is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Valletta. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Malta. For
more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Malta country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Malta at Level 1,
indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Valletta as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Overall, the level of crime in 2019 was similar to
2018. Crimes of opportunity and violent crime do occur. Most street
crimes are non-violent and non-confrontational, ranging from scams to petty
theft. Theft of cell phones, computers, portable
electronics, money, and jewelry is common. Most street criminals do not carry
weapons, and are not prone to gratuitous violence. Victims of street crime are
often inattentive targets of opportunity. Women should keep purses zipped and
wear the shoulder straps of bags across the chest. Keep valuables in front
In 2019, crime statistics revealed that theft was the predominant
criminal offense, making up just under half of the crimes committed in Malta. Compared
to figures from 2018, 2019 statistics show a significant decrease in domestic
violence (-54%) and fraud (-20%), but sizeable increases in sexual crimes
(+21%) as well as retail shoplifting (+26%) and thefts at hotels and
restaurants (+26%). Police statistics note 145 sexual offenses in 2019, up from
120 in 2018. There were two documented cases of human trafficking in Malta in
2018 and zero in 2019. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind,Hotels:
The Inns and Outs, and Considerations
for Hotel Security.
Nationwide crime rates are higher in tourist areas, to include St.
Julian’s, Mdina, Valletta, Floriana, Sliema, Saint Paul’s Bay, and Ta’ Xbiex.
Densely populated Paceville’s draw is the nightclub and restaurant
scene, known for excessive alcohol consumption, large crowds, and heavy-handed
tactics of nightclub bouncers that can lead to violence, including some
that appears to be racially motivated. Foreign visitors to this area have
reported isolated incidents and injuries. Criminals have drugged travelers
at bars, and robbed and assaulted them. Monitor
your drinks, be aware of belongings (especially
smartphones), and avoid confrontations by departing the area should an issue
present itself. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Exercise caution when using any ATM. Use ATMs inside shopping
malls, hotels, and banks, since these are normally high-traffic areas monitored
by security guards/cameras. Before approaching the ATM, scan the area for any
suspicious persons or activity. Should anyone approach you while you are
withdrawing money, immediately cancel the transaction and leave the area. Should
you encounter issues while using the ATM, never accept unrequested assistance. Avoid
the vicinity of an ATM during servicing. Scan ATMs for any odd or out-of-place
device (especially around the area of the card reader), an altered keypad,
and/or any other suspicious characteristics. Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
Persons living in Malta should take steps to reduce vulnerability
to residential crime. Intrusion alarms, solid perimeter barriers, perimeter
lighting, telephone intercom system, and window/door grilles are all part of a
comprehensive residential security program.
Violent crime is comparatively lower than in many of Malta’s European
Union counterparts. Armed violence and assaults against the public or targeting of
foreigners remain uncommon. If an armed individual
confronts you, comply immediately, avoid making sudden movements, and do not
offer any form of resistance. Criminals could perceive any hesitation on your
part as a threat, which may result in unnecessary violence.
crime continues to be an area of concern for the Maltese, as cybercrimes have
risen significantly from a decade ago. This is due partly to the sophisticated
nature of Malta’s IT and financial services sectors, where continued growth is
expected. In February 2019, a malware incident took Bank of Valletta (BOV)
offline for 24 hours. The Malta Information and
Technology Agency publishes a National Cyber Security Strategy annually. Review
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Road conditions vary
significantly depending on use, illumination, and state of repair, but are
generally fair to good. Exercise caution while traveling on older roads,
particularly in smaller villages, due to narrow alleys and
inexperienced/irresponsible drivers. Road conditions can and do deteriorate
quickly even with small amounts of rain, creating slippery conditions. Many
roads also experience washouts during heavy rains. Consequently, minor and
major traffic accidents occur frequently on many roadways, and delays can last
Road construction and road wear also present unique safety
challenges. This should continue with recent, large-scale infrastructure
projects across the country. Potholes pock most secondary roads. Vegetation can
grow up to and over the edge of the road, particularly during the rainy season,
causing a lack of visibility on bends and concealing hazards at the side of the
road. Stone walls, some of which reach great height, usually ring secondary
roadways and may limit a driver’s field of vision.
The leading causes of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents
involving U.S. nationals are driver error (e.g. unfamiliar road signs, unusual
driving customs/courtesies) and pedestrian hazards; the former is usually due
to unfamiliarity with right-side drive vehicles and practices, and simple confusion
by motorists driving in a foreign country. For example, double parking is
illegal, but the practice is an everyday occurrence on most streets. It is
common for traffic to stop abruptly when a delivery truck parks in a travel
lane to unload cargo, or when a driver places a car in reverse to parallel
park. Pay attention to drivers who may change lanes abruptly to avoid a
double-parked car. Right-of-way and yield laws are like
those in the U.S., but can seem awkward and confusing for drivers accustomed to
driving in larger metropolitan areas, particularly at roundabouts. Unless you
are traveling on a priority road, vehicles coming from the directional right
have the right-of-way. All drivers should be familiar with navigating
roundabout road junctions.
The speed limit is 60 kph (~35 mph) but drops to 30
kph (~20 mph) in most residential areas. There are
speed cameras, designated by a pictograph of a camera, throughout the island.
Traffic enforcement practices are lax, and the resulting road
culture reflects a more cavalier attitude, often resulting in fender benders
and occasional serious accidents. Drivers involved in traffic accidents should
attempt to exchange insurance information with the other party and summon a
traffic warden. Local law does not require operators involved in a road traffic
accident to remain at the scene until police arrive in order to make a report,
if there is no personal injury, or if the drivers agree upon the parameters of
the accident. This is especially the case in simple front-to-rear end
collisions, where you should not expect the police to come. Drivers (and rental
cars) must carry a front-to-rear collision form in their vehicle. You can
obtain this form from the website of most local insurance companies.
Talking/texting on a cell phone while driving
is illegal and highly inadvisable. Fines for the use of mobile devices and
other infractions can in some cases reach over €200 for a first offense. In 2017,
Malta implemented a penalty point system for all drivers with traffic
a September 2019 Transport Malta regulation, the use of electric scooters
(e-scooters) in public is permitted; however, riders must be 18, and hold a
valid driving license and third-party insurance, making e-scooters equivalent
with other power assisted road vehicles. When used on the road, scooter riders must
follow all relevant traffic signs. E-scooters are banned from arterial roads,
underpasses, and tunnels (with fines of up to €500), but allowed in urban areas
and cycle lanes. Transport Malta is a government body overseeing
transportation in Malta.
Thieves can and do snatch valuables through open car windows. Do
not get out of the car if there are suspicious looking
persons nearby; instead, drive away. Be suspicious of anyone who hails you or
tries to get your attention while you are in/near your car.
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
The most common form of mass transportation is the bus. Although
the fleet of buses is new, schedules are somewhat unreliable. Bus drivers drive
aggressively, and have been involved in accidents. Taxis are safe but
expensive and do not have meters. Agree on the charge with the driver in
advance. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Valletta as being a LOW-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. There were no acts of indigenous or regional terrorism in Malta in
There is a continuing threat in Europe from persons planning
attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an
individual basis. Remain aware of the potential for terrorist attacks against
public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructures. Take every
precaution to be aware of surroundings and adopt appropriate safety measures to
protect yourself while traveling. Exercise particular caution at holiday
festivals/events. The U.S. continues to work closely with European allies on
the threat from international terrorism, including from ISIS and al-Qa’ida.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Valletta as being a LOW-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
government interests. 2019 saw an increase in political demonstrations in
Malta. The Maltese people are very active politically, and frequently gather to
voice dissatisfaction with government policies. These demonstrations are almost
always peaceful, but travelers should maintain situational awareness and
exercise sound judgement when in the vicinity of protest activity. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving
The most common environmental hazard is heavy rain and flash
flooding of low-lying roads that may become impassable with 30-45 centimeters
(12-18 in) or more of standing water. Typically, roads do not drain well. Flooding
impacts key infrastructure (e.g. emergency services, communications, and
Malta has a good record of industrial and transportation safety
and follows EU guidelines. The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure is the
lead agency overseeing industrial and transport safety: Block B, Triq Francesco
Buonamici, Floriana FRN 1700, Tel:
+356 2292 2000
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
Economic espionage concerns are on par with other EU countries.
Personal Identity Concerns
Malta has undergone a rapid evolution of its
LGBTI+ laws, to the point that the country regularly ranks as providing the
most progressive LGBTI+ rights in Europe. The government has led the changes,
but much of society has quickly adopted the same progressive attitude, breaking
from a long history of social conservatism. Malta extended its hate crime laws
to offer protection on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Same-sex couples can marry under the revised Marriage Law. Malta does not break
out statistics covering hate crime offenses, but there is no evidence to
suggest that Malta performs negatively in this regard. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
few public or private spaces in Malta are wheelchair accessible. Public
transportation and most sidewalks or footpaths, including road crossings, are
not accessible for those with mobility challenges. Many apartments lack
elevators. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
offenses numbered 159 in 2019, down significantly from 348
in 2018, with possession accounting for most drug-related crime. Illegal drugs
(e.g. cocaine, heroin, marijuana, synthetic designer drugs) are available. The
sale and distribution of drugs often occurs near/around nightclubs. While
drug-related criminality does not usually affect U.S. tourists or business travelers, be aware that Malta has
the same types of drug-related crime as any major U.S. city.
2019 saw a rash of seizures of containers of
bananas from Ecuador that contained large amounts of cocaine. These shipments
were bound for Albania, Greece, and Bosnia.
The government has prioritized the arrest and prosecution of
offenders; persons caught trafficking narcotics can expect severe penalties and
lengthy pre-trial confinement (up to or exceeding two years) ahead of a
contested trial. Foreign defendants are a flight risk and rarely receive bail.
Trials typically last five to seven years and may contain lengthy and
sometimes unpredictable delays between hearings. Foreign nationals can expect a
denial of bail while a court case is ongoing, which can result in lengthy
periods of pre-trial detention ranging from several months to several
years. Obtaining no-fee legal aid can be a slow and difficult process, delaying
already lengthy judicial proceedings.
Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning
currency restrictions and temporary importation into or export from Malta of
items such as firearms, antiquities, or any item that might be deemed to have
resale value. Customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of
professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and
fair purposes. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
police emergency lines in Malta are 112 and119. For
local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency
Assistance page. Authorities
often contact the U.S. Embassy regarding incidents involving U.S. nationals.
The Malta Police Force (MPF) is the only law enforcement agency in
the country. The MPF comprises several divisions: Administration, Criminal investigations, Drugs,
Vice/Economic Crime, Protective Services, Special Branch, Forensic Science
Laboratory, and Community Policing. The police force divides into 13 districts:
12 on Malta and one on Gozo.
While the MPF is responsible for internal security, maintaining
law and order, and enforcing the law, the Armed Forces of Malta may assist if
requested. The appointed Police Commissioner is under the supervision of the
Minister for Home Affairs and National Security.
The Armed Forces of Malta are responsible for external defense,
with an emphasis on protecting the country's territorial waters and airspace. The
Commander of the Armed Forces is also under the supervision of the Minister for
Home Affairs and National Security.
While incidents of police detention or harassment have occurred,
they are not common. Should an encounter with police occur, respect and cooperation
are the best ways to avoid problems. Do not do anything (e.g. physical
resistance, attempts to flee) that could put personal safety at risk. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
fire emergency lines in Malta are 112 and199.
medical emergency lines in Malta are 112 and196. Medical facilities are above average, and generally offer
the standard of care available in most developed countries. Customer service
standards are lower than in the United States, there are cultural differences
with regard to communication, and there may be long waiting times for
non-urgent medical care. Medical clinic facilities provide limited, basic
medical treatment; several major hospitals offer comprehensive medical
treatment. Find contact information for available medical services and available
air ambulance services on the U.S.
Pharmacies carry most prescription drugs. Many drugs are available
without a prescription. However, plan accordingly and bring your needed
prescriptions with you.
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Malta.
OSAC Country Council
Due to its small geographic size and
licensing agreements with U.S. firms held by Maltese Limited Liability
Corporations (LLC), the OSAC in Malta is informal and meets occasionally during
the year, supplemented by regular Regional Security Outreach to U.S. organizations
in Malta. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for
more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Ta’Qali National Park,
Attard, ATD 4000
Opening Hours: 0800-1630,
closed on U.S. and Maltese holidays.
+356-2561-4000, Marine Post One: +356-2561-4150
you travel, consider the following resources: