Out with the Old ID Card; In with G-d Knows What
The bottom line: Malta has only a few months now to comply with EU law and institute the E-card which will replace the old ID card which all residents must have. Before it was relatively simple to get an ID card if you were a Maltese citizen, of course, or an EU member living in Malta, such as Mr. S.
For me as a Non-EU, it was a major challenge as usual. But because I am a long--term partner of an EU member and work here, etc., I have been entitled to an ID card, also. The ID card is used on the bus for reduced rates and as a simple way of giving your ID information to the doctor, bank, etc.
As of end of March, 2013, the Maltese ID cards (on which I finally had a decent photo) are no longer valid. They have to be replaced by an E-card which no one is sure about--especially those in the Department of Immigration and Residency who are issuing it. From what little we understand, the staff of this department has holed itself up for two weeks to train themselves on how to handle the hordes of legal and possibly illegal immigrants who need to register or re-register as residents in Malta.
There are about 20,000 legal immigrants in Malta (including Mr. S and myself) who already have legal residency which is not yet up for renewal. But we and all the others have to re-register (meaning re-apply for residency) to get this new form of ID. That means over 20,000 people (this does not count the Maltese themselves) must get into these offices in the capital of Valletta within the next three months.
The office has not been taking any calls or responding to any emails for the past two weeks while it trains its staff. I don't see any difference between this time and any other time. But on this Monday, the office is set to officially open to start taking in all the new registrants.
In order for Non-Maltese to register (such as Mr. S and I), we have to prove the means to support ourselves or for our partner, prove all over again that we have a long-term durable relationship, show documents related to having private health insurance, work if appropriate, pensions if retired, passports, divorce certificates, previous residence documents and a photo.
Mr.S and I are going on Monday to see what--if anything--will happen in the direction of actually registering us. I'm taking along about 50 documents, my laptop, headache meds, food, a tent and a portable potty. We have no idea if the office will actually open, how long the lines will be, if any staff will have the slightest idea of what to do with all the people lined up.
At the end of this process, any Non-Maltese who have not registered or re-registered their residency will be considered as living illegally in Malta. And from what I see, those illegals will be left alone to live and work in peace. The ones that have trouble are the expats like myself who have spent hours in line registering; we're the ones the Department is aware of and, therefore, feel free to hassle.
So please wish me luck. I plan to be reporting to you live from the theatre of action.
And I hope to have some official links for you. The first will probably be to the mental hospital here. Or--even better--to some good bag sales in Malta. We can always use a little retail therapy after a Maltese Residency process.
Here is an informal discussion of the new E-card rules on the Expat Blog forum: