Before Covid-19, Malaysia’s hotel and tourism industry can be said as one of the most thriving sectors amongst ASEAN countries. Its reputation as one of the world’s leading tourism countries was proved by thousands of tourists flocking to its shores each year. To start a hotel business in Malaysia, the entrepreneur is required to apply its relevant hotel licenses.

Process to acquire Hotel License in Malaysia

The regulating authority which is responsible for the implementation of provisions and enforcement in the tourism sector is the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. They ensure that the requirements of the Tourism Industry Act and Tourism Vehicles Licensing Act are adhered to.

To start the business, there are four (4) stages the entrepreneur need to go through:

  • Company incorporation– The entrepreneur is to appoint a Company Secretary to kick start the Company incorporation.

  • Employer/ Employee registration– Once Company is incorporated, the business may initiate bank account opening as well as proceed to register its file with Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) as well as Inland Revenue Board – Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN).

  • Pre-operational approvals – Once the business is set up, the Company will need to acquire accommodation unit license from Tourism Industry Act and Tourism Vehicles Licensing Act. Another license is the signboard/advertisement licensing which are normally acquired from the City Hall of each state.

  • Additional license approvals – It is common for hotels to have parking lot, hair salon, souvenir shops, restaurants, and many other units within the building. Hence, all these units are required to have separate licensing in order to start operating.

In terms of the legal aspect to start up a hotel business in Malaysia (assuming the building is completed and ready to be occupied), the Company is required to have at least a minimum of 12 approvals to start up the business smoothly. However, depending on the business activities the hotel provides, there may be up to 22 license approvals the Company is required to have.

Any entrepreneur who intends to operate a hotel establishment in Malaysia will be required by the law to have their business registered and licensed. This must be done before operations can commence. The types of licensing that will be required include:

  • Tourist Accommodation Premises License (issued by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture)
  • Signboard and Premise License
  • A Halal License
  • License to sell alcoholic beverages in your hotel’s bars, restaurants, and coffee shops
  • License for the use of advertisement and commercials on the hotel’s premise
  • License to create a swimming pool and parking lot on the hotel’s premise
  • License for indoor facilities and entertainment
  • License to open a beauty salon within the hotel (if applicable)

Things to consider before operating hotels in Malaysia

  • Hiring of foreign workers require necessary visas
  • The cost of starting your business and the available source of funding that you have
  • The competition is high within Malaysia’s tourism sector, and it is important to survey who your competitors are before your set up your business. This can easily be done through market evaluation.
  • You will need to source for highly qualified individuals to fill the roles within your business. Working with an employment agency in Malaysia can help with sourcing employees who will be the right fit.
  • Choosing the right location is going to determine the volume of business that you receive throughout the year.

Hotel operators who intend to hire foreign workers in their hotel establishment will need to get the necessary Malaysian work permit visas. The hotel management industry is all about providing great customer service and experience to your guests, so hiring the right staff makes a difference!


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  1. Jan January 19, 2022 at 9:19 am - Reply

    I’m thinking of opening a combination of simple cafe (1st floor) + guest house (2nd floor)
    Which licences should apply?

    • Paul Hype Page January 20, 2022 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Jan,

      You will need to register your company before licensing. We’ll be glad to help in your company incorporation and advising with your application for licenses.

      Do drop us a text on WhatsApp and our sales team will advise you further:

      Thank you!

      Best Regards,

  2. Allyson Samugam April 3, 2021 at 12:26 am - Reply


    I would like to ask does a boutique hotel in Malaysia need a license to operate a small gym and which license is it? Also, does the hotel need to pay copyright music or royalty to play any song for the gym?

  3. NAS December 28, 2020 at 10:28 pm - Reply


    is Malaysia hotel need to have license for storage of cleaning chemical for housekeeping and laundry?

  4. isaac immanuel November 25, 2019 at 11:45 am - Reply

    what is it required to open a cafe in a hotel?

    • Tiwiyah Kumaran December 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

      Hello Isaac,

      You will require certain licenses before you may set up a café in a Malaysian hotel. Depending on the products to be sold, these include but are not limited to the Signboard License, Halal License, and Wholesale Retail Trade License, among others.

      If you would like to know more about Malaysian business licenses, contact us at any time.

      Thank you.