How to Open a Bank Account in Malaysia

Contents

    The economy of Malaysia is growing steadily at an annual rate of 4.3%.

    If you’re looking to start a business in Malaysia, move to Malaysia, or simply store your funds in this up-and-coming economy, this article is for you.

    Here, we’ll go over what’s required to open a bank account in Malaysia.

    Gather the Necessary Documents

    Like doing so in any country, you require proper documentation to open a bank account in Malaysia.

    Depending on the nature of your banking needs, there will be different documents required to get your account opened.

    Here is a list of documents you’ll need to get your bank account opened, why you may need them, and how you can acquire some of them.

    • Passport or Equivalent: The first thing you will always need to conduct any type of business is your passport or government-issued identification document. 
    • Letter from Employer or Work Permit: If you are employed by a Malaysian company or work in Malaysia as a foreigner, you will need to provide proof of this in order to open a bank account. Usually, a letter with contact information from your employer will be sufficient documentation for the bank after the bank confirms your employment with a legitimate Malaysian business. Additionally, you can present your Malaysian work permit as one of the documents to gain permission to open a bank account.
    • Letter of Business Partnership: If you jointly own a business in Malaysia with a Malaysian citizen as your partner(s), a signed letter of acknowledgment of your business partnership will be accepted by the bank as an official document. The process of opening an account will be even simpler if your business partner is an existing customer of that bank.
    • Resident or MM2H Permit: If you have recently moved to Malaysia, providing the bank with your MM2H Resident Permit will likely be required to open an account.
    • Fingerprint: This is required by some of the Malaysian banks for their internal recordkeeping. Some banks will require you to come in-person and allow them to take a stamp of your fingerprint for a background check and identity verification purposes. Most of the items on this list can be provided to the bank remotely via a lawyer with the power of attorney, however, the fingerprint cannot.
    • Spouse’s Documents: If you wish to open an account jointly with your spouse, the bank will require their documentation as well. Likely the same documents that they ask of you when you apply for an account.
    • Existing Bank Documents: You will most likely need to show proof that you have an existing bank account with another bank. This will allow the Malaysian bank to check your banking record to determine your eligibility.

    So it is possible to start a bank account in Malaysia as a non-resident, but there are specific documents required to do so. 

    Choose a Bank Account Type

    After you’ve gathered the required documents, it’s time to decide what type of bank account you wish to open.

    Malaysian banks offer three types of accounts to foreigners.

    • Personal Savings Account: A personal savings account is similar to any other personal bank account. There will be an initial deposit and a minimum balance that varies depending on the bank you choose. Upon opening the account, you will be provided with a savings passbook and ATM card. You will encounter fees when making international transfers, as well as ATM withdrawals. Depending on the bank, there will be a minimum balance you must maintain. Falling short of this balance will result in fees being applied to your account.
    • Personal Current Account: In order to open a personal currency account, you must have a good overall banking record or credit score. The initial deposit is a relatively small one, at 1,000 Malaysian MYR, or roughly $250 USD. After about three days from making your initial deposit, you will be supplied with a checkbook and debit card. As a foreigner with a Malaysian current or checking account, your transactions are held to a certain level of scrutiny. The general rule for banking is if you bounce 3 checks, your account will be closed and you will be blacklisted by the Central Bank of Malaysia. This could also affect your visa status. 
    • Combination Account:  A combination account includes both a Personal Savings Account and a Personal Current Account. Upon opening the account, you are supplied with various tools such as a checkbook, ATM card, and others upon request. The advantage of opening a combined account is that you can transfer funds from your savings account to the checking account to prevent bouncing checks. 

    Choosing a Malaysian Bank

    Once you’ve collected the appropriate documents and decided on what type of account you want to open, it’s time to choose the bank to open your account with.

    There are many Malaysian banks to choose from, each with its own perks and advantages. 

    Here is a list of the most popular banks in Malaysia:

    • RHB Bank: RHB offers a robust array of financial services. Some accounts come with complementary debit/credit cards and can be multi-currency if you request that. Individuals and businesses that do business with this bank can enjoy many loan options. The catch is that many perks offered by this bank are only available to Malaysian citizens, or those with permanent residency in Malaysia. Ideal for those moving to Malaysia or conducting business regularly there.
    • MayBank: As the largest bank in the country, Malayan Banking offers a host of amenities for its customers. They are known for their stellar customer service and robust internet banking infrastructure. The bank is so large that its ATMs are located throughout the country.
    • Public Bank Berhad (PBE): The final bank on the list is another very popular Malaysian bank. PBE offers similar services to other banks such as multi-currency accounts and optional debit/credit cards. Additionally, PBE offers unique cashback options as well as interest on deposits.

    Once you’ve followed all of these steps, you should have successfully opened a bank account in Malaysia that meets all of your needs!

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