Working in Kuala Lumpur



The expat population in Malaysia is quite small; about 35,000 expats in the report released by the Malaysian Office of Statistics. A majority of expats lives in KL and are employed in the oil and gas industry.

General Outlook 

Due to the stringent law on foreign immigration, and the reluctance of the companies to go through the process of application, employment opportunities tend to be restricted for expats. Often, job vacancies are filled through internal transfers. Furthermore, the Malaysian government is encouraging companies to hire locals.  

However, there are online recruitment agencies that job seekers can check for opportunities. CLSearch, Jobstreet Malaysia, JobsDBMalaysia, Kelly Services, and Knowledge Worker Exchange are some of the recruitment agencies in Malaysia.  

Sectors that are in demand for skilled foreign workers include IT and communications; those in managerial positions will most likely be granted permits easily.  

Work Visa and Other Requirements 

The application for a work permit, sometimes-called employment pass, is a tedious process to those without a potential employer. Requirements for employment pass are mostly handled by employers. A dependent pass is needed if expats are bringing his family. 

Immigration requirements state that qualified applicants need to be at least 27 years old or 21 years old for those seeking employment in the IT industry.

Foreigners granted a work permit will be issued an expatriate card, which serves as the local ID. The card will be sent to the HR department of the expat's employer; validity of the card will be the same as the work permit.  

Changing job is possible; however, a "cooling off" period of six months is followed before a new permit can be issued.  

Business etiquette  

Expats used to a fast-paced working environment will be surprised of the laid-back business climate in Malaysia. English is widely spoken in the city. Although it is not a must to learn Bahasa Malaysia, it can be a useful tool for conducting business. 

Be reminded that the left hand should not be used when accepting or receiving gifts as it is considered rude. When giving or receiving business cards, one should use either both hands and the right hand.  

Working Hours 

By law, one cannot work for more than eight hours or 48 hours per week except in certain circumstances. Office in the private sectors starts from 9AM to 5PM, Mondays to Fridays with a one-hour lunch break. Lunch breaks on Fridays may be longer to allow Muslim workers to perform afternoon prayers.  


A work permit holder has a monthly minimum wage of 8,737 RM. Basic salary packages for expats include medical insurance, rent allowance and airfare while some will be offered a generous package, which include transportation.




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Work Guide

Expat Services in Kuala Lumpur