Open a Malaysian Business for Selling Food and Beverages

Updated on Tuesday 26th March 2019

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The market demand for foodstuffs, beverages, and tobacco is growing in Malaysia and entrepreneurs can find opportunities for opening businesses that sell these types of products. Investors who open a business for selling food, beverages, and tobacco in Malaysia need to follow a set of procedures for licensing as well as the general company incorporation rules.
The Food Act is the main law governing these types of businesses and our team of lawyers in Malaysia can help investors comply with all of the requirements for selling food, beverages, and tobacco as well as importing certain products. 

What are the conditions for selling food in Malaysia?

The Food Act is the main document that regulates the preparation, sale, and use of food as well as the requirements for the premises that engage in these types of activities. Investors who start a business for selling food can apply for a composite license or another type of license, as needed for the food selling activity. For example, the composite license allows the holder to open a food establishment (for food shops or for selling ready-made meals, etc.). One of our attorneys in Malaysia can give you more details on whether or not this is a suitable type of license.
When selling foodstuff, some of the issues that need to be addressed are the following:
  • the characteristics of the food: the ingredients and whether or not it is fit for human consumption.
  • the labeling: the products need to be labeled according to the standards in the industry.
  • the manufacturing process: how the food is stored, processed and produced, all in suitable spaces.
  • import: complying with the relevant laws for importing special types of products or ingredients.

What requirements are in place for selling beverages?

When selling beverages, the key question is whether or not the selected beverage contains alcohol. Entrepreneurs who plan on selling different types of alcoholic drinks need to apply for a license to import liquor and the register ad a liqueur operator. 
Most commonly, entrepreneurs will apply for a license to import tobacco, including cigarette and liqueur. One of our lawyers in Malaysia can give investors more details about the submissions to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department for these types of products. 

What are the conditions for selling tobacco in Malaysia?

As defined by law, tobacco products include tobacco, cigarettes or cigars as well as any other form of tobacco including those based on tobacco mixtures, designed for human consumption. An important distinction is made here: the category does not include medicinal products that are regulated under different Acts.
Tobacco advertising or sponsorship is regulated or prohibited and the packages are to be labeled accordingly. Also, business owners may not sell these types of products to individuals below the age of eighteen.
One of our lawyers in Malaysia can give you complete information on how the regulations for importing and selling tobacco in the country.

Additional information on starting a business in Malaysia

Apart from taking into consideration the requirements presented above for the different types of products, entrepreneurs who open a business that sells these items need to follow the steps for company formation. The list below includes the main steps for opening a private limited liability company: 
  1. Choose a company name: the new business needs to have a unique name that can be verified for availability. 
  2. Reserve the company name: a reservation for the company name can be submitted with the Companies Commission (a fee applies).
  3. Prepare the incorporation documents: these are the Articles of Incorporation as well as copies of the founder’s identification documents; a bank account is also opened at this stage.
  4. Sign the incorporation documents: once all of the documents are prepared, the founders need to sign the documents and give the needed statements in front of the notary.
  5. Submit the documents: the incorporation forms, along with the constitutive documents are submitted to the Companies Commission.
Once the company is registered, the founders can apply for the relevant permits and licenses for selling the products. Our team of attorneys in Malaysia can detail each of these steps as well as provide complete incorporation services. 
Opening a company is a process that requires both general steps as well as specific ones for licensing, depending on the chosen type of activity. We recommend that investors contact our law firm in Malaysia if they wish to start a business for selling food, beverages, and tobacco. We can help not only with the incorporation of the business but also with the licensing process, which is mandatory in this case.