By virtue of the Trading Licences Act issued in 2002, Malta introduced a regime particularly to make provision for the regulation of commercial activities; and to make provision for matters ancillary to or connected with such activities. No person may carry out a commercial activity without a trading license issued by the Trading Licensing Unit, therefore in general terms all businesses must apply for a trade license. The licence shall be issued for a term of one year and shall be automatically renewable subject to the continued compliance with the requirements of the Act, including the payment of the relevant fee applicable to the license.

It is incumbent that a license is granted before a commercial activity is carried out in Malta. A commercial activity may be deemed to be licensed following a notification made to the regulatory authority prior to the commencement of the commercial activity by the person who undertakes to carry out the intended activity and it may also be deemed to be licensed following a notification made to the regulatory authority, within a prescribed time, after commencement of the commercial activity. Certain activities might require additional permits in addition to the licence from the regulatory authority or relevant permits might suffice for a commercial activity to be recognised.

The regulatory authority may require the applicant to prove his competence to carry on the relevant commercial activity by means of other qualifications for reasons of overriding public interests. Furthermore, when a person is seeking a license in Malta when already legally established to carry on a commercial activity in another Member State , the regulatory authority shall not duplicate requirements or controls which are essentially comparable as regards their purpose to which such person may already be subject to in another Member State.

In addition, the authority may not prevent any person wishing to carry out commercial activities in Malta on a non-permanent and occasional basis from doing so by imposing any requirements which are discriminatory, unnecessary or proportionate when such person is already licensed or otherwise legally established to carry on a commercial activity in another Member State.

Moreover, there are certain types of businesses that need special working permits and have to comply with specific regulations relating to environment and waste control such as manufacturing and engineering works. It is also crucial that one has all the required permits from the Maltese planning authorities prior to applying for a trading license.

The Trading Licensing Act provides for a Licensing Appeals Board. An appeal to the board may be filed for any of the following reasons: (i) when there is a material error as to the facts, (ii) when there is a material procedural error, (iii) when there is an error of law, (iv) when there is some material illegality, including unreasonableness or lack of proportionality.

The right of appeal shall be competent to the applicant and to any person showing such who has duly filed an objection or made representations against the grant of the licence. The Board may either dismiss the appeal or annul the decision and refer the matter to the relevant regulatory authority, or the local council as the case may be.

Eligibility of the Applicant

A natural person is eligible to carry out a commercial activity listed in the First Schedule, provided that such person is:

  1. of a legal age to carry out such activity
  2. a citizen of Malta or of a Member State

A legal person is also eligible to carry out a commercial activity in Malta provided that the legal person is registered in Malta, incorporated under the law of a Member State, or has its statutory domicile, central administration or main place of business in a Member State.

Other natural persons who are not citizens of Malta or of a Member State may carry out a commercial activity if such person satisfies (i) of the above and is in possession of a valid work permit issued by the Employment Training Corporation or competent authority vested with the remit to issue such permit.

An issued license may either be in the name of an individual personally or on behalf of a commercial partnership or company. The address must be the address of the commercial premises.

General Documentation Required

One must also make sure that he/she is in possession of the documents mentioned hereunder:

  • Copy of Passport or ID Card
  • Copy of ETC permit (in case of third country nationals)
  • Declaration of Shareholders or by Board of Directors in case the applicant is the legal representative of a partnership or company
  • No Objection Declaration by the Environmental Health Directorate in the case of food and/or beverages and activities involving hairdressing, beauty treatment, fitness or physical well-being (where applicable)
  • Development Class Number allocated by MEPA (where applicable)
  • Building Permit Number issued by MEPA and date issued (where applicable)
  • The issue of a trade license usually taking around 10 working days.

Processing of Application/Notification

It is imperative that the Trade Licensing Unit acknowledges receipt of an application and receipt of an applicable license fee in writing to the applicant. The same process must be adhered to in the case of a notification.

Furthermore, the Trade Licensing Unit is responsible for publishing a list of the licenses in the Government Gazette every three months.


When processing an application for cancellation, the Trade Licensing Unit shall notify the licensee of any arrears due and the licensee shall have sixty days to pay the arrears in question from the date of such notification. A license may be cancelled by the Trade Licensing Unit on the request of the licensee or of another party authorised to act on his behalf.

How can we Assist?

At WDM International we may assist you with the completion of the required applications to apply for a trading license. We may also assist you with any required tax advice, and Malta company incorporation as well as the annual maintenance of your stucture.