Most cars in Malaysia are locally produced as high import duties make importing foreign cars expensive. The car industry is a major part of the Malaysian economy. Its importance has increased since the establishment of Proton in 1985 and Perodua in 1993. Both manufacturers are heavily supported by the government.
Importing a car into Malaysia is very expensive. Import duties can be much more than a car's value. It is also expensive to buy parts for foreign cars, making them difficult to maintain. A person who chooses to import a car to the country needs to meet the following conditions:
To import a car, an application must be made to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for an Approved Permit. This is an importing licence. The car to be imported must have been registered in the home country of the person applying. The following documents are needed to support a letter of application addressed to the Ministry:
Certified translations must be provided of any documents which are not in either Malay or English. The application and documents need to be presented at either the main MITI office in Kuala Lumpar or at one of the branches in Sabah or Sarawak. A short interview is also conducted. Processing of the application and issuing of an Approved Permit, which is valid for three months, usually takes about seven days.
Once the car arrives in Malaysia, the owner must collect it in person from the port of entry. The car is inspected by PUSKAPOM, the Malaysian vehicle inspection agency. They inspect vehicles on behalf of the Malaysian Customs Service. A bill of lading and an Approved Permit must be shown at the inspection.
Once the car has been inspected, import duties must be paid. The duty depends on the purchase price of the vehicle, the date it was first registered, the model, engine size, and the date of import. The car is not released from customs until the duty has been paid. For current information on the cost of importing a particular car, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department should be contacted directly.
The Malaysia My Second Home programme is a government scheme to allow foreigners who fulfil the criteria to stay in the country on a multiple entry social visit pass. The pass is valid for 10 years and is renewable. People who have entered Malaysia on this scheme can apply to import a car. The car must have been registered in their name for at least six months before their visa was received. Applications must be made within six months of their social visit pass being granted. The car must be for personal use only and under this scheme the owner is exempt from paying import duty, excise duty and sales tax on the car. A person who has been in the country on this programme for at least two years may sell the imported car.
An imported vehicle must be registered with the Malaysian Road Transport Department. The following documents are needed to support an application to register a vehicle and to get Malaysian number plates:
A licence, or Approved Permit, is also needed to import a motorcycle into Malaysia. The procedure is the same as for cars.
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