How to start a business in Malaysia for foreigners

How to start a business in Malaysia for foreigners if no idea and right information. How to get correct information before setting up a business in Malaysia foreign foreigners , from SSM website or ESD (Immigration department)? Which one is correct that Ringgit 500,000 or 1 million have to show in bank as foreign directors of own company? Actually, both information is correct but technically different as nature of business. Business of someone might be under WRT is MUST 1 million need to show and without WRT 500,000 ok. Even, Ringgit 3000 showing investment capital is also correct, who do not need WRT, ESD, VISA etc. Businessmen like to generate revenue doing business in Malaysia but real scenario is challenging as many barriers below:

  1. Right staffs hire
  2. Foreign staff import
  3. Immigration
  4. Office expenses
  5. Transport cost
  6. Bank

As above points will be discussed step by steps:

Right staffs hire: If you post job advertisement, almost 200-400 candidates will submit application. You will notice 70% to 80% of them have no academic graduation degree. Anyway, hiring staffs by low budget will not work properly (Seems Monkey), will create problems and employers will be disappointed. High paid staffs are responsible, but question, is it right time to hire by high paid? Behavior vary as multi culture people live in Malaysia (Malay, Indian Malay, Chinese and others). Think twice before setting up a business in Malaysia for foreigners unless have good idea and business plan.

Foreign staff import: Unless have permission and capable company can’t import foreign employees in Malaysia. So, entrepreneurs have to depend on local staffs (do not hire monkey). Yes, all of them are not bad at all, but need to check previous working history and academic background to hire local. All company can’t import foreign staffs and there is a long procedure by ESD of Malaysia. So, after setting up a business in Malaysia for foreigners have to face problems importing foreign staffs, only way is depend on local employees.

Immigration: They are not friendly and active to response so, be patience when apply for visa and ESD procedure (wait till 1 year) to get result, might be positive or negative! Unless you can show your business strength (healthy financial record) have minor chance of visa and ESD approval. So, do business hiring local staffs unless your company or business is eligible to hire foreign staffs, main challenge. Company registration Malaysia is easier but doing business is challenging.

Office expenses: Yes, many expenses have to count after starting business as foreigners. Office rent, staffs, utility, transport, miscellaneous bill, SOCSO, EPF etc. Business should carry on hiring local staffs on the other hand have to bring success in business to get approval from ESD and immigration people if plan to import foreign staff and/ or apply of visa for yourself as director. So, these are changings of how to start a business in Malaysia for foreigners.

Transport cost: Without own private car and public transport available area visiting is very problematic. Using Uber is costly also, but public transport (LRT and MRT) cheaper than Uber. If your business is located far from MRT and LRT available area is major problem. So, buy own car in Malaysia is money save smart plan and drive yourself. Although fuel cost is cheaper than many countries and local private new car price is cheaper too (MiVi RM 50,000 to RM 60000).

Bank: Local banking facilities are ok, no issue about that, but in terms of TT (telegraphic transfer) from business account to overseas is problematic unless proper supporting papers are given. Frequently TT order also another internal issue. On the other hand, approval from bank side for every TT is matter of time. So, actually, it’s a major problem to do business in Malaysia as foreigner.


Company Registration Expert Since 2012