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Transportation in Malta

Living in Malta provides the opportunity to enjoy one of Europe’s prime vacation spots. However, to make the most of this pretty isle, you should also be well informed on the practical details. Our guide to life in Malta offers a helpful overview of leisure, education, healthcare, and transportation.
Today, Malta’s characteristic orange-yellow-and-white buses are only used for touristic purposes.

Traveling in the Air and on the Sea

As Malta is an island nation, its international airport is its main gateway to other countries. Located about eight kilometers from Valletta, the home of the flag carrier Air Malta is forecasted to have served 5.2 million passengers by the end of 2017 . The airport offers direct flights to various destinations, mostly in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, although quite a few of these connections may be limited to the busy tourist season. 

The airport provides four express buses to other parts of the country, direct shuttles to several major hotels, and a round-the-clock taxi service. For instance, the taxi fare to Sliema is 20 EUR while taking a shuttle bus to the Le Meridien hotel in St Julian’s currently costs 8 EUR.

Malta and the smaller neighboring island of Gozo are connected via ferry. In addition, there are ferry services to Sicily and mainland Italy. The Grand Harbour in Valletta is a popular port for cruise liners. Private yachts drop anchor in Marsamxett whereas Marsaxlokk is Malta’s most important cargo terminal.

It’s All about Public Transportation

The public transportation network in Malta consists exclusively of buses. While the old bus system used to run on an individual ownership model, it was replaced by a centralized bus service in 2011. This centralized bus service was replaced by a new bus service in 2014. Some older bus models are still found on “nostalgia” routes for visitors. However, regular bus lines are easy to recognize by the green and white colors of the (air-conditioned!) vehicles.

Malta Public Transport is a new company that was set up in 2014 to operate the bus services in Malta and Gozo. In July 2015, the Tallinja card was introduced. This is a plastic intelligent card that holds your credit. There are 5 different Tallinja cards available for different ages and for Gozo residents. The Tallinja Explore card offers 7 days of unlimited traveling. If you don’t want a Tallinja card and you don’t want to pay for every single journey, the 12 Single Day Journey Tallinja card is the best option for you. Beside the Tallinja card, the only other tickets that can be purchased are Single Journey tickets. The Single Journey tickets can be purchased on board of the buses.

If you want to take a taxi in Malta, please take note that only white cabs can be hailed in the street. Black taxis are available on call only, e.g. via Ecabs taxi company (2138 3838). Another peculiarity of Maltese taxis: they have no meter, so remember to agree upon the fare in advance.

Obtaining Your Driver’s License in Malta

If you prefer driving to taking the bus, you can use your overseas license for up to 12 months. After that, you must get a Maltese driving permit. Should your original license have been issued in another EU member state, Australia, or Switzerland, you can exchange it for a local driver’s license. Drivers from other nations have to find a driving instructor and get the Maltese permit from scratch.

Once you have been living in Malta for at least 185 days within the previous year, contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Unit (scroll down for address information). You have to bring them a completed application form, a passport photograph, a copy of your license, and your ID card.

The licensing office will get in touch with the equivalent to the DVLU in your home country. As soon as they receive the information they need, they’ll get back to you. Present your original license to the DVLU in Malta, and for a fee of 80.00 EUR, the Maltese driver’s license will be yours.

Import Duties and Speed Limits

Importing your own car into Malta is often expensive and always bothersome. Import duties tend to be rather high (except for the personal vehicles of people relocating to Malta, provided that the car is older than two years). Regardless of the financial cost, the import process invariably involves lots of red tape. It may be more convenient to buy a second-hand car on Malta or get a cheap long-term lease.

Due to the high population density, Malta’s narrow roads are frequently congested, and traffic accidents are common. So don’t forget to take out comprehensive car insurance and to keep to the left side of the road (the latter often confuses expats from continental Europe). Speed limits may also be stricter than what you are used to: in towns and villages, you mustn’t go faster than 50 km/h, and the maximum speed on the open road is 80 km/h. Drive safe!

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

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