Successfully registering your Malaysian company with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) is a great start to your business venture. However, before your business can legally commence operations, other forms of licensing may be required, and procuring them from the relevant authorities expediently and without hiccups makes a big difference to your overall business planning. Generally speaking, there are three categories of business licences in Malaysia:

  • General licences
  • Sector Industry Specific licences
  • Activity Specific licences

General Licences

General licences can be considered as prerequisite licences, and are applicable to any business. They include:

  • Company Registration
  • Company and Employees Income Tax Registration
  • Employees Provident Fund
  • Social Security Organisation
  • Human Resources Development Fund
  • Business Premise Licenses and Signboard Licenses

Sector / Industry-Specific Licences

Sector/Industry Specific licences are specified by the Malaysian Government to exercise better control over the management and development of  particular business sectors. They include:

  • Licences related to the Wholesale, Retail Trade**
  • Licences related to the Manufacturing Sector
  • Licences  related to the Telecommunication Sector
  • Licences related to the Broadcasting Sector
  • Licences  related to the Oil Exploration Sector
  • Licences related to the Construction
  • Licences related to the Banking Sector

**The Wholesale Retail Trade (WRT) Licence

 A Wholesale Retail Trade (WRT) license a business license applicable to foreign-owned company (a company with >50% shares owned by non-Malaysians) engaging in distributive trade services in Malaysia, main categories of which include:

        • Retail, Trading (Import and Export), Distributive Trade
        • Restaurant
        • Franchise
        • Services and Consultancy

The WRT license is awarded by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) or the Kementrian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna (KPDNHEP), and is considered the most common trade licence required by foreigners, without which work permit applications cannot be processed. Any business activity related to sales, import, export, trading, manufacturing will require WRT licence. If >50% shares of the limited company are owned by local Malaysian citizens, then an exemption will be granted.

Activity-Specific Licences

Activity-Specific licences can be applicable to one or more sectors, as they aim at regulating a particular business activity. Interest of the citizen, employment, safety of workers, environment and the general public constitute the key motivation for their regulation by the Malaysian Government. They include:

  • Certificate of Fitness for Certified Machinery
  • Approval for Expatriate Post
  • Approval to install/resite/alter Air Pollution Control Equipment (bag filter and chimney)
  • Building Plan Approval
  • Sales Tax Licence