The healthcare system in Malta

Updated 2023-01-22 11:36

Malta hosts a rather developed healthcare system. With several hospitals and clinics, as well as healthcare centers and pharmacies in almost every village, Malta offers quality care with convenience. As an expat, it is always important to investigate your own situation in terms of healthcare coverage. Be sure you have the coverage you need while transitioning to your new home, and try to learn about your options based on residency, national healthcare coverage, and private coverage.

Health system in Malta

The Maltese health system is financed by the State through general taxation. All residents can benefit from free research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in public hospitals. In addition, people on low incomes are eligible for assistance in the form of a card which allows them to obtain medicines free of charge after proving their means to the Ministry of Social Security. Those suffering from certain chronic diseases can also benefit from free treatment without any means test.

Primary health care is provided by medical centers with a wide range of preventive, treatment and rehabilitation services. Specialized facilities (diabetes, gynecology, pre-natal and post-natal care, childcare, ophthalmology, podiatry, speech therapy, psychiatry, etc.) are available in addition to nursing care and general medical services. Many residents choose to use the services of general practitioners and specialists who practice privately within primary health care services. A number of hospitals provide secondary and tertiary health care.

A foreigner living in Malta has to contribute to the national social security system, which entitles him/her to free care. Employees are entitled to free care if they have been working in Malta for more than three months. Whether you are self-employed or employed, you have to contribute to the Social Security system. The contribution rate depends on your working status (employed, self-occupied, or self-employed), your age and your income. For employed individuals, it is common that the employee pays 10% of the basic salary and the employer 10%. Visit Malta's Department of Social Security website to know the rate that will apply to your situation.

As in most countries, the Maltese health system is divided into the public and private sectors. Both are supported by healthcare centers providing regular check-ups, tests, and basic healthcare services.

In general, Malta's health system provides quality care, although the waiting time can be a bit long in some cases. It is based on the British system, so it is frequently compared to the UK's national health system.

The private system is very developed, and the care is excellent, but the fees are much higher than in the public sector. Some foreigners prefer to go to private clinics and doctors, as getting an appointment is usually much quicker than in the public sector. For a minor ailment, you can go to a pharmacy, many of which have a consulting room with a general practitioner and sometimes a specialist.

Private healthcare services are also a popular option amongst both Maltese and foreign residents. Employees are typically offered health insurance through their employers.

Good to know:

The health system is financially supported by taxpayers through the Maltese Social Security System.

Expat health in Malta

If you intend to live and work in Malta for more than three months, whether as an employee or as an independent worker, you will contribute to the Maltese Social Security System.

A percentage of your basic salary will be deducted while your employer will make another contribution.

It is wise to have coverage to cover you as you leave your home country and move to Malta. If you're coming from an EU country, consider getting a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to cover your first 90 days while you settle into life in Malta. This free card is issued by your national health insurance provider upon request. The EHIC card gives you access to state-provided healthcare during a short stay in any of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, plus Switzerland. This card gives you access to healthcare in Malta under the same conditions and at the same cost as Maltese and residents insured in Malta. Keep in mind: private healthcare is not included in the EHIC. Only unforeseen and medically necessary care is covered.

Once you are a resident in Malta, your EHIC will no longer be valid, but you can, instead, be covered under the Maltese national health system.

If you are not an EU national or resident, you are not entitled to the EHIC. You need to subscribe to private international health insurance before your departure. Keep this health insurance at least till you get covered by the Maltese Social Security. Once that step is done, see if it is worth keeping your health insurance. Indeed, such insurance can provide you with extra coverage, as the Maltese Social Security does not cover everything. Additionally, private insurance will cover you if you often travel outside of the EU. See more information about private international health insurance below.

Getting a Social Security number in Malta

All foreign nationals who intend to live and work in Malta must apply for an eResidence card. Once you have received your resident permit, you will be eligible for Social Security as needed.

You will receive a National Insurance number as a taxpayer eligible for benefits in Malta. You can find more about obtaining your Social Security number on the government's social security website here. You will need to fill in and submit an online application that can be found here. Some documentation is required to support your application, depending on your situation.

If you are an EU national, you will need to provide:

  • your passport or ID card issued by your country of origin;
  • a copy of the “Promise of Employment”, which is a document showing you are going to work in Malta (employed or self-occupied activity).

If you are a Third-country national, the required documents vary according to your situation. In general, you will need to provide the following:

  • your passport and Maltese ID card (if available);
  • a copy of the “Promise of Employment”.


All foreigners residing in Malta for more than three months must have a residence permit. This permit gives the right to social security coverage.

Private health insurance in Malta

Maltese Social Security is good, but it does not cover everything, for example, dental or ophthalmological care. Private health insurance also allows you to be reimbursed for all or part of the costs of care received in private clinics. If you are often traveling abroad, especially outside of the EU, such private insurance will cover you.

Hence, it's a good idea to subscribe to private international health insurance in addition to the Maltese Social Security for optimized coverage.

Some of the leading international health insurance providers are:

You can also consider:

Some countries like France offer health insurance dedicated to expats. For example, the CFE (Caisse des Français de l'Étranger) allows expatriates from France to keep benefiting from the French health insurance scheme abroad.

Medical services in Malta

The choice of doctor depends on the nature of the problem. A general practitioner can help you with your cold or your child's mumps, but if you have a specific or serious problem, you need to see a specialist. Doctors in Malta are very good, and there are also many of them - there are 3.25 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants! If you don't know of any, just look in the yellow pages or go to a website listing doctors by town, both of which can be found in the “Useful links” section at the bottom of this article, along with a list of hospitals and clinics.

For a consultation with a general practitioner, you should pay between 10 and 15 euros. A visit to a specialist costs an average of 40 euros, as do the services of a dentist. For a crown, you should expect to pay around 300 euros.

Besides general practitioners, you can find a lot of specialists in Malta, such as dentists, physiotherapists, pediatricians, gynecologists and ophthalmologists. Please be mindful that going to a specialist is considered private practice and, therefore, cannot be refunded with EHIC.

Recently, it has been possible to access telehealth services. Thanks to Doctors in Malta, you can visit a general practitioner or a specialist by using Skype. You do not need to leave your home to see a doctor. Registration is free. After the call, the system charges you for the time spent with the doctor.

Hospitals and clinics in Malta

Mater Dei Hospital is the biggest hospital in Malta. It is also the main public hospital in Malta. Located in Msida, Mater Dei offers a variety of specialists and emergency care for both inpatients and outpatients. This establishment has 825 beds, 25 operating theatres, and has recently set up an oncology department. It opened in 2007, replacing St Luke's Hospital.

Malta's main public nursing home is St Vincent de Paul Hospital.

Mount Carmel Hospital specializes in mental illness. Located in Attard, it offers outpatient and rehabilitative care, both psychological and psychiatric, and also offers social rehabilitation support. The multidisciplinary approach of the nursing staff allows for treatment tailored to each case.

Located in Victoria (Rabat), Gozo General Hospital has 291 beds. Various wards can accommodate patients for short stays, while the psychiatric and geriatric wards allow for long-term hospitalization. In the event of a diving accident, this hospital has hyperbaric equipment.

The other hospitals include the oncology hospital Sir Paul Boffa Hospital in Floriana, Saint Vincent de Paul and the Gozo General Hospital. The latter is Gozo's only hospital.

In addition, there are private health centers throughout the islands. For example, the Saint James Hospital group runs four private hospitals in Malta: Saint James Capua Hospital in Sliema, Saint James Hospital in Tal-Barrani, Saint James Hospital in Burmarrad and Saint James Eye Clinic.

Finally, there are free public health centers in several places in Malta. They are the hub of the primary health care services provided by the Maltese Government. You can find the list of health centers in Malta here.

Pharmacies in Malta

In Malta, there are pharmacies in nearly every village. Check this link to find the nearest pharmacy in Malta. They are the place where you can buy the medicine you need. Please note that some medicines are only available on prescription.

Pharmacies also provide paid consultation by appointment or walk-in service, but these tend to only apply to minor ailments. Some offer services such as blood pressure checking, urinalysis and antigen tests for the coronavirus.

Pharmacies in Malta typically run normal work hours. They are usually closed on Sundays. However, a Sunday pharmacy roaster has been organized. Every Sunday, a few pharmacies open. This is a good thing because you will not need to worry if you suddenly need to buy medicines during the weekends. Check the Government website to know which pharmacies are open this Sunday.

Medical emergencies and useful numbers in Malta

For medical emergencies in Malta, call 112 or visit the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

Here are other useful numbers:

  • ambulances - 196
  • emergencies - 112
  • fire brigade - 199
  • police - 191
  • sea rescue - 21 23 87 97
  • helicopter rescue - 21 24 43 71

Useful links:

Ministry for Health

Social Security registration form

Social Security in Malta

Government of Malta – Social Security and Health Services

Doctors in Malta (telehealth services)

Yellow Pages Directory (to find a doctor)

List of medical practitioners and consultants in Malta

Hospitals, doctors and health practitioners in Malta

Private healthcare clinics in Malta and Gozo – Yellow Pages

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.