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An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia

Dinesh · Nov 6, 2023 09:23 PM

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 01

Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, cuisine, and cars. While the first two aspects can be very enticing to foreigners or expats in the country, that last bit is, unfortunately, a little overwhelming to some. Malaysia is still very much a car-centric nation and if you’re going to stay here for some years, you’ll probably need a car.

“As a foreigner or an expat, what’s the process of purchasing a car in Malaysia?”

The short answer is simple; depending on your visa or permit, you go about it just like any regular Malaysian would.

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However, life’s rarely that straightforward so we’ll delve into some of the requirements and caveats for someone that isn’t Malaysian.

What documents will I need?

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 01

If your paperwork is to par, purchasing a car in Malaysia is a pretty straightforward affair. Foreign nationals will require some variation of a valid permit, pass, or visa.

This could be in the form of a residence pass (RP), work permit, expatriate permit or the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme visa. In fact, those under MM2H are allowed to import one car into Malaysia without any tax or duties.

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If you're looking to purchase the car by applying for a loan, you'll need to provide the following supporting documents to CARSOME and this applies to all expatriates or Non Malaysians (aged 21+):

  • Valid passport
  • Valid driving license
  • Working permit or residency permit
  • Copy of employment letter
  • Latest 3-month bank statements
  • Latest 3-month payslips
  • Local (Malaysian) guarantor

As for the driver’s license, Malaysia has bilateral relations with some countries and will recognise their license as valid here. You can check if your country’s license is recognised by clicking here for the list.

If it isn’t, you’ll be required to convert your license to a Malaysian one within a 90-day period. To do that, you’ll have to contact the Road Transport Department (Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan or JPJ). You can search on Google Maps for a list of the branches nationwide.

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If you have to go to the JPJ office, be sure to download the JPJ EQ app to reduce your waiting time.

Once you have submitted the documents, you can check the progress of your application by clicking here.

These are the documents to bring should you need to convert your license:

  • Driving licence from country of origin with more than 2 years validity and a copy of the English translation if required
  • Passport
  • Permit or visa
  • Passport size photos
  • JPJ L1 form (click here to download)

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 04

Also Read: FAQ: Malaysia's digital driving license and road tax on MyJPJ - all your questions answered

What if I need to apply for a loan?

Well, here’s where things get a little tricky. If you’re a foreign national making the purchase in cash, the permit aspect becomes a little less stringent.

The requirement for the right permit with the right length of time is centred squarely around financing. Banks or financial institutions will need quite a bit of documentation before giving out a loan to a foreign national.

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 05

An expat on a work permit for just 2 or 3 years would find it difficult to get a hire purchase loan from a bank due to the fact that no bank will give out a 5-year loan without any guarantee that you’ll be in the country that long.

Foreign nationals seeking a loan will require a guarantor and that can be either the employer or a Malaysian citizen.

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 06

Additionally, while you might tick all the boxes, approving a loan is still very much the prerogative of the bank. Not all banks will hand out a loan to a foreign national and even if they do, the margin of finance will be much lower and with higher interest rates. Each bank will have its own terms and conditions.

It’s likely you won’t get the usual 10 percent down payment and a maximum 9-year tenure. Instead, foreign nationals would be required to place a higher down payment, say 30 percent or so. That means a financing margin of 70 percent or even lower. Furthermore, the tenure will be for a maximum of just 5 years.

Expats employed by banks in Malaysia could be privy to much more favourable loan conditions.

How can I find the right car?

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If you’re looking to purchase brand new, it’s a breeze. You decide on the car you want, head to the dealer for a test drive, and confirm the purchase. The salesman will help if you need a loan, just furnish them with the right documents.

On the other hand, if you’re considering a used car, things get a little trickier. Consumer protection is still in its infancy here, and as a foreigner, it might be more difficult to get justice should you be ripped off by a used car dealer.

Also Read: To attain the CARSOME Certified stamp of approval, cars must pass a 175-point check, buyers enjoy 5-day money-back guarantee

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 08

One of the safest ways to avoid being scammed when purchasing a used car is by conducting the purchase via a trusted used car platform such as CARSOME or Carlist.my.

CARSOME provides a trusted and easy end-to-end car buying experience. A CARSOME Consultant will offer assistance every step of the way, including with your car booking, paperwork, and most importantly, loan application.

Also Read: CARSOME doesn't just sell you a car, it transacts transparency and convenience in the process

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 09

Download the CARSOME app to browse the cars and make a test drive appointment on your phone.

CARSOME partners with various financing institutions and will help you get the best deal by assisting you in choosing the financier or bank that suits your needs. All cars on the platform undergo a 175-point inspection to ensure they’re roadworthy and free of major accidents, fire, flood damage, and mileage tampering. You can browse the complete inventory here and arrange for a test drive from the page itself.

Also Read: Here's how to read CARSOME's full car inspection report like a pro

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If you purchase a CARSOME Certified car, you will find additional assurance with the following:

  • Fixed price and no hidden fees
  • 5-day money-back guarantee
  • 1-year warranty

The listed price is the final price without any hidden fees, so you know exactly how much you are paying for the car. Of course, being a foreign national means a shorter loan tenure and the monthly instalments will be adjusted accordingly.

Also Read: CARSOME hedging on trust and transparency ahead of all else leaves a positive customer experience

An expat's guide to purchasing a car in Malaysia 11

 

On the other hand, if you're buying a used car from an individual, the owner will need to subject the car to a Puspakom B5 inspection for the change of ownership and a B7 inspection if you, the buyer, wish to apply for a bank loan.

You can book a Puspakom appointment online by clicking here. If you purchase it through CARSOME though, everything will be handled by them.

Also Read: Looking to buy a new car? This is how you transfer ownership of your old car

Now that I’ve got my loan approved, what’s next?

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Well, once your loan has been approved, you’re pretty much on the home straight. You’ll need to apply for a road tax and insurance. Once again, your CARSOME Consultant will help you with all this, so you don’t have to worry

This includes registering the car with the JPJ or undergoing the change of ownership process that requires your thumbprint. CARSOME has the added convenience of doing this at any of its nationwide centres instead of going all the way to a JPJ branch.

Now that you’ve settled all that, enjoy your driving experience and keep in mind that we drive on the left side of the road.

Also Read: The CARSOME app's 'My Garage' feature is your car's digital personal concierge

All CARSOME Certified cars are quality assured through a stringent 175-point inspection and professional refurbishment. Additionally, each car comes with a fixed price with no hidden fees, five-day money-back guarantee, and one-year warranty. Visit CARSOME today or download the app now.

Dinesh

Writer

“Better late than never.” Some despise it, others begrudgingly agree with it but he swears by it… much to the chagrin of everyone around him. That unfortunately stems from all of his project cars not running most of the time, which in turn is testament to his questionable decision-making skills in life. A culmination of many wrongs fortunately making a right; much like his project cars on the rare occasions they run, he’s still trying to figure out if another project car is the way to go.

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