When you arrive in Malta, you’ll know right away that there really aren’t that many options as far as banks go to choose from. In most people’s eyes there are two main banks – Bank of Valetta and HSBC. However, it can be very difficult to get a bank account in Malta if you are a foreigner. There are several ways to go about it, and you may find that HSBC and BoV are not the best options when you are initially starting out.
One thing to be aware of is that Malta does not run on a formal credit system, so they can’t just verify who you are or even check into your credit history. This can work in your favour if you’ve had trouble in the past, but can be very difficult for you when you first move there. You won’t be getting credit anywhere, as most places require at least 5-6 years of credit history in Malta before you’ll get anything. So be prepared for this before you move. Plan accordingly.
So, the first thing you need to know is they’re going to ask you for:
They will then tell you that you need to provide them with the details of your bank in your home country. At this point, they will email your bank requesting proof that you were a customer there and that you have good standing. Only then will they give you an account. Now, in most cases banks would never release that information, as privacy laws mean they can’t. So in these circumstances you’re often left waiting forever as they’ll never hear back.
There are a few ways to get around this.
Open a bank account with HSBC in your home country a 3-6 months before you go to Malta, as then you could go to an HSBC in Malta and they WILL be able to get records, as it’s the same bank.
If you aren’t keen on HSBC:
Baniff is a Maltese bank that will allow you to open an account without all of that runaround, however you do have some downsides. In order to use a debit/credit card you have to agree to place money into a savings account every month to the tune of 100 euros upfront and 50 a month every month or the card will be deactivated. You cannot use the money in this savings account at all during the year, every year it is reviewed and given back to you and the process starts again. Only after 2-5 years will this not be necessary. Otherwise you can choose to simply have the account and only go into branches to withdraw money using a passport/residence card to withdraw.
Bank of Valetta will be the hardest for you. They have the most bank machines and the best reputation, but without having at least 6 months track record in Malta, you’re going to find it ridiculously hard to open an account there.
My personal advice would be this: Open an account with HSBC in your home country 6+ months before moving to Malta. After the 6 months, you can then look at Bank of Valetta as a bank, as you would have your residence card by then and a track record of banking in Malta. But this is just my take on it.