Cars drive on the left in Malta, a hangover from British rule. This can be tricky for many expats in the beginning but with practice you quickly adjust. Other challenges include a lack of road signs, few parking spaces, and the locals’ relaxed attitude towards the rules of the road. All vehicles have to be registered, insured, equipped with seatbelts for all passengers and certified roadworthy.
Driving standards in Malta are poor and locals do not always follow the rules set in the Highway Code. The speed limits are 50 km/h (30 mph) in built-up areas and 80 km/h (50 mph) in the rest of the country. However, due to poor road conditions, 35 km/h (22 mph) and 65 km/h (40 mph), respectively, are rarely exceeded.
Driving on Maltese roads is free, except for charges in Valletta. When you enter Valletta, the CVA (Controlled Vehicular Access) starts to calculate your toll, based on how long you stay inside (these tariffs apply). When you leave the CVA zone, you have to pay the toll.
The poor driving standards and road conditions may explain the relatively high accident rate in Malta. If possible, driving should be left to the locals. If you do decide to drive on your own, make sure you are careful and take your time to get used to the local driving style.
In case of an accident, there are three different codes of conduct:
- If nobody has been injured and the accident was only bumper to bumper, a form has to be filled in by the people involved.
- If the accident/damage is more severe, but no people are injured, you have to contact the local wardens (Tel: 21 320 202).
- If people are injured, you have to contact the local wardens and the police (Tel: 21 224 001 or 112).
If you hold a driving licence issued by an EU member state, you are allowed to drive in Malta without additional permits for one year.
If you are a citizen of the EU, the EEA, Switzerland or Australia, you are entitled to exchange your driving licence for a local one, if you have taken up normal residence in Malta for at least 185 days prior to application.
After one year of driving in Malta, you are required to exchange it or obtain a new one. Maltese driving licences are valid for ten years.
To exchange your driving licence, you have to apply with the Maltese authority Transport Malta. There, you will need to present the following documentation:
- Application for exchange
- Coloured passport-sized photo
- Copy of your identity card
- Copy of your foreign licence
Maltese authorities will check if your licence is valid and inform you about their decision. When you pick up the driving licence, you will have to pay a fee of €80.
If you do not have a driving licence, or are from a country not mentioned above, you will have to follow this procedure to get a driving licence (applications have to be submitted to Transport Malta):
- Choose an instructor
- Obtain a learner's permit
- Apply for and sit the theoretical test (application fee €30.25)
- Submit the application for a practical test
- Apply for and pass the practical test (application fee €23.25)
After you have completed this procedure, you will be issued a Maltese driving licence that is valid for ten years.