If you’re trying to open a bank account in Malaysia for a foreign company, you’ve probably encountered some major roadblocks. Especially if you don’t have boots on the ground.
While it’s still possible to open an account here, there are many obstacles to overcome. And, if your company doesn’t desperately need to bank in Malaysia, there are other banking jurisdictions you might want to consider instead.
- Foreign business owners can open company bank accounts in Malaysia
- Account opening in Malaysia is challenging if you don’t plan on doing any business here
- For most companies, there are better options elsewhere
- Not all banks in Malaysia accept foreign companies
Opening a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
Opening a company bank account in Malaysia for a foreign business is possible. However, you will have to overcome many account opening challenges and meet bank-specific requirements. Additionally, not all Malaysian banks accept foreign companies. So, knowing which bank accepts your client profile is both critical to your success and difficult to determine.
So, if you don’t plan on doing any business in Malaysia, the chances of opening accounts here are very slim. But, with help and some patience, it is possible.
That said, before applying for an account in Malaysia, you’ll want to ask yourself whether banking here is really the best option. In this article, we’ll help you answer that question.
Of course, we’ll also discuss some of the ways that foreign companies can benefit from banking in Malaysia. And, we’ll outline the challenges you’ll have to overcome in order to open an account.
Before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your free Business Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help your business find and open accounts with the services you need around the world.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Why Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia?
- Challenges of Opening a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- Opening an Offshore Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- How to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- Ready to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia?
Why Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia?
For a small group of foreign business owners, opening a company bank account in Malaysia may make sense, and may even be necessary.
For example, if your business is engaging with suppliers, customers, or is considering expanding into Malaysia then opening an account and transacting in Ringgit can make sense.
Let’s explore some of the other reasons why a business owner may want to open a company bank account in Malaysia for their foreign business.
Reasons to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- Customers living in Malaysia
- Suppliers based in Malaysia
- Looking to expand operations to Malaysia
- Employees or contractors living in Malaysia
Other reasons requiring local transactions If you fall into one of these categories, opening a company bank account in Malaysia may be the right decision.
But, it’s important to note that most Malaysian banks only open company bank accounts for Malaysian companies. And, although foreign companies still have an opportunity to open here, it comes with challenges.
Challenges of Opening a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
Banking in Malaysia doesn’t come easy. In fact, with strict rules and regulations set forth by Bank Negara Malaysia (Malaysia’s central bank), only truly motivated companies should consider moving forward.
Not surprisingly, most banks will only open accounts for Malaysian companies. And, even those banks that do open for foreign companies will only accept companies registered in specific jurisdictions.
So, if your company is not registered in one of the accepted jurisdictions, you will have a limited number of banks to choose from. This makes opening a company bank account in Malaysia even more challenging.
Needless to say, for most applicants, the challenges that come with opening a bank account in Malaysia for a foreign company are not worth the struggle. But, motivated business owners can navigate these challenges with some help.
With that said, let’s take a look at the challenges you’ll most likely face if you decide to open a company bank account in Malaysia…
Challenges of Opening a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- Very few banks accept foreign companies
- Some banks only accept certain jurisdictions
- An in-person interview will likely be required
- Strict due diligence process
- Excessive document requirements
- Account opening can take long (6 to 8 weeks)
- Controlled foreign exchange transactions
- Transactions may have to be verified via phone
- Some banks may not issue debit cards
If you do decide to move forward with opening an account in Malaysia, don’t be surprised if you’re waiting for one to two months for your application to be processed.
On the other hand, due to strict foreign exchange rules in Malaysia, banks pay very close attention to incoming and outgoing transactions, even more so with non-resident accounts. Non-resident accounts in Malaysia are subject to greater controls and a higher level of supervision as compared to resident accounts.
So, if the bank requests supporting documentation for specific transactions or the sending or receiving party receives a call from the bank, don’t be surprised. They frequently do this to confirm transaction details.
Now, the chances of experiencing the challenges listed above when opening a company bank account in Malaysia are very high. But, some of these challenges can be avoided if you apply to the right bank. But, unfortunately, which bank fits your company’s profile may not always be clear.
As always, to successfully open a company bank account in Malaysia as a foreign non-resident, you need to know which bank and banker to contact. And, understand the bank-specific account opening quirks and requirements.
But, it’s also important to ask yourself if opening a company bank account in Malaysia is truly the best option for you. Meaning, have you considered all of the alternative options for your business?
Opening an Offshore Company Bank Account in Malaysia
As mentioned, before you start applying to open a foreign company bank account in Malaysia, you should understand whether or not Malaysia is the best place for you to bank. Not surprisingly, for most companies, there are better options available. In fact, one option many offshore business owners are considering is opening a Singapore offshore company bank account instead.
Another banking jurisdiction you might want to consider is Labuan. Yes, technically speaking, Labuan is part of Malaysia. In fact, it’s a Federal Territory of Malaysia. But, unlike Malaysian onshore banking options, offshore banks in Labuan can be more accepting of foreign non-resident companies.
Of course, whether you can successfully open in Labuan will depend on the bank you choose to approach and whether you can meet their requirements. But, for the companies that can, opening a company bank account in Malaysia’s only offshore financial hub can offer benefits.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of banking in Labuan and the process to open accounts, you can read more in our free article “Labuan Offshore Bank Account Opening.”
In this article, we share why banking in Labuan is interesting to certain foreign business owners. We also cover who should consider banking there, the benefits you could tap into, and what you need to start opening a Labuan offshore bank account for your company today.
Of course, if you’re set on opening an account in Malaysia, let’s look at what the account opening process demands and what you’ll need to open one.
How to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
As mentioned, opening a foreign company bank account in Malaysia has its challenges and can be very time-consuming. This is primarily due to the long list of required documents and the lengthy account opening process.
However, opening a foreign company bank account in Malaysia is still possible. But, to do so, it’s important to know which banks and bankers will accept you. And, you’ll need to understand each bank’s exact account opening requirements.
With that said, here’s a quick overview of the account opening process for a company bank account in Malaysia.
- Find a bank that accepts foreign companies
- Complete the application form
- Submit requested documents
- In-person interview with the bank
- Provide proof that the initial deposit can be made
- Wait for the bank to review your application
- If accepted, the bank will go through the process of opening an account
This process is easier said than done. But, don’t forget it’s important to remain patient as many of these steps can take multiple weeks, even months, to complete.
Now that you have an idea of what to expect when you begin applying, let’s take a look at the specific documents most banks will request from you.
Documents Needed to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia
- 2 valid forms of ID for the business owner & all directors
- Copy of company registration
- Company stamp
- Memorandum & articles of association
- Certificate of incorporation
- Registered company address
- Proof of business ties to Malaysia
- Bank reference letter
- Letter of recommendation or introduction
- Formal letter from board of directors on approval to open an account
Again, these documents may vary depending on the bank you choose to open with. And, in most cases, the bank will request that documents be authenticated.
In the end, if you can’t provide the required documents or overcome the challenges mentioned in this article, you’ll likely not be able to open a company bank account in Malaysia. But don’t worry, there are other banking jurisdictions to consider. As previously mentioned, many foreign business owners are opening corporate bank accounts in Singapore over Malaysia.
If you’re wondering which other banking jurisdictions you should be considering, you can access our free business banking guide, “How to Open International Bank Accounts for Businesses” for additional information.
This guide outlines the step-by-step formula for finding and opening business bank accounts abroad, the common mistakes made by business owners, and much more.
Ready to Open a Company Bank Account in Malaysia?
Whether you’re ready to open a company bank account in Malaysia today or you’re just starting to explore your options, we can help.
You can start by accessing GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start figuring out where you should (and shouldn’t) open accounts.
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And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.
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To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.