How to register a business in Sarawak: A step-by-step guide

After running around trying to register my own enterprise, I finally understand why there are not that many new businesses springing up here compared to West Malaysia. It’s because it’s so darn hard to get a business up and running and most people wouldn’t know how to do it.

Before this I’ve been trying so hard to find out more about registering a business in Kuching on the Internet but unfortunately there is a severe lack of reliable information online. I decided to write a post about it, hopefully it’s useful to you.

If you’re a Sarawakian and you wish to open up a new business, I gotta say that unfortunately it is a very tedious process. Here, to register a business, we follow a very different and rather archaic set of procedures. Which means there’s no online process and everything has to be done manually.

Akta Pendaftaran Perniagaan 1956 apparently doesn’t apply in Sarawak. Instead, we use the Business Names Ordinance (Chapter 64 Laws of Sarawak) and Business, Professional & Trades Licensing Ordinance (Chapter 33 Laws of Sarawak).

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, please don’t whack me if the information I provide is wrong, haha.

Sarawak Business Registration

Please note that this guide is only for registration of sole proprietorship  i.e. a business under your personal name or a trade name, and NOT a Sendirian Berhad (Sdn Bhd) or Perkongisan Liabiliti Terhad (PLT).

You should know the difference between a sole proprietorship vs company or PLT before starting a business. Anyway, I’ll breakdown the process to easy bite-sized pieces for you to digest.

Part 1: Name Search Process

  1. Head to Wisma Hasil (Ting Pek Khing building opposite Top Spot Seafood)
  2. Proceed to 2nd floor.
  3. Find the “SLIP CARIAN NAMA PERNIAGAAN”. It should be on the table next to the ticket machine.
  4. Fill in at least 2 names if you intend to use Trade Name (i.e. not your own name).  Fill in the nature of business, and complete the rest of the form.
  5. Get a number. Select the “pendaftaran perniagaan” option. Wait for your turn.
  6. The officer will see whether your name can be approved or not. If approved, you’ll get a stack of documents to fill.

These documents should include:

  • Borang IRD No.8 (Trade license application form)
  • Borang R20 (Business Names Ordinance form)
  • Borang TL from Jabatan Statistik

Fill out all the forms as required. If your specific business require another special license, please check with DBKU/MBKS/MPP for information.

Please note that your Name Search is valid for 10 days only. You need to complete your business registration within this period.

Part 2: Business Address & Business Stamp

If you already have a business premise, then great! But if you’re poor like me, you probably need to rent one.  Many people rent a business address from third party. It’s a great workaround option if you don’t intend to rent a permanent premise or shop lot. The company I use is iCube Innovation at iCom Square. Costs about RM300 per year, and they will help receive your mail.

Whichever company you use, make sure you get the

  • Tenancy Agreement
  • Land Title

The company you signed up with or your landlord should be able to provide you with this.

After you get your tenancy agreement, you need to make a business stamp with the FULL address.

Part 3: Form Submission

  1. Go back to LHDN building.
  2. Get your Tenancy Agreement stamped at the stamp duty counter. Costs RM10.
  3. Take number for new business registration again.
  4. Proceed to submit all your forms to the counter. They will check through and make sure everything is in order.
  5. Pay the fees for your business registration. This should come up to about RM77.
  6. Make sure to get the receipt. You’ll need this to collect your business license later.

Collection of your business license

From the submission day until the actual business certificate collection, it was about 2 weeks. So suffice to say that it takes at least 2 weeks to get a business or sole proprietorship properly registered here in Kuching, which is disappointing to say the least. It tells your volumes about the business competitiveness in the state.

Do note that you can have a representative to help you collect the business license.

  1. Bring your payment receipt (the green slip) back to LHDN office.
  2. Go back to the counter where you submitted your form.
  3. Collect your business certificate. Done!

Conclusion

The whole registration process is quite tedious to say the least, as compared to how it’s done over in West Malaysia. For those who are not from around here, I can see why it’ll be quite difficult to set up shop and expand operations to this side of the country. The infrastructure is simply not up to par.

That being said, maybe it’s all on purpose to prevent outsiders from flooding the market? After all, as they say, Sarawak is a gold mine..

52 thoughts on “How to register a business in Sarawak: A step-by-step guide”

  1. Hi, do LLP company has business extract form in Sarawak? As i know sole proprietor and partnership company do have. But not really sure for LLP .

    Reply
  2. Hey, just to ask that, is there any online application for enterprise?

    Another question is that, if I am running an online business, will I be able to register without a physical location (or rented). From what I know, SSM from west Malaysia is not compulsory to have physical location.

    Hope anyone can shed me some light 🙂

    Reply
    • There is online application for enterprise.

      BUT – The problem is if you intend to use Sarawak local address, then the online application will not proceed and they will ask you to go to Kuching LHDN instead.

      Reply
  3. Good afternoon,

    I would like to register enterprise at Kuching sarawak for online business. What should i do? Just follow your step correct?

    Reply
  4. Hi there,

    Very grateful for your post. I just wanted to start an online business and had totally no idea where to start.

    I would like to ask if there’s any rules or by laws that has released to request all online sellers to have a company registered in order to do business over Facebook / Shopee and etc?

    Reply
  5. Hi, Can a Singaporean with a West Malaysian form and register a Sdn Bhd in Sarawak, business operation to be based in Kuching?

    Reply
    • Sdn Bhd can be registered anywhere within Malaysia, and can operate anywhere subject to the local council laws.

      For any business operations that is to be based in Kuching, the condition is same – you still need to apply for a basic Sarawak trade license.

      Reply
  6. Hello! Good Afternoon!

    First of all, thank you so much for this write up. It is definitely clearer than the banker that I met this morning when she told me, I need a trade license to open a banking account here in Kuching.

    I already have a Sdn Bhd company registered in West Malaysia – due to some logistics, I am now based in Kuching. 🙂 So, this morning, equipped with all the necessary documents provided by my CoSec, I went to the bank to start a current account. Suffice to say, mission in-accomplish, due to the MIA trade license.

    Anyway, I was wondering if you would know if “business address” can be my current residential address – which I do have a tenancy agreement – and if any extra documentation required to register a trade license for a sdn bhd. My company does not have physical presence because I’m offering mostly consultancy services.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  7. Hi and good morning
    I am Sarawakian too and i am quite new to this but i appreciate your sharing “step by step” to guide who is have the intend to open their own business. Same goes to me, i have intend to take a risk open up a business be my own “BOSS” 🙂 but i still blur with one things, for new person me, should i apply for Enterprise or Sdn Bhd company and what the different between both? Seek for your advise as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Leia,

      For newbie, start with sole proprietorship or enterprise first, as the cost of Sdn Bhd is very, very expensive in the beginning. Sole proprietorship cost is low and affordable for most people.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Hi,
    Your site very useful. I am sarawakian but working with West Malaysia Sdn bhd company and my role to expand the branch here. What should I do next in order for me to set up the branch here? Can I use trade license from my HQ in West Malaysia? Appreciate your reply.

    Reply
    • You can use your existing Sdn Bhd license and apply for a new trading license from the local council here, but it depends on the type of business your company is conducting.

      Reply
      • Hi there,
        Can I know is there any Act or government website stated that a West Malaysia S/B company can use the existing S/B license to apply a new trading license in East Malaysia? As I am looking for something in writing to support this.

        Reply
        • As far as I know, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s not stated in writing, but you don’t need to establish a separate company just to operate in East Malaysia.

          Reply
  9. I have a question. We need to bring our original trade license to renew right. But what happens if we lost the original trade license?

    Reply
    • According to LHDN Kuching, you’ll need to make a police report. Inside the report, need to state your full business name.

      Reply
  10. Tried to renew my trade license this morning but was told to come early tomorrow to que as they only allows n serve 150 a day ..wondering any other document I need to bring beside my original trade license..company chop or anything else ?

    Reply
  11. Hello, just wany to clarify something because we’ve been looking everywhere for our tenancy agreement, and we couldn’t find it, does LHDN take the original copy of it?

    Reply
    • Hi, yes, I think they do need to see an original copy of the agreement. I can’t remember how it was for me though.

      Reply
    • Hihi…
      I’m also from Sarawak, faced the same problem in register the ssm…
      Then is it possible we use friends or relative residential address at semanjung to register the Ssm since it just require for semanjung address.

      Reply
          • Unfortunately I think you’re right, to avoid hassle, it’s better to register using Semenanjung address but bear in mind you might not be able to conduct business here in Sarawak if you use that business registered in Semenanjung.

  12. Hi admin, is this means that only sarawakian can open sole prop/partnership in East Malaysia? This is only way to register the business not like West Malaysia can do it online through ezbiz ?

    Reply
  13. A helpful guide. Indeed it is a tedious process and can be confusing too.
    Having settled with the business registration then come the annual renewal of trading licence which too, requires to be done manually. I am of the opinion that at this stage of everything can be done online, such simple straight foward transaction should be able tbe done from home or office. That should be the way foward.

    Reply
    • Depending on your business nature, especially if you have a physical location, then trade license is registered under your local council.

      Reply
  14. Thank you Mr. Bong such kind of brief information. It will help me out to start a new company in Kuching.. could you please tell me after getting the licence, how much it will take to open the bank account?

    Reply
  15. Is it possible to register an enterprise company (solely doing online business/transaction) with residential address?

    Reply
  16. Hi, would you happen to know if i will be able to change the name of my Sole Proprietorship which I registered in Kuching about 10 months ago?

    Reply
  17. Yes, now i am stuck at the progress waiting to do tenancy agreement with landlord
    And still might be need apply approval from specific department
    Your info are quite right

    Reply
  18. what if it’s an online business that isn’t necessarily selling locally but process payments to local bank account in Malaysia? also if the person is a foreigner what are the options available?

    Reply
    • As far as I know, any businesses need to be registered no matter if you’re online or offline. The local council license or trading license needed would depend on where your business address is registered.

      For foreigners, it might be slightly more difficult, but there are options such as virtual office whereby you can rent a business address. But you still need to apply for trading license especially if you intend to open a local bank account.

      Reply
  19. Hi. If I want to run my business in Kuching, do I need to register my business with SSM? or just register under MBKS?

    Reply
    • Hello Amy,

      It depends on what type of business you are conducting. You don’t need to register with SSM if you’re not opening a new company (Sendirian Berhad).

      Reply
  20. Thank you Mr Bong for sharing. It’s very informative. In fact, I was trying to conduct a company search in West Malaysia on a company registered in Sarawak. Apparently, I am unable to do so. Company registered in Sarawak is not linked to SSM, West Msia.

    Anyone has any idea of how to go about!

    Reply
    • Good morning Pamela. Apologies for the late reply.

      I had no idea SSM information from East Malaysia is not linked to the West. Unfortunately I am unable to help you in this aspect.

      Reply

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