5 Business Ideas For Expats Living In or Moving To Malta

5 Business Ideas For Expats Living In or Moving To Malta
Updated on
March 1, 2023

As a member of the European Union, Malta has experienced complete transformation in its economic activities. The country provides diverse business opportunities for expats living or coming to visit the country. Below are some business ideas you can start today.

The island is home to unique cuisines and exuberant lifestyle that attracts tourists from all over the world to enjoy the life and culture of the Maltese. Tourists and expats can be able to do business in the country with the support of the locals. The different companies available are profitable and can be an investment opportunity for foreigners.

However, such opportunities were not available in the past. The country has experienced wars in the past that hit hard on its economy. The people and its government came together and concentrated on resourceful efforts to put the country on the map again as an economic hub in Europe and the world. These efforts have bore fruits over the years.

If you are an expat living on the island, there are various business ideas for expats that you can undertake to make a living and gain enormous profits.

See below for expat business ideas:

1. Restaurant business

Foods and drinks are part of everyday life for locals and tourists, and so it is a good business that continues to thrive on the island and even other parts of the world. The island has different cities and towns that attract tourists where locals and foreign companies can open restaurants. Some of the restaurant businesses include:

  • Bars or nightclubs that offer drinks or a combination of food and drinks.
  • A restaurant that sells unique cuisine of the island and international countries. These are the most common on the island.
    Fast food chain.
  • Café for selling coffee and tea plus pastries.
  • Catering business.

To open a restaurant on the island, there are specific requirements that have been put in place by the government. These are:

  • The property where the restaurant will be opened must correspond with the regulations of the Food and Safety Commission.
  • The restaurant must adhere to the rules on cleanliness, chilling and cross-contamination.
  • The chefs and other employees must be allowed to work in the country. They should have the necessary experience to work in a restaurant business and must adhere to the rules of the Regional Environment Health Directorate.

Once all requirements have been met, the Malta Tourism Authority will issue the applicant with the license of the business. But before the applicant is authorised to open the restaurant, the inspectors from Environment Health Directorate will visit the site 28 days before the launch of the restaurant to ensure that the business can be opened to the public.

2. Open a shop or a minimarket

A shop or a mini market will do very well on the island as many locals and foreigners need various necessities for comfort and survival. With an ideal location, such a business can thrive very well on the island. Just like any other business, some regulations must be adhered to for anyone who is interested in opening a shop or a minimarket in the island.

The shop can either be registered as a sole proprietorship or Limited Liability Company. This choice solely depends on the investor ability to raise capital. For a sole proprietorship, the shop will be smaller, but the required capital will also be less, while a limited liability company will need a minimum of 1200 Euros. Limited liability may be expensive but will bring in more customers and provide room for expansion.

Regulations put in place by the Trading Licenses Act must be complied with. The business should apply to have all the permits that are required by the authority. The land or building that will house the shop should be allowed to carry out commercial activities in this case selling products. The business must also indicate the opening and closing hours of the shop.

A trading license issued by the commercial department through the Trade Services Directorate is what will enable the shop to operate. For those businesses interested in setting up stalls, they will need a street market hawker license or a market hawker license for companies interested in minimarkets.

For businesses that may want to sell imported products, they will need an import license.

3. Set up virtual office

A cloud or virtual office provides companies with a physical address and communication services if required. This is suitable for companies that have customers on the island. They can be able to contact the company through the virtual office. Virtual offices offer cost savings alternative to companies and entrepreneurs because they don’t have to spend money setting up an office and hire employees to manage the branch office. It can be an alternative especially to start-ups that have no revenue for spending in opening up offices in the island.

Some of the services of a virtual office could be;

  • Having a registered physical office in the business centre of the island.
  • Local fax and phone numbers.
  • Mailing services.
  • Voice mailbox.
  • Forwarding services.

According to the Maltese Commercial Code, a virtual office should also have a secretary. The companies can also benefit from the services for the secretary.

Clients will benefit from quick forwarding of emails and phone calls from their Maltese customers. More so, other inquiries or orders can be received by the virtual office and forwarded immediately to the companies. The virtual office can also organise conferences calls or meeting rooms between customers and organisations.

4. Open a franchise

A franchise can be an investment opportunity for international or local companies that want to expand in the island. Growth in the island attracts tourists from different countries such as Europe, Australia, China, United States, or India. Opening a franchise that is located in such states will be a profitable venture to an enterprise. Various types of industries can set up a franchise such as food, clothing brands, drinks, motor companies, financial services, and electronics.

Unlike the other European countries, the Maltese government has developed systems that enable the easy establishment of franchises in the island.

The rules and regulations of the government recognize three types of franchises:

  • Single unit franchise – recognize one sole entrepreneur (franchisee) to be the representative of the franchise.
  • Area or multi-unit franchise – allows the entrepreneur to open more than one franchise in the country.
  • The franchisor that is the parent company of the franchise benefits from such business by receiving an appropriate fee from the franchisee (entrepreneur). The cost of payment is determined by the type chosen by the entrepreneur and the business type that will be operated.

5. Buy an already existing company on the island

As a foreigner living in the island applying for permits and starting a business can take time. The entrepreneur has to follow all the rules and regulations put in place by the government before operating the business. An easier alternative to this would be to buy an already existing company on the island.

There are two types of companies that an entrepreneur can buy on the island:
Shelf companies – just from the name it means a company that has been in existence for a while. The shelf company is explicitly created targeting investors who want to buy an already existing company.

A shelf company only takes 24 hours to be in the ownership of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur can easily start conducting business on the island after the transfer of ownership. The entrepreneur can quickly integrate the activities of his old and new company within no time.

Aged company – this is a company that has been operational on the island. That means it was involved in a particular type of business. The local authorities may insist on proving the kind of business that the aged company was involved in.

Buying an already existing business has its perks:

  • The company is already known by customers or the locals thus it will be easier to attract new clients.
  • The flexible business operations allowed by the government will enable the entrepreneur to open other branches abroad if he so wishes.
  • It will also have an easy time advertising its products and services to the people.
  • Ability to bid for contracts.
  • The company can easily apply for bank loans in the island.

The above five business ideas for expats provide a guideline and options for potential investors, foreigners, entrepreneurs and locals who wish to conduct business. If you are interested in starting your venture in Malta, but need some help, explore our corporate services and expert advice. We also provide further information on the different company formation options available in Malta.

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Facilitating a move to Malta is seamless when you rely on the Welcome Center Malta. Established in 2016 with the sole objective of helping people make an effortless move to the island, Welcome Center Malta aims to reduce the challenges involved in settling, moving and establishing local contacts.