Buying a car in Malta
Can I pay for a car in cash?
Yes, there are no restrictions on this. When entering or leaving Malta, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to customs using a specific form.
What about payment of VAT?
Within an intra-EU transaction new cars should be sold without VAT. A car is considered new if no more than 6 months have passed since the date on which it was first registered or if its mileage does not exceed 6 000 km. In practice, some sellers may require payment of VAT as a deposit, to be refunded once the car is registered in the buyer's country. Check in advance with the seller how to claim the VAT refund, i.e. what documentation the seller needs from you.
All other cars are considered second hand (more than 6 months since the date of first registration and mileage of more than 6 000 km). They are generally sold inclusive of VAT (18 %) if the supplier is a commercial seller (the supply is not liable to VAT if the supplier is a private person). You don't have to pay VAT in your country of residence.
Is the seller obliged to provide a vehicle inspection?
No. In Malta, a roadworthiness test has to take place 4 years after the car is first registered and then every two years. The cost of the inspection by an independent expert depends on the size of the vehicle.
Is the Maltese vehicle inspection recognised in my home country?
Some countries recognise it. Check in advance with your national authority to avoid unnecessary costs.
Can I have an expert carry out a check on the car at the seller's premises?
With the seller's agreement. Usually, the buyer engages the services of a technical expert such as a sprayer, panel beater, or mechanic. Sometimes, both parties agree on the expert. There will often be no charge, but if there is, it will not be higher than EUR 50.
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
Read the contract carefully and only sign contracts you understand. Some traders try to exclude legal guarantee rights by claiming that the contract is a business-to-business contract or that the car is sold "without warranties" (only in business-to-consumer contracts would such a clause be considered null and void). Make sure that the name of the seller is the same as the name given in the registration document, or that the seller has power of attorney to sell the car in the registered owner's name. If you buy from a trader, make sure that the name of the company is mentioned in the contract and that there is an indication regarding VAT.
Can I cancel a signed contract?
- If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw (unless the contract includes the possibility of withdrawal)
- If the contract is a distance sale contract and you have not yet collected the car from the seller's premises, you can withdraw from the contract before delivery. You can also withdraw up to 14 days from delivery of the car to your address. If you collect the car at the seller's premises, the contract is usually signed there and either will not foresee or will exclude the right to a cooling off period.
What documents should the seller provide?
- The contract of sale or an invoice
- The registration certificate ('log book')
- The European Certificate of Conformity (COC). If no COC is available from the seller, you can contact the manufacturer to obtain a duplicate for a fee
- A Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (VRT) certificate. Without this, the vehicle cannot be insured in Malta
Check if other documents are needed in the country where you intend to register the car.
Should I apply for temporary plates to drive the car home?
Transit plates are not available in Malta. The sellers' plates may be used provided all relevant documents and proof of purchase can be submitted.
You may be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority.
Regular national plates
If you wish to drive home with the national plates still on the car, are you obliged to return them to the competent registration offices, either in the country of previous registration or in the registration country?
Number plates only have to be returned for purchases of cars with Italian registration plates. You do not have to verify that the vehicle has been deregistered.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
Contact your local ECC: www.eccnetmalta.gov.mt
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in Malta?
There is no specific out-of-court body for this sector.
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
The Police Cyber Crimes Unit.
Information provided by ECC-Net in March 2016 - see our legal notice.