Importing goods to Malaysia? What you should know?

Ever experienced buying something from abroad only to have your goods stuck at the customs, and then having to navigate a long process to get it released? Even if you have never gone through it yourself, surely you have heard someone going through that experience. In today’s borderless economy, it’s very common to buy goods from abroad – especially in the age of e-commerce. And in any country, importing or exporting goods is not a straightforward process. If you are an individual or a company looking to import goods from abroad into Malaysia, and are wondering what does it take to do so, read on.

First things first, can I even bring it in?

Just google ‘how to import goods into Malaysia’ and you will some a few articles – most of them start with ‘register your company with the Companies Commission of Malaysia. Sounds easy for the first step, eh? But what if I am just an average Joe buying things from an online store in, say, China or US?

Actually, the first step is to determine whether you are even allowed to import that product into Malaysia. In general, goods fall under three categories:

  1. Goods that are prohibited from being imported to Malaysia.
  2. Goods that can only be imported into Malaysia upon receiving special permissions (i.e. licence, permits etc).
  3. Goods that can be imported into Malaysia without any special permissions.

The list of goods that are prohibited outright can be found here. Now that #1 is out of the way – determining the difference between #2 and #3 is not exactly easy. The whole list of #2 (and also #1) can be found here.

And yes, it’s very, very, very long list.

The remaining goods not mentioned in #1 or #2 are free to enter Malaysia. Yippie!

What if I need an import license?

Okay, so you found that the goods that you want to import requires a special permission. And if you think that a single government agency issues all import licenses or permits – sorry to disappoint, unfortunately that is not the case. Although for many types of goods, the Customs department issues the import license, there are many other government agencies and ministries that are involved in approving importations of goods. To be fair, the government does not mean to make our lives as citizens or businesspeople difficult. Each government agencies is the subject matter expert and the custodian of the relevant types of goods, so naturally it is more logical to leave the approvals to these experts.

Now let us see some examples of goods and the relevant licensing authorities:

No Example of Goods Relevant authorities
1 Communication and Multimedia products such as IT and networking products, products that are enabled with Wifi, Bluetooth, 3G, RFID, PSTN, ISDN etc SIRIM and Malaysian Communications And Multimedia Commission (MCMC)
2 Electrical Products such as lamp, fan, television, Air- Conditioner, Rice Cooker, Water Heater, Washing Machine etc SIRIM and Energy Commission (Suruhanjaya Tenaga – ST)
3 Leather products such as leather shoes, handbags, belts or wallets Department of Wildlife & National Parks (DWNP or commonly known as PERHILITAN)
4 Plants, animals, carcasses, fish, agricultural products, soil and microorganisms including parts of animals (except for permits issued under the Plant Quarantine Act 1976) Malaysian Quarantine & Inspection Services (MAQIS)
5 Safety motorcycle helmets for personal use Road Transport Department (RTD/JPJ)
6 Food stuff and drinking water Bahagian Kualiti Keselamatan & Kualiti Makanan (BKKM), Ministry of Health
7 Drugs and Cosmetics National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency(NPRA), Ministry of Health
8 Motor Vehicles, Iron and Steel Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)
9 Logs, wood in the rough, plywood, laminated wood, sawn timber etc
  • Malaysian Timber Industry Board and Department of Agriculture (For importation into Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan)
  • Forestry Department of Sabah, Forest Department Sarawak and Department of Agriculture of Sabah and Sarawak (For importation into Sabah and Sarawak)

How do I apply?

Once you have identified the relevant authorities issuing the import license or permits, the next step is obviously to apply for them. In this digital age, the government have provided an online platform called DagangNet to facilitate the online application and approval of permits.

I’ve gotten my license or permit, what’s next?

Now that we have the hardest part – the approval part of the way, the next step is to prepare for the documentation.

Do ensure to provide the following documents to customs officials:

  • Customs Export or Import Declaration;
  • Commercial Invoice;
  • Bill of Lading;
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin; and of course….
  • your hard-earned import license or permits.

One last thing to remember – some goods are subject to import taxes and tariffs. Your goods may enjoy a reduced or exempted tariff, especially if you are importing from countries with whom Malaysia has signed a Free Trade Agreement. So, be sure to check on those too.

Phew, that sounds like a tedious process to import to Malaysia, isn’t it? Especially if you are an individual.

However, if you are worried about navigating all the above processes, or do not have the time or manpower to do so, we can help. Especially if you are a businessperson, let us help you while you focus on your business. Click here to contact us.

 

 

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