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Malaysia Trade Barriers, 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.

Trade Barriers

  • The Government of Malaysia (GOM) operates a system of import licensing for a number of items, including arms and explosives; motor vehicles; heavy construction equipment; certain drugs and chemicals; plants; timber; soil; tin ore, slag or concentrates; and various essential foodstuffs. Malaysia also has an export licensing system, along with export duties in some instances, for specific commodity exports such as textiles, rubber, timber, and palm oil.
  • Imports of meat and poultry are regulated through licensing and sanitary controls. All imported beef, lamb, and poultry products must originate from facilities that have been approved by Malaysian authorities as “halal”, or acceptable for consumption by Muslims.
  • Malaysia is not party to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, and as a result, foreign companies do not have the same opportunity as some local companies to compete for contracts, and in most cases are required to take on a local partner before their bids will be considered.

Import Tariffs

  • Tariffs are the main instruments used to regulate the importation of goods in Malaysia and the simple average applied normal trade relations (NTR) tariff rate is 8.56%.
  • Import duties range from 0% to 50% and can be found on the US-ASEAN Business Council website (Note: The site provides both CEPT rates under AFTA, as well as NTR rates applicable to U.S. goods and Malaysia follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) for the classification of goods).
  • For further information on import tariff rates, please visit http://tariffs.customs.gov.my.

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.

U.S. Export Controls

  • Exports and re-exports of munitions, dual-use commodities and technology to Malaysia are subject to U.S. export controls. The Department of State is responsible for military items, and the Department of Commerce is responsible for items with both commercial and military uses.
  • U.S. companies exporting to Malaysia need to apply for an export license from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) if their products or services are controlled for any of the following reasons: CB1, CB2, NP1, NS1, NS2, MT1, RS1, RS2, CC1 and CC3.
  • If a firm does not know its export commodity control number, it should contact its local U.S. Export Assistance Center for more information on BIS Commodity classification, or review the Export Administration Regulations database.
  • Additional information about the types of products covered may be obtained from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade or the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Temporary Entry

  • Malaysia acceded to the Convention on Temporary Admission of Goods (ATA Convention in 1988) and information on temporary entry of goods under the ATA is found in Chapter 8 of our Commercial Country Guide.

Labeling and Marking Requirements

  • All imported consumer goods must identify the importing agent, typically accomplished by affixing a label after foods have cleared customs.
  • Pre-packaged drugs must be labelled in English or Bahasa Malaysia, indicating the substance and its components.
  • Malaysia requires nutrition labeling for all food products. Foods that have been enriched or fortified with specific vitamins and minerals must have a declaration of the amounts of these nutrients on the label. The mandated nutritional guidelines closely follow Codex guidelines. American standard RDA guidelines will not be accepted; instead nutrients must be expressed as a percentage of the Codex recommended Nutrient Reference Value (NRV).
  • Companies may apply stickers that contain the nutritional information in lieu of producing packaging specifically for the Malaysian market.
  • All meat, processed meat products, poultry and eggs must receive Halal certification from Pusat Islam in order to bear the halal mark.
  • For more information on these regulations, please follow this link: http://www.fama.gov.my/web/guest/247

Prohibited and Restricted Imports

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

Customs Regulations and Contact Information

  • Malaysia follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) for the classification of goods.
  • 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.

Standards and Conformity Assessment

  • Malaysia adheres to the WTO’s “Standard Code” on Technical barriers to Trade.
  • 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 on development of standards and quality certification services. As such, SIRIM is the lead agency for product testing and quality marks. For a full list of certification marking, visit http://www.sirim-qas.com.my/certlist2.asp.
  • There are a few important national testing organizations that operate under SIRIM and define the structure and objectives of national standardization as well as ensure the functionality and quality assurance of products.
  • For a list of conformity assessment bodies, visit the Department of Standards Malaysia website and click on “Accreditation” and then on “Directory of Accredited CBs” as well as on “Directory of Accredited Labs”.
  • For product certification, Malaysia is part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement.
  • The Department of Standards Malaysia provides accreditation services to certification bodies, inspection bodies and testing and calibration laboratories.
  • Malaysia’s legislative body produces an official gazette entitled Government Gazette. Proposed and final technical regulations are published but accessing the government information over the Internet requires a subscription.
  • The website LawNet provides basic information and accepts feedback on any number of subjects.
  • U.S. firms can review and comment on proposed standards and technical regulations through the SIRIM Berhad website, by clicking on “Corporate Ads” and then “Public Comment”.
  • A list of existing standards can be found on the same site, by clicking on “Online Services” and then “MS Catalog Online”.

Trade Agreements

  • Malaysia is a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), which aims to reduce trade barriers among the member countries over a 15-year period.
  • Malaysia has signed and implemented bilateral FTAs with Japan and Pakistan and recently concluded FTA negotiation with New Zealand.
  • Malaysia is also a party to five regional FTAs, namely ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-Japan, ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand and ASEAN-India.
  • Malaysia is negotiating bilateral FTAs with India, Chile and Australia and the regional ASEAN-EU FTA.
  • In 2010, Malaysia agreed to enter into multilateral trade discussions with the U.S. and other members of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP). Negotiations on the TPP are still ongoing.
  • The U.S. and Malaysia signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in May 2004. The TIFA established a Trade and Investment Council (TIC) that meets several times a year to discuss ways to improve the bilateral trading relationship.
  • Malaysia is also a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group.

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.