Malaysia amends laws to allow foreign engineering businesses to register locally

Lobbying by the British High Commission, British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BCMM) and the local EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce (EUMCCI) have prompted significant relaxation of restrictions on the practice of foreign engineers in Malaysia.

The Malaysian market

Amendments to the Registration of Engineers Act are due to come into force in June this year and for the first time will allow professional or graduate engineers of any nationality to register with the Malaysian Board of Engineers and set up a local engineering consultancy business.

The change comes after several years of lobbying by UK businesses and efforts by the ACE’s International Business Group (IBG) to help firms to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the Malaysian infrastructure market.

“Malaysia is a growing market for infrastructure and as a fairly developed country there is huge demand for expert engineering advice." Gavin English, chair IBG.

“This is good news and shows that persistence has clearly paid off,” said Gavin English, chair of the ACE’s IBG paying tribute to the work of the High Commission, local chambers of commerce and the business that led the campaign for change. 

“Malaysia is a growing market for infrastructure and as a fairly developed country there is huge demand for expert engineering advice,” he added highlighting the significant work potential that will now flow.

Firms such as Tony Gee and Partners have led the lobbying effort on behalf of the UK profession, having to date found it extremely difficult to win work in Malaysia without being able to form local businesses and so accessing local market opportunities. 

As resident Tony Gee director Bill Addington explained: “By liberalising the local market the Malaysian Government expects greater participation by British and other engineering consultancies in Kuala Lumpur’s vibrant infrastructure sector and for incoming firms to use Malaysia as a production centre for design of projects worldwide, thereby enhancing the country’s export earnings in the process.

He added:  "The recent measures are part of the government’s ongoing programme of liberalisation of the broader Services Sector which include similar relaxation of restrictions on foreign participation in Architecture and Quantity Surveying.”

However, while the change removes the citizenship requirement from the Act, the existing requirement for engineers to have been resident in Malaysia for at least six months prior to applying for registration with the BEM remains in force

The Act also retains the need for professional engineers to meet a minimum standard of qualification equivalent to Charter Engineer status or have passed the Malaysian Professional Assessment Examination.

In the case of Graduate engineers, they must the so-called Washington Accord requirements as a benchmark.

Maximising Global Infrastructure Opportuities.

For details of the ACE International Conference, programme and speakers and to book your place at the event on 20 May, visit the International Conference website at

A new section of the Act creates a 2nd tier of professional engineers, any person wishing to set up a local engineering consultancy practice must also pass a Professional Competency Examination and register with the BEM with a valid license or “Practicing Certificate”.

All existing register engineers are entitled to this Practicing Certificate without need to sit the Professional Competency Examination.

The change means that any local or foreign engineer holding this Practicing Certificate can now also set up a consultancy business that is registered with BEM provided that two thirds of the director positions and 70% of the equity of the company are held by Professional Engineers with Practising Certificates.

The chief executive or major decision makers of any local engineering business must also have these qualifications.

"The changes make for a fairer playing field and come at an important time for UK companies looking to outsource work to relieve stretched UK resources. All will benefit from knowledge sharing and greater skills," said Tony Gee and Partners executive managing director.

The new amended regulations have been passed by the Malaysina parliament and are expected to come into force in June 2015.


The EUMCCI is hosting two “Question & Answer” webinars to explain the growing opportunities in Malaysia. 

12th May 2015, Tuesday at 5 pm to 7 pm (Malaysian time, GST + 8h)

21st July 2015, Tuesday at 5 pm to 7 pm (Malaysian time, GST + 8h).

Topics to be covered include:

  • Introducing Malaysia and ASEAN, regional economies and legislative framework;
  • Promoting the potential for EU-construction professionals in the Malaysian and ASEAN construction industries, with focus in the Engineering, Architecture, Quantity Surveying and Energy Management sub-sectors;
  • Presenting business opportunities for EU SMEs in Malaysia and ASEAN;
  • Promoting the development of smart partnerships between Malaysian and EU SMEs;
  • Promoting the upcoming Business Matching and Symposium as well as other events

For details contact EUMCCI via its website here 

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