Brexit Impact on Expats in Malta

Published on 23 January, 2019

Although all 27 EU partners will be affected, Brexit impact will be more obvious in countries like Malta, as the two countries still share close economic ties.

Brexit impact for UK expats living in Malta

The main concerns that people thinking about retiring to Europe have, are around three main issues: residence, healthcare and the UK state pension.

Many British expats living in Malta own property and their right to hold on to it will very likely remain untouched. The main concern is whether there will be any changes to inheritance and tax laws.

UK expats make up a third of all foreigners in Malta. If the pound remains weak many expats may use the opportunity to sell and re-enter the British property market. But British nationals who live in Malta and who rely on UK revenues such as pensions, will be affected by currency swings. For example, they could continue enjoying “acquired rights” but these might be limited to residency and property rights. However, there was a readiness from the UK to maintain strong ties with Malta. According to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, this could take an even more wide-ranging form than previous bilateral agreements.

Such agreement won’t affect the medical treatment and specialised interventions for Maltese nationals in UK hospitals. Even in the worst possible scenario, Malta was not only an EU member state, but also a member of the Commonwealth. Therefor the UK-tied investment in the public-private partnership, which seeks to transform Malta into a centre for medical tourism and education, was not in jeopardy.

Malta might attract more high-net-worth individuals

While the world’s super-rich will continue to invest in global property hot spots such as London, Malta’s EU membership could be determining. Especially when high-net-worth individuals are weighing the pros and the cons of their next country of residence. After all, Malta has its golden visa program, in addition to a citizenship-by-investment program. Through these programs, Malta acts as a gateway to Europe, providing visa-free access to the European Schengen Area for those third-country nationals taking up residence on the island.

Malta as the UK’s EU business gateway

In the middle of the uncertainty of the Brexit impact, Malta’s financial services industry stands as a flourishing, profitable, yet secure jurisdiction for asset managers. Malta serves as an alternative for London based multinational companies, seeking to tick all the right boxes. It is a respected EU member state, with English as its official language, with a Mediterranean quality of life and a British educational system and work ethic.

If free movement ceases and the UK becomes a third country, the Schengen rules come into play. And unless there is a deal, the Schengen rules can be severe. In this new environment, Malta will want to be attractive and promote its own advantages.