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a guide for entrepreneurs on how to open a spa in malaysia fast

The Complete Guide To Opening A Spa In Malaysia [2024]

For those interested in setting up a spa in Malaysia, this guide fully covers the requirements, processes and timelines involved (and a pitch at the end to let MISHU handle it for you).

Here’s how we’ll break it down:

  1. We’ll begin with the list of mandatory requirements
  2. We’ll cover what a typical registration process looks like (timeline included)
  3. We’ll provide fees when available so you can budget accordingly

But first, a word of warning!

Are you sure about this?

We don’t often ask this of potential clients, but in this case, we feel it wouldn’t be right of us to NOT ask you if you’re certain about setting up a spa.

As of January 2024 there are only 82 active spas in MOTAC’s database, so the market is nowhere near saturated. However, spas in Malaysia were among the hardest hit by Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown in 2020, with news reports that over half the centres in Malaysia had been wiped out by Q3 2021!

spa news report
Looks like the industry got absolutely Thonos’d.

As consultants, we urge you to consider the risks of a business fully reliant on in-person service.

entrepreneur who is eager to learn how to open a spa in malaysia
Shut up and just tell me how to set up my spa!

Alright, no need to get testy – let’s begin.

Mandatory requirements for a spa

Spas fall under the purview of the Ministry of Tourism (MOTAC), who have set out the following mandatory requirements:

  1. Qualify for at least one of five spa classifications
  2. Valid premise and signboard licenses from the Local Authorities
  3. A list of products used with Notification of Product approval from Ministry of Health
  4. Staff with correct qualifications, work permits, and of legal working age
  5. Meet hygeine standards by the Ministry of Health and Local Authorities
  6. Meet fire and safety standards by Fire and Rescue Department
  7. Be a member of a spa association recognised by MOTAC (links at the end)

Honestly, compared to other businesses, these are pretty easy to satisfy! 

Let’s elaborate on some of them.

Spa classifications

MOTAC uses a star-based system to classify spas, with one star as the lowest and five stars being the higest classification. The rating is determined by assessing a spa based on six criteria with different weightage:

Criteria PointsWeightage (%)
Statutory requirements9010
Facilities & equipment9025
Products, treatments, & programs7030
Standard operating procedures8020
Staff9010
Aesthetics205

The scores are then adjusted for weightage and tallied based on a maximum score of 100. For your convenience, we’ll just share the requirements to achieve a one-star rating.

Criteria 1 Star Requirements
Statutory requirements
  • Hold valid and registered business licenses from Local Authorities
  • Hold valid spa license or its equivalent from the Local Authorities
  • Qualify within at least one of the Categories of Spa type
  • Use only registered products and treatment equipment approved by the government
  • Legally compliant age, qualification, and work status of employees
  • Comply with cleanliness standards required by the Ministry of Health
  • Comply with fire and safety requirements required by the Fire and Rescue Department
  • Staff entitlements as required by law (SOCSO, EPF etc.)
Facilities & equipment
  • At least three treatment beds separated by curtains
  • A clear reception area
  • Changing area with privacy and suitable facilities like hangers and disposable slippers
  • Dedicated toilet and shower with hot water
  • Provide at least one water-based treatment
  • Provide brochure with prices and treatments
Products, treatments, & programs
  • Basic range of government-approved products and treatments
  • Therapists are properly qualified and/or certified
  • Provide at least one facial treatment
  • Provide a complete range of body treatments
  • Provide at least two types of full-body massage
  • Provide at least one type of aqua therapy treatment
Standard operating procedures
  • Must have operational manual covering:
    • Openings and Closing
    • Reception Procedures
    • Payment Procedures
    • Guest Records
    • Security & Safety
    • Employees Record
    • Basic Treatment Protocol
    • Grooming, Cleanliness and Hygiene Standards
    • Linen Upkeep
    • Repair & Maintenance
    • Equipment Safety
    • Sexual Harassment
Staff
  • At least one supervisor and two therapists who are suitably qualified and proficient in English or Bahasa Melayu
  • Uniforms that are modest, clean, practical, and ideally reflecting the local culture
  • All staff must undergo annual medical checkups
  • Have staff changing area and lockers
Aesthetics
  • Provide an environment that is safe, practical, and hygienic through the use of appropriate lighting, sound, scents, and regular maintenance
  • Must have spa collaterals including:
    • Logo
    • Letterhead
    • Business cards
    • Spa brochure

Provided you can satisfy these requirements, you’re all good!

If you’re curious, click here to see MOTAC’s official scoring requirements to achieve higher ratings (warning: it’s a long read).

Therapist qualifications

Local therapists have two ways to qualify:

  1. Certification from a massaging / beauty treatment field from an institution recognised by the Ministry of Human Resources.
  2. Minimum one year experience in the massaging / beauty treatment industry with a verification letter from the previous employer.

Foreign therapists have only one way to qualify:

  1. Certifications from a massaging / beauty treatment field recognised by the government of their country of origin and verified by the association party.

It should also go without saying that foreigners need a passport and valid work permit.

Therapist health screenings

For health screenings, local therapists can be screened at any government or private clinic, while foreign therapists must receive a screening from the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (FOMEMA).

MOTAC-recognised spa associations

As of Janaury 2024, there are only two such associations:

  1. Malaysian Association Of Wellness & Spa (MAWSPA)
  2. Association of Malaysian Spas (AMSPA)

There is no real difference between them, so feel free to apply for both so that you can satisfy MOTAC’s requirement as soon as possible.

Process & Timeline

While there may be slight variances, consider the following steps, respective timelines, and the documents/fees required. 

Fortunately, MOTAC has digitalised their document submissions and license application process via their online portal TOURLIST.

Step Time Taken Necessary Documents / Fees
1. Company Incorporation 3 – 5 working days
  • Register for account on SSM MyCoID and carry out name reservation + incorporation.
  • Provide information on:
    • Proposed company name
    • Status (private or public)
    • Type of business
    • Registered office address
    • Business address
    • Details of directors and promoter
    • Declaration from director and promoters
    • Declaration of compliance from individuals responsible for incorporation.
  • Fee: RM1,010
2. Apply for Premise and Signboard License 15 – 30 working days
  • Obtain from Local Authority where premise is located, providing:
    • SSM documents
    • Sale and Purchase Agreement or Tenancy Agreement
    • Applicant’s identity card or passport photo
    • Office layout plan
    • Photographs of business premises
    • Certificate of Completion and Compliance or Certificate of Fitness
    • Quit Rent and Assessment receipts
    • Fire Department’s support letter/Bomba Certificate
    • Photographs of outer part of premises showing signboard location
    • Color visual of signboard design, colors, and physical measurement.
  • Undergo premise inspection by Local Authority officers.
  • Fee: Differs between municipalities
3. Apply for Spa Certificate of Rating 30 working days
  • Fill in a new application form, including the following documents:
    • Licenses from Local Authorities
    • Association Membership Certificate
    • List of products used with Notification of Product approval from KKMA
    • Therapist qualification certificates and work permits
    • Standard Operating Procedure
    • Training Manual
    • Spa Marketing Collateral
    • Treatment Menu
    • Business Card
    • Health screening for therapists.
  • These must be submitted to the MOTAC State Office.
  • Fee: None
4. Premise Inspection by MOTAC Officers 10 – 21 working days based on application backlog
  • MOTAC officers conduct assessment based on six criteria.
  • Findings submitted to a panel of experts for final review.
5. Final Review by Panel and Certificate of Rating 7 working days after panel decision
  • Spa can begin operating, and Certificate of Rating is valid for three (3) years.

Spa Certificate of Rating renewal

As mentioned in the table above, a Spa Certiicate of Rating is valid for three years, after which your spa must submit itself for reclassification. 

The reclassification application must be submitted three months before the current Certificate of Rating expires. Here are relevant links for a reclassification:

Is that everything you need to know?

Look, we’re big believers in just-in-time learning, and a spa isn’t meant to be rocket science, so take it one step at a time, and whenever you get too stressed, treat yourself to a facial!

business owner who has just set up a new spa in malaysia
A towel is all that separates a spa owner from a serial killer.

Keep in mind that this is a guide to opening a spa in Malaysia. 

Successfully running your spa is another matter, and In that sense, no, you probably don’t know everything you need to know.

Worry about that later – let’s get your spa up and running first!

Let MISHU help open your spa

Co sec Manager Fenny

MISHU’s team of business license experts can help make setting up a spa effortless for you. Tell us what you need and we will do our best to assist you – so get in touch!

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2 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Opening A Spa In Malaysia [2024]

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for getting in touch.

      Our Client Servicing team will be getting in touch with you, and we wish you all the best with the baby spa!

      Sincerely,
      The MISHU Editorial Team

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