Obtain Special Permits and Licenses in Malaysia

Updated on Thursday 24th November 2022

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Companies established in Malaysia are required to obtain special permits and licenses, issued in accordance with the business fields in which the company is carrying out its operations. According to the local legislation, Malaysian authorities have to issue certain business permits to foreign investors with business activities set up here. Our law office in Malaysia can assist foreign entrepreneurs to apply and obtain various permits, as well as to register for other corporate requirements. 

The general company licenses in Malaysia include the ones for company registration, for business and employee tax registration, social security registration, the business premise license and the signboard license.

Among the sector-specific licenses we can name a few of the most popular ones:
  • Manufacturing: this is for all companies in the manufacturing business, such as the machinery and equipment industry, non-metallic mineral industry (ceramics, clay, and cement but also glass, marble, etc.) and other manufacturing sub-sectors. 
  • Construction: for companies that engage in building and constructing activities in the country, the license is obtained from the Construction Industry Development Board.
  • Wholesale and retail trade: for companies with foreign participation that activate in the wholesale, retail, franchising business. 
  • Banking: for Malaysian companies in the financial sector, namely banks, brokers, credit and finance companies, merchant banking and other financial activities; the license is issued by the Malaysian Central Bank.
Our lawyers in Malaysia detail below the requirements for the special licenses for foreign participation.  We can also help you if you want to obtain permits and business licenses in other countries, such as Argentina

Types of permits and licenses in Malaysia 

Foreigners who have set up a company in Malaysia are required to obtain special licenses, which are compulsory for all non-local citizens; our team of lawyers in Malaysia can provide you with a comprehensive presentation on the permits available for foreigners

The most common type of license is the Wholesale, Retail Trade License; the document is required for companies in which more than 50% of the company’s ownership is attributed to foreign citizens. 

The license provides the right to perform business activities in the following industries: retail, franchise, restaurant, trading or import/export activities. The rule is no longer applicable if more than 50% of the company’s shares are held by local citizens; as such, the company does not have to obtain such a license

An important business license, necessary for all types of companies, regardless of their ownership, is the Local Council License, issued by the closest local council where the company is situated. 
Import-export businesses must obtain an Import/Export License, issued by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation

We invite you to watch the following video for more information on obtaining special permits and licenses in Malaysia

Business domains which require permits and licenses for foreign investors 

The Malaysian legislation provides the business domains for which foreign investors with operations in Malaysia are required to receive special permits
  • education; 
  • tourism;
  • transportation;
  • publishing, broadcasting, and media;
  • import and export activities;
  • manufacturing;
  • accommodation;
  • constructions;
  • banking;
  • ITC as well as e-commerce;
  • tax consultancy, insurance, and audit;
  • shipping and logistics;
  • leasing activities;
  • legal services;
  • franchising.
Foreigners who want to immigrate to Malaysia have at their disposal the legal services offered by our lawyers. They can successfully manage the formalities imposed by the immigration authorities. We remind you that you will need a valid passport, as well as information about your future residence in Malaysia and personal income. Foreign citizens can apply for a work permit if they have accepted a job in Malaysia and it is another aspect that comes to the attention of our lawyers.
 If you need further information on the special permits and licenses available in Malaysia, please contact our Malaysian law firm for legal assistance. We can also put you in touch with foreign experts if you need these services abroad.