Opening a Bank Account in Malaysia

Understand what is required to open a bank account in Malaysia...

Opening a bank account before going to Malaysia

Foreigners should find international banks with branches in Malaysia. Contact the bank for specific information about opening an account.

Opening a bank account in Malaysia

For work permit and business investor visa holders, a valid work permit and a letter from an employer or investment partner are needed to open a bank account. Foreign business investors need the following documents to open a banking account:

  • Valid work permit
  • Letter of business partnership
  • An introduction from their business partner who has an account at the bank

Foreigners intending to relocate to Malaysia on a long-term basis need an MM2H visa to open a bank account. This visa is valid for ten years, offers multiple entries, and can be renewed. There are agents authorised by the Malaysian government who can help applicants to get an MM2H visa.

The following documents are required to open a bank account:

  • Original passport and photocopies
  • Letter of employment from the employer (if on a work permit)
  • Copies of work permit (if applicable) and MM2H visa

Types of Accounts

There are three types of accounts available to foreigners in Malaysia:

  • Personal savings account
  • Personal current account
  • Combination of a personal savings and current account

These accounts can also be held jointly with a spouse who has the relevant visas and documents. It is fairly easy to open any of these accounts and the procedure takes about an hour. Most banking staff speak English.

Personal savings account

A savings passbook and ATM card are issued when the account is opened. In most cases the ATM card is either a Visa or MasterCard debit bank card. Passbooks can be updated at automated passbook teller machines, or over the counter. Cash can be withdrawn at any teller machines that carry partner-affiliated ATM facilities, such as the Malaysian Electronic Payment System (MEPS), Plus, Visa or MasterCard. These partner logos are usually found at the back of the ATM card.

ATM debit cards can use the Visa/MasterCard service of deducting the cost of purchases or services directly from the card at a store checkout counter (provided there are sufficient funds available in the account). There are additional charges for inter-bank facilities when using ATM machines from a different bank.

Personal current account

Opening a current account usually requires a person who has a good record at the bank of choice to introduce a foreigner. The minimum amount required for opening a personal current account is generally MYR 1,000.

The account holder is issued with a cheque book after about three working days. Funds in the account cannot be accessed until the cheque book is ready. Most companies accept cheques, except for certain retailers. The penalty for three occurrences of dishonoured cheques is severe: the account is closed and the account holder's name is blacklisted by the Central Bank, which can have serious repercussions for the account holder's visa status.

A bank statement is issued each month and sent to the account holder's address.

Combination of a personal savings and current account

A cheque book and ATM card are issued; usually no savings passbook is issued. Balances in the savings account and current account are itemised in one bank statement, which is sent monthly to the the account holder's address. All other cheque book facilities and regulations are the same as for a current account, and for the use of ATM cards.

The benefit of a dual account is that funds available in a savings account can be transferred to cover inadequate funds in a current account to prevent dishonoured cheques.