Acquisition of shares in Maltese Companies by Non-Resident Shareholders

Legal Notice 178 of 2004 (Revocation of Restrictions Regulations, 2004) which has come into force on the 19th April 2004, has revoked all restrictions previously imposed by the External Transactions Act. Regulation 3(3) nevertheless states that “Applications by residents of a nonEEA country for the issue, acquisition, sale and redemption of securities not listed on the Malta Stock Exchange in local companies established, or to be established, in Malta have to be cleared by the Registrar of Companies at the Malta Financial Services Authority”.

Thus, with immediate effect, while participation in Maltese companies by residents of the EEA (i.e. all EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) is completely unrestricted, participation by non-EEA residents will be cleared by the Registrar. Approval by the Trade Department will no longer be sought prior to the registration of new companies having nonresident shareholding or prior to the registration of notices of share transfers/allotments to non-residents in Maltese companies. Clearance by the Registrar in respect of participation in Maltese companies by non-EEA residents will require the submission to the Registrar of a satisfactory bank or other reference from a reputable source in respect of the shareholders.

It should be noted that the registration of a company and the issue to the company of the Certificate of Registration is without prejudice to and does not exempt the company from its obligation to obtain any other licence, permit or authorisation as may be required in respect of the activities to be carried out by the company under the Trading Licensing Act or under any other law or regulation in force in Malta.

It is the responsibility of the directors of a company to ensure that the company complies with all applicable legal requirements and that any licence, permit or authorisation as may be required is obtained from the relevant authorities prior to the company commencing its activities.

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