Doing Business in Malaysia as Foreigners – 7 Steps Required

Doing business in Malaysia

We have been doing business in Malaysia since 2012 and sharing difficulties and benefits from practical knowledge. Doing business: Almost 7 steps to meet full requirement of starting a business in Malaysia, they are:

Company registration service in MalaysiaBy SSM
Sign Board and Premise Licenses issuer Local Counsel, DBKL, MBPJ
WRT license issuer By domestic ministry
Export Import license issuerExport department through Dagang Net
ESD for visa applicationESD Malaysia for company registration
VisaESD and Immigration

Disadvantage of visa: Company registration with ESD takes a time (around 6-8 months) and the foreign staff hiring process is complex as company registration in Malaysia.

investors who are from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia etc are ignored or delayed or neglected by to provide right service, although most of the labor force supplied from those countries in Malaysia.

investors from those countries are doing business taking risks and challenges to overcome any situation.

It’s a psychology problem by government officers for those countries considering labor country! Businessmen from those countries have to face unnecessary  problem doing business in Malaysia.

Cost and time of company formation

Sdn Bhd Company FormationRM 35003-5 days
Sign Board and PremiseRM 1200-15007-10 days
WRTRM 30001-3 months
Export and Import RM 30001-3 months
SOCSO & EPFRM 10003 days
ESD registrationRM 350010-15 days
VisaRM 80002-6 months

Require liquid asset to apply for visa/ work permit

In case of local entrepreneurs RM 250,000
Joint Venture (Malaysia and others)RM 350,000
100% foreign ownership company RM 500,000

Manpower Hire (local and foreign import)

Hiring local staff (s) is not a problem as law. But pick the right one is challenging. For foreign staff hire is not allowed unless company is permitted by government.

The process of hiring foreign staffs are 1) company incorporation 2) sign board and premise 3) WRT 4) ESD registration

Problems: JobStreet is a popular job advertisement site in Malaysia. Cost around Ringgit 500 for each posting, valid 1 month. Hiring local Malaysian and Indian Malay sometimes be careful so that do not take opportunity.

Advantage: Salary structure of staffs are not expensive.

Place of office/ factory

Yes, search the right place to setup factory and/ or office considering convenience of staffs and raw materials. Rental cost vary area to area. If the place is convenience of staffs like MRT, LRT and easy public transport bring comfortable and satisfactory.

Advantage: If the office/ factory is situated in convenience location is right choice.

Disadvantage: Transport cost might be higher is office/ factory is not well located.

Cost of doing business

As employer bear fixed cost, operational and variable cost. Ensure office location where supporting materials, raw goods, transport labor are available.

Let office rent Ringgit 2000 (500-600 ), factory rental cost is Ringgit 10,000 or above. Labor cost is around Ringgit 2000 to 4000 for 1 (one) employee.

Advantage: Being available of transport, manpower, electricity etc doing business in Malaysia is easier than other country.

Disadvantage: Skill staffs might have chance to switch the job any time as regular practice.


All banks are not friendly with foreign employers, so select right bank to engage. Bank loan is easier who is eligible (huge investment, doing business more than 3 years successfully, directors have employment pass etc).

Advantage: Banking with some international banks are better than local banks.

Disadvantage: Loan facilities from international banks are not easier. Besides, if shareholder of company is at least 1 (one) local feel comfortable by bank.

Tax, accounting and return submission

tax rate is 24% to 28% normally, can enjoy local tax rate if the director stays in Malaysia more than 300 days continuously. Prepare loss and profit accounting and submit to after audit as company.

cost of preparing is Ringgit 2000-3000 if total transactions are within Ringgit 500,000 to 1 million. Every company will submit return of to be clear itself, if any changes of directors, investment capital or constitution.

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