Similar to UK, Isle of Man, Ireland, Cyprus and a number of other Asian countries, driving in Malta is on the left.
If your licence is from outside the European Union, you can drive for 12 months from the date of your last entry into Malta. After that, you will need to get a Maltese licence, which will last for 10 years (or 5 years if you are over 70). Renewal costs €80.00 (€29.25 for the over 70s).
If your licence is from the EU, Switzerland or Australia, you can exchange it for a Maltese licence after 185 days of relocation. You can drive with an EU licence as long as it remains valid.
The legal driving age in Malta is 18, but most car hire companies require drivers to be over 23 or even 25.
Once you find a car that you want to buy, you need to transfer ownership. This can now be done online. The seller, buyer and a witness are required to sign the back of the vehicle registration certificate and present it to an authorised insurance agency or broker. They will issue a new insurance policy. You will need to show your ID card. Any fees, penalties, CVA fees and contraventions that must be paid will show up at this point. The insurance agency or broker can then issue the new registration certificate in the name of the buyer and can also renew your vehicle road licence. You may need a new Vehicle Roadworthy Test (VRT) to do that.
Importing your own car is an option however you would need to pay registration tax. If the car is coming from outside the EU, you will also need to pay VAT. Find out more here.
A litre of unleaded petrol costs €1.31 at the time of writing.
Car insurance is a must if you are to be on the road. Prices of car insurance vary wildly depending on a number of factors including your age, the kind of car you drive and whether you take out comprehensive insurance (which covers anyone you hit plus your own car) or 3rd party (which just covers the costs to the other vehicle, person or property if an accident is your fault). To give you an idea, a car valued at €8000 costs around €200 a year to insure comprehensively. The insurance market is competitive in Malta, so get a few quotes. Read more about Insurance in Malta.
If you hit someone from behind or vice versa, you don’t need to call the police or a local warden. Take photos, and fill in a ‘Front to Rear’ form with the other driver. Each driver should get a copy to give to their insurance company (make sure you keep a copy before you submit it). If the accident is not clear cut, call the local warden on +356 2132 0202, who will fill in the report for you. The warden’s report will also go to the insurance companies. If someone got hurt during the accident, call police on +356 21224001. For serious accidents and injuries, call the emergency number 112 immediately. Ensure you have the other driver’s name and vehicle registration number.
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, report it to the police and to your insurance agency as soon as possible (for both rental cars and private insurance).
As elsewhere, many people use apps on their mobile phones, but you can also rent GPS units at the airport from the car rental companies when you first arrive. Paper maps of Malta do exist – if you’re brave and have a co-pilot, you can try to find your way with one. Buy them at bookshops or online. Good luck!
Parking rules in Malta are similar to much of Europe and North America. You can’t park on double yellow lines, in front of exits/garages or in ‘residents only’ zones (if you are one of the residents, get a permit from the local council). Some streets have timed parking, meaning that you can only park for as long as the nearby sign indicates and you need to leave a disc on the dashboard showing what time you arrived (you can get these from council offices, your insurance broker or a police station).
Penalties for parking infractions include fines, clamping or the dreaded tow-away. The standard fine is currently €23.29 but parking in front of a garage will cost you €104.82 and there’s good enforcement. You can pay at council offices, by post or online. Find out more about contraventions in Malta.
There are quite a few private car parks, mainly at large shopping centres such as The Point, Portomaso, Bay Street and Dukes in Gozo, as well as the MCP (Malta Car Parks) underground carparks in Floriana (1200 spaces) and Hamrun.
You’ll also come across the infamous ‘parkers’ or ‘car guards’. These individuals are found in public car parks or on areas of rough ground that people use for parking. They aren’t usually official and there isn’t a set fee; it is customary to tip them anything from €0.50 to €2.00 if you feel they offer a service that’s of value to you, but don’t feel intimidated into paying if you would rather not.
Motorbikes and mopeds are an efficient way to beat the queues. The Maltese government is running a grant scheme to help with the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles, with up to €2000 available per vehicle, including quadricycles. Read more about riding your motorcycle in Malta.
In theory, yes, especially if you live in a hub, like somewhere in the Sliema or Birkirkara area, with access to shops, restaurants and entertainment. Most people who live outside the main urban areas do end up buying a car for the extra flexibility but given the current levels of traffic gridlock, sticking with public transport might be a better option – at least you can read a book in the traffic jams, rather than fuming behind the wheel.Can I use my foreign drivers’ licence in Malta?
If your licence is from outside the European Union, you can drive for 12 months from the date of your last entry into Malta. After that, you will need to get a Maltese licence.
If your licence is from the EU, Switzerland or Australia, you can exchange it for a Maltese licence after 185 days. You can drive with an EU licence as long as it remains valid. Read here for more information.How do I catch the bus?
You can hop on a bus between 5.30am and 11pm. There are 80 routes to choose from in Malta and 15 in Gozo. A bus route with 1 or 2 digits (e.g. number 3 or 13) includes Valletta in the route. Routes with an X are express. Three digits routes go elsewhere on the islands. Aside from Valletta, the main hubs are the Mater Dei Hospital and the University. For timetables, journey planners and a host of other information, click here.