Reading time: 4 minutes

To expand your Malaysian business into Australia and remain compliant with Australian law, you will take some key steps as a business owner.  This article will also highlight some factors you should know about Malaysian-Australian commercial relationships.  

Choosing an Appropriate Business Structure

Once you determine that you are conducting business in Australia, you can decide which business structure is most appropriate for you.  There are many different structures you may choose from, and these include setting up as a: sole trader; trust; company; joint venture; partnership; or foreign company.  

If you are expanding your Malaysian business to Australia, it is likely that you will want to incorporate an Australian subsidiary company or register as a foreign company.  

Incorporating a company in Australia or registering a foreign company

A company in Australia is a separate legal entity.  You may incorporate as a proprietary (private) or public company, and it may have limited or unlimited liability.  It is most common that a business will decide to incorporate as a private company that is limited by shares. This is because a private company is, generally, cheaper to run and has fewer disclosure obligations.   

To incorporate your company, you will need to register with Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).  To successfully register with ASIC you will need to take the following steps:

  1. Select a name for your company and check that is it not in use.
  2. Adopt a “company constitution” or choose to operate under the replaceable rules, or a combination of these.
  3. Obtain written consents from each person who agrees to become a director (note: should you select to incorporate as a private company, you will need to have at least one director who resides in Australia), secretary or member of the company.
  4. Complete ASIC’s application form and lodge it together with the relevant fee.  The application form is available on ASIC’s website.   

Registering a Foreign Company

If your company is incorporated in Malaysia, you may wish to expand to Australia by operating as a  registered foreign company in Australia. A registered foreign company can hold land in Australia and may sue and be sued.

To successfully register as a foreign company with ASIC, you will need to do the following:

  1. Ensure the name you wish to register is available.   You may search this through tools that are on the ASIC website.  You also have the option to reserve a name for two months while you organise the necessary documents for your registration.
  2. Assemble the following documents: a certificate of registration from the Securities Commission Malaysia; a certified copy of your company’s constitution; memorandum of appointment of the legal agent or power of attorney in favour of the local agent;  and if there are any directors that reside in Australia you will be required list them and state their powers in a memorandum.
  3. Complete ASIC’s relevant application form.  Then, together with the applicable fee and the above documents, lodge the form with ASIC.
  4. Once your application is successfully submitted, ASIC will give you an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN).

Note as a business owner you will need to apply for a Tax File Number and Australian Business Number and, where appropriate, you will need to register for GST.

Key Malaysian and Australian Stakeholders

Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC)

The MABC is a non-profit business organisation that was established in 1986 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The MABC promotes the interests its members who base themselves in Malaysia and who have business links in Australia.

You might seek to become a member of the MABC.  Members of the MABC must pay an annual fee subscription and are exposed to a range of membership benefits. The benefits include: helping members to establish and develop business contacts in Malaysia and Australia, providing members advocacy and assistance in dealing with Malaysian government department and providing members with regular updates of business news, to name a few.

Australia Malaysia Business Council (AMBC)

The MABC has a sister organisation in Australia, the AMBC.  The AMBC was established in 1988 and works in close collaboration with the MABC.  It similarly has the goal of supporting and promoting business investment opportunities between Australia and Malaysia.  

Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA)

The MAFTA came to force on 1 January 2013 and has resulted in increased trade between Malaysia and Australia.   The MAFTA simplifies administration for traders between the two countries and reduces import and exports taxes.  Under the MAFTA, you will happily learn that Malaysian exports benefit from duty-free entry into Australia.  Malaysia will eliminate tariffs (taxes) on 99 percent of goods imported from Malaysia by 2017.  

If you are looking to expand your Malaysian business into Australia, get in touch with our business lawyers. Call us on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards