Seen by many as a non-essential step as apparently many Maltese employers pay in cash and banks cash cheques for free. Do also see my post about transferring money abroad which also details a few good UK bank accounts you can use.
The three main options for banks in Malta are Banif, Bank of Valletta (BOV), and HSBC. I eventually plumped for BOV as HSBC were hard work and Banif require you to put a fairly large sum into a savings account and leave it there for a year. I have since heard that Banif also require applicants to be resident in Malta for at least six months before an account can be opened.
The preferred choice of most businesses and employers in Malta. Rules and processes seem to vary depending on which representative you are speaking to – see our guest post on BOV Inconsistency from freelance writer Stephanie Heron.
(without Residence Card)
At the BOV branch in Sliema, I spoke to an account manager who looked at my passport and took down the information, but couldn’t open the account without written confirmation from my manager that I do indeed work for them. This confirmation must be written exactly according to their template (which is posted to the employer), printed on company headed paper, and posted back to the bank.
After this the account manager will contact you to arrange a time for you to go into the branch with my documents and get the account opened. Documents required at this stage are:
- Proof of address in home country (I used my driving licence)
- €200 cash
Other questions I got answered:
- I can expect to receive ATM card within a week of account opening
- ATM card is fee-free only when used in BOV machines
- Cash can be withdrawn in-branch from the cashiers section
- There is no minimum balance, but it’s a good idea to keep at least something there
- The account cannot have 2 holders if initially it was opened with 1 holder
(with Residence Card)
This was actually surprisingly simple. I arrived at HSBC International Branch in Sliema (open Mon-Fri 8:30-midday) at 8:30 on the dot, just as they were opening the doors. There was a bit of a queue, but I needn’t have worried.
I walked in and told the greeter I was there to open an account, she directed me to the first floor where another greeter asked a few preliminary questions (do you have a residence card, do you live in Malta, etc).
Within minutes of arriving I was whisked away to an office by an account manager and given a cappuccino. She asked to see my residence card and work contract, which I dutifully handed over.
The next hour was spent answering questions about my background, living situation, financial situation, what I will be using the account for, etc – so that they could get a ‘profile’ of me.
Once that was done, the account manager disappeared into another room to speak with the due diligence team for 10 minutes, came back, asked a few more questions, disappeared again, and finally came back again. She told me the account had been cleared to be opened and went through the different kinds of debit card available, potential fees, transfers, telephone and Internet banking, and so on. She also explained I could open a GBP account alongside my EUR one for no extra charge, which I accepted.
I was given a letter with my account numbers and contact details of the account manager, a T&C booklet, and several bits of paper to sign – some kept by me, some by the bank. The debit card is due to arrive in 3 days.
(without Residence Card)
As far as I understand the process would be the same as above, although more documentation would be required:
- ID – passport or national ID card
- Proof of permanent address – should be able to use tenancy agreement + residence card application confirmation for this
- Confirmation of tax residency – tax certificate
- Document confirming link with Malta – one of the following depending on your circumstances:
- Rental agreement of at least 6 months
- Indefinite work contract
- Proof of property purchase/ownership
- Foreign Student Form
- VAT number, ETC certificate or Trading License if self-employed
My account manager did state however that sometimes further documentation is required, so take as much as you can just in case. It seemed to me their biggest concern was ensuring that I wasn’t laundering money or avoiding tax – so bring plenty of proof of how you obtained your assets!