After reporting earlier this week on the banks available in Malta, we would now like to go into the actual process of opening an account in more detail. Here it should be noted that the following information relates to the procedures involved in opening a business account. These processes must be complied with by all banks, even if internal procedures may vary from bank to bank.
Mention should first be made of the fact that the banking apparatus in Malta is disproportionately large when compared with the gross domestic product. This is far from being comparable to the analogous ratio in Luxembourg, but measured by the size of the country it is still realistic to speak of a considerable imbalance in this regard. For this reason, it may be assumed that banks in Malta have enough business and will accordingly not try desperately to win over each individual business customer. In fact, the opposite is the case here: the business customer must make every effort to persuade the bank to open an account for them, and as a rule, this can only be achieved by strict adherence to the requirements specified by the bank in question.
It is, however, not only excess demand which makes opening an account different from countries in mainland Europe such as Poland or Austria, where you can probably already arrange for a business account to be opened in 2 days. Another important factor which plays an extremely decisive role in Malta is the banks’ compliance mandate. This involves more or less detailed questions on business activities (detailed business plan, origin of capital resources, anticipated amount of transactions into and out of the account, the means by which capital resources flow into the account, as well as information on business partners and suppliers) and on all persons involved in the business (CV, proof of income, status, education, etc.). Furthermore, each person involved in the business, whether managers, shareholders or even simply an authorised signatory, must submit a bank reference and professional reference to be able to prove their good reputation. After all the necessary documentation has been submitted in its entirety, it is checked by the relevant department of the bank, and an additional check is carried out on all persons involved by another internal department within the international banking system or criminal records.
The bigger the bank, the more protracted the process. Thus, in the case of BOV a period of approx. 4–6 months is to be expected; at Banif Bank the wait to open an account is approx. 2 months. Only Nemea Bank occasionally manages to open an account within a week! For this reason, it may be recommended to open an account in stages, initially ensuring business-related in- and out-payments through an account at a “pure” internet bank, whilst at the same time waiting to open a full account (with bank and credit cards) with a larger bank.
Even during the subsequent process, the service offered by the bank may differ greatly from that on the European mainland. That means you may have a customer adviser such as you would know “at home”, but in Malta these are often not on call or refer the customer directly on to a call centre, so that collaboration can sometimes be very frustrating. For this reason, Ms Calov and her team undertake almost all communication with the bank for clients of Dr Werner & Partner, as they have quick and effective links to the banks.
Thanks to this contact between our offices and the bank, clients who have formed a company in Malta or intend to do so can assume that their bank transactions will run smoothly.
We would be pleased to advise you on the topic of establishing a company and opening a business account in association with this either personally at our offices or by telephone.