how to open travel agency malaysia

The Ultimate Guide To Opening A Travel Agency In Malaysia [2024]

Tourism has historically been a lucrative industry in Malaysia, and recent news reports of 48.6 million domestic and 4.5 million international tourists in Q1 2023 alone suggests no signs of it slowing down.

As a demographic, tourists are willing to pay for convenience and leisure, leading to a demand for travel agencies that help plan their journey. In fact, as of writing this post, according to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture’s records, there are 4629 travel agencies across Malaysia!

tour guide working for a travel agency in malaysia

If you too would like to open a tour or travel agency of your own, this article will guide you on just how to do that (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 requirements that must be met
  2. We’ll cover what a typical registration process should look like (timeline included)
  3. We’ll provide fees when available so you can plan accordingly

P.S. if you’re the rare person who enjoys reading government statutes, most of the information below has been condensed from the Tourism Industry Act 1992, so if you want more details, here’s your extra credit reading assignment.

To normal human beings, let’s start!

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • There are strict requirements regarding your agency’s name and director’s background.

  • At least one key agency employee must attend a MOTAC certified course.

  • All agency guides and vehicles must be registered.

  • The minimum start-up capital can be as high as RM200,000.

  • It can take up to four months to get your travel agency fully operational.

  • Your travel agency must be a member of at least one MOTAC approved association.

  • Keep in mind that your license type will determine if you can only deal with inbound (domestic) or outbound (international) destinations.

  • You must have a physical premise which will be inspected by MOTAC personel to ensure it meets their minimum requirements.

  • Save yourself the headache of navigating government regulations by engaging MISHU to help secure necessary licenses

Minimum requirements for a travel agency

We’ll break this down into three sections: company, shareholder, director, and capital requirements.

Company requirements

Pardon us for stating the obvious, but you will need to first incorporate a company that meets the conditions set by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC):

  • Must have a company name that clearly shows the nature of the business (for example, including terms like ‘travel’, ‘tours’, ‘holiday’, ‘vacation’, and ‘adventure’)
  • Must specifically use ‘To carry business in Tour Operating Business and / or Travel Agency Business’ as the business activity description on e-SSM
  • Must meet minimum paid up capital requirements
  • Must be free from penalties under the Tourism Industry Act 1992
  • Must have suitable premises to perform recruitment activities
  • Must have at least one key employee attend a Travel and Tour Management Course and posess a valid certificate
  • Must register all employed tour guides, drivers, and tour vehicles

Shareholder requirements

  • Cannot hold shares in other tourism operating companies
  • Must have minimum three years’ experience in the tourism industry
  • Cannot be current employee of the federal or state level Ministry of Tourism Licensing Department

Director requirements

  • Cannot be current employee of the federal or state level Ministry of Tourism Licensing Department

Capital requirements

Depending on the specific business activities, location, and residency status of shareholders, travel agencies fall under several categories, each with different paid-up capital requirements as shown in the table below.

Type of Travel AgencyLicense FeeType of ServicesLocationMinimum Paid Up Capital
Inbound Travel AgencyRM450Domestic destinations + ticketingWithin city area / outside city areaRM200,000 for city RM150,000 for non-city
Outbound Travel AgencyRM950International destinations + ticketingWithin city area / outside city areaRM200,000 for city RM150,000 for non-city
Inbound & Outbound Travel AgencyRM950Domestic & international destinations + ticketingWithin city area / outside city areaRM200,000 for both locations

Note: There is an additional RM100 processing fee for each license application.

A location is considered ‘within city limits’ if it falls under the authority of a City Council such as Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.

It’s considered outside city limits if it falls under the authority of a District Council such as Lembaga Bandaran Sabak Bernam.

You can find a full list of City and District Councils in Malaysia here.

Process & Timeline

While there may be slight variances on a case-by-case basis, 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

StepTime TakenNecessary Documents / Fees
Step 1: Company incorporation3 – 5 working daysRegister for account on SSM MyCoID and carry out name reservation + incorporation.

You will be asked to provide the following information:

1.The proposed company name
2. The status of a private or public company
3. The proposed type of business
4. The address of registered office
5. The business address
6. Complete details of directors(s) and promoter(s)
7. Declaration from directors(s) and promoter(s)
7. Declaration of compliance from individuals responsible for incorporation

Fee: RM1,010
Step 2: Apply for premise and signboard license15 – 30 working daysThese must be obtained from the Local Authority where your premise is located. You will be asked to provide the following information:

a. A copy of complete set of SSM documents
b. A copy of the Sale and Purchase Agreement OR Tenancy Agreement
c. A copy of the applicant’s identity card OR passport photo
d. A copy of your office layout plan
e. Photographs of the business premises
f. A copy of the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) OR Certificate of Fitness (CF)
g. Quit Rent (Cukai Tanah) and Assessment (Cukai Taksiran/ Pintu) receipts
h. A copy of the Fire Department’s support letter/ Bomba Certificate
i. Photographs of the outer part of your premises showing where the signboard will be displayed
j. A colour visual of the signboard indicating design, colours and physical measurement

You will also need to undergo a premise inspection by Local Authority officers and be prepared to make changes if requested.

Fee: Differs between municipalities
Step 3: Apply for Travel Agency License with MOTAC30 working days1. Register for an account on TOURLIST, the Tourism Ministry’s online portal

2. Fill in an application form on the Tourism Licensing & Enforcement System. You will need to submit the following documents:

a. The latest SSM E- Info (document printout date should be at least 14 days from the date of application)
b. Coloured copy of MyKad or Passport cf Shareholders and Board of Directors members
c. Foreign directors must already possess an employment pass
d. For foreign companies, a copy of the Company Registration Certificate should be verified by the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, the Malaysian Embassy, or the High Commissioner’s Office of Malaysia in the relevant country.
e. A Letter of Undertaking from the Company Director, Form BA/2 (Appendix B).
f. Letter of confirmation of PERKESO registration for the company as stipulated under the Social Security Act for Workers 1969 for statutory requirement and contribution with PERKESO
g. Banking information: Front page of all bank account statements in the company’s name Director Resolution for all accounts opened in the company’s name

Fee: RM100 processing fee
Step 4: Submit documents and await premise inspection14 – 60 working days (Depending on location)Submit the following documents: 

a. A signed copy of the Tenancy Agreement signed by the company owner and is valid for at least one (1) year or a copy of Sales & Purchase (S&P) if the premises are owned by the company;
b. A sketch of the floor plan; and
c. Color pictures of the inside & outside of the premises
Step 4: Submit TTMC Certificaten/aIt must be attended by a key company employee such as a director or senior manager and be within a year of attending.
Step 5: Submit association membership certificaten/aThe association must be from the list approved by MOTAC (which can be found below).
Step 6: Pay license fee7 working daysOnce you are notified that your premise has passed inspection, you will need to make payment. All licenses are valid for one year. Fee: RM450 – RM900 depending on type of license

State MOTAC premise inspection wait times

Remember how we said it can take up to 14 – 60 working days to have your premises inspected by MOTAC? The different states are split into three zones, each with a different schedule.

 ZoneStatesWait time
AKedah, Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur/ Putrajaya, Johor, and Sabah60 working days
BPulau Pinang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu and Sarawak30 working days
CPerlis and Wilayah Persekutuan14 working days

List of associations recognised by MOTAC

For your convenience, we’ve added hyperlinks to the websites of MOTAC-approved organisations.

  1. MATTA – Malaysia Association of Tour & Travel Agent
  2. BUMITRA – Bumiputera Travel And Tour Agents Association of Malaysia
  3. MCTA – Malaysia Chinese Tourism Association
  4. MITTA – Malaysia Indian Tour & Travel Association
  5. MITA – Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association
  6. CRAM – Car Rental Association of Malaysia
  7. MSDA – Malaysia Scuba Diving Association
  8. PAPUH – Persatuan Agensi Pelancongan Umrah Dan Haji

Obviously, pick the association that will be most relevant to your business niche, and there’s nothing against becoming a member of more than one.

Is that everything you need to know?

Well, yes and no.

Keep in mind this is a guide to opening a tour or travel agency in Malaysia.

In that regard, yes, you know everything you need to start.

readers can now start a travel agency in malaysia

However, successfully running and growing your agency is another matter, and involves a great deal of statutory knowledge above the usual statutory requirements of less regulated industries.

In that sense, no, you probably don’t know everything you need to know.

We’re big believers in just-in-time learning, but perhaps this is something you should plan for even before starting to ensure smooth growth over the long-term.

Let MISHU open your travel agency for you

HOBD Adrian

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

FAQs About Starting a Travel Agency in Malaysia:

  • What are the requirements to open a travel agency in Malaysia?
    💡There are simply too many to list here. Please click here to jump to the corresponding section of the article where we list of the requirements.

  • How much capital is needed to open a travel agency in Malaysia?
    💡Paid up capital requirements vary depending on your location and whether your agency deals with inbound or outbound destinations, but range from RM150,000 – RM200,000.

  • How long does it take to open a travel agency in Malaysia
    💡Again, it varies by location as there is a physical premise inspection that must be done by MOTAC officers but allocate up to 4 months.

  • What is the difference between inbound and outbound travel agencies?
    💡Inbound travel agencies deal with domestic holiday destinations and packages while outbound agencies can include international destinations.

  • What is the Travel and Tours Management Course?
    💡It’s a mandatory course by MOTAC to ensure travel agencies are up to date on their knowledge and serve tourists to a standard of excellence. It’s a two day training course and costs RM800 per person.

  • What is ticketing for a travel agency?
    💡It’s when you sell tickets for busses, trains, and flights. As this can play a huge role in a tourist’s experience, it is a regulated part of operating a travel agency in Malaysia.
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5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Opening A Travel Agency In Malaysia [2024]

  1. Hi Nawwarah,

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