The Trading Licences Regulations, 2017 (published on the 1st January, 2017, by means of Legal Notice 420 of 2016, the “Regulations”) have substituted the previous regulations that had been published in 2006 but have left the Trading Licences Act (Chapter 441 of the Laws of Malta, the “Act”) unchanged.

The substitution has essentially resulted in a significantly more limited category of commercial activities requiring a trading licence from the Trade Licensing Unit (the “TLU”) when compared to the range of activities that were licensable under the previous regime. In fact, many activities that were licensable under the old regulations no longer require a trading licence and these are set out in Part I of the First Schedule to the Regulations. Persons who carry out these commercial activities and who are in possession of a trading licence issued prior to the coming into force of these new Regulations, do not need to renew their trading licence.

Only limited categories of commercial activities listed in Part II of the First Schedule of the Regulations require a trading licence including, in particular, certain types of street hawkers, market hawkers, marketing agents, buskers and auctioneers (unless the persons carrying out these activities hold a valid licence issued prior to the coming into force of these Regulations by the Commissioner of Police).

Moreover, Part IV of the new Regulations refers to other retailing activities which require specific licences issued by the TLU including a marketing agents licence, licences for car boot sales, commercial fair licences and commercial exhibition licences.

Although the general rule in the Act still states that the trading licences regime does not apply to activities which are regulated under any other law, it is still relevant to bear in mind that this is not exactly the precise position because all commercial activities of whatever nature, irrespective of whether they are licensable under the Act or the Regulations or under any other law, need to satisfy the obligations under the Act and the Regulations, particularly the conditions laid out in the Second Schedule to the Regulations which primarily regulate the conduct of the commercial activity in so far as cleanliness, noise levels and other such matters are concerned.

The publication of the Regulations in substitution of the previously applicable ones was part of Malta Enterprise’s larger plan to simplify business, reducing time required for one to set up a business and start operating.