Business entities in Malaysia
Healy Consultants will be pleased to assist our Clients with Malaysia company setup. There are several ways of doing business in Malaysia, the most common being the setting up of a limited liability company. Foreign companies can also register a branch in Malaysia, or a representative office if they plan to run only marketing operations in this country.
The Malaysia Limited liability company (SDN BHD)
- The Malaysia limited liability company (locally known as a Sendirian Berhad or SDN BHD) is the type of business entity most commonly formed by foreign entrepreneurs starting a business in Malaysia. Malaysian business setup requires: i) two shareholders ii) a minimum investment of USD2 (MYR2) iii) one resident company secretary and iv) one director. While there is no restriction on the nationality of the director, he/she must be ordinarily residing the country. If needed, Healy Consultants can provide our Clients with nominee services for resident director in Malaysia;
- After incorporation of the company, Healy Consultants will assist our Clients to register the company with the Inland Revenue Department for corporate tax and employer registration. If needed, we can also register the company for GST. All Malaysian companies must submit audited financial statements every year;
- Our Clients may also wish to apply for various licenses in Malaysia, the most common being the Wholesale Retail Trade license (WRT). This license requires a paid up capital of US$1,000,000 and the approval process takes up to 2 months. Once secured, our Clients will be able to engage in various operations including i) retail and wholesale trade; and ii) restaurant and franchise business;
- Best uses: a Malaysian company is an adequate business vehicle to trade with Malaysian customers and to hire staff in the mainland.
The Malaysia free zone company (EPZ company)
- Foreigners willing to start export-oriented manufacturing and service businesses can register their entity in an export processing zone. While there is no official minimum paid-up capital requirement, the free zone authority w take such amount as a criterion to assess the application so we usually recommend our Clients to invest a minimum of US$125,000. We can also provide nominee services for our Clients unable to appoint the one resident director required for all newly registered Malaysian company;
- For further information on the different export processing zones available in Malaysia and their tax benefits and requirements, please visit our Malaysia free zone page;
- Best uses: thanks to the tax incentives provided by the Malaysian Government, a Malaysian EPZ company is an attractive vehicle to manufacture products re-exported overseas.
The Malaysia international trading company (Labuan company)
- For entrepreneurs only planning to trade with overseas customers, the Malaysia regulations provide an attractive legally tax exempt business vehicle: the Labuan company, registered with the Labuan International Business and Financial Center. Unlike mainland Malaysia companies, such entity does not require the appointment of resident director;
- For our readers interested to read more about this tax exempt strategy, Healy Consultants has prepared a specific section on such business entity;
- Best uses: a Labuan company is a legally tax exempt way to trade with overseas customers. Under some conditions, it can also be a good entity to open a marketing office in Labuan, Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru.
The Bumiputera company
- Entrepreneurs establishing a limited liability company in Malaysia can apply for Bumiputera status if at least 30% of the shares are held by native Malay individuals or other Bumiputera corporations. If this requirement is met, the company is then eligible for special grants, discounts, and incentives such as cheaper business licenses, special bank agreements, native reservation of land, and discounts when purchasing or renting land.
- Best uses: a Bumiputera company is usually formed when our Clients have Malay joint venture partners. Healy Consultants will then clarify with them to tax benefits available thanks to the presence of such Malay shareholder(s).
The Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership
- A limited liability partnership can be registered in Malaysia by a minimum of i) two partners, who both can be foreigners and are not required to be living in Malaysia and ii) one resident compliance officer. There is no minimum contribution to form such entity in Malaysia and all partners can benefit from limited liability, in accordance with the Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership Act of 2012;
- While the limited liability partnership can sign contracts and issue invoices in its own names, such entity is tax transparent and is henceforth not required to submit financial statements to the Companies Commission of Malaysia: only an annual return must be filed annually. However, the partners are required to declare the earnings channeled through the partnership in their personal income tax statements
- Best uses: a Malaysian limited liability partnership is a good vehicle for specific projects to be completed by our Client in cooperation with a Malaysian or foreign company. The partners can be indeed individuals, but also corporates.
The Malaysia branch office
- Another option available foreign corporations is the registration of a branch office in Malaysia. Company law dictates that all branch offices must conduct business within the scope set by the parent company. However, this office can engage in business activities, which involve trade, invoicing, and signing contracts. The foreign company will also have to appoint two resident representatives in Malaysia;
- Best uses: a Malaysian branch is usually not recommended, unless the industry of operations of the business is regulated and subject to license(s) and/or higher paid-up capital requirements.
The Malaysia representative office
- This Malaysia business setup is only allowed to engage in business activities including market research and promoting the business of the parent company. Consequently, a representative office cannot sign contracts or conduct business in Malaysia;
- Best uses: a Malaysian representative office is recommended only if our Client plans to have only marketing operations in Malaysia, and no trading or productive operations.
Table of comparison between Malaysia business entities
LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Also known as: SDN BHD SEZ company Malay Company Labuan company LP Branch RO Operations and logistics LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Doing business in Malaysia permitted? Yes Yes Yes Only Labuan, KL and JB Yes Yes No Allowed to sign contracts with local Clients? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Allowed to invoice in MYR local Clients? Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Must rent local office premises? No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Allowed to import raw materials? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Allowed to export goods? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Accounting and tax LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Corporate tax on local income? 25% 25% 25% 25% 0% 25% Cannot Corporate tax on foreign income? 25% Up to 0% 25% 3% 0% 25% Cannot Corporate bank account? SCB SCB Maybank HSBC Maybank HSBC SCB Statutory audit required? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Annual tax return to be submitted? Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Access to DTAAs? Yes Yes Yes Depends on the DTAA Yes Yes No Company law LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Issued share capital required? US$2 US$125,000 US$2 US$2 US$2 None None Resident director required? Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Malay shareholder required? No No Yes No No No No Minimum number of directors? 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 Minimum number of shareholders? 2 2 2 1 2 Parent company Parent company Individual shareholders allowed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Parent company Parent company Corporate shareholders allowed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Parent company Parent company Public register of shareholders and directors Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Immigration LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Can the entity hire expatriate staff in Malaysia? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes How long to get work permit approved 3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months 3 months Fees LLC Free Zone Company Bumiputera Company Legally tax exempt company LP Branch RO Estimate of engagement costs US$11,580 US$14,200 US$10,580 US$10,250 US$10,980 US$15,450 US$10,965 Draft invoice