This article is being updated as further details of Malta's travel rules are announced.
From Wednesday, Malta’s new travel rules came into force as the health authorities grapple with rocketing daily cases of COVID-19.
The major change is the requirement of a vaccine certificate to be allowed a quarantine-free entry into the island from a 'red list' of countries and the introduction of mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated arrivals.
Here are some of the rules you need to know before you travel.
I am fully vaccinated, can I visit Malta quarantine-free?
Not necessarily. The authorities are currently only accepting specific vaccine certificates.
- the Maltese Vaccination Certificate
- the EU Digital COVID Certificate (including the Switzerland certifcate)
- the UK's NHS COVID Pass
- the Dubai Health Authority Vaccine Certificate
- the Turkish Vaccine certificate
They must show you have completed a full course of vaccination at least 14 days from your last dose.
And although in principle, anyone who has the EU’s digital COVID certificate (EUDCC) can show the authorities they are fully vaccinated, tested for the virus or have already contracted COVID-19 in the past, the Maltese authorities will only recognise the vaccine part of this document.
Importantly, the vaccine you have been administered must also be approved by the European Medicines Authority – ie, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
Last week Malta announced it would not accept people who were vaccinated with three batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India. The ban was lifted on Thursday.
What if I have had a vaccine approved by the EU but administered outside these countries?
You can’t enter Malta without quarantining, under current rules.
For example, a traveller from the US that has been given an EMA-approved vaccine, such as Pfizer, will not be allowed to enter with a US certificate.
In this case, the government is recognising the certificate, not the vaccine.
While some non-EU countries have administered different doses to those approved by the EU, such as Russia’s Sputnik vaccine or China’s Sinovac jab, others have been giving their citizens vaccines identical to those given in Europe.
Despite this, the Maltese authorities have insisted they will only recognise a particular list of approved vaccine certificates.
But things might actually change in the coming days. Health Minister Chris Fearne confirmed on Tuesday the government was in talks with other countries to start accepting documents from more countries.
He did not say which countries were being considered. Times of Malta understands that the issue with accepting additional certificates is purely technical, meaning the authorities want to make sure they have the systems in place to be able to securely scan documents.
I have a medical reason for not getting vaccinated, can I travel to Malta without quarantining?
Yes. Although initially the health authorities did not differentiate between those opting not to take the vaccine and those who cannot do so because of a medical reason, rules published on Tuesday reverted this decision.
Anyone who has a medical reason proven by a doctor for not taking the vaccine will be allowed to enter the island by providing a negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours from arrival.
They won't have to quarantine on arrival.
What if I chose not to get the vaccine?
In this case, it depends from where you are travelling.
According to the legal notice, if you arrive to Malta from a 'red list' country without a vaccine certificate, you must submit yourself "to a period of quarantine".
In order to board the plane, you must also show a negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival
Once you arrive you must undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine.
For all non-Maltese residents you'll have to do this in an approved hotel, and it will be expensive: you'll have to pay at least €1,400 per room.
Residents aged over 16 will have to apply for permission from the Superintendent of Public Health to quarantine at home. The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Children aged 12 -15 can undergo their quarantine in their residence - but all those who live with them will also have to quarantine.
Travel from the 'dark red' list of countries is still banned, unless you have received prior approval from the Superintendent of Public Health.
What about children?
Another significant change that comes into force is that minors will not be allowed to travel alone.
Those under 12 can arrive in Malta without a vaccine certificate, but must have a PCR test and be accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent or legal guardian. Children under five do not have to show a negative test.
Anyone aged 12 and over must provide a vaccine certificate, even though there are countries, such as the UK, who do not administer the vaccine in this age group. Otherwise, they can travel with a PCR test and undergo mandatory quarantine.
Malta began vaccinating children aged 12 and over last month and around two-thirds of those eligible have been given at least one dose. As with adults, only children who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days are handed a certificate.
Are the rules different for Maltese residents?
All rules apply to both locals and tourists - with exceptions on the location of the mandatory hotel requirement.
Unvaccinated Maltese residents already expected to return to Malta before the rules came into force can still return to Malta, as long as they can show proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. They do not need to quarantine.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us