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..

91 Comments
  1. Your article has been tremendously helpful in clearing out some of the questions I have had about registering a company in Sarawak. Being a Sarawakian, I too find it preposterous that the local authorities still use manual methods to perform this relatively simple task. It’s 2021 (the 21st Century), for goodness sake!

    Anyway, thank you for posting this very informative article.

    However, I do have an additional question (apologies if it has been answered elsewhere);

    I have a sole proprietorship and a partnership registered in West Malaysia. Eventually I plan to go back to Sarawak one day soon. I understand that if I do so, I will have to register such details at LHDN Kuching. So is this possible? (Registering my sole proprietorship and partnership here over to Sarawak)?

    • Thank you for your kind comment. Glad you found the article useful.

      You don’t have to re-register your sole proprietorship again, unless you are moving your place of business back to Sarawak. In this case you have to change your business address at LHDN Kuching.

  2. Thanks for the information. I had a very bad experience going through the process at LHDN Kuching to be honest.

    Went to submit my documents on 08/04/2021 morning but was turned away by the guards at the gate because I did not make appointment (he said for new business registration I must make appointment but I couldn’t find an online link for this). He then gave me a slip (pretty dodgy hand-filled piece of paper I would say) asking me to come back again on 7 July 2021 (3 months later) by which time I obviously have to redo the name search process.

    So I searched online but couldn’t find such specific appointment requirement for new business registration on LHDN website. Very bad experience indeed dealing with not only the process but also certain personnel. Weird that when I was there for the name search 3 days earlier, the other staff did not inform me of these and let me proceed through the name search process and asked me to go back once I am done with my documentation.

    Guess I’ll have to try my luck again when another personnel is on duty…

  3. Hi Ian,

    I’d like to thank you for how much this article has helped me. Wish we have more Sarawakian bloggers like you.

    Thanks
    Peter

    • Thank you!

      • Hi Ian! This is definitely super useful in comparison to all the other info I’ve gotten.

        As you mentioned here this is your experience as a Sarawakian, do you happen to know if the same process applies to non-sarawakian like sabahan?

        • Ian Bong 13/04/2021 at

          I’m not sure if the process is the same for non-Sarawakian, might wanna call up LHDN Kuching and enquire.

  4. Hi Ian, thanks for writing this up to make things easier for us especially during CMCO.

    If the landlord is a sdn bhd renting premise to the tenant. Does the tenant need to have the s/b’s form 49 for his trade license application? Based on what i read above, it seems the tenant only needs the tenancy agreement and the land title but i’d like to double check.

    is the document requirement different for different industry for trade license application such as car wash business?

    Thank you in advance for your help

    • Hi Stanley,

      1. From my understanding, the tenant doesn’t need the owner’s Form 49 – but best to check with LHDN again.
      2. For Sarawak trade license purposes under Businesses, Professions And Trades Licensing Ordinance, the documents required should be same. Only certain industries like F&B, karaoke etc need to have extra licenses from local council (for e.g. MBKS, DBKU – each council will impose different requirement for different industries).

  5. Hi Ian Bong,

    Can you contact me immediately? I very rushing for setting up a enterprise in MIRI, but I have no idea the procedure, can you simply guide me the process?

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing this very useful info. I just have one question, is it true that only Sarawakians can open businesses in Sarawak? Is it possible for west malaysians to also set up a business in Sarawak?

  7. Hi, this is a great article! I have a question in regards of the tenancy agreement and the land title document. Do I need to have both or does having a tenancy agreement already suffice? Thank you

  8. Thanks for your step by step guide! I wanted to start a partnership business with a partner. However i was confused when i was filling up the form at LHDN , i was asked to only provide my own name without my partner. I chose “Company” over “Enterprise” because i thought it sounds better. Am i doing it wrong or is it fine ?

    • I don’t think the name has any issue. You are free to choose any name provided it is available in the register.

      A bit odd they didn’t ask you to provide partner name though. Did you tell them you are starting a partnership?

      • Yes i did. i was given the large green paper including 3 other forms. Not sure what to do with it. Its my first time though. Any advice ? thanks in advance

        • Ian Bong 03/03/2021 at

          Just fill them up as instructed, should be fine.

  9. Good guide . I am just about to register my own business..and in fact what you said about Part 1 and 2 is correct..
    thanks..

  10. Hi Ian, that’s a great article and as you mentioned that you used iCube as the rental address for RM300 per year, can iCube help to register your business or do you yourself still have to go LHDN and manually fill in the form after obtaining their land title and tenancy agreement?

    • You’ll have to register the business yourself as they don’t provide business registration service as far as know.

  11. Great write-up Dr Bong. Im a Sarawakian currently working in KL. If my existing sdn bhd was registered with SSM in KL, but i have plans to move back to Kuching to continue my business (F&B), would i have to re-register a new Sdn Bhd?

    • No need. Sdn Bhd can operate anywhere in Malaysia. But you’ll have to update your SSM record pertaining to your company’s business address (place where you do business). You’ll also need a business license from the local council, as well as trading license from Sarawak government. Can get from LHDN.

  12. Young Man Doctor … frankly your writing style is cute and ground flowing … not the high-nosed bullshit.
    Keep us your AOH (after hours hours) maintenance of this
    to keep your jocular nature up. Good work … keep it up

  13. Firstly, thank you so much for sharing with us some valuable information on how to set-up a sole proprietor/partnership in Sarawak. I had some difficult time to gather information on the Ordinance. And yes you are right that the Business Registration Act 1956 is not applicable in Sarawak and as well as Sabah (except for Labuan). However, the Companies Act 2016 and Limited Liability Partnership Act 2012 is applicable for both states. I found this link from the Malaysia Government portal (https://www.malaysia.gov.my/portal/content/30342) helps a lot too.

    • Thanks for the positive comment and the link. I’ll add more info to the article soon.

  14. Hi, want to ask will iCube Innovation at iCom Square give you tenancy agreement and copy of land title for registration of company?

  15. Thank you for the insightful content.

  16. Reply
    Terence Ting Jekshuen 03/11/2020 at

    Hi, may I know it is normal that new trade license needed 3 months to process?

    • That’s a bit unusual, normally within 1 day can settle if all documents are complete. What kind of trade license are you applying for?

  17. Hi, i have a home business that I’ve registered as an online business with ssm but I’m based in kuching. I even went to the ssm office here and the person who attended me said i could apply to register as long as i have a west msian address. (i was researching on online businesses so i didnt come across your site before this) I did that but only today i learned that ssm does not cover sarawak or sabah. Should i terminate my business registration and redo the whole thing with lhdn here? Sayang also la because i bought licensing for 2 years.

    • For Sarawak based home businesses, unfortunately you’ll have to register via LHDN as you correctly pointed out that SSM doesn’t register sole proprietorships in Sarawak (not sure why this is so). And worst part is it can’t be done online.

  18. Hi. Thank you for the step by step guide on registering a new business in Sarawak. Would you be able to share on how should I start in order to register my new business under LLP? Do I need to go to LHDN or can I just do register it online at home? Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    • LLP is relatively straightforward, you can register online.

      • Thank you. I’ve registered online. However, do i still need to apply for the trade license at LHDN for LLP business type?

        • Yes, registering the LLP means you just create the business as an entity.

          But in order to operate in Sarawak, under Sarawak local ordinance, you’ll still need the trading license. And depending on your nature of business, might need additional licenses from local councils (if applicable).

  19. 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 .

  20. 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 šŸ™‚

    • 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.

  21. Good afternoon,

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

  22. 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?

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

    • 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.

  24. 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. šŸ™‚ 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!

    • Hi sir, your Sarawak trade license can be registered using residential address.

  25. Reply
    Leia Blayong 15/06/2020 at

    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” šŸ™‚ 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.

    • 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!

  26. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  27. Reply
    GRACE TAN LANG TSE 03/06/2020 at

    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?

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

  28. 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 ?

    • Yes, bring your original trade license and your business stamp (with the full address).

  29. 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?

    • Hihi…
      Iā€™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.

      • You mean to register a Sdn Bhd or a sole proprietorship?

        • Sole proprietorship…

        • 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.

    • 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.

  30. 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 ?

    • Hi,

      I’m not so sure on this requirement. Probably will need to check with LHDN. But as far as I know, to register in Sarawak, ezbiz cannot be used.

  31. Hi Bong,
    Can I know how to transfer some of my sole proprietor business share to my daughter?

    From
    Alex, Bong008@hotmail.com

  32. 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.

  33. if want to register sdn bhd at sarawak need to register trade license to ?

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

  34. 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?

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

  36. 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?

  37. 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

  38. 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?

    • 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.

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

    • 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).

  40. 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!

    • How Pamela, so have u gt the answer? Whether east msia is linked west msia?

    • 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.

  41. Very helpful, Sarawakian need more blogger like you..thanks for the information

Leave a reply

Fiholic
Logo
Reset Password
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0