MALTA information

About Malta

Malta Island is the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago and Republic of Malta. Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea directly south of Italy and north of Libya. The area is 246 km² (95 square miles). The capital is Valletta, largest city is Qormi and largest locality is Birkirkara. The landscape is characterised by low hills with terraced fields. The population in Malta is just over 400’000 people.

Climate and Clothing

Malta enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny summers and mild winters. By the end of April beginning of May, weather is characterised by the very noticeable upwards trend in temperatures, which however remain comfortable. Chances of rain and "bad" weather are very low.The average temperatures in April-May are 23o during the day and 14o by night.

Communication

For international calls to Malta, dial the international code +356 and the correspondent's number (with the 0).

Credit cards / Cash machines

Credit cards are widely accepted in Malta by numerous hotels, restaurants and shops.

The accepted credit cards are indicated by their logos displayed on the exterior facade of the respective business (usually on the entrance door). Cash machines are easily available in most areas. American Express and Diners Club are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard.

Currency

The local currency in Malta is the Euro (EUR / €). 1€ = 100 cents. Banks are the most reliable

places to change travellers' cheques and generally offer the best rates. Credit cards are widely accepted in Malta and the exchange rate is usually better than for cash or travellers cheques. It is advisable to find out what the commission is before proceeding with the transaction.

Electricity

Malta, like most other European countries, has 220-volt AC, 50Hz current and uses three-pin square British style plugs. Visitors from most of European countries will need an adaptor for electric appliances,whereas countries with 110/125Vappliances will need to use a transformer.

Plug

Emergency numbers

Call free (only from within Malta):
Fire 112
Police 112
Ambulance 112
Government Information Service 153

Language

The official languages are Maltese and English.  Maltese is a language of Semitic origin written in the Latin script.  Over the centuries, it has incorporated many words derived from English, Italian and French.  Italian is also widely spoken.

Opening Hours

Because of Malta’s Mediterranean lifestyle, shop opening hours are fitted around an afternoon siesta, this means that most shops are closed between 1pm and 4pm. Shops are also closed on Sundays. In tourist areas, many shops remain open till 10.00 pm.

Public transportation

Buses run regularly throughout the island, bus stops are scattered across the island and vary from town to town. They range from small stone rooms to green shelters and the more modern stainless steel; you may also find a red "fare stage" sign which also serves as a bus stop. Bus drivers are friendly and will assist you with your ticket when boarding, however please have the correct change ready for your journey.

The main bus terminal is just outside the city gate of Valletta, here you can get a bus to almost anywhere on the island. The buses run until 10pm. The average trip on any bus is approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Taxis

White taxis should charge government controlled prices with a meter but it is advised to agree on a price before your journey. Black taxis cannot be hailed, they need to be pre-booked and it is advisable to get a fixed price or quote.

Useful Tip:  Inquire and agree on a fare before you enter a taxi. 

Safety

Malta is considered very safe for tourists. Crime is rare, though theft from parked cars and handbag snatching can occur. Local driving conditions are poor so exercise caution.

At night, try to stick to busy areas. As in any city, keep a close eye on your valuables at all times.

Time

Malta follows the Central European Time (CET) which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time(GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). At the time of the Conference, summerdaylight saving is in operation which is two hours ahead of GMT.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Malta and a gratuity of between 5% and 10%, whenever good service has been provided, is reasonable.  However if a service charge has already been included in the bill, a tip is not necessary. If discretion and common sense is used, you will have no problems with tipping, but it is always worth checking the individual establishment’s policy if you are unsure.

Travel Insurance

A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is recommended. Neither the ICN nor MCI will be held liable for illness, accidents or thefts suffered by participants or accompanying persons during the Conference or their stay in Malta before, during or after the Conference. Participants are strongly recommended to seek insurance coverage for health and accident, lost luggage and trip cancellation.

VAT

The standard V.A.T. rate in Malta is 18%. There is a reduced V.A.T. rate of 5% (from the 1st of January 2011 it will increase to 7%). The reduced VAT rate applies to tourism services, food and agriculture. Everybody who visits Malta as a tourist and who is not a resident of an EU country is eligible for the VAT reimbursement. Note that value added tax in Malta is almost always included in the price that is indicated in shops. A minimum value of EUR 60 must be purchased to be eligible for V.A.T. refund.