Self-Employed, Self-Sufficient or Company Owner - Malta for EU Contractor

Hi Everybody!

I’m a French frog :fr: and after some research, I have my eyes set in Malta :malta:. I want to set up residency there and work abroad around 180 days/per year as a contractor in Continental Europe and UK. Crucial for me is the tax regime, as EU countries where I have demand for my work have high income tax rates as well as property/wealth taxes.

Putting aside tax considerations of the countries I’ll work in (thanks for the link to PWC tax summaries), I’m currently undecided about what route to take for Maltese residency. There are 3 possibilities for EU citizens:

  1. Self-employed: seems really easy;
  2. Self-sufficient: equally simple, but is this something that you can take when you want to work abroad? seems more appropriate for duly retired people;
  3. Company Owner: which can make my life easier when working abroad, since invoices would be to a foreign entity, thus creating conditions to avoid tax-residency discussions and other issues. But to what extent can this change the tax attractiveness of Malta? Would offshore company profits be taxable in Malta beyond the minimum tax rates of “ordinary residence” citizens?

That said, does anybody have strong opinions about how an international contractor should ideally set up residence in Malta? Also, any tips on dealing with UK and Dutch tax offices when residing in the tiny island, but working less than 183 days/year in those locations?

Many thanks in advance!


Hello Luc,

I moved to Malta in March and did go path 1 (self-employed).
It’s a pretty straight process, if you need some more info let me know.


PS: IMHO, I think you need an address in Malta for it.

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your message. You’re right, one does need an address in Malta. The self-employed also looks like the right one for me.

I’d appreciate if you could share a bit of your experience.
Why did you choose Malta?
Have you considered other places like Portugal, Estonia or Cyprus? Are you working outside of Malta and, if yes, how are you handling potential issues related to tax-residency in those countries?
Did you do the self-employed process yourself and Is this process as simple as just filling the available forms and going to the appropriate office with your documents?
Did you have to submit a business plan?
How long did it take for you to obtain the residence card?

Sorry for the cascade of questions. Hope you do not find it inappropriate.

Many thanks for your help. Much appreciated!:+1::+1::+1:


send me a message to


Why did you choose Malta?

Culture, sun & taxes

  • English language
  • low taxes (0% on capital gains)
  • rule of law and easy setting up business

was thinking about it …

  • language, culture
  • it’s f…ing cold
  • it’s pretty far away

did read about it, but decided to stick with Malta
cons: Greek language

Did you do the self-employed process yourself and Is this process as simple as just filling the available forms and going to the appropriate office with your documents?
Pretty straight forward, can be done in 2-3 weeks, most of it is done with Business1st …
I could have saved some trips :slight_smile: but overall people are pretty friendly and helpful.

Did you have to submit a business plan?
No … just said I am SW Developer

How long did it take for you to obtain the residence card?
I got a temporary one now, the actual one should come in the next days.
Took me 6-8 weeks, but I was for some time in Germany …
If you know what to do, can be done in 4 weeks …

Arrived on Wednesday, moved into apartment on Friday … so far, had not one negative experience

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Hi Mark,

Thanks for the quick answer. I’ve been toying with this idea for just 4 days and Malta stood out so much so quickly I was afraid I had missed something out elsewhere… I think this part of the equation for me is clear now. Will visit the island soon to see by myself but all in all it seems like a no brainer.

I guess that as a SW developer you can very much work remotely for most of your assignments. I cannot really do much more than 25% remote, so I still need to figure out the other part of the equation: how to be tax efficient in short-term assignments in Continental Europe and UK. This is very much a country by country issue, with some countries being very relaxed as long as you do not stay more than 4 months and others that impose so much that short-term assignments seem unattractive at the end.

Glad to hear you’re settling down without a glitch and hope that you have a terrific time there.

Many thanks and all the best!

Your plan makes sense from a tax point of view. I’m not sure that you have to spend 6 months a year in Malta to maintain residency but you should certainly avoid spending over 6 months in any other single country.

Malta is not very interesting/pleasant, despite the promising location. Spending 6 months or more in Malta per year is not for everyone.

Depends where and your needs as well though, right? I love living here in Andorra, but some people home here for 72 hours and they are already bored.

I see a real split in the nomad community where some people just want to live in a small cabin in the woods or at a hostel on a sleepy island somewhere, and those who need to switch from major city to major city, enjoying the different restaurants and events in each.

Hi Mark

I am in the same position as you ,a software developer working remotely looking to move to Malta with the ordinary residence option.

Regarding the rule on tax only on remitted funds, is that only for salaried people or does it also apply to freelancers with foreign clients?

If that is not the case would I also need to start charging my foreign client VAT etc and form a company in Malta and pay regular tax on all my income?