Although you can certainly visit Malta with your car and drive it around, gone are the days when you could leave it here and drive it on your home country license plates.

At some point, and sooner rather than later, you will need to register the car for it be licensed and road legal in Malta. Failure to do so could mean hefty fines at best, and the car being impounded and auctioned off at worst.

If you’re thinking of registering a car in Malta, you should be aware that the process is not without its complications. Whether you’re a local, an expat, or moving to Malta for work, moving a car here will probably not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.

We have a little experience with the process of registering a car in Malta, and we also carried out some research to further inform us. Of course, none of the information included here is to be construed as gospel truth, and changes may happen at any time, so before you turn up at Transport Malta offices with a car in tow, check, check, and check again.

Registering A Car In Malta

The Main Points:

Do your research and evaluate all options before deciding on buying your car - you might find that a slightly different model could save you hundreds in registration costs.

Don’t forget the ‘hidden’ cost of registering your car when you’re buying it from the UK.

Driving your car down yourself isn’t always the cheaper option - shipping it down to Malta could work out to more or less the same cost.

Pay attention to mileage. Higher mileage often means higher cost to register.

Be aware of the legal intricacies that go along with transferring your residence to Malta versus simply visiting with your car. If you’re planning on becoming a permanent resident, make your intentions clear ASAP.

When you’re transferring residence, you’ll need to have a lot of documentation on hand to prove that you’ve lived abroad and owned the car abroad for at least two years, and that you’re becoming a permanent resident here.

There is some vagueness with regard to individuals who are visiting with their car (i.e. car can be in the country for 7 months) but decide to become permanent residents a few months in. Do your research so that you won’t get caught out.

Registering A Car In Malta

The Longform Version:

Steve is trying to import a car from the UK to Malta, because buying new cars from Malta is, compared to UK prices, exorbitant. If he was in the UK, Steve would get “a little SUV-type thing”, as that would suit his and his wife’s lifestyle and needs. Steve’s current car is a BMW 5-Series Touring, but since we’re talking SUVs, let’s say Steve wants to spend eight thousand pounds, or around €9000.

For that money, you can get a super reliable – but not particularly exciting – Honda CRV, a 2010 model, 70,000 miles on the clock. The cost of registration of that car to be licensed and driven in Malta is….

€5,170, which might have changed because they amend the values every month.

There’s a website – valuation.vehicleregistration.gov.mt, with a list of drop-downs and when you enter all the car’s details, you hit ‘proceed’ and it gives you a registration amount.

That amount is how much it’s going to cost you to register this particular car in Malta if you bring it over.

Registration Costs Comparison For Different Cars

Cost to register a 2010 BMW X3

For example, a 2010 BMW, X-3, X-drive, two litre diesel, “immaculate throughout” according to the listing. Sells for £9000, or around €10000.

Cost to register is €3500.

This car is of pretty much the same age and same mileage as the Honda CRV. The similarity in cost of registration is likely down to it being a cleaner car in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions.

Lesson 1

It’s cheaper to bring a fairly newish BMW X-3 to Malta than it is to bring a Honda CRV. Which might explain why we’ve got so many of the damn Beemers.

Cost to register a 2010 Suzuki Swift

Let’s say a Suzuki Swift, 2010, 1.3 litre engine, with 30,000 kilometres on the clock.

Cost to register that is €1800.

Now, let’s say you want the Swift but one that’s a lot newer. A 2017 Suzuki Swift with a 1.2 litre engine, and 10,000 kilometres on the clock.

Cost? €1800.

Lesson 2

If you’re going to buy a Swift, buy a new one. It’s going to cost you the same to register. Buy last year’s model and make it low mileage and you’re going to pay about the same in registration.

Cost to register a 2005 Mazda MX-5 1.8

We found a Mazda MX-5 1.8, Arctic Limited Edition, 104,000 miles on the clock, 1.8 litre engine, 2005 registration. You can pick that up for £1300.

To register the car it costs you €1900.

Lesson 3

With sportier, higher emissions cars, you’ll find you’re paying almost half the car’s value, on top of what you paid for the car itself, just for the luxury of being able to drive it on our rocky roads.

Cost to register a 2009 BMW 320-D M-Sport

For five-and-a-bit thousand pounds, you can get a 320-D BMW.

If you get the 2009 320-D M-Sport, around 95,000 miles, that’s going to cost you €2500 to register, again, a bit less than half the car’s value for it to be registered.

But, for pretty much the same money, maybe a little bit more to buy, you can get a 2010 320-D Efficient Dynamics. You might think, ‘newer car, less mileage, it’s going to be more expensive to register’.

It isn’t.

It’s actually less; €1600.

It’s €900 cheaper to register a slightly newer car with less mileage, because it’s the Efficient Dynamics, therefore it’s more economical, and we’re guessing that because of the lower emissions, it’s so much cheaper to register.

Lesson 4

It’s often considerably cheaper to register a slightly newer car with less mileage, if it is cleaner from an emissions standpoint.

Cost to register a 2010 Mini Clubman

Let’s say you want a Mini Clubman. We found two of them; a 2010 Mini Clubman with 75,000 miles on the clock, or a Mini Clubman Cooper-S, of same year, same mileage.

The Mini Clubman Cooper-S costs €2,700 to register. The Mini Clubman Cooper is €1,800.

Once again it’s nearly €900 savings on the same car. Sure, there’s a couple of seconds’ difference in nought to sixty times, but it’s the same car, and it’s a difference of €900 just for picking the right model.

Lesson 5

It’s often considerably cheaper to register the lower performing model of a car, particularly if it is cleaner from an emissions standpoint.

Cost to register a 2010 VW Golf

Let’s take a 1.4 TSI VW Golf from 2010 as an example; you could pick that up for about five thousand quid. To register that it’s going to be €2000, which is not entirely unreasonable, but it’s a third of the value of the car.

Another option is going for the 1.6 TDI (That is, if you want a diesel, which we wouldn’t recommend in Malta. Here’s why.) But, a 1.6 TDI of same mileage and same year, that costs only €1600 to register, so it’s €400 cheaper.

If you wanted to get somewhere in the middle, you might go for a 2 litre TDI GT, which would be €1900 to register. So basically a 2 litre TDI GT is actually the same cost to register as a 1.4 TSI. Petrol, and the TSI is only marginally slower.

Lesson 6

It’s often considerably cheaper to register a newer diesel car with a larger engine than the petrol model, even if its engine is smaller.

All the nitty gritty details

Default particular matter values

Sometimes the registration cost generator on the website says ‘default particular matter values have been used.’ Basically what it’s saying is that they don’t have the exact emissions readings, so it’s giving an estimation. What that will likely mean is that you’ll need an emissions and smog test on arrival, and then the cost you will actually pay to register will be based off the result your car gets in the test performed here.

Drive it down, or get it shipped?

Are you going to drive your car down to Malta yourself or are you going to ship it? If you’re going to ship it from the UK, it’s going to cost you another thousand euro or so. There are some variances in pricing from different car shipping service providers, some with longer waits, some not, but in essence, as a private citizen, it’s likely to cost somewhere in the region of a thousand euro to ship your car down from the UK.

Driving is probably going to cost you, in fuel, tolls, accommodation, ferry from Sicily or an Italian port, probably about the same, and that is not factoring in the cost of your time and any time you’ll need to take off work.

Transferring your residence

If you are transferring your residence to here things are slightly different.

If you want to bring your car here, as long as you’ve owned that car for more than two years, and you can prove that you’ve owned your car for two years, in principle, you do not pay to register that car here, and only pay a €100 document duty fee and any other miscellaneous fees.

The difficulty is, and we won’t pretend to know the full ins and outs of it , you have to jump through hoops, because people will try to game the system. If you can save yourself €4000 just on a Honda CRV, imagine how much could you save yourself on a nice car!

So, specifically, you have to prove that you’re living here in Malta permanently, so you need proof of address, bank details, proof that you owned the car for two years and you have to prove that during those two years you didn’t live here. So if you sold a house before you moved here you need to bring proof that you sold your property. You have to bring bank statements and show them, “Look, all of my money has been coming in from another country, it’s not been coming in from here and it’s coming up until right before I moved.”

This scheme is going to be good for two kinds of people; people who have it very clear-cut, they’ve lived in a different country all their lives or for many many years, or at least two years and now they’re here and they want to bring their car down with them, and secondly, expats.

Maltese expats registering their car in Malta

For Maltese expats; if you’ve been living overseas and you’re coming back – if you have a nice car there or any car really that you want to keep, and it has been your personal car for two years – proven, you can register it in Malta at no cost of registration save for the €100 document duty fee and any other miscellaneous fees.

What if I’m just visiting Malta with my car and not sure if I’m staying?

In that case, your car can be in Malta for 7 months in a 12 month period.

I moved to Malta with my car and I didn’t register it right away

Go do it right away. You have 30 days’ grace. It used to be 90; it’s now 30 days. You have to make your intentions clear straight away. You can’t come up being a ‘temporary resident’, have the car here for 4 months because you’re allowed it for 7 months, and then decide you’re going to be a permanent resident now. Do that, and it will be very hard to get a straight answer.

Will you have to take the car out of the country on a ferry to Sicily, eat some pasta, turn around, and bring it back in again, then go, “Okay the car’s just entered the country today, I want to register it”?

Maybe. We can’t say for certain.

What factors affect the cost of registering a car in Malta?

The cost of registering a vehicle in Malta depends on the vehicle size, length, width, particular matter, engine size, and its market value. Market value is determined by Transport Malta, so even if you bought the car for £1000; if they decide it’s worth €5000, which it may well be in Malta, that’s the basis upon which your registration fee will be calculated.

As we’ve shown, the same model car, same year, same mileage, just a different engine – be it diesel or petrol, or engine size – can make a massive difference in the cost. Do your homework, do your research.

Should I just buy a car locally then?

Not necessarily.

Take a 2009 VW Golf Mark 6, 1.4 TSI, with 30,000 miles. Cost to register is €2500. If you buy it for around €6000 and register it, you’re up to €8500. It costs you €1000 to bring it over – €9500 all in.

You’re still around €3000 better off than buying it second hand here, because sellers factor in the cost of registering a similar model that’s been imported from the UK. Do your research. It matters and can save you lots of money. If you’re like us, you want a particular car, and you’re not just like “Oh let’s go to the dealership and buy another Vitz just like a million other people.”

Generally speaking, which cars are more expensive to register?

The general rule of thumb is that if it’s Japanese it’s going to cost more to register. If it’s diesel it’s going to cost more to register. If it’s automatic it’s going to cost more to register. If it’s a sporty car, it will cost more to register.

So try to get yourself a European, petrol manual, and you’ll be okay.

Anything else I should know?

Be smart. A 13-year-old car that you’re going to have to pay €1000 to bring here, then you’ll have to spend another €2000 to register, is probably not worth it.

If you’re going to do it you’ve got to be smart.

If in the UK you buy a car based only on its selling price and cost of running; here in Malta, if you’re registering the car locally yourself, you need to factor in the added-on-top cost that you’re going to need to pay up front just to be able to drive it on Maltese plates. So always be thinking, “Do I really want to spend €2000 to register an 8-year-old car?”

Mark

Mark

Mark runs a digital marketing agency, which is as far as you can get from nerding out on cars. That hasn’t stopped him from spending afternoons underneath cars pretending to know what he’s doing, before calling a knowledgeable friend. He doesn’t understand SUVs, and will try convince you, unsuccessfully, that you’re better off with a fast wagon.