List of businesses you can start in Malaysia as a foreigner


This Article was Reviewed by The Chief Editor, Godfrey

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Did you recently move to Malaysia or looking to move to Malaysia? Indeed, Malaysia is one of the most vibrant countries in Southeast Asia with a growing economy, this article will guide you through how to settle in and start a business in Malaysia as a foreigner.

Starting a Business in Malaysia has never been easy, a lot of foreigners who sprout into this very great country in the past few years were able to dig into the core economy of this country and succeeded, so this post is for you if you feel Malaysia is a place you want to invest

A lot of times, so many foreigners in Malaysia end up caught in between the business economy and so many do not know which business to start in this part of the world that would not result in a waste of time.

Well out of 13% of foreigners who move to Malaysia, they usually have an idea for business ideas to invest in, but these other questions people also ask, is my idea feasible to implement a Foreigner in Malaysia?


Take this from me “There are so many opportunities to explore in Malaysia, there are just so many businesses you can start as a foreigner in Malaysia so come take your time to read through this post as we dig into the very businesses with a good investment worth in Malaysia.

Before going to start a business in Malaysia as a foreigner, consider the following important factors.

So if you relocated to Malaysia or have been living in Malaysia looking for the best opportunity to dive into the labor market, it is safe to say that you may currently not have enough information about the opportunities here and the ecosystem, to avoid making mistakes we have curated post for you.

So without further ado, let me show some wise considerations to analyze why thinking of a business to start in Malaysia.

  1. The first thing to observe before starting any business in Malaysia is the cost of starting that business
  2. The second point to ponder on is, does the business require a trade license?
  3. What location or city do you wish to settle in?
  4. What kind of problems do foreigners starting a business in Malaysia face?
  5. Will the business structure be regarded as a 100% foreign-owned entity?

If you can suitably provide positive answers to the above 5 points, then you are good to begin planning your business development.

But what do we mean exactly? Let’s look at the points we mentioned above concretely.

1.      Observing the cost of the business:

businesses you can start in Malaysia as a foreigner checklist

A very wise approach for any foreigner looking to start a business in Malaysia is to first examine the cost of starting the various business opportunities that are present.

In actuality this is the very challenge a lot of foreigners in Malaysia faced, they most times are not able to gather enough capital to sustain a particular business in Malaysia and so they are usually a restriction they have to face.

For example, their businesses might require getting registered to enable smooth operations, but there are still edges around this, most of the time business registration fee with authorized Capital required for incorporation of a Malaysia Company is one of the many financial challenges that might present itself to you.

In the case the business you plan to start is the type that involves distributing of products and service, your cost will include franchise, training and agreement fees as well as recruiting of staffs (people) who will help you in the long process, and then there is the cost related to purchasing the goods.

Another common financial challenge you might encounter which is a norm of starting a business anywhere is, the cost for office/shop space (usually amounts to 2 months of rental and 1-month utility fee).

For those who plan to build their own office space in Malaysia to start their business then there is cause for concern when it comes to renovation costs, which will depend on the type of buildings, fittings, and furniture.

Finally, there are also financial concerns required to the initial amount required to opening a Bank account for your business in Malaysia, the money required ranges from RM1,000 to RM5,000 depending on the bank.

These are some financial challenges that may present themselves in your journey.

2.      A business requiring a trade license:

While examining the business to start in Malaysia as a foreigner, there is a need to examine if you will need to register the business to obtain a trade license.

This is always important if you plan to go big, a business that wants to obtain trust, or those that involve customers’ finance and properties, or any serious business, it will be important to have the business registered in Malaysia.

As opposed to starting an ordinary franchise business, people pulling out as a company would require a trade license, so look at the business you plan to start carefully and understand the kind of trade license you will need.

3.      What Location or city do you wish to start your business in Malaysia?

There is evidence that Malaysia has emerged as one of the best environments for startups, Small-medium enterprises SMEs for example have little tax to worry about.

Also the success of the particular business you plan to start involves the particular location you wish to trade in. Figure out where would be the best place for your startup, analyze the cosmopolitan opportunities in that city, easy distribution access and then commence your business.

4.      What major problems do foreigners starting a business in Malaysia face?

This is very important, a lot of foreigners dive into business without understanding what works in this country and how they work, well you can learn from the mistakes made by foreigners who also worked towards starting a business in Malaysia.

And what you must bear in mind is that, you have to observe before you start, do not rush to start your business. Some opportunities might not be for you, find the most suitable opportunities to leverage as a foreigner. Sometimes there are businesses for example that are not allowed by the governments for foreigners. So research and understand the market and avoid making too many mistakes.

5.      Will the business structure be regarded as a foreign-owned entity?

The answer to this question depends on if you plan to start your business alone or involve others, perhaps citizens of Malaysia, and then the ownership structure will be decided.

Be careful on this part especially if you own 100% of the business, consult lawyers and ensure that you set up your business properly and avoid encountering future loss.

List of businesses to start in Malaysia as a foreigner

Now we will present to you a well-researched list of 7 businesses to start in Malaysia as a foreigner after looking into some conditions of business operations that we have discussed above now let us dive into the business that you can start in Malaysia.

These businesses have a good market and you can succeed well in it, another thing that we did mention is the demand of the service to be rendered, and since we know this is also a forever important factor to consider before starting a business we decided to carefully analyze and present to you the business with good market demand.

  1. Hair cut business for small starters
  2. Restaurant business
  3. Fashion company
  4. Laundry business
  5. Offer professional services
  6. Smartphone and gadgets repairs for small starters
  7. Coffee shop

The above list of 7 business ideas is an ideal business for a foreigner that is looking to settle here. The business idea we have mentioned most of these do not require a huge set-up cost and some do not require a trade license.

It means you will do well and be able to easily start if you consider any of the businesses mentioned above.

So many people who move in from Nigeria and other parts of the world always worry about the kind of business to start in Malaysia as a foreigner, and just as there are many investment platforms in Nigeria and other parts of the world there are also investments platforms in Malaysia.

Now let’s share some more information with you on how to go about these businesses.

1.      Haircut business in Malaysia: 

businesses you can start in Malaysia as a foreigner is haircut business

Haircut is a good business, why we put this first in our list is not far-fetched, it is the easiest to start and yet very lucrative.

For this, it is not required to have a trade license as long as you have the skills, and if you don’t there are places to learn haircuts within Malaysia.

So if you are just settling In, before thinking of starting a very serious business you can try this particular business opportunity.

Fortunately, the haircut business is always a high-demand service which means you will be able to scale through the economy. Pick a very good location and set up your haircut salon, get the right equipment you need and that is it, you are in business.

One advice we don’t fail to give foreigners starting a business in Malaysia is this, if you are new to the business space, look for someone you can trust to show you the ins and out, you can also examine for yourself and see how things work in this part of the continent.

2.      Restaurant Business:

Start a restaurant business in Malaysia

The second idea on businesses you can start in Malaysia is to open a restaurant, on a scale of preference and easiest to start this is one of the businesses that will always head in the right direction because food is an everyday need and you can start either big or small.

If you plan to launch a very big restaurant in Malaysia as a foreigner or even as a local, it might be required of you to register the business.

After that, you might need to also hire people who can make good dishes for Malaysian citizens, to get a good toast out of your business try to include a menu for foreigners like you and this will make you more successful in running a restaurant business.

But if you plan to start small, you do not require a trade license, you can simply find a corner or rent a space and begin your restaurant business, and if there is growth you can then expand your restaurant business into something big.

3.      Fashion Company:

businesses you can start in Malaysia as a foreigner is fashion business

The next on our list of businesses to start in Malaysia as a foreigner is the fashion business.

Everyone loves fashion, people wear dresses every day, whether, for foreigners living in Malaysia or for locals, you can also dive into the space of fashion.

To succeed you need to research and be sure of the kind of fashion choices people make since you are not a native of Malaysia, or hire people who are native of Malaysia to work with you in your fashion company.

This business moves very well and is also easy to set up as long as you have the right cost needed in setting up.

4.      Laundry Business:

Laundry is the next on our list of businesses you can start in Malaysia, for this business, you do not require some complicated skills and you don’t have to worry about getting a trade license, all you need to set up an office in a place where you are sure there is a good population then you can begin your laundry business.

The Business is easy to run, and requires a little capital to pull up, so if you are a foreigner in Malaysia having a hard time deciding on which type of business to start, you can consider a laundry business.

5.      Offer professional service:

Talking about professional service it comes in different categories, the question is which area would you be able to fit in?

For example, you can work in an organization as an engineer depending on your qualification, in banks, in social organizations, as a plumber as a carpenter, a teacher and the list goes on.

See if you have the right qualifications then find a suitable opportunity, slide into it and you should succeed.

There are maybe little opportunities if you are looking at finding jobs in organizations compared to starting up on your own, it all depends on your reach and interest.

6.      Smartphone and gadget repairs:

This business is also easy to get into, if you have skills in fixing phones, laptops, and gadgets then this business can be for you, simply look for a space to set up your office or shop and you can start making a living.

This business is good for starters; you do not have rt worry over a trade license.

7.      Start a coffee shop:

Start a coffee shop business

The last business to start in Malaysia as a foreigner that we will share with you today is starting a coffee shop. We mentioned this as this is one of the interesting businesses to start in Malaysia with good profit.

All you do is open a shop in a crowded area, around shopping malls and you will end up smiling at the end of each workday as a coffee business is lucrative.


We hope that this article on businesses you can start in Malaysia has been helpful. Please leave us a comment below about your thoughts, objections, and contributions. Thank you.


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About the Chief Editor

Godfrey Ogbo, the Chief Editor and CEO of AtlanticRide, merges his environmental management expertise with extensive business experience, including in real estate. With a master's degree and a knack for engaging writing, he adeptly covers complex growth and business topics. His analytical approach and business insights enrich the blog, making it a go-to source for readers seeking thoughtful and informed content.

2 thoughts on “List of businesses you can start in Malaysia as a foreigner”

  1. Hello and have a nice day ,,,
    I read the useful information on your site,
    I am a 64-year-old Iranian man and my wife, 55,
    We have traveled to Malaysia twice before as a tourist.
    We are now planning to set up a small production workshop for making Iranian sweets, donuts, cream puff and cupcakes, as well as a shop for our workshop products in Malaysia. I wanted to know how much this would cost the government, and your help in getting a license and all permitions for work,, How much will it cost in total to get a pastry and bakery license( workshop and shop and work permits. ) without a doubt.
    Please advise, workshop and shop need, one License or two,
    and can you provide financial management and support services to our company as long as we live in Malaysia?

    • Hi, unfortunately, this is a guide to help you navigate the country, we don’t actually help people get the licensing. I hope the information helps you in your journey though.


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