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Malaysia Regulations, and Standards

There are a variety of regulations and standards you should know when planning to do business in Malaysia. Below are additional summaries of select elements on these topics from our Country Commercial Guide (CCG) Malaysia. See the Doing Business in Malaysia page on this site for additional items. For a copy of the guide, or for further details on doing business in Malaysia, please email office.kualalumpur@trade.gov.

Import Tariffs

Malaysia’s tariffs are typically imposed on an ad valorem basis, with a simple average applied tariff of 6.1 percent for industrial goods. For certain goods, such as alcohol, wine, poultry, and pork, Malaysia charges specific duties that represent extremely high effective tariff rates. Duties for tariff lines where there is significant local production are often higher. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) has been repealed and the old Sales and Service Taxation (SST) with possible modification will commence in September 2018. Malaysia is having a three months GST free holiday from June-August (2018).

More information on import declaration procedures and import restrictions can be found at the Malaysian Customs website.

Import Requirements and Documentation

The following documents are required by Malaysian customs for exporting products to Malaysia:

  • Invoice
  • Packing list
  • Delivery letter
  • Leaflet, catalogue or other related documents
  • Insurance certificate, if insured
  • Bill of lading / airway bill
  • Letter of credit (if used)
  • Permit, licenses/ certificates
  • Proof of fare payment
  • A declaration form (Customs Form No. 1) that indicates the number, description of packages/ crates, value, weight, quantity and type of goods and country of origin
  • Completed Custom forms should be submitted to Customs offices at the place where the goods are imported or exported.
  • All duties/ custom taxes imposed on imported goods will need to be paid in advance before the goods can be released. Taxes to be paid include import tax and sales tax.

Additional documentation may be required to certify US content. U.S. exporters are advised to confirm documentary requirements before shipping.

U.S. Export Controls

The United States imposes export controls to protect national security interests and promote foreign policy objectives. The United States also participates in various multilateral export control regimes to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and prevent destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons and related material. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) administers U.S. laws, regulations and policies governing the export and reexport of commodities, software, and technology (collectively “items”) falling under the jurisdiction of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The primary goal of BIS is to advance national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership. BIS also enforces anti-boycott laws and coordinates with U.S. agencies and other countries on export control, non-proliferation and strategic trade issues.

BIS is responsible for implementing and enforcing the EAR, which regulate the export and reexport of items with chiefly commercial uses that can also be used in conventional arms, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist activities, or human rights abuses; and less sensitive military items, including “production” and “development” technology.  

BIS’s Export Administration reviews license applications for exports, reexports and deemed exports (technology transfers to foreign nationals in the United States) subject to the EAR.  Through its Office of Exporter Services, Export Administration also provides information on BIS programs, conducts seminars on complying with the EAR, provides guidance on licensing requirements and procedures, and presents an annual Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy as an outreach program to industry. EA’s Office of Technology Evaluation analyzes U.S. export data on items subject to the EAR, BIS license application data, and global trade information to assess data trends. OTE’s data portal provides excerpts from statistical reports, along with data sets to enable the public to perform analyses of exports and licensing on its own (https://www.bis.doc.gov/data-portal).

U.S. exporters should consult the EAR for information on how export license requirements may apply to the sale of their goods.  If necessary, a commodity classification request may be submitted in order to obtain BIS assistance in determining how an item is controlled (i.e., the item’s classification) and the applicable licensing policy.  Exporters may also request a written advisory opinion from BIS about application of the EAR to a specific situation. Information on commodity classifications, advisory opinions, and export licenses can be obtained through the BIS website at www.bis.doc.gov or by contacting the Office of Exporter Services at the following numbers:
Washington, D.C. Tel: (202) 482-4811 Fax: (202) 482-3322
Western Regional Office Tel: (949) 660-0144 Fax: (949) 660-9347
Further information on export controls is available at: Licensing
BIS has developed a list of "red flags," or warning signs, intended to discover possible violations of the EAR. These are posted at: Red Flags
Also, BIS has "Know Your Customer" guidance at: Know Your Customer
BIS provides a variety of training sessions to U.S. exporters throughout the year.  These sessions range from one to two days seminars and focus on the basics of exporting as well as more advanced topics.  A list of upcoming seminars can be found at: Training Sessions
The EAR does not control all goods, services, and technologies.  Other U.S. Government agencies regulate more specialized exports.  For example, the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls has authority over defense articles and services.  A list of other agencies involved in export control can be found on the BIS web site or in Supplement No. 3 to Part 730 of the EAR, which is available on the Government Printing Office Web site at: Access GPO
A list that consolidates eleven export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State and the Treasury into a single search as an aid to industry in conducting electronic screens of potential parties to regulated transactions is available here: Consolidated Screening List

Temporary Entry

  • Malaysia acceded to the Convention on Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Convention) in 1988. An ATA Carnet (a. k. a. "Merchandise Passport") is a document that facilitates the temporary importation of products into foreign countries by eliminating tariffs and value-added taxes (VAT) or the posting of a security deposit normally required at the time of importation.
  • For information on how to obtain an ATA Carnet, please see Export.gov ATA Carnet
  • Compedium of Temporary Admission Practises of ASEAN Member States

Labeling and Marking Requirements

The leading certification, inspection and testing body in Malaysia is Sirim QAS, a subsidiary of SIRIM Bhd. SIRIM Berhad, formerly known as the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, is the government-owned company providing institutional and technical infrastructure for the Government.It also provides marks for a variety of certifications.

Product Certification Requirement

Rules on the use of SIRIM QAS International Certification Marks

To verify SIRIM labels, please contact the following:
Tel: (+60) 3 5544 6805 / 6840
Fax: (+60) 3 5544 5655
Email: fauziaha@sirim.my /sroslina@sirim.my

Prohibited and Restricted Imports

Quantitative import restrictions are seldom imposed, except on a limited range of products for protection of local industries or for reasons of security. Seventeen percent of Malaysia’s tariff lines (principally in the construction equipment, agricultural, mineral, and motor vehicle sectors) are also subject to non-automatic import licensing which is designed to protect import-sensitive or strategic industries.

For a list of prohibited and restricted items, please see the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s website: Royal Malaysian Customs

Customs Regulations and Contact Information

Malaysia follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) for the classification of goods. All imported and exported goods into the country must be categorized based on the Malaysian Customs tariff numbers. Any queries regarding classification of import and export goods should be made to the particular customs station of which the goods are to be imported. For more information, please see the Royal Malaysian Customs’ website Royal Malaysia Custom.

For additional customs regulations please refer to the Procedures and Guidelines section of the Royal Malaysian Custom’s Department website: Procedure and Guidelines.

For inquires/information, please contact the Royal Malaysian Customs’ Offices: Customs Contact

Trade Agreements

Malaysia has always been a trading nation. Strategically located along the Straits of Malacca, it sits on a major shipping channel that connects the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Malaysia recognizes the importance of international trade and relations to the nation’s growth and development; gross exports of goods and services constituted 73 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017. Fifty-one percent was in services and 22 percent in manufacturing. Given Malaysia’s reliance on international trade, Malaysia has adopted liberal trade policies and puts a high emphasis on regional and bilateral trade agreements.

Malaysia joined the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) in 1957, and was therefore a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which replaced the GATT. Malaysia has established bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the following countries:​ Australia, Chile, India, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Turkey.

At the regional level, Malaysia through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has established the ASEAN Free Trade Area. In addition to Malaysia, ASEAN’s members include: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is a trade bloc agreement to support local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. ASEAN collectively represents a market with a GDP of more than $2.2 trillion and a population of 620 million people. The primary goal of AFTA is to increase ASEAN's competitive edge as a production base in the world market. The secondary goal is to attract more foreign direct investment to ASEAN. The Common Effective Preferential Tariff, through elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers within ASEAN members are the main instruments in achieving its goals. Through ASEAN, Malaysia has regional FTAs with China, Japan, Korea and India, Australia, and New Zealand.

Other concluded trade agreements include: Trade Preferential System-Organization of Islamic Conference (TPS-OIC), and Developing Eight (D-8) Preferential Tariff Agreements (PTA). FTAs currently under negotiation are: Malaysia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (MEUFTA), Malaysia-EFTA Economic Partnership Agreement (MEEPA), and ASEAN - Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA).

Since the United States’s formal withdrawal from TPP in 2017, the remaining TPP countries formed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and signed the agreement on March 8, 2018. However, the new Malaysian government has stated its intent to scrutinize the agreement, including potentially reopening negotiations.

Malaysia is party to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, which is a FTA between the ten ASEAN members and six countries of which ASEAN has existing FTAs. The goal of the RCEP is a more comprehensive regional economic integration among its members. The RCEP also aims to simplify and harmonize the member countries’ respective bilateral FTAs.

The RCEP negotiating members are: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. If the RCEP is accepted, it will be Malaysia’s largest multilateral agreement, comprising about 29 percent of world trade. The previous government had stated its intent to conclude the RCEP agreement in 2018; however, this has not yet been reiterated as a goal of the current government.

For further details on Doing Business in Malaysia, U.S. companies and U.S. commercial organizations may send an email to office.kualalumpur@trade.gov to get a copy of our most recent Country Commercial Guide (CCG). Exclusively for our U.S. clients and partners, this guide presents a comprehensive look at Malaysia’s commercial environment, reviews economic and political conditions and trends, identifies commercial opportunities for U.S. exports and investment, and also the overall investment climate in Malaysia. CCGs are prepared annually at U.S. embassies and represent the combined efforts of several U.S. Government agencies.

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