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An Expatriate Guide to Starting a Business in Malaysia as Foreigner

Strategically situated at the crossroad of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is the ideal gateway to ASEAN market. Hailed as the country that welcomes foreign investors, Malaysia is one of the best countries in the region that offers business opportunities connected with other ASEAN markets.


Starting a business in Malaysia

It is an undeniable fact that Malaysia is one of the preferred investment destinations in Southeast Asia due to its booming economy. As a central business hub in the region, this country attracts foreign investors from across the globe. The country’s extensive and well-connected transport networks are the reason why Malaysia is deemed to be an accessible base from which to do business, especially to those in the manufacturing, services or export industry. However, starting a business as an expat in the country is not an easy task. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you with this:


Step 1: Get to know what kind of business can you do as an expat?

Malaysia welcomes foreign investors to do business in the country. The very first step is to know what type of business you can do as expat/foreign investors. Like many other jurisdictions, Malaysia has several different types of business entities. The choice on the type of business entity will affect compliance requirements, tax structure etc. In Malaysia, expats or foreign investors can opt to setup a locally incorporated company or foreign-owned company but he or she cannot set up sole proprietorship or partnerships in Malaysia, unless they have permanent residency (PR) in Malaysia.

Generally, a private limited company, a branch office, and a representative office are the three most common options of business entities adopted by foreigners in Malaysia.


Step 2: Register your company

Like many jurisdictions in the world, Malaysia has its company registration procedures and process. The Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) is the government agency that incorporates companies in Malaysia.

Here is the snapshot of the process of company registration in Malaysia:

  1. Name your business
  2. Conduct name search before registration (You may refer the SSM’s guidelines for name search before your application)
  3. Submit the registration documents to SSM within three months upon the approval of your company’s name ( you may find out what kind of registration documents needed here)
  4. Pay a registration fee for the business entity [that you choose] including a deposit for an office/shop space as well as an initial bank account deposit.
  5. Apply the business license such as WRT license (here is the list of business licenses and application procedures)
  6. Open a corporate account for your business.

You can read more about the key considerations before [a foreigner] setup a company in Malaysia from our website.


Getting the Professional Help to Start Your Business in Malaysia

Starting a business as an expat is not easy, but it will not be that taxing only if, you are getting proper and reputable professional help, such as assistance from 3E Accounting Malaysia. 3E Accounting Malaysia is a reputable one-stop solution provider – we top the list as the no.1 online company registration website. We can help you to setup your company in Malaysia right from the company registration process, business license application to bank account opening, and much, much more. In other words, you can expand your business portfolio in Malaysia easily with the professional help from 3E Accounting Malaysia. Contact us to find out how we could help you to setup your company and run your business in a hassle free manner!