A substantial number of Maltese citizens are opting to work abroad, sometimes making it a permanent move, but more often than not, using it as a work/life experience when they graduate from University.
Being European Union citizens, Maltese nationals are allowed to live and work in any Member State without requiring a work permit.
EU legislation provides rights to all EU citizens, including Maltese, to work for an employer or as a self-employed person within the EU.
Each individual member state has its own laws, so it is advisable for any person seeking to move overseas to research the laws of the country they wish to move to.
It is important to establish what conditions are in force in other Member States, particularly with regards to sickness or illness, parental leave, retirement, being made redundant, benefits and, of course, where one will be paying tax and how that might affect one’s retirement in the long term future.
The only requirement by law for a Maltese person to be able to work abroad is that they hold a valid and current national identity document such as a passport or ID card. Whilst laws vary from one Member State to another, many Member States require that the identification document is carried on the person at all times.
Some EU countries require the employee to report their presence and get the necessary paperwork in order to take up employment. For the first three months of the stay, the employee’s country of choice cannot require them to register their abode, however, the employee may do so voluntarily. After the laps of three months, the Maltese citizen will have to register their residence and if they are living and working legally in any other EU Member State, the Maltese citizen will automatically get the right to permanent residence after 5 years.
The UK and Brexit
Many Maltese moving abroad choose the UK, mostly because we are bilingual. The current situation is in flux and things are changing rapidly, and Malta may also strike a bilateral agreement with the UK to have a different set of rules.
In the event of a soft-Brexit, where an agreement is struck with the EU, things will most likely remain as they are for some time. In the event of a No Deal Brexit, the UK Government plans to introduce an Immigration Bill to end free movement. This means that Maltese citizens will require immigration permission to enter the UK.
The UK Home Office will implement the ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain in the UK,’ subject to parliamentary approval. This law will allow Maltese (and all EU and EFTA citizens) entry with the right to work and study without a visa or immigration approval for three months. Maltese wishing to stay over the three-month period will need to apply for ‘European Temporary Leave’ through an online application.
This status will allow the person to remain in the UK for 36 months from the date of their application. They will be allowed to work and study but this period cannot be extended or turned into residence.
Maltese nationals can work in Switzerland for up to 90 days in one calendar year without requiring a permit, after which they need to apply for one. Maltese nationals may live in the external border region of Switzerland, provided they return there after work.
Maltese nationals can live, study and work in Norway but must register after spending three months in the country. Maltese citizens can also live and work in Iceland without a permit. In order to work in Liechtenstein, one must obtain a residence permit.
Another popular choice for younger Maltese citizens is Australia. If a Maltese citizen is under 30 years of age, they may apply for a one year Working Holiday Visa. This allows the holder to work in Australia in a field where work is particularly needed.
There are also occasional schemes where the person in question may apply to work on a farm for three months (or another specific areas set out by the scheme), allowing them to extend the visa for a one-year period, provided they leave Australia for a set amount of time and return within a specific time window.
Most other countries require Maltese citizens to obtain a work permit before they can live and work there.
This is usually obtained through sponsorship by an employer who must prove that the applicant is more skilled at a specific task than other applicants for the job.