alternatives, let’s look at the challenges you’ll face if you do decide to open with banks in Malta.

Challenges of Opening Accounts With Banks in Malta

Account Opening Challenges
Like opening bank accounts in most countries, opening with banks in Malta as a non-resident can be very challenging. In fact, for most applicants, these challenges will prove insurmountable. But, with some guidance, the right applicants can open accounts with banks in Malta successfully.

So, let’s take a look at the challenges you’ll most likely face when opening accounts with banks in Malta…

  1. Banking limitations for non-residents
  2. Minimum deposit requirements ( vary bank to bank)
  3. Remote opening is not always possible
  4. Personal visit to the branch may be required to keep an account active
  5. Lack of customer support compared to elsewhere
  6. Intense due diligence process (extensive paperwork)
  7. Strict regulations & protocols (constantly changing)
  8. High transfer fees than comparable banking hubs
  9. Strict requirements in order to secure debit & visa cards
  10. Clear ties to Malta required (difficult for foreign companies)
  11.  Economic substance requirements (difficult for non-resident companies)

Again, these are just some of the top challenges you may face when opening accounts with banks in Malta. Of course, depending on which bank you contact, these challenges can vary.

However, even if you’re lucky enough to pass the account opening process, you’ll probably still run into issues. For instance, don’t be surprised if the bank freezes your account without notice and requires an in-person visit to unlock your account.

Additionally, clients of banks in Malta often complain about transfer restrictions. For example, you may not be able to transfer money between countries in a timely manner and the fees associated with transfers can be very expensive.

Bottom line, if you don’t actually need a local bank account in Malta, you’ll probably be better off elsewhere. In fact, there are other alternatives to banking in Malta that may be better suited and more beneficial to your client profile.

What Are the Alternatives to Banking in Malta?

Before you start applying for accounts with banks in Malta, you should really understand whether or not Malta is the best place for you to bank. Not surprisingly, for most client profiles, there are better options available elsewhere.

In fact, many Maltese residents even choose to open accounts in other countries.

So, if you’re starting to rethink your decision to bank in Malta, you’re in luck! In this section, we’re going to review some of the better banking alternatives you may want to consider.

Of course, whether a banking jurisdiction is suitable for you or your business will depend on your specific client profile and banking needs. For now, let’s consider some of these alternatives so you can make a more informed decision about whether you want to bank in Malta.

Cyprus Business Banking

Like Malta, Cyprus is in the EU. However, banks in Cyprus still open accounts for non-residents and foreign companies, including offshore entities. So, if you’re looking to open a bank account in the EU for a foreign, offshore, or non-resident entity, Cyprus may be worth considering.

We detail the entire account opening process in Cyprus, which banks you can consider, and how to get started opening accounts in our premium report “Banking in Cyprus: Transactional Business Banking in the EU”.

You can access this report immediately when you join GlobalBanks IQ.

Isle of Man Expat Banking

In terms of personal banking, Malta typically caters to residents. However, many people interested in banking here are often looking for non-resident banking options. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good match. But, there are other options that specifically cater to non-resident banking, such as the Isle of Man.

In fact, many banks in the Isle of Man offer specific banking options for non-residents, expats, and individuals looking for offshore banking facilities. We cover all of the available expat banking options in the Isle of Man in our premium report “Banking in the Isle of Man: Expat Banking Goes Mainstream”.

isle of man report

You can access this report immediately when you join GlobalBanks IQ.

Other Alternatives to Banks in Malta

If you’re looking to open a bank account for an offshore or non-resident business, our premium report “How to Open International Bank Accounts for Offshore Companies” will help you identify the best-suited option and navigate the account opening process.

offshore companies report
This report includes account opening strategies, recommendations on specific banks, and actionable strategies for offshore and non-resident businesses. In other words, it shares which banks actually cater to your business’ profile. To access this report, you just need to join GlobalBanks IQ.

That said, if you feel like Malta is a good fit (or have suitable ties to the island), here’s how to get started opening an account with banks in Malta right now…

How to Open an Account With Banks in Malta

If you’ve decided to move forward with a Malta bank account, it’s important to understand the account opening process and exactly how to get started.

While the requirements may vary from bank to bank, you’ll almost always need to provide certified documents and go through a lengthy due diligence process.

With that said, let’s take a look at the specific documents that may be required when you either open a personal or a business account with banks in Malta.

Documentations Required to Open a Personal Account With Banks in Malta

  • Two forms of government-issued identification
  • Accepted proof of address (varies from bank to bank)
  • Proof of income and source of wealth
  • Proof of residency (varies from bank to bank)
  • Any bank-specific application forms
  • Reference letters (banking and personal)

Documentation Required to Open Corporate Accounts With Banks in Malta

  • Two forms of government-issued identification for all shareholders and managers
  • Copy of incorporation documents
  • Reference letters of all shareholders and managers
  • Proof of address of all shareholders and managers
  • Certificate of good standing
  • Any bank-specific application forms
  • Completed KYC questionnaire

Again, these documents can vary depending on the bank and banker you deal with. But, preparing as much of these documents as possible before applying can ensure an easier account opening experience. That said, it’s always best to confirm which documents are required before investing time or money collecting them.

Of course, as we’ve already shared, perhaps the most important question you need to ask before applying for an account with banks in Malta is: Are you sure Malta is the best place for you to bank?

Well, we’d be happy to help you answer that question…

Here’s How to Get Started:

If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start figuring out where you should (and shouldn’t) open accounts.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks – home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries.

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more.

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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