Can a foreigner open a bank account in Malaysia? Guide for foreigners

Hannes Ausmees

If you’re moving to Malaysia for work or to study - or if you’re a frequent visitor there - you might be wondering if a foreigner can open a bank account in Malaysia. Having an account that can hold ringgit could make it easier to manage your money, and cut your costs when you spend in MYR.

This guide covers how to open a bank account for a foreigner in Malaysia, and the documents needed to open a bank account in Malaysia, so you can check if you’re eligible. And if you can’t open a standard Malaysian bank account, or want a more flexible mutli-currency product, we also have an alternative - Wise - for easy low cost ways to hold, send, spend and receive MYR.

Table of contents

Can foreigners open a bank account in Malaysia?

Foreigners who are legal residents in Malaysia shouldn’t have any problem opening a Malaysian bank account, as long as they’re able to pull together the correct supporting documents. The only exception is for basic bank account products which are usually only available to Malaysian citizens and permanent residents.

You’ll pretty much always need to visit a bank to open your account as a foreign customer. Plus, in some cases you’ll need an introduction to a bank to be able to open an account, which means you’ll have to find a friend who already banks with the provider you’ve picked, to help you get your account up and running.

If you’re looking for something a bit more straightforward, you might prefer Wise as a non-bank alternative you can open from anywhere. More on that later.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Malaysia

Generally to open a bank account in Malaysia you’ll need the following:

  • Proof of ID - a passport is normally needed for a foreign resident
  • Proof of legal status in Malaysia - such as a work permit and letter from your employer
  • Proof of Malaysian residence - like a utility bill or bank statement in your name

In some cases you’ll also need an introducer. For Public Bank as an example, you’ll need to go along to the bank branch with all your paperwork and an introducer who must also have banked with Public Bank for 12 months or more¹.

How to open a bank account for foreigners in Malaysia

We’ll look at each of our top picks one by one next - but first let’s get an overview of some of the main Malaysian banks and the products they offer for foreigners. We’ve also highlighted another option - Wise - as a non-bank alternative you could use to hold, send, spend and exchange MYR alongside 40+ other currencies.

Wise (non-bank alternative)CIMB²Public Bank⁵Maybank⁸
EligibilityPersonal and business customers in Malaysia and most other countriesPersonal and business customers in Malaysia

Basic current account available for Malaysian citizens and PR only
Personal and business customers in Malaysia, an introducer may be required

Basic current account available for Malaysian citizens and PR only
Personal and business customers in Malaysia

Basic current account available for Malaysian citizens and PR only
Documents neededProof of ID and address

Visa document may be required for non-Malaysians¹²
Passport or NRIC

Proof of address

Supporting documents like work permit or pass
Passport or MyKadSupporting documents like work permit or passPassport or MyKadSupporting documents like work permit or pass
Annual feeNo annual fee10 MYR every 6 months³10 MYR every 6 months⁶10 MYR every 6 months⁹
Minimum depositNo minimum deposit250 MYR (Regular current account)3,000 MYR (PBE Plus Current Account)1,000 MYR (Personal Current Account)
International paymentsFees from 0.41%10 MYR to 30 MYR depending on currency and how you set up the payment⁴2 MYR + 15 MYR to 30 MYR cable charges⁷10 MYR to 30 MYR depending on currency and how you set up the payment¹⁰
Card availabilityAvailableAvailableAvailableAvailable for current accounts
Currencies supported50+MYRMYRMYR (multi-currency account available for investments, covering 16 currencies¹¹)

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Wise account

Wise accounts can be used to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, with an optional debit card you can use in 160+ countries. If you’re a Malaysian resident you’ll get local bank details to get paid in MYR, as well as local account details for up to 8 other major currencies.

And even if you’re not a Malaysian citizen or resident, you can hold and spend MYR, simply by adding funds in any of the other supported currencies and exchanging to ringgit in your account. Wise currency exchange always uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees, and no foreign transaction fees to pay.

Opening a Wise Malaysia account is easy and can be done entirely online or using your smartphone. Here’s how:

  1. Download the Wise app or head to the Wise desktop site
  2. Click Open an Account and add your personal and contact information
  3. Upload your documents for verification¹²
  4. Once your account has been verified you’re ready to go!

To open a Wise account as a foreigner in Malaysia you’ll need to upload an image of your passport and a proof of address, plus your visa or pass to prove your legal residence status.

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies, send payments to 70+ countries
  • Use your Wise card for spending and withdrawals around the world
  • Get local account details for up to 10 currencies, to get paid easily
  • Currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%
  • No ongoing fees and no minimum balance

Learn more about Wise

CIMB bank accounts for foreigners

As a large and trusted bank, CIMB has some strong options for both current and savings accounts, including some accounts you can open as a foreigner in Malaysia. You’ll be asked to prove your Malaysian address to open your account in most cases, so you’ll need a utility bill or similar valid document to get your account set up.

Basic Bank Accounts can’t be opened by foreigners in Malaysia unless they hold PR status, but the current accounts available for foreign residents include the Regular Current Account which has a low opening deposit of 250 MYR.

  • Choose from a selection of account types, most of which are available for foreign residents of Malaysia
  • Some accounts have low opening deposit requirements, although half yearly charges still apply
  • Get all the financial services you need from the same provider
  • International transfer fees vary - sending a payment online is the cheapest option, from 10 MYR, but you’ll need to check the exchange rate that’s offered as this could include an extra fee

Public Bank accounts for foreigners

Public Bank Malaysia has a solid range of account products including current and saving accounts. It’s helpful to know that some accounts - like the Public Bank Basic Current Account - can only be opened by Malaysian citizens and permanent residents. However, other account types can be opened by resident foreigners and even non-residents with appropriate connections and documents. You’ll likely find you need an introducer to go with you when you open your Public Bank account, along with a stack of documents and a minimum opening deposit of 3,000 MYR or more.

  • Large bank with a strong branch and ATM network
  • Good selection of account products including some which are available to foreigners and non-residents
  • Minimum balance requirements apply, with fall below fees if you don’t hold enough funds in your account
  • International transfer charges include a fairly high cable fee

Maybank bank accounts for foreigners

Maybank has a range of account products and services, including current accounts which foreigners living in Malaysia could use for day to day financial management. There are foreign currency accounts available too, but these are aimed more at people looking to invest in foreign currencies, with a fairly high minimum deposit requirements. Maybank has a large branch and ATM network which could make it a practical option if you’re looking for a traditional bank and prefer to manage your money face to face.

  • Selection of account products which are available to foreigners residing in Malaysia
  • Standard current accounts come with a linked card for easy payments and withdrawals
  • Foreign currency account options available plus a selection of Shariah compliant products
  • International transfer fees vary based on where in Malaysia you are and where you’re sending payment to


Foreigners are free to open a Malaysian bank account, but in most cases you’ll have to have a full suite of documents and a local Malaysian proof of address. You’ll also need to visit a branch in person to get started. If you just want an easier way to open an account online - check out Wise instead.

Wise accounts are flexible and can be used to hold and exchange over 40 currencies. If you’re a Malaysian resident you’ll get MYR bank details along with bank details for up to 10 other major currencies, so you can get paid easily - with smart, low cost ways to hold, send, spend and exchange currencies right from your phone.


Frequently asked questions

How to write a confirmation of employment letter for banks

One thing banks commonly ask foreign customers to provide is a letter from their employer, confirming their employment contract is valid. This is in addition to providing a work permit or pass, and means you’ll need to ask your boss or HR department to write you a note to take to the bank with you. Need some help? Get a template letter of employment confirmation here.


  1. Public Bank - how to open a bank account
  2. CIMB regular savings account
  3. CIMB fees
  4. CIMB foreign transfer fees
  5. Public Bank Plus Current Account
  6. Public Bank fees
  7. Public Bank remittance fees
  8. Maybank Personal Current Account
  9. Maybank current account fees
  10. Maybank foreign transfer fees
  11. Maybank foreign currency account
  12. Wise may request additional documents to verify a customer's identity.

Sources checked on 10/04/2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location