Import regulations and customs duties
While the European Union has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, some products need import licenses. There are some restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favouring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems of the goods entering the EU territory.
Since its accession to the European Union on May, 1st of 2004, Malta has adopted the EU Common External Tariff. Consequently, trade with Malta is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the other 24 EU Member States. Nevertheless, textile imports in Malta will undergo customs duties until 2009. When introducing goods into Malta, exporters shall fill in an intrastat declaration.
When the country of origin of the goods exported to Malta is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
Since 1989, the import tax was applicable to Malta for certain agricultural and industrial products in order to protect the domestic economy. Levy on industrial goods has been lifted from 1st January 2003. Tax on agricultural products would also be slashed on Malta becoming a member of the European Union on 1st May 2004. For more information on the amount of levy applicable, you can refer to the Local Manufactures (Promotion) Act.
Excise duty is applicable on the import of certain products like fuel, vehicles, cigarettes and alcohol. The exhaustive list of products subject to excise duty can be seen on the website of the customs office.
>> To get further information on VAT rates, please check the list of VAT rates applied within the European Union
The Business to Consumer (B to C) market
Malta does not have any natural resource wealth or any heavy industry: the country thus depends entirely on imports to meet its requirements of basic products, industrial products as well as consumer goods. Though Malta is a small market, it is characterised by the active presence of a multitude of trade companies, often family-run businesses but very competitive towards each other. These companies generally undertake import and distribution of goods at the same time. A few specialist importers also exist and they constantly keep on trying to expand their field of action by extending their product ranges. Retail outlets exist at the national level: a few supermarkets certainly exist and the distribution sector is going through a rapid modernising phase but large-scale distribution has not yet completely emerged in Malta.
The Business to Business (B to B) market
Transportation of goods
Marine activity in Malta is concentrated around the free port (Malta Freeport) of Marsaxlokk. This freeport has been increasingly developing since it was put into service in 1988. It has become one of the main trans-shipment centres of the Mediterranean region. Its geographical location, located at a 6-km distance from the international airport of Malta, makes it particularly attractive. All products imported by a company having its office in the freeport are exempted from customs duties. Otherwise, products imported into the country through any other port or entry point are subject to customs duties.
Finally, there is an internal marine link between Malta and Gozo.
Air Malta operates regular flights to 38 destinations located in Europe, U.S.A., Maghreb and the Middle East. Other major foreign airlines regularly operate their flights to Malta. Air Malta has a lion's share of this market, with 53% of the passengers going out of Malta flying by Air Malta. The destinations which are not directly covered by Air Malta are accessible via London, Rome and other big European cities.
Becoming a member of the European Union in 2004, the Maltese technical standards and restrictions are now more and more in conformity with the European standards. The organisation responsible for defining technical standards is the Malta Standards Authority (MSA).The MSA is an affiliated member of the European Standardisation Committe and a member of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
Patents and brands
The organisation responsible for the protection of brands, industrial drawings and patents in Malta is the Industrial Property Registration Directorate.
Malta is a member of the OMPI.
Malta signed the Convention of Paris for the protection of industrial property, the Convention of Berne for the protection of literary and artistic works and also the Universal Convention of authors' rights.