Up until 1964 Malta was a colony of the United Kingdom, and British culture still underpins the Maltese way of doing business. At the same time, meetings are much less formal, and business is conducted in a more leisurely manner than in northern Europe. However, appointments are necessary and should be made one to two weeks in advance.
As in most mediterranean countries, the concept of time is a little more relaxed than in countries to the north. Nevertheless, punctuality is expected and appreciated. Work contacts are usually greeted with their title, if they have one, followed by the surname. However, once a relationship has been established, only first names are used.
Office hours are generally 8.30 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday. Some government departments work half days in summer, but many have adapted to ensure offices are manned throughout normal business hours, while the private sector continues to operate normally throughout the year. Most banks open from 8.30 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday, and saturday until 12.30 pm. Most shops open from 9 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday, while some close for lunch between 1 pm and 4 pm. Most retail and commercial shops are closed on Sunday.
Most business correspondence is carried out in english, which is one of the country’s two official languages, maltese being the other. Laws and regulations are published in both languages. Many maltese also have a good command of Italian and a sizeable proportion also speak either German or French.
Malta offers investors an EU-compliant domicile for business entities or corporate structures. Business may be conducted in a variety of forms: a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (private or public), a branch of a foreign company, a trust, a cooperative, an investment company with variable capital (SICAVs), as well as in a number of cell company structures. Most entrepreneurs opt for the limited liability company. The principal legislation covering companies and partnerships is the companies Act (1995), modelled on the UK companies Act and European law. Maltese law does not have a specific requirement on the nationality and residence of directors. corporate substance is mandatory for companies to benefit from tax refunds and other mechanisms. Companies require an appropriate physical presence, registered employees on their books and all other necessities typically associated with economic substance.
Start-ups find Malta a particularly attractive place due to the concentration of industry players, talent and suppliers on the island. Malta is also stepping up its efforts in helping to create new businesses and has expanded the scope of support for innovators. Incubators and innovation hubs have been established to support start-ups that have the potential to develop innovative services for the gaming industry. Malta is generally 20 to 30% cheaper than the more established european centres, while a company’s seed capital may last three to five times longer. A number of co-working spaces have opened up offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to work in a vibrant and dynamic environment that will not only foster their ideas, but also create invaluable business connections while still being affordable.