Can You Import Your Own Car Into Malaysia ?

With import duties on vehicles among the highest in the world, there’s a reason why most of the cars you see on Malaysia’s roads are manufactured locally.

Still, with the end in sight for the internal combustion engine, some car fanatics are getting the feeling that it is now or never.

If they are going to get the Ford Mustang or Subaru WRX over which they have been fantasising, it’s time to face the bureaucracy head-on. Let’s find out what’s involved.

Approval permit

Unsurprisingly, most car imports into Malaysia come from Japan. However, you might also be shipping your beloved vehicle from the USA, UK or anywhere else.

Regardless of where it comes from, what make and model it might be or how old, you will need an approval permit, which can only be issued by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

Obtaining a permit is not straightforward. The biggest obstacle is often that you are required to have owned the vehicle for at least three years.

No problem if you’re an expat bringing in a classic that’s been passed down like a family heirloom, but a real headache if it’s something you want to buy specifically to import.

If you can meet this requirement, you will also need to provide evidence that the car is yours, its title or registration documents, proof of insurance and identity documents for yourself, including your passport, driving license and, if applicable, work permit.

Note that when issued, the approval permit is valid for only three months, so only apply for it when you are ready to act.

Toyota MR2

The shipping process

Shipping costs could be anything from USD2,400 to USD5,000 depending on where your car is coming from and its dimensions. The lower end applies to a small car, such as a classic Toyota MR2, being imported from Japan.

If you are still happy to go ahead in that price range, it is worth keeping in mind that most good shipping agents will take care of all the documentation for an extra USD200 or so. It would be foolish to do anything else. 

Taking receipt of your car

Jumping through the bureaucratic hoops, booking a slot in a container and then waiting nervously for your precious car to arrive can be a long and stressful process. When it finally gets unloaded at the docks, you’ll probably want to hop straight in and hit the road.

There’s a little more to do before that, however. First, note that as the registered owner and importer, you must collect it in person.

You then need to apply to the Malaysian Road Transport Department for a permit to drive it on the public roads. This will necessitate more paperwork plus an inspection.

Most drivers in Malaysia are put off importing due to the costs and hassle. However, if you have a car that is truly special to you and are desperate to import it, it is possible to do so if you have the funds, patience and determination.

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