Setting up an Expat international bank account in Malaysia

Tiffany Jansen
Posted: June 3rd, 2014
Petronas towers Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Petronas towers Kuala Lumpur

You are packed and ready to leave for your assignment in Malaysia. In a couple of weeks you will be living in the Southeast of Asia. But have you organized your banking needs? If not, don't worry we will give you a guide here.

If you are an expat looking to move to Malaysia on a long-term basis you will need an MM2H visa to open a bank account. However, if you do not hold a residency permit then you will need to provide reference from either a Malaysian contact or your company.

Money Matters
The Malaysian currency is the Malaysian Ringgit. (MYR).

The denominations are as follows:
Notes: RM 1, RM 2, RM 5, RM 10, RM 50 and RM 100
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 sen

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted by larger retailers in Malaysia and ATM machines can be found easily. With a "personal savings account" you will be afforded the facilities of an ATM card, this is the PIN card that can be used in shops and for direct debits. Remember, there are additional charges for inter-bank facilities when using ATM machines from a different bank.

Banks in Malaysia
There are a number of banks offering services to expats including local banks like Affin Bank, Alliance Bank Berhad, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, CIMB Bank and Maybank, In addition there are many international banks including Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JP Morgan Chase.

What You'll Need
Here’s a list of items you’ll need to open a bank account:

  1. Your passport
  2. Letter of employment from your employer (if on a work permit)
  3. Copies of work permit (if applicable) and MM2H visa

Good to Know
If you need a facility that allows you to issue cheques then you will need to get a "current account".
Remember that different banks have different requirements for opening a current account. Some banks offer interest bearing current accounts while some do not. So it is advisable to do some comparisons before you commit.

An easier way to open an account in Malaysia is with your current bank from your home country. Providing of course that they have a branch in Malaysia.

It is always good to conduct your own research before opening an account in any country. Shop around until you find a bank that will best suit your needs during your stay in Malaysia. Talk to other expats living in that country so you can get a much better idea of how the banking system works from someone who has experienced the process.

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