You move to a country, you have everything sorted in terms of job, housing, residence documents. You’d think that opening a bank account will be easy as pie right? Wrong. Not in 2018 Malta.
In most countries, you give your ID, proof of residence and then wham-bam-thank you-ma’am, your account is open within a week at most (in some cases, even immediately). That’s a hardcore fact.
Trying to open a bank account as a foreigner in Malta has now reached ridiculous levels. There’s a better chance of going to the moon and dancing on it. If you’ve been on social media over the past year, you probably know this already.
We called the customer service number for each major bank (BOV, HSBC, BNF, APS) and asked about the process to open an account. They all made it sound really easy, that you just need ID, proof of address, a statement and to just show up to a branch. But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Not hundreds, but thousands of expats are complaining about the hardship they’re enduring just to get somewhere to store their hard-earned cash.
Requirements differ depending on which branch you go to, which day, if they like the look of you and what kind of day the bank clerk is having.
It seems like the banks want every single ridiculous document known to mankind as a deterrent and even when you do have everything, people have expressed frustration over the fact that it takes months.
When speaking to a former expat he said “I went to the HSBC branch in San Gwann who turned me away because I did not have a bank reference, when on the phone, I was not told I needed a bank reference from my home country.”
The problem with obtaining a bank reference from your home country is that people may have already closed their accounts prior to moving. Also, it is a major hassle considering all the back and forth that will definitely take place.
One reader stated that he went to the Sliema branch of HSBC to be told that it could take up to a year. Let me repeat that. ONE YEAR.
He and his wife are both EU members with good jobs, but even then, everyone should have the basic right to open an account as stated by EU regulations (especially if you’re paying taxes).
Expats have been looking for alternatives and the best option seems to be opening an ‘account’ through the post office (operated Lombard Bank). Ok, so it’s not a bank account per se as it doesn’t feature outgoing bank transfers or online/mobile banking, but it’s a safe bet for depositing your salary, getting a prepaid debit card and in general, for everyday use.
BNF, formerly Banif Bank, was also named to be one of the best banks for foreigners. However, when we called, they told us to email customer care before quickly hanging up the phone abruptly.
One source stated “I’m so over trying to get an account with BOV which are actually useless anyway and too hard to get. Go with the post office, who are even offering Mastercards with contactless. It was so easy to set up. They have no internet banking but you can call or check your statement in person.”
Another recent controversy is that (non-EU) expats have been sent letters announcing a questionable new €60 annual fee for ‘international’ clients. The irony is that in order to get a bank account with them you need to show your residence card thus proving your Maltese residency. They are basically moving non-EU account holders who had normal current accounts over to the ‘International’ account with the annual fee.
They are using this under the excuse of maintenance fees and regulatory checks… (OK then). No Maltese person has received this letter by the way.
Word of advice to those still struggling. Just ask (or beg) your employer to pay you via Revolut. It’s looking like the way to go. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat sure seems to agree.
This ridiculous situation for opening an account as an expat needs to stop and it needs to stop immediately!
Do you agree?