There are many reasons why you might wish to set up a company in a foreign country; you might have enjoyed a few holidays in a country and would like to relocate and start your own business, especially those who are approaching semi-retirement. Whatever your reasons, when looking at setting up a business in a foreign land, it is vital that you seek expert legal advice from a local English-speaking lawyer, as they have the know-how and the resources to help you.

Complex Process

If you thought it was hard to set up a business at home, try doing it in a non-English speaking country where you know little about the customs and the laws. This is why you need the help of a law firm that handles company formation for foreigners. Southeast Asia is currently a very popular destination for ex-pats who are looking at setting up a business and the markets are both stable and strong.

Choosing the Right Type of Business Registration

Let’s take Malaysia as an example, here are the various types of businesses that a foreigner can register.

  • Representative Office (RO) –

This is ideal for a business owner that wishes to carry out some hands-on market research and this type of business can employ foreigners to work in the office. It should be noted that this is a non-trading entity and therefore is not limited to local restrictions. Here are a few effective B2B strategies, if you supply businesses.

  • Private Limited Company (PLC)

This is the most popular choice for business people that are ready to rock and roll; a trading entity that allows 100& foreign ownership, you can also obtain the correct visa that allows you to work. The company is liable to local laws and can be set up very quickly, usually within 7 days.

  • Foreign Branch Office (FBO)

Perfect for a foreign company that wishes to expand their markets to include Malaysia and the business activities can reflect the headquarters. There must be one foreign resident agent to manage the branch office, and that person can claim non-resident tax status. Furthermore, there is no time limit when registering an FBO, it can be extended indefinitely.


The Importance of Compliance

The most important thing about doing business in a foreign country is compliance with the many laws and regulations and that is why you should seek out a reputable law firm that is based in the destination country.

They can help you in many ways, such as:

  • Facilitating the business registration
  • Sourcing local partners
  • Outsourcing local office work
  • Connecting with local partners
  • Taxation
  • Business advice
  • Assisting with asset acquisition
  • Property purchase/leasing


If you are planning to launch a business in a non-English speaking country, you will need accurate translation for all promotional content, while cultural suitability might also be a potential issue. Your local law firm partner has all the connections and can hook you up with a provider of accurate translation for any content you wish to use.

Hiring Local Staff

If you do need to hire local staff, your local law firm partner can source people on a freelance basis, or they can screen applicants to be directly employed. Most foreign businesses use a third party to source local labor and the relationship you have with the local law firm means you can hire reliable staff.

Local Nominees

Sometimes it is advantageous to have a local nominee and should you have no real connection in that country, your law firm partner can certainly source the right people. Without a law firm, it would be difficult to do anything in a foreign country and you do want the best advice when planning a business launch.

Spend Time in the Culture

If you are planning to relocate and set up a new business, you need to be sure that this place is right for you; take a long holiday in Malaysia if you are thinking about setting up a company there and immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle, which will prove to be invaluable at a later stage.

Online Solutions

If you would like a free video call with a local law firm in the destination country, Google can help you locate such a business and with no obligation on your part, you can have an informal chat with an English-speaking lawyer who can offer you the best advice. Malaysia has a very robust economy and if you are interested in setting up your own business, talk to a local law firm that has extensive experience in helping foreigners set up a business.

Fortune favors the brave and if you have the goal to set up a business in a foreign country, a local law firm can help you in more ways than one.

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