Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Malta?
In Malta all traffic drives on the left hand side of the road as in the UK.
You must give priority on the road to any form of public transport including school buses. That includes stopping whilst they let passengers or schoolchildren on and off the vehicle.
Many of the roads in Malta are in poor condition so you should exercise caution when traversing them. Malta’s drivers are also known for driving fast and recklessly. They are particularly aggressive when it comes to overtaking. Renting a four by four vehicle is always a good investment.
Try to avoid driving in the capital Valetta during the rush hour as the traffic can be really bad.
Seat Belt Laws
By law, all occupants of a car must wear a seatbelt whilst the car is moving. Given the safety record of Maltese drivers, it could save your life.
Drinking and Driving
The Drink Driving Limit in Malta is only 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This is the same as that of the UK. If over that limit when stopped by the police you'll get a big fine at court and confiscation of your licence. If your blood alcohol limit is above 80mg then you could also face imprisonment. Bearing in mind the strict laws, we'd recommend that you DON'T drink at all if driving.
Must Have Documents
You need your passport and driving licence to be able to hire a car. You need to have your licence with you - both parts and a valid certificate of insurance. If driving your own car, it's wise to get a green card from your insurers
50 kilometres per hour in built-up areas
60 kilometres per hour on the open road
In certain areas, notably around schools and hospitals, the local limit can be lower but will be indicated by signs
There are no motorways on Malta so no higher speed limit
Minimum Driving Age
The minimum legal driving age is 18. Maltese law means that you have to be 23 to hire a car on the island.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
The use of radar detection equipment in Malta is forbidden. If caught using one, it'll be confiscated and you'll get a ticket.
On the Spot Fines
Malta doesn't operate an on the spot fine system. Instead, you'll receive a ticket which must be paid before you leave the island. The island's government has taken steps to ensure that travellers comply with this including notification of fines against your passport number so pay up!
Child Safety Rules
Children cannot travel in the front of a car without an appropriate seat or restraint system. This means a child seat for children under three that should be rear facing. In the back of the car, children should be sat in an appropriate seat/restraint system where available.
A minimum of third party insurance cover is compulsory and it's useful to have a green card to prove it. In any case, you need to be able to prove you have insurance if stopped by the police.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving regulations apply in Malta with the following exceptions and additions:
You must carry a warning triangle and use it if you have an emergency. It should be placed 30m from the location of the car
You also need to have a reflective jacket in the car which you must use in emergency situations
Even if your car has the EU number plate, you must have a GB sticker on your car if driving your own.
There are no specific laws for towing another car, trailer or caravan except that towing a car must be done with a bar, not a rope. Just make sure you are using appropriate equipment and that other drivers are aware of your intentions.
There are fixed cameras in many places on Malta as well as an increasing number of mobile speed traps. For both you'll receive a ticket. For fixed camera fines, the ticket will be sent to your hire car company who will forward it on or you'll have it sent to the address where the vehicle is registered.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
The use of mobile phone with or without a hands free kit whilst driving is forbidden by law in Malta.
Parking can be a problem. Whatever you do, do not park anywhere where there are double yellow lines. Cars which are not parked probably can be clamped or towed away. However in practice this would apply to most of the cars in the city centre. When visiting certain localities in Malta and its neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino watch out for “Time Parking Zones”. These are zones where parking is limited to a one hour maximum time frame.
At the main airport there are more than 600 spaces for cars to park. Of course when you rent a vehicle you do not need to worry about finding a space. If any motoring or parking offence is committed for which a fine is payable then this will be required to be settled before departure. Otherwise your car hire Malta company will send the fine on to you.
Don't park on double yellow lines anywhere - it's a surefire way to get clamped then towed. Watch out for the Time Parking Zones found in many of the town, not always clear, you'll get towed or clamped if you overstay the time
Paid parking is a good idea and isn't expensive, except in Valletta where demand pushes up the prices. Most paid parking is a dusty parking lot on waste ground but there are surfaced lots in the main towns. It's not expensive and at least you know your car is safe from the clampers.
Enforcement is quite strict as it's a money spinner for the country. It's usually done by police although clamping firms often tour the streets looking for victims.
In theory Malta follows the Blue Badge scheme but it's always better to check before leaving your car anywhere. Don't risk parking on double yellows as you might at home - your badge will count for little there.
Motor Way Signs
Malta has exactly the same general road signs as you would see in the United Kingdom. Major road signs are all in English. There are no motorways in Malta.
English is widely spoken in Malta so you should have no trouble being understood. For our American friends, here are some of the more common English words you may not be used to:
Petrol – Gasoline
Hard Shoulder – Left hand lane of motorway only to be used for stopping in emergencies..
Zebra crossings - Pedestrian crossings
Excess – Deductible (insurance)
Gearbox – Transmission
Boot – Trunk
Bumper – Fender
Detour – Diversion
Indicators - Blinkers
Malta is a recent arrival to the world of traffic lights and some drivers still haven't got used to them meaning they'll completely ignore them and drive straight through. It is illegal to go through an amber traffic light on Malta so when approaching lights, do so with caution.
There are no toll roads on Malta but you have to pay a congestion charge/toll on entering the capital Valletta.
The emergency services are on 112.
The British High Commission is at Whitehall Mansions, Ta' Xbiex Seafront, Ta' Xbiex XBX 1026, Malta GC and can be contacted on(356) 2323 0000.
Their website is http://ukinmalta.fco.gov.uk/en/
The American Embassy is at Development House, 3rd Floor
St. Anne Street, Floriana, Malta VLT 01 and can be contacted on (356) 2561 4147. Their website is http://malta.usembassy.gov/
What to do in an emergency
If simply having trouble with the car, call the number given to you by your hire car representative, don your reflective jacket and stand in a position of safety.
If you've been involved in a crash, call the police and wait until they arrive. In the meantime, take photographs of the scene and don't move the cars unless they are causing a danger. Ask for a copy of the police report for your insurers or car hire company.
In Malta unleaded 95 octane petrol costs £1.16 per litre as of May 2014 and diesel is a little cheaper.