Top Business Ideas for Expats in Malta

Updated: July 30, 2020 | 8 minute read

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Malta, a small island country is very popular for its swanky tourism and rich cultural heritage.

Its perfect location in the Mediterranean offers some of the top business ideas for expats.

Accompanied by Maltas’ tax-efficient system and a thriving economy, makes it a popular destination for all kinds of business opportunities.

Malta is a member of the EU since 2004 and a part of the Schengen area since 2007. Malta is also a Commonwealth member state.

All this empowers the expats with free movement and trade within the European Union.

What are the Top Business Ideas for Expats?

Several business ideas can demonstrate profitability. Expats already living in Malta or planning on relocating, may benefit with proper Industry support measures and make a living.


1. Buy an existing company

Opening a new company in Malta can be time-consuming. The reason is that the permits can take longer than expected.

Furthermore, the entrepreneur has to abide by all the rules and regulations set up by the Maltese government. Once all measures are taken you are able to start the business.
A simpler alternative would be to buy an already existing company.

Expats looking to start a company can take advantage of it. There are two types of companies that can be bought by an entrepreneur:

  • Aged Company: All the companies that are already operational in a particular type of business fall under this category. Sometimes local authorities can ask for proofs regarding the functionality of the company.

  • Shelf Company: Such types of companies are purely created to attract investors. Expats who intend on buying an already existing company can benefit from it.

It takes only 24 hours for anyone to own a shelf company in Malta. Post the transfer of the ownership; expats can start operating business.

Owning an existing company can prove to be advantageous in many ways:

  • The company can easily apply for bank loans;

  • It will be easier to attract new clients as the brand already holds existing customers;

  • Ability to bid for contracts;

  • Entrepreneurs can open branches abroad if they want to. The Maltese government offers flexible business operations.


2. Franchise

Opening a franchise can be an attractive business idea for expats living in Malta or planning on shifting.

In recent years Malta has shown tremendous yet a steady growth rate.

Maltas rich cultural heritage attracts tourist from countries like China, United States, India, Australia etc..

Opening a franchise which is located in such countries can be profitable. Brand awareness among tourists can prove to be lucrative for the entrepreneur.

Some of the business ideas for a franchise can be:

  • Food and Drinks Business;

  • Clothing Brands;

  • Motor Companies;

  • Electronics;

  • Financial services; etc..

In Contrast to other European countries, the Maltese government enables the easy establishment of franchises.

The Maltese government recognises three types of franchises:

  • Single Unit Franchise - recognise one sole entrepreneur (franchisee) to be the representative of the franchise.

  • Area or multi-unit franchise – enables the businessperson to open multiple franchises in the country.

  • The parent company of the franchise benefits from such business by receiving a suitable fee from the entrepreneur.

The payment is decided by the category chosen by the entrepreneur and the business type that will be operated.


 3. Virtual Office

Virtual offices offer a cost-effective option to companies and entrepreneurs. Money is not spent on setting up an office and hiring employees to manage it.

A virtual office provides companies with a physical address and communication services if needed.

Services can include:

  • Local phone numbers and fax;

  • Voice mailbox;

  • Mailing services; etc..


 4. Restaurant Business

Malta displays an exuberant lifestyle and is home to unique cuisines. Tourists from all over the world visit the island country to enjoy the Maltese life and culture.

Food and drinks are an essential part of the day to day life of people living in Malta and tourists.

Opening a restaurant is one of the top business ideas for expats.

Restaurant business may include:

  • Bars and Nightclubs;

  • Restaurant selling the islands speciality or international cuisine;

  • Cafes’; etc..

For restaurant business, specific requirements set by the government have to be fulfilled.

Once all requirements have been fulfilled, the applicant will be issued the license by the Malta Tourism Authority for business.

All the business ideas for expats mentioned above provide options for potential investors, foreigners, entrepreneurs and locals who wish to conduct business.

Related: Business Opportunities in Malta

How is the Expat Life in Malta?

Maltese life seems like a perennial holiday at first to many expats.

This picturesque island country with rich history, beautiful coastlines, and sunny skies attracts tourism from all over the world.

Expats living in Malta have a lot to explore. You can visit the Vestiges of Malta’s prehistoric period to the Grand Master’s Palace form the Maltese Knight Era.

One can spend years exploring the Temples of Ggantija, Fortresses, medieval castles, gardens, Roman ruins, World War II shelters etc..

As per a local saying, there are about 365 churches on the islands, one for each day of the year. So, even if one has been living in Malta for a while, can never run out of churches to discover.

98% of the population in Malta is Catholic. Most of the churches are dedicated to St. Paul, who is said to have brought Christianity to Malta himself.

Simultaneous to its rich historical culture, Malta provides countless opportunities for entertainment.

The island country has quite a few theatres like the grand Manoel Theatre with its flamboyant interior.

Manoel Theatre

The Manoel Theatre

For people who have a fondness for classical music and contemporary performances, you can enjoy them in Malta too. At the Aurora Opera House and James’ Cavalier Centre for Creativity respectively.

For movie buffs, Malta has several multiplexes focusing on Hollywood blockbusters.

Malta enjoys approximately 300 days of sunshine per year making it an attractive travel destination.

For expats living in Malta who enjoy outdoor activities have plenty to keep them occupied. Some of them listed below:

  • Kayaking;

  • Zip-lining;

  • Climbing;

  • Spelunking;

  • Quad-biking;

  • Scuba-diving, etc..

For people who have an interest in sports like cricket, tennis, golf, The Marsa Sports Club is the go-to venue.

Marsa Sports Club

Marsa Sports Club

Irrespective of which activity one prefers, expat living in Malta will never be dull.

You might also be interested to know more about Living in Malta.

What is the Cost of Living in Malta?

When it comes to residing in Europe, Malta is one of the most affordable to places for expats to live in.

Expats can easily lead a comfortable life with a budget varying between €1500 -  € 1800 for a family of two.

Maltas’ water is not safe to drink because of which people buy bottled water. For this reason, little extra money is spent.

Cost of buying groceries vary extensively depending on where one shops. Vegetable wagons are one of the cheapest ways to get vegetable and fruits in Malta.

Farmers set up their own fresh produce at good prices every week. You can visit them on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Ta’Qali.

Another option is Lidl, a budget supermarket which offers better value than most of the supermarkets.

For a detailed price list, please visit Cost of Living in Malta on Numbeo’

Malta has a tax-efficient system as compared to many other European countries. Noteworthy, for the first 183 days, expats living and working in Malta pay higher taxes than others. However, expats are then eligible for a refund via a tax rebate at the end of the financial year.

To know more about the taxation system in Malta, please visit ‘Complete Guide to Malta’s Personal Taxation System’

So it can be said that the cost of living in Malta is similar to, or lower than, other European countries.


Malta is a steady growing economy with stability and a tax-efficient system.

Affordable cost of living and favourable government structures makes it easier for expats to set up business on the island.

Some of the business ideas for expats mentioned above have the potential to demonstrate profitability in the longer run.

As compared to other countries in the EU, the Maltese islands are the perfect destination for expats.

In Malta you can to set up and grow your businesses and can strike that perfect life and work balance.

If you have any further questions, please visit our International Client Services page.

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