The need to acquire an employment licence (previously known as work permit) to be able to work in a foreign country is a reality in much of the world, and Malta is no exception. However, the country’s accession to the European Union in 2004 has changed matters considerably.
As a result of Malta’s accession to the EU, citizens of EU/EFTA countries and their close family members (spouses and children), even if the latter are not EU or EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) citizens, do not require any employment licences to work in Malta. All other nationals, coming from non-EU and non-EFTA countries, and who are termed as Third Country Nationals (TCNs), must submit a single permit application to be able to work and reside in Malta.
Single Permit procedure
Since 2014, all TCNs are required to go through the single permit procedure to be authorised to work and reside in Malta. The single permit procedure involves the submission of a Single Permit Application, which must include, amongst other documents:
These need to be submitted to Identity Malta. If the applicant does not have adequate work experience but is suitably qualified, the applicant must first obtain local MQRIC equivalence of the qualifications before the application is submitted.
The objective of the Single Permit Application, if successful, is the issue of a single document, which is commonly referred to as the e-residence card, which grants TCNs the authorization to both live and work in Malta. When submitting an application to Identity Malta, the applicant should ensure that s/he has a valid visa to be in Malta.
Single Permit applications, which have to be endorsed by the prospective employer, are then assessed by a number of industry stakeholders, including Jobsplus – Malta’s government employment agency which carries out the necessary labour market considerations.
The application is normally processed in approximately two to three months. If successful, the residence card is valid for one year. Each residence card is tied to the employer whose contract of employment was included in the application process. Thus, the card would cease to be valid if the applicant no longer remains in employment with that particular employer. Single permit applications may also be submitted to Identity Malta by the employer on behalf of applicants who are still abroad. In such cases, once the application is approved, a document authorising the applicant to come to Malta and work is received by the employer. At this stage, applicants requiring a visa to come to Malta can use the authorisation document to obtain a visa and once they are in Malta they can complete the single permit process.
If the single permit application is not successful, an appeal may be filed within a specified number of days, details of which are usually included in the rejection letter.
The single permit procedure is available to all TCNs, except those who fall in the categories listed below. These TCNs need to apply for two separate permits: employment licence from Jobsplus and an e-resident permit from Identity Malta’s Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs:
Citizenship & Expatriates Department site for other information, checklists and forms.
Malta Qualifications Recognition Information Centre (MQRIC) for more information about Qualification recognition.
The process for obtaining single permits is long and takes time to be resolved. Employers have to prove, barring few exceptions, that they have tried to fill the vacancies with persons from Malta or EU/EFTA countries, before submitting an application for a prospective TCN employee. Each application must be accompanied by copies of vacancy adverts and a covering letter from the Employer who is required to state a reason for employing the TCN applicant. There are exceptions if the vacancies are for applicants in the areas mentioned below:
For regulated professions, approval from the respective Regulatory Body needs to be submitted with the application, indicating that the TCN is authorized to practice the said profession.
Private health insurance cover (hospital plan) is one of the requirements for an employment licence. This is usually taken out by the employer to cover the full duration of employment. The copy of the premium paid is required to be submitted with the single permit application. Such health insurance cover is not required for TCNs working in the public service or for home-based carers of elderly persons or persons with disability. Private health insurance cover is not required for renewal applications.
The fee for a single permit application is €280.50. The fee must be paid when the single permit application is submitted. If the application is refused, there is no refund of the fee.
Single permits can be renewed by submitting a renewal single permit application, which must be accompanied by documentation certifying that income tax and national insurance contributions have been duly paid for the previous 12 months. Other documentation needs to be submitted also (namely Form C, rental declaration form, copy of lease agreement, copy of valid passport). The same fee of €280.50 is levied once more. Renewal applications must be submitted at least one month prior to the expiry of the current permit as processing of such applications takes around 4-6 weeks. If the applicant submits the application early enough, s/he can hold on to the current valid e-residence card, which is then exchanged when the new e-residence card is issued. However, if the permit holder applying for a renewal applies at a very late stage, the e-residence card would be collected at time of application and the applicant would be issued with an interim authorisation to reside and work in Malta. This document confirms that a renewal application has been submitted, and covers the applicant to keep on working.
The KEI is a newly-launched scheme by Identity Malta that provides a fast-track service to highly-specialized TCNs who wish to work in Malta. The scheme facilitates the issuing of single permits to prospective key employees within five working days from the date of submission of the application. Applications for a single permit under the KEI are open to managerial or highly-technical posts which require the relevant qualifications or adequate experience related to the job being offered. Applicants need to satisfy the criteria below:
The KEI is also extended to innovators involved in start-up projects which are specifically endorsed by Malta Enterprise. Applications are submitted in the same manner as other single permit applications, namely when the applicant is physically in Malta or still abroad. Approved applications will be issued with a permit valid for one year and which, if renewed, may then have a validity of maximum three years, subject to the presentation of a valid employment contract, and the original annual tax declaration form stamped by the Inland Revenue Department.
More information about the Key Employee Initiative can be found here.
The EU Blue Card offers a one-track procedure for highly-skilled non-EU citizens to apply for a work permit which will be valid for at least one year, but may be renewed thereafter. These applications will be treated favourably, but certain conditions – including proof that the job in question requires highly-qualified individuals and that it involves the payment of at least 1.5 times the average annual gross salary paid in Malta – have to be met. It is also essential to note that an EU Blue Card is not withdrawn if the person falls out of employment, unless it occurs more than once or the unemployment period exceeds three consecutive months during the period of validity of the card.
Jobsplus is the government entity responsible for issuing employment licences which are usually valid for one year from the date of issue. Applications for employment licences need to be submitted by the prospective employer and are subject to labour market considerations. There are exceptions for long-term residents, asylum seekers, refugees and those subject to temporary humanitarian protection, who can apply for jobs on an equal footing with Maltese and EU/EFTA workers. These exceptions may also personally apply for an employment licence and have it granted in their own name. Employment licences cannot be transferred from one employee to another or from one employment to another. If TCNs terminate the job early, they cannot move to another company without first going through a new employment licence application. If applications are rejected following labour market considerations, applicants may submit one request for reconsideration within one calendar month from the rejection letter date. Self-employment permits are only granted to TCNs in exceptional cases. Candidates must meet one or more of a set of criteria, including an investment of at least € 500,000 capital expenditure in Malta. TCNs can also apply for an employment licence through a Maltese registered company in which they are shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners, if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
Browse Jobsplus Resources for checklists and forms.
One thing to keep in mind when relocating to Malta is tax rates. If an employee (whether EU or TCN) has been living in Malta for less than 183 consecutive days, they fall under the Non Resident Tax bandwidth until the 183 days pass. If the person is still employed but goes on holiday, the period of 183 days does not start from scratch but is considered as part of the previous stay in Malta.
For more information about working and living in Malta, visit workinginmalta.com
Please note that this content was last updated in January 2017. We are not in a position to guarantee that this content contains the latest update or all relevant information required. It is advisable that you refer to the relevant Government entity for more comprehensive information. Please also refer to this Jobsplus document on employment permits in Malta.