For foreign corporations, doing business in Malaysia requires several licences. They depend on the nature of the business activity. You are required to apply licenses applicable to your business only. They are, among others;



    Who must apply?

    1. If your company is to engage in any manufacturing activity and its shareholders’ funds is RM2.5 million and above or employs 75 or more full-time employees, it’s required by the Industrial Coordination Act 1975 to obtain a Manufacturing Licence.But if your company is below these thresholds, it’s exempted from acquiring the licence, but instead must apply for a confirmation letter that it’s so exempted.
    1. If you want to expand or diversify products, regardless whether you are already licenced or not,
    2. If your company is involved in high technology or strategic project for New Manufacturing Activity,
    3. If your company is involved in high technology, strategic project for expansion or diversification,
    4. If your company is involved in new agricultural or integrated agricultural project,
    5. If your company is involved in expansion or diversification of an existing agricultural or integrated agricultural project,
    6. If your company is a small scale manufacturing company, and
    7. If your company is involved in the commercialisation of public sector R&D findings in resource-based or non resource-based Industries.


    However, the manufacturing project cannot qualify for the licence if it’s labour intensive, namely the Capital Investment Per Employee or C/E Ratio for the project is less than RM55,000, unless you can prove that,

    1. The value-added is 30% or more,
    2. The Managerial, Technical and Supervisory (MTS) Index is 15% or more,
    3. The project undertaken involves promoted activities or products in the List of Promoted Activities and Products – High Technology Companies, or
    4. Your company is an existing company which has been formerly exempted from applying for a manufacturing licence.

    Where to apply?

    The application is with the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) which must be submitted at either office below. The application forms and other documents must be filled up according to the guidelines here and submitted in three 3 copies.


Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA)
MIDA Sentral
No. 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral 5
50470 Kuala Lumpur
P.O. Box 10618
Director MIDA Sabah Office
Lot D9.4 & D9.5 9th Floor,
Block D Bangunan KWSP Karamunsing
88100 Kota Kinabalu Sabah
MIDA Sarawak State Office
Room 404, 4th Floor Bangunan Bank Negara Malaysia No. 147 Jalan Satok PO Box 716 93714 Kuching, Sarawak

You can also submit the application forms online here.  For further enquiries and clarification you may refer to:
MIDA website
Tel: +6 03 – 2267 3633
Fax: +6 03 – 2274 7970 / 2273 4204


    If you are opening a restaurant which sells and serves liquor, the Public House Licence is required. It is applied with the local authority where your restaurant is situated. Therefore, if it is in Kuala Lumpur the local authority to apply the licence with is the Kuala Lumpur City Hall. The requirements and conditions vary with each authority, so you are advised to check first.There are 3 classes of Public House License according to the time liquors can be served in the restaurant. They are;

    1. Class 1 – 10.00 am to 12 midnight,
    2. Class 2 – 10.00 am to 10.00 pm, and
    3. Class 3 – 10.00 am to 9.00 pm.

    But if you want to sell and serve liquor beyond these time during festive season, you are required to obtain the Temporary Public House Licence (Extension of Time).

    The license once granted is valid for 6 months to 1 year, while the Temporary Public House Licence (Extension of Time) is only valid for the festive season it is applied for. Approving time is 90 days. 


    If your company is more than 50% foreign owned and is involved in retail, restaurant, franchise, trading, import and export in Malaysia, you are required to obtain the WRT licence. It is to be applied with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism. The licence is valid for 2 years and processing time is from 1 to 2 months. But your company is exempted from this requirement if more than 50% of its shares is owned by a Malaysian citizen.To know more about the requirements and application procedures please click here.


    If you want to hang a banner outside, on or off your business premise, you are required to apply the Temporary External Advertisement Licence from the local authority. The application must be made within 7 days from the date of display. Approval time is within 5 days from application and each license is valid for a maximum of 3 months. The requirements and conditions vary according to each authority. So we advise that you check first with the authority.


    If you operate a restaurant and want your Muslim diners to have no doubt about the kosherness of the restaurant’s menu, apply for Halal Certification with the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) or State Islamic Religious Department (JAIN) for the dining area and kitchen. Application can be made at the counter or online here.After the application has fulfilled all the requirements and the service fee is paid, a site inspection will be conducted. The inspectors will then submit the inspection report to the Halal Certification Panel Meeting. If approved by the Panel, Halal Certificate will be issued to your restaurant.

    The Halal Certification is valid for 2 years and must be renewed 4 months before its expiry. Approval time is 2 within months.


    Any kind of publication that your business premise wants to publish like magazine, newspaper or circulars must have Publication Permit. But one-off publication like leaflet offering the latest combo meal is exempted from this requirement.The Permit is to be applied with the Home Ministry under the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 by either the company Secretary or Director. The Permit is valid for 1 year and renewal must be applied within 3 months from expiry. It will be issued within 32 days from the application. Please click here for more information.


    If you want to operate a hotel in Malaysia, you are required to apply the Composite Licence with the local authority to carry out business activities that a hotel normally provides. They can be applied simultaneously and the forms are available from the local authority’s website or at the counter.Apparently you do not have to wait for the licences to be obtained before you can start operation. You may open the hotel once you have received the acknowledgement for your application from the authority. Business licence will then be issued within 7 days after the application. You are then given 60 days to fulfil the requirements imposed by the local authority. The licences are valid between 1 to 3 years depending on the applicant’s option.

    The composition of the licences and the approval that you must obtain vary according to the hotel’s star rating. For a 5 star hotel, the Composite Licence is comprised of;

    1. Hotel or lodging house,
    2. Bar,
    3. Lounge,
    4. Banquet or conference hall,
    5. Entertainment or performance activities,
    6. Restaurant or coffee house,
    7. Swimming pool for adult and children,
    8. Parking lot,
    9. Dobby,
    10. Health club, gymnasium, sauna, outdoor and indoor facilities,
    11. Beauty salon,
    12. Souvenir shop and drugstore selling newspapers and magazines, books, postcards, tobacco and photographic films, and
    13. Signboard advertisement.


    If you are a hotelier you are essentially operating an accommodation premise. Therefore, you are required under the Tourism Industry Act to register your hotel as tourist accommodation premise with the Ministry of Tourism.The forms are available online here  or at the counter. Applications can be done by hand at the Licensing Division of the respective Tourism Ministry office. License will be granted within 6 days after complete application.


    If you operate a hotel, you are also required to by the Electricity Supply Act 1990 to register all the electrical installations in the premise with the Energy Commission of Malaysia. The form can be downloaded here or obtained at the EC Regional Office.You may appoint the very consultant or electrical contractor you hired to make the installation to do the application on your behalf, but he must be registered with the EC. Any installation is subject to an annual fee depending on the capacity. The licence is valid from 1 to 5 years depending on your option and approval will be issued within 7 days from complete application.


    Your hotel are also required under the Control of Supplies Act 1961 to apply for an Authorisation Letter to Purchase Diesel for any standby generator installed in the hotel building with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. The forms can be obtained and submitted to the Ministry together with all the required documents. Approval will be granted within 7 days from complete registration.


    Business premise and signboard licences are issued by the respective State Authorities. The licences depend on the nature of the business. The requirements may vary according to each local authority. Applicants are therefore advised to check with the local authorities first.


    If your company is a foreign contractor (if the company’s foreign shareholding is 31% or more) involved in a construction work, it’s required under the Construction Industry Development Board Act 1994 to obtain a Contractor Licence with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).Construction means practically any kind of work like the construction, extension, installation and dismantling or demolition of any kind of structure carried out anywhere. It includes preparatory and temporary works, site clearance, soil investigation and improvement, earth-moving, excavation, laying of foundation, site restoration and others.

    Your company must also be registered with the Companies Commission and registered with the CIDB for at least 3 years before the application can be made.


    Licence from the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government is required before any housing development can be carried out. Advertising and sales permit are also required before the housing can be advertised and sold. Application for the licence can be done online here by following the guidelines here.For more information please click here.


    Any company including foreign company is required to be registered with the Government, its bodies or agencies before it can become a supply contractor. For example if our company wants to supply goods or services to the national oil company PETRONAS, it is required to obtain a contractor licence with PETRONAS.


    Approval to operate a private international school is required from the Education Ministry. Among the conditions are;

    1. The applicant must be a private limited company, but there is no equity condition,
    2. Minimum RM100,000 paid up share capital,
    3. The applicant must form a Board of Governors to govern the school,
    4. Details of the curriculum, examining body, syllabus, school activities, principal and teachers must be included, and
    5. Location of the school

    For more information about more licences please click here and here.