Most people probably would not have heard of Malta, a small island situated in the Mediterranean Sea in between Italy and North Africa. For those that have heard of the country would probably be aware of its crystal blue seas, historic and culturally rich sights and famous yellow buses. Traditionally known as a holiday destination with a bustling tourism industry, Malta has over the last few years developed a financial services industry to rival some of the bigger, more well-known jurisdictions such as Jersey, Luxembourg, Ireland and Hong Kong to name a few.

Malta benefits from several factors but one of the main advantages is an attractive tax system that has been set up to attract inward investment. Businesses such as e-commerce companies, insurance companies, investment companies, trading companies, holding companies to name a few examples are being set up to take advantage of the tax regime in Malta.

There are many companies that offer Malta Company Formation services, and all will have been licenced by the Malta Financial Services Authority, which regulates all financial services in Malta. These will be typically legal firms, accountants or notaries. The process of setting up a company in Malta relatively straightforward, but often the biggest headache can come from the abundance of paperwork that is needed for the due diligence process that firms carry out to validate the identity of the shareholders and the ultimate controlling party. This is needed to satisfy anti-money laundering legislation to ensure the validity of the individual or individuals. Whilst some documents requested in a typical due diligence process should be easy to obtain, such as a copy of a valid travel document such as a passport or a utility bill with proof of address, others can be a little tricky to obtain such as a bank reference. In some countries obtaining a bank reference is quite straightforward, but in others, it can take some time and usually this is the last piece of the due diligence documentation that is gathered.

Once all the due diligence paperwork is gathered to a satisfactory level a company can usually set up in a matter of days. This can be a little longer if one is carrying out a public limited company formation process as this will need to be listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. Once a company is approved by the Registrar of Companies, it will be issued with an incorporation certificate with the date the company came into existence.

It should be noted that whilst the setting up of a company in Malta can be a quick process as outlined above, it is usually the opening of a bank account in Malta that takes much longer. Whilst most companies when setting up a company will collect the due diligence documents the bank will need at the same time as at the incorporation stage to make it a more efficient process, the bank can and does ask for further information on a case by case basis. On average, a bank account opening process can take between 4 to 6 weeks to complete and this should be factored into the planning process.

About The Author:

The author has a great deal of knowledge on the set up of businesses in Malta and writes about the financial services industry on the Maltese islands. Her specialist subjects are with regards to Malta company formation and the technicalities of the Malta tax system.

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