Any piece of advice will be helpful really

Hi. I'm Fadma, mother of 4 from the UK.

We have been looking for a country to move to... Intended moving to Morocco, Jordan and UAE... Before finally choosing Malaysia.

I'm thinking of registering an LLC to be able to have a long term visa... Still researching about that possibility.

I work for the railway industry in the UK and it seems my skills would not land me a job in Malaysia do the only option is business as it is an area where I also have many years of experience.

Also searching about schools and best areas for expats kids.

I'm planning to go this winter with 2 of our children and stay 3 months to get our bearings from KL.

Any piece of advice will be helpful really.

Hello Fadma,

Welcome on board (even though you're here since 2018 ^^)

Have you already gone through the Living in Malaysia guide for expats ?

Setting up a business could be an option but you need to have the capital.

I hope members will provide some feedback soon.

All the best


@Bhavna hi

Thanks Bhavna. Yes I've read pretty much all of it...

Won't have enough capital straight away. I was hoping to set up the company while on tourist visa, come and go in and out the country for the 1st couple of years and apply to obtain an Employment Pass once I've raised enough capital to get the license for EP...

I don't know if that possible.

@Fadma84 -Hi Fadma,***

Thank you

Bobby - ***

Moderated by Cheryl last year
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Hey BFF128,

Welcome to 1f600.svg

Please note that advertising is not allowed on the forum.

Kindly register your business in the Malaysia business directory.

It is free of charge.


Cheryl team


What you want is nearly impossible. 25 years ago yes, but not today. Your IDEA is correct but in reality i doubt it will work.

I did it your way a long time ago and it worked. Once upon a time a foreigner could open an "enterprise" or sole-proprietorship as a local company and apply for a visa. The company cost was only USD 50 cents and the workpass cost very low.

About 2003 they took that away and forced foreigners to open SDN BHD which are the regular stock-issuing companies. I had to convert. It cost about USD1500 to create the corporate structure, plus about USD60,000 to buy paid-up capital, plus about USD1000 per year to hire a required accountant and corporate secretary. This was torture.

In 2016, the govt re-wrote the laws governing all this. The requirements to open and maintain a SDN BHD severely changed and became excessively expensive, not to mention that the requirements for a company director, YOU, made it nearly impossible to comply. For example, before, I owned all the stock except for two shares, one share given to each of two required local directors and I was the Managing Director. After 2016, the main person, the Managing Director, could no long be a foreigner. The job, with salary, had to go to a local, meaning that the power to control the company was no longer in the foreigners hands.

At that time I was nearly ready to give up and move on, putting the SDN BHD on this very site for sale but there were no takers so we closed it. It was an awful shame because we operated on the older and very liberal rules and with the really low capital requirements that the buyer could simply take over. How dumb that nobody would take the company. How dumb.

Today, you need at least USD500,000 for your paid-up capital, cannot control the bulk of the shares, must create local jobs, and you'll only get a visa if you possess extraordinary skills no local person will ever possibly happen to be Honda or Toyota or something of that level.

The changes were made to discourage and even abolish small, foreigner-owned companies and they accomplished that. Id never even attempt to re-open the very same company I had, id never meet the requirements and frankly I wouldnt care to because to me the country isnt worth it.

If you are undaunted and wish to persist anyway, Id recommend consulting with a malaysia business formation advisor which you can google for. I dont think im allowed to recommend specific companies on the forum. Since 2018 or so I stopped looking at rules so there may be a way for you im not aware of. Im otherwise genuinely sorry I couldnt be more helpful and positive.

@cvco thank you so much for your valuable input and piece of advice. I have done so much research and it seemed to me that yes you had to prove that the visa application was for someone with the skills that no local would have, I thought I could get around that. As for hiring locals that would have been most of my staff eventually.

Now about the capital I had no idea it had to be something around USD 600k..! I thought it was 350 000 ringits...

I've seen advertised an agent that helps foreigners register for sdb dhb... The owner of the company was confident that a visa could be obtained...

I'm rather disappointed by what you are saying and I am convinced you are talking from experience... I normally don't let anything negative stopping me doing what I aim for however your message is very constructive and objective.

I will look into the requirements that are displayed on official websites (I found the Malaysian government's websites rather archaic but will see if it confirms that high capital you mentioned).

Many 👍 Thanks

Sorry to know the incident, cvco

Perhaps, can consider the route of using a Labuan tax company instead

About Labuan, this was a good approach previously but Im not sure today. It has to be newly researched.

Fadma, the straight truth is that it broke my heart to write that post to you because ive prided myself in navigating and winning the struggles and helped others to as well. I would never ordinarily be negative just for fun. And finally I was defeated which in my case was a choice. When I read the Companies Act 2016 and its sweeping changes, i made a decision to not further comply with anything, I was already worn out.

Back on your question, can you open a company and get a visa to work in it? The answer is YES, if you have the nerve, patience and lots of cash to burn. Is it simple and easy? Highly doubtful.

Here is an example which would be among your first hurdles. Unlike me decades back, your Business Formation Consultant is going to write a mission statement for the planned company which today has to be as unique as your skill set. You wont be approved for simply saying "Im going to be a general trading company, doing this and that." Your mission also wont be approved for trades or industries so common that any local could do it. You need something fresh, new, and important.

Here is your next hurdle, the name of your company. I was one year, one whole year, trying for approval of name after name and all were rejected. You were allowed to submit five proposed names per week and I did that for 52 straight weeks. I became desperate and tried a disapproved name in a foreign language and got it approved because the govt reviewer didnt know what I meant (but the public would). The alternative, at least at that time, was to buy an approved name but if I was going to sell wind machines to generate electricity, would I want my company to be called, "Happy Garden Sunshine Flower Roller Skate Co.? That was the type of name available and of course I refused.

Capital. There is no one, single capital level, there are many levels based on what you plan to do. I think food, food service, restaurants, etc have the highest paid-up capital requirement. If the industry is important and desired by the govt, the price could be lower. A consultant would know the current levels.

The basic, overall thing to know is that the govt is against foreigners, does nothing to help them and in fact has been slowly closing the doors for years now. They want your tourist dollars and then quickly bye-bye. There was a time when Malaysia was packed with small, foreigner companies, it was thriving, but today they have mostly cleared out. The costs and responsibilities are too much for the average 1-2 man operations to handle.

There is something else very important for you to consider. Business consultants will tell you YES to anything and you have to pay them in advance, lets say its USD2500. Should they fail in the formation, mission, name, visa approval, etc, its all non-refundable. Does this mean they are scammers? NO, it means there is no guarantee they will succeed in your applications. Some consultants are very well-connected and may send a bribe to grease the wheels and good, you won the game. Others, well, they failed and Sorry, Mr. Fadma, bye. Think about all this carefully. I was six months interviewing consultants before I decided on one.

Not only that, but critically your visa is not an automatic function of having a company, its a separate application process and again with no guarantees. Its possible that you could succeed in forming the company, you paid all the money too, all the time and trouble, you hired a company secretary and accountant, got the business address and bank account, only to find out your visa was disapproved and will never be approved. NOW WHAT?

This brings us to the last important point. Can any plan succeed in Malaysia? For the most part, YES, but with a proviso. You dont have to be smart but you do have to know how to spot smartness in others. When I came to Malaysia at the beginning, I was alone and didnt know anyone or anything. And I succeeded not because I was smart but because I hired competent, vigorous and tenacious people who refused to give up on me.

All that said, the topics I raise here are what caused people to consider other SE Asia countries that are more foreigner friendly. Malaysia is fantastic to tour, hang out, retire too but not for serious business. To me, the dealings with govt and business cause the happy smiles to be quickly wiped off ones face. And thats sad. Life is short, think carefully.

I'm sad to say you kind of put me off... But at the same time I have to thank you for the detailed explanations which show constructive feedback.

Weighting the pros and cons I might have to go back to considering moving to my native country Morocco.

We had a lot of people telling us that Malaysia wasn't what it used to be for foreigners and because of not being explicit I always fobbed them off.


"Malaysia isnt what it used to be" goes to the core of the problem and you'll have to decide for yourself what that means.

Here is an example. When I first came, among the first people I met was an american who owned a language school. He came to Malaysia in 1976, liked it and noticed that there were no native english speakers around who taught English. He decided to stay and opened an office in Kuala Lumpur. As I understood it, the govt was very grateful there was someone willing to do this and gave him either permanent residency or citizenship, i dont remember which, and so he stayed and considered Malaysia his actual home.

There is no such gratitude today and since a very long time. The country is scared to death of foreigners, the presence of which is seen as an evil force capable of wrecking and steering people off of their culture and even their religion (Islam). Though there are bad foreigners in any group, on the whole foreigners have added far more to the country than they have taken away. As an american, I take this for granted since cultural diversity built the country but Malaysia doesnt see it this way, witness the past attacks on McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC which are blamed for changing the diet of the country in a negative way and somehow showing locals that their long food heritage is of little value which is seen as an insult.

Let me back up and give another example of this change. Among my first efforts was to try to get a job in the new film industry here as I had experience in USA. I applied for work with production companies and one day I got a call from a university offering me an instant job teaching my craft. What? I wanted to work, not teach my work to others and thereby create competitors for the very thing I was trying to do. But this is an excellent example of how things changed. In the old days, malaysians were excited that foreigners came, "Wow, look at that, we got noticed!" But as the country gained in experience and ability, the foreigner became less and less important. "Teach us to compete with you, then get out." This was also true of the IT, biofuel and other industries.

The problem with many foreigners, particularly those who previously lived in a free and open country like USA, is that they think the world has become free and open and they can come to Malaysia to do as they please. Its just not true and is becoming progressively worse and less open.

In the old days, and in the noticeable rise of this newer malaysian mentality, I loved what was good about Malaysia enough to suffer any amount of effort or inconvenience to stay. The hard work paid off and I did stay. But I have changed. Wherever I am in the world, we have to start with decent treatment and the willingness of the country to meet me half-way. That really doesnt exist anymore and im tired of fighting to swim upstream while getting nothing for it, in fact just getting further behind because the general mentality towards foreigners is so sour. There are better places, more accepting of a foreigners efforts which in the end can benefit everyone.

You may decide to inherit my older point of view and suffer anything to be here. For that, i applaud you and have no interest in discouraging you. Come, but come with your eyes wide open. Myself, I take responsibility and dont blame Malaysia or anyone for the good or bad of my life. The only issue is whether a person believes its worth it to play increasingly complicated games. For some, it may well be.