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How to Open a Company in Malaysia

Our team of specialists in company registration in Malaysia provides a wide range of company formation services to local and foreign investors who want to enter a business activity here. Our representatives can offer assistance for the incorporation of any company type prescribed by Malaysian legislation. With extensive experience in the incorporation process requirements, our specialists in company formation in Malaysia can facilitate the registration of a business, respecting the rules and regulations of the local legislation.

 Quick Facts  
  Types of companies

Offshore company


Private limited company

Public limited company

Unlimited company

Limited liability company

Foreign company

Sole proprietorship

Minimum share capital for LTD Company 


Minimum number of shareholders for Limited Company 

Time frame for the incorporation (approx.) 

5-10 days

Corporate tax rate


Dividend tax rate 

VAT rate 


Number of double taxation treaties (approx.) 77
Do you supply a registered address?   Yes 
Local director required   No 
Shelf company available Yes
Redomiciliation permitted Yes
Electronic signature  Yes
Is accounting/annual return required?  Yes 
Foreign-ownership allowed  Yes
Any tax exemptions available?  No tax on interest
Tax incentives Investment tax allowance

What are the basic steps for opening a company in Malaysia? 

The company formation in Malaysia consists of drafting the company’s articles of association, alongside the registration of compulsory documents. The firm will be registered either as a company limited by shares or as an unlimited company. Our company incorporation specialists can offer you details related to the requirements that have to be fulfilled to open a company in Malaysia, such as the required number of partners associated with the business, directors or company secretary, and other aspects. 

When opening a company in Malaysia, our company incorporation specialists can file for a proposed business name by completing a form and paying a fee of RM 30 for the company name (investors can provide a maximum of three options). The final approval will be received from the Companies Commission of Malaysia, to which the incorporation documents must be submitted no later than three months after receiving the approval for the trade name. Once the local institutions approve these documents, the company will receive a registration certificate. 

opening a company in Malaysia

What are the main types of companies in Malaysia?  

Foreign investors interested in company formation in Malaysia may set up several types of legal entities, which can be chosen by the share capital that will be invested in the business as well as the investors’ plans on the local market.

The simplest way to open a company in Malaysia is by registering a sole trader, which represents a company type designed for natural persons. One should know that this business form does not require the completion of any audit formalities, nor does its founder have to submit an annual filing, but the disadvantage is that the investor is fully responsible for the company’s debts.

Another common way for company formation in Malaysia is by registering a private limited company, a corporate entity that is selected for registration in the case of those setting up a small or medium-sized company. This company type is very popular for registration in Malaysia as the investors have a liability for the company’s debts that is limited to their capital investment. This type of company is seen as a separate legal entity from its founders, having a legal personality. A similar business form available here is the public limited company, which generally has the same structure as in the case of the private limited company, with the difference that this entity can offer its shares to the public.  

A public limited company is designed for large businesses, which can be listed on the stock exchange. This company type can have higher costs for its incorporation in Malaysia and its registration can take longer than other company types due to its complexity and the approvals it needs. 

Compared to the private limited company, which can have a maximum of 50 investors, the public limited company does not have a limit on the number of shareholders. How this company type can raise funds can also be more advantageous and you can address our specialists in company incorporation in Malaysia for additional information on this legal entity. You can also rely on our consultants in the process of registering this company type and get information about the costs of starting a business in Malaysia.

What other company types are available for foreign investors in Malaysia?  ​ 

Although foreign investors can set up their business operations in Malaysia by registering one of the above-mentioned business forms, they also have the possibility of starting a business through a branch office or a subsidiary. The branch office represents a type of entity that is dependent on its parent company; when selecting the branch office for a business activity in Malaysia, investors must be aware that they may enter only the business activities carried out by the parent company. 

Investors should take into consideration that certain operations can’t be conducted through a branch office. Our team of consultants in company formation in Malaysia can advise on how to register a local branch and can explain the tax system applicable to those wanting to incorporate it. Other characteristics are mentioned in the list below:  

  • the branch office in Malaysia must have the same trading name as the one of the parent company;
  • it is usually selected for incorporation by businesses that want to expand on a given market on a short-term basis;
  • for its registration, it is necessary to appoint a representative agent, who must have his or her residency in this country;
  • the company’s financial documents must be audited and the company also must file annual financial reports;
  • from a tax point of view, the branch is taxed as a non-resident company. 

Those who want to benefit from more legal rights and management independence can operate through a subsidiary, which represents a separate legal entity from its parent company. The subsidiary can be owned 100% by foreign investors, but there are certain limitations regarding specific business activities (education, banking, tourism, agriculture). When registering a Malaysian subsidiary, the registration process will follow the standard incorporation procedure available for local businesses and different steps may appear based on the chosen legal entity. We can tell you more about the costs of starting a business in Malaysia.

Another legal option for starting a business in Malaysia as a foreign entity is by registering a representative office. However, this type of office does not represent a vehicle through which one can develop commercial activities. It may only be employed for carrying out market research activities or for coordinating various operations of the parent company (such as maintaining a close relationship with the partners the company has in Malaysia). 

Since it does not carry any commercial activities, the representative office does not have to follow the same accounting and reporting requirements applicable to other local entities. The representative office will only hire employees who are already employed by the foreign company or by a local subsidiary of the parent company. If you are interested in opening a company in the USA or any other country, we can put you in touch with our local partners.

What is the procedure for opening a subsidiary in Malaysia? 

As presented above, the subsidiary is considered, from a legal point of view, a separate legal entity that must be incorporated following the process of company formation in Malaysia. Here, the investors who want to register a subsidiary will need to select a legal entity, but in most cases, the private limited company is the starting point for the registration of the Malaysian subsidiary.

The private limited company in Malaysia allows foreign investors to own 100% of the company’s shares, but, as mentioned above, the possibility of owning 100% of the company’s shares is limited to specific economic sectors. In the business fields regulated by the local government, foreign businessmen are allowed to invest, but they must associate with local businessmen. As a general rule, a foreign company that registers this business form is required to deposit a minimum share capital of RM 500,000. 

The registration procedure begins at the Companies Commission of Malaysia, where the investors propose a suitable trading name. Please note that the institution charges fees for the registration process, which vary based on the company’s share capital (as mentioned above, as a foreign company, it is necessary to deposit at least RM 500,000, but investors can increase the capital).  

When referring to the structure of the company, it is necessary to know that it can have a maximum number of 50 members and can be formed by a single shareholder (natural person or corporate body). The company must be represented by a director, who may be a Malaysian citizen or a foreigner. If the appointed director is represented by a foreigner, then he or she must have a residential address in Malaysia or a valid work permit issued by the local authorities. 

Would you like to open a business in Malaysia? The formalities can be explained and managed by one of our local specialists. It is good to know that an LTD company can be established with a single shareholder and with a capital of USD 1. The whole process can take around 10 days and we recommend that you contact our agents to benefit from the simplification of the procedures in this regard. We also supply a registered address if you are interested in this.

Why register a private limited company in Malaysia? 

Company formation in Malaysia under a private limited company is a common practice here as this company type represents the most advantageous way to enter the business sector for those who want to register a small or medium-sized company (SME). This company type is created to fit the needs of investors who want to begin their business operations under an SME and its characteristics are designed especially for this purpose. 

One of the main advantages is that it represents a separate legal entity, meaning that it can own properties in its name, enter contracts, and be sued or sued by other entities. This means that the investors will not be personally held accountable for these aspects. Those who want to set up a company in Malaysia under this company type must know that there aren’t many restrictions for its registration. 

This company type provides numerous advantages, one being the separation of the company’s liabilities from the ones of the investors. As a general rule, the private limited company is seen as an entity with simple compliance procedures, and the costs associated with its registration are considered rather cheap (compared to other company types). 

As mentioned above, the company can be 100% foreign-owned, this being an important advantage for foreign businessmen wanting to expand in this market. It also provides the possibility of increasing the capital by issuing more shares to its founders, but it must be noted that the shares can’t be sold on public markets.  

What is a limited liability partnership in Malaysia? 

The legislation on company formation in Malaysia prescribes additional options for local and foreign investors when we refer to the legal entities that are available for registration. Malaysian law offers the possibility of registering a hybrid entity, containing the characteristics of a private company and the ones of a partnership. 

Here, investors can set up a business in Malaysia as a limited liability partnership, which is regulated under the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2012. This company type was created to promote the development of the business market and it is designed for those who want to operate a SME. 

Overall, the limited liability partnership (LLP) is designed to act as a private company, in which the partners are not personally liable for the debts of the company. It has fewer compliance requirements and an audit exemption as well. The LLP needs for its incorporation at least two partners, who can be natural persons or corporate bodies. 

The compulsory requirements for company formation in Malaysia in this case stipulated that the LLP must have at least one compliance officer who is a Malaysian citizen and who currently resides in this country (and who is at least 18 years old). Just like in the case of other company types, the LLP must have an official registered address, which can be residential or commercial.

Investors have to be aware that the LLP is taxed as a company and that this entity is founded based on a partnership agreement. Non-resident investors are also allowed to start an LLP in Malaysia. Also, although the LLP benefits from simpler compliance requirements, from an accounting point of view, the company must prepare specific accounting documents and maintain them throughout the financial year. More importantly, the LLP is obliged to maintain the accounting records for seven years. 

Our accountants in Malaysia can offer you various services in this regard, including booking, audit, payroll, and preparation of annual financial statements. There are also human resources administration services available, as well as financial analysis and varied reports. Contact us as soon as you decide on a business in Malaysia, to be able to offer you the necessary accounting services.

What types of services are available for foreigners interested in company formation in Malaysia?

Our company formation specialists in Malaysia can further assist foreign investors by providing other types of services related to the registration of a business in this country. Foreign investors starting a business in Malaysia can also request legal assistance from our specialists for the following types of services: 

  • virtual office – a way through which a business can obtain an official business address in Malaysia, a legal requirement that must be met by all company types; 
  • accounting – our specialists can offer bookkeeping and payroll services, as well as compulsory submissions for goods and services tax;
  • opening a corporate bank account– this procedure can be completed at any commercial bank in Malaysia;
  • tax compliance services – available for all companies that need to register for taxes, including value-added tax;
  • consultation on the tax minimization methods or exemptions your company may be entitled to (if the company set up in Malaysia is a beneficiary of a double taxation agreement signed by the  Malaysian authorities with another partner jurisdiction, the legal entity is entitled to certain tax deductions which will be granted by the provisions of the respective agreement). 

Companies Commission of Malaysia

The Companies Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia) was established in 2002 as the main body supervising the registration of new companies. The SSM represents an institution from which other investors can gather relevant information on other companies operating in Malaysia, which are required to provide to the general public various details about their business activities. 

Services provided by the Malaysia Company Register

The Company Register in Malaysia (SSM) is the institution where all the aspects of a company’s life, from its incorporation to its dissolution, are registered in real-time, as the founders of a business will always have to provide up-to-date information on their company. 

The trading name, which has to be proposed by the shareholders of the company, is registered at the SSM by following several rules. For example, it is recommended that the trading name should be formed from a maximum of 50 characters and that includes the spaces between words. It is important to know that several business names are not accepted, as prescribed by the local legislation; our team of agents specialized in company formation in Malaysia can offer more information on these trading names. 

When starting a business in Malaysia, the investor should submit the Business Registration Form, containing information on the following:

  1. the business name, 
  2. the place of business, 
  3. the address of the branch (if applicable),
  4. information about the shareholders/partners the business activity and the field in which the company will carry out its operations.

The Malaysian Companies Act 

The Malaysian Companies Act was enforced by the local authorities in 1965; since then, the Act has been amended several times to comply with new local measures taken by Malaysian institutions. In Part I of the Act, one can observe the legal understanding of the subsidiary, as prescribed by Malaysian law, as well as the holding companies that can be set up here, but also how an investor can own company shares.  

Part II refers to the administration of the Act, which prescribes the legal rights of the institutions which regulate the activity of businesses in Malaysia. Section 7A stipulates that the governmental bodies, represented by ministries, have the legal right to exempt legal entities, such as statutory bodies or government agencies, from paying various fees prescribed in the Act. Our team of consultants in company formation in Malaysia can offer more information on this law. We also provide information about the costs of starting a business in Malaysia.

Why change the company type? 

The company type of business carried out in Malaysia can be changed as an effect of several situations. For example, the respective entity does not represent the best interest of the company, even though for some time it was the most suitable option. 

For example, businessmen operating as sole traders in Malaysia may want to register the company under another legal entity that can provide a better legal ground in terms of protecting the company’s assets. In the case of a sole trader, the investor is personally liable for the company’s debts, as there is no legal distinction between the businessman and the company. However, this regulation no longer applies in the case of a limited liability company.

Open a trading company in Malaysia

RM 1,000 is the fee required to open a trading company in Malaysia. In addition to this fee, you must also consider the costs for staff, registration of the name of the company, plus those related to the necessary licenses. We remind you that all these aspects can be discussed with our team of specialists in the field. They can also tell you the price of a business license in Malaysia.

Import and export companies can operate as soon as a business license in Malaysia is obtained. Wholesale Retail Trade or WRT is the type of license that a trading company in Malaysia must obtain before starting activities in this field. The Malaysian Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs is the institution that approves license applications for companies wishing to trade in Malaysia. Here’s how to apply for obtaining an online business license in Malaysia:

  • Around RM 1 million is the fee to obtain this license.
  • Investors must submit a tenancy agreement as part of the application process for this type of license.
  • If the trading company is newly established, shareholders must provide a copy of the business plan.
  • This type of license is valid for 2 years and can be obtained in a maximum of 4 months.

We remind you that our specialists can handle all the formalities related to obtaining a WRT license to open a trading company in Malaysia. Do not hesitate to discuss with us all these aspects, to start the necessary processes. Plus, you can find out all the requirements for a trading license in Malaysia.

Support for small and medium enterprises comes to the attention of the Malaysian government. Several programs and grants can be accessed by those who want to open a trading company in Malaysia. Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communication, and Multimedia offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to access dedicated programs for the development of their business. You can qualify for these grants if you meet the required conditions. We invite you to learn more on this topic from one of our company formation agents in Malaysia.

Why is Malaysia appreciated by foreign entrepreneurs?

Among the reasons why Malaysia is chosen as a top business destination are the ease with which companies can be opened and the affordable costs of starting a business in Malaysia. Here are other aspects that you can take into account when you want to carry out your operations in Malaysia:

  • One shareholder and one director are enough to open a business in Malaysia.
  • Private companies established in Malaysia are not required to hold annual general meetings.
  • The corporate tax rate in Malaysia is set at a 24% rate. In certain cases, you can benefit from a corporate tax rate of 17%, if certain conditions are met: the company must be resident in Malaysia and not exceed a paid-up capital of RM 50 million.
  • Compared to other countries in Asia, Malaysia offers a great and skilled workforce, as well as low costs of living.
  • There are many training institutions and skill development centers, which represents a great advantage for international entrepreneurs looking for a local workforce.
  • Even if Malay is the official language, English is also spoken in Malaysia, especially in the business field. Practically, from this point of view, there are no communication problems in the business environment.
  • Malaysia has many ports and openings to prestigious international financial centers. On the other hand, the country is a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which makes the business path among varied Asian countries easy.
  • Foreign entrepreneurs are more than welcome in Malaysia for the development of their businesses. The fact that it is the 24th freest economy in the world can only be beneficial for those who want to expand their portfolio in a competitive business environment.
  • There are already over 5,000 foreign companies registered in Malaysia, an extremely popular destination for the development of operations of any kind.
  • It is good to emphasize that the Malaysian Constitution sets out the legal structure of the country by following the legal system established in the United Kingdom.
  • The manufacturing sector of Malaysia sustained the country’s GDP in a proportion of over 24%, in 2021.
  • The authorities expect digital technology to be the new driver for Malaysia’s economy, with contributions of over 22% by 2025.
  • Malaysia intends to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050, according to the 12th Malaysian Plan.

Audit requirements for public companies in Malaysia

When a company is established in Malaysia, its manager must appoint an auditor. Normally, this is done before the first annual general meeting. If the manager cannot appoint an auditor, this comes to the attention of the shareholders, with the help of an ordinary resolution. We advise you to contact us to learn more about audit requirements for public companies established in Malaysia.

What are the main reasons for investing in Malaysia? 

Investors may have numerous reasons for investing in Malaysia. For instance, the country has a very competitive labor market and it benefits from a strategic geographical location, providing access to other important markets in Asia. Malaysia is one of the most attractive destinations for starting a company as the registration procedure is very fast (approximately one week) and it is comprised of only three steps. 

Malaysia has a high level of productivity when referring to its workforce, ranking as the 3rd country globally. The Malaysian workforce has a high degree of knowledge and skills and this can be an attractive advantage for those seeking to expand on the Asian market, given the fact that the company’s employees represent one of the most important assets of a business. 

Here are some statistics about Malaysia’s economy:

  • Although an economic growth of approximately 6.5% had been estimated, Malaysia registered around 8.7% in terms of GDP in 2022.
  • The economic growth mentioned above was supported to a good extent, in Q4 of 2022 by unemployment decrease, investment recovery, and more.
  • According to statistics, in 4Q 2022, Malaysia registered a net FDI of around RM 19.3 billion, compared to RM 12.3 billion registered in 3Q of the same year.

Investors should also be aware that Malaysia is currently considered an expanding center for startup companies, currently being the third country in its region for this activity. A large number of startup companies registered in this country have expanded their operations in other countries in the region. Our team of consultants in company incorporation in Malaysia can assist investors with advice on how to invest in other jurisdictions. 

If you want the services of our CPA in Malaysia, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. If you need further information on the company registration services offered here, please contact our Malaysian company incorporation specialists.