Malaysia: Shipping Guide and eCommerce Market Insights

Your country cheat sheet covering shipping tips, customs clearance and import duties for your eCommerce international shipping needs, eCommerce insights, and more


Southeast Asia (SEA) has been heralded as the next land of opportunity for eCommerce. With online shoppers in markets like Malaysia satisfying their shopping cravings through cross-border eCommerce, it would be ideal for your shipment to sail through customs, reaching your customers safely and on time.

Country IDMYCapital CityKuala LumpurOfficial LanguageBahasa MalaysiaCurrencyRinggit Malaysia (MYR)Population Size32.6 million

Dealing with customs in Southeast Asia could be challenging seeing that each country has its own set of customs regulations, import duties, paperwork and taxes that need to be complied with.

Malaysia’s eCommerce Market

Malaysia’s eCommerce market value is USD 4.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to USD 8.0 billion by 2024 according to Statista after adjusting for 2020’s recent events.

While Malaysians are cautious spenders and are wary of fraud from online shopping, they are digitally savvy and love online shopping for the great prices and convenience that it offers. The largest demographic of online shoppers would be Malaysians between 25 and 34 years old - Millennials who are already in the workforce.

This industry will witness growth over the coming years given the increase in government spending on the IT sector, and a high chance of many maintaining online shopping as a habit as the country’s quarantine measures start lifting. Also, with easy access to affordable smartphones and laptops and the rise of mobile internet, internet penetration increases leading to a growing internet population that eCommerce businesses can tap on.

This is a living page that will frequently be updated with insights about:


1. Malaysia's De Minimis Rate, Import Taxes and Customs Duties

Malaysia maintains a de minimis value threshold of MYR 500 on inbound shipments.

This means that orders that are brought in below MYR 500 via air freight are not charged additional duties and taxes at Malaysian customs. However, this only applies to air freight shipments and not to other modes of transportation like cross-border trucking or sea freight.

Malaysia's de minimis rate is MYR 500 for parcels coming in via air freight

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department values goods using their CIF value (Cost, Insurance and Freight). The CIF value is the total cost of the order itself, the cost of freight and insurance.

If your orders are above MYR500 or are brought in via cross-border trucking or sea freight, they will be charged Sales and Service Tax (SST) of between 5 to 10 per cent of the order’s CIF. Depending on the type of product you’re bringing into Malaysia, import duties of up to 25 per cent can also be levied on your order.

To check the tariff amount for your commodity, you can visit the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s HS Explorer.

To get a fuller explanation of how these changes could affect your Malaysia-bound imports, check out our article on Malaysia's 2020 de minimis changes.

Sources: Statista - eCommerce Malaysia (2020) | Statista - Main reasons for shopping online in the last 12 months in Malaysia (2016) | Royal Malaysian Customs Department - Valuation

2. Restricted and Prohibited Goods

Restricted items that require licenses before going through customs clearance:

  • Apparatus/ equipment for the brewing of beer in the home
  • Batik sarong
  • Electric domestic equipment that use 50 volt or 120 volt DC or more
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Plants include parts and plant products
  • Rice and paddy, and more
  • Explosives and fireworks
  • Weapons and imitation weapons
  • Safety helmets (except as worn by motorcyclists or motorcycle pillion riders)
  • And more which you can find on the official customs list

Prohibited items that cannot be imported into the market:

  • Counterfeit money
  • Indecent printings, paintings, photographs, books, cards, lithographic, engravings, films, video tapes, laser discs, color slides, computer disc and any other media.
  • Cloth bearing the imprint or duplicate of any verses of the Quran
  • Cocoa pods, rambutans, pulasan, longan and nam nam fruits from Philippines and Indonesia
  • Turtle eggs
  • Broadcast receivers capable of receiving radio communication within the ranges (68-87) MHz and (108 - 174) MHz
  • Sodium arsenate
  • Pen, pencil and other articles resembling syringes
  • Poisonous chemicals
  • Lightning arresters containing radioactive material
  • Illicit drugs
  • Indecent media such as printings, films and computer disc
  • Intoxicating liquor containing more than 3.46 miligrams per litre in any lead or compound of copper, and more

This list may change depending on government regulations. Visit the official customs page for the latest version.

3. Required Customs Documents

The documents you need to clear Malaysian customs include:

1. Packing List

This gives product details, shipment volume in kilogram or cubic meter, and serves as a checklist to ensure shipment has been packed correctly or not.

2. Commercial Invoice

This shows the total shipment value of the order. Helps to determine the import duties and taxes, and eligibility of shipment.

If you are shipping without a logistics partner that can clear customs on your behalf, you may need to include the following shipping documentation as well:

  • Bill of lading or airway bill
  • Import Declaration
  • Insurance policy
  • Certificate of origin (if needed)
  • Other relevant permits, licenses and certificates

These provide the basics of how you can get your products through Malaysian customs. For a fuller guide on how you can clear Malaysian customs, you might want to check out:

Source: Royal Malaysian Customs Department


steps in cross border shipping

Shipping from one country to another, be it an eCommerce delivery or a full container moved via sea freight follows a general set of steps:

You can click on any of the links above to find out more about each step.

First-mile Delivery in the Origin Country

The first-mile stage in international shipping refers to the first stage of the shipping supply chain, where it leaves the origin address, be it the merchant’s storefront, office, warehouse or suppliers’ address. Prior to your goods leaving the origin address, the product has to be packaged and labelled appropriately to facilitate smooth cross border shipping.

Great preparation can help minimise the chances of your shipment going missing or getting damaged during delivery. Generally, you'll want to do the following:

  • Engage the right shipping partner
  • Packaging your products
  • Choosing the right service levels
  • Providing shipping details
  • Printing and attaching shipping labels and documents to your package(s)
  • Hand over shipment to carriers

If you'd like a more in-depth to each of these steps, you can find more at this preparation guide for merchants.

You can also find out more about what the first mile entails in our first-mile article.

Origin Country Customs Clearance

As your shipment arrives at the origin country's port or airport, the parcel would need to be cleared by local customs for export. This is where the customs officers will inspect the parcel’s contents and shipping documents and determine if it can be cleared for export. If you’re planning to ship large volumes, you may want to check if you need to produce specific customs documentation for export on your local customs websites.

You can find a list of these on our Customs Clearance in SEA resource page.

Freight or Mid-mile to Malaysia

When it comes to freight options, shipping your goods to Malaysia can generally be done in two ways - air freight and sea freight. Cross-border trucking is also available if your origin address has land access to your Malaysian addresses, such as from Thailand or Singapore into Peninsular Malaysia.

For merchants shipping B2C parcels, air freight is the faster option, especially if you don’t have a consistent order volume and need your parcels to reach the destination country quickly.

On the other hand, sea freight is generally more cost-effective for shipping in bulk. However, it is slightly slower than air freight. When managing your inventory, you’ll need to take into account the estimated delivery date so that you can plan out your supply chain accordingly.

Cross-border trucking provides a middle ground between air freight’s speed and sea freight’s cost-effectiveness. If your lanes have cross-border trucking access, in some cases it makes more sense to use cross-border trucking over air freight for the cost savings it provides for both B2B and B2C order volumes.

Customs Clearance in Malaysia

Once your order arrives in Malaysia’s airport, port, or border checkpoint your shipment and any associated documents will be inspected by customs officers to determine if your product is allowed to enter Malaysia.

To clear customs for import into Malaysia, you or your shipping partner would generally need to provide the following documents:

  • Bill of lading or airway bill
  • Import Declaration
  • Insurance policy
  • Certificate of origin (if needed)
  • Other relevant permits, licenses and certificates

More information about this is available in this guide’s customs clearance section.

Distribution and Last Mile in Malaysia

Once your shipment has cleared customs, it will enter the distribution stage of the shipping journey. Usually, FCL (Full-container-load) shipments can be delivered directly to its destination after clearing customs at the port.

LCL (Less-than-container-load) shipments need to be unpacked at a container freight station (CFS) and sorted so each shippers’ order can head to their respective last-mile destinations.

B2C parcels, similarly, need to be at a transport hub to sort them out before the last mile journey can begin. However, if the address is beyond an address that can be reached by vans or trucks, an additional domestic flight will be needed before your shipments can be sorted or sent to last-mile delivery.

Ramadan also brings with it various last mile challenges, you can read more about that in our article on tackling last-mile issues that arise during Ramadan in Malaysia.

Different countries have different steps at origin customs clearance and different freight modes. To find out more about these for specific origin countries, check out our posts below:

Our next section covers Malaysia's eCommerce insights to power your online promotions and campaigns.

Sources: Statista - most used online payment method 2020


Why Malaysia? Key stats of Malaysia’s eCommerce market

Malaysia’s eCommerce market value is USD 4.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to USD 8.0 billion by 2024 according to Statista after adjusting for 2020’s recent events. Malaysians are fairly fond of cross-border online purchases, with 40 per cent of their online purchases coming from outside Malaysia.

While Malaysians are cautious spenders and are wary of fraud from online shopping, they are digitally savvy and love online shopping for the great prices and convenience that it offers. The largest demographic of online shoppers would be Malaysians between 25 and 34 years old - Millennials who are already in the workforce.

This industry will witness growth over the coming years given the increase in government spending on the IT sector, and a high chance of many maintaining online shopping as a habit as the country’s quarantine measures start lifting. Also, with easy access to affordable smartphones and laptops and the rise of mobile internet, internet penetration increases leading to a growing internet population that eCommerce businesses can tap on.


  • Malaysia’s eCommerce market stood at USD 4.3 billion in gross market value (GMV) in 2018 and is expected to hit USD 8 billion by 2024 according to Statista
  • Malaysia’s economy and infrastructure are fairly developed, with a strong base of digitally savvy users who are familiar with online shopping. In 2019,  internet penetration stood at 85.7 per cent with smartphone penetration at 70 per cent
  • The availability of many established eCommerce marketplaces like Alibaba, Shoppee, Lelong and more provides various channels to reach different types of Malaysian online shoppers
  • Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry has a National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap to accelerate adoption of eCommerce among Malaysians. Find out more about their focus areas here.

There are also some roadblocks that you’ll need to plan around when creating your Malaysian eCommerce campaigns. To find out more about these roadblocks and how to overcome them, check out our Overview of Malaysia’s eCommerce Market.

Sources: Statista - Malaysia eCommerce | MDEC - National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap

Meet Malaysia's Major Online Shoppers

Most Malaysians are online shoppers, but exact statistics tend to vary based on sources. If you’re looking at, almost half of Malaysia’s 32-million-strong population shop online. If you’re looking at Hootsuite and Wearesocial’s data, 61 per cent of Malaysia’s 32 million-strong population, or 19.8 million people are online shoppers.

To Malaysians, the internet has become a significant part of their lives. About nine in 10 Malaysians 15 years and older use the internet and on average, they spend more than eight hours a day online. Almost one in four use some of this time to fuel the eCommerce economy as online shoppers, or eCommerce consumers.

Surprisingly, men are just as likely to shop online as women, based on a study of the eCommerce habits of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Malaysia. Despite featuring more female participants, the study found that at least 50 per cent of both male and female respondents shopped once a month or more.

Malaysians' Primary Motivations for Shopping Online According to Ipsos and Paypal:

Better prices (72%)

  • Many marketplaces and branded websites could sell the same product for lower price compared to brick-and-mortar establishments
  • Ability to easily compare deals among various sellers.

Access to items not available in my country (49%) and Discovering new an interesting products

  • eCommerce stores can aggregate the products of different sellers to offer more choices, and even offer items that are not found in Malaysia.

Higher product quality (29%)

  • In some cases products brought in from outside Malaysia are considered to be of higher quality

What Else Influences Online Purchase Choices in Malaysia?

Input from friends and family is particularly important for Malaysians. Word-of-mouth referral also encourages brick-and-mortar shoppers to try out e-commerce. Reviews are a major factor for 71% of Malaysians’ online purchase decisions in 2019, according to research by

Surfing social media (66%) and Direct influence from friends and family

  • Malaysians rely on social media to discover products—especially YouTube, Facebook and Instagram
  • They want reassurance from trusted sources that what they are going to buy is worth their purchase the source they’re buying from can also be trusted
  • You should also bear in mind the influence of social groups on WhatsApp and Line.

Other Offline stimuli

  • Shopping malls - 28%
  • Television - 21%
  • Magazines and/ or newspapers - 19%

Malaysians tend to be quite price-conscious and are also wary of fraud. Discounts, promotions and indicators such as positive reviews can go a long way in helping you grow your Malaysian online store.

For a more in-depth look at all these factors, check out our article on who are Malaysia’s online shoppers.

Sources: |  We Are Social (2019) | Management & Science University, Malaysia | | New Straits Times | Paypal

Top eCommerce Product Categories in Malaysia

What are Malaysians buying online


  • Fashion made up USD 986.7 million of Malaysian eCommerce’s gross market value in 2019. Statista expected it to hit around USD 2.6 billion in 2024, even after adjusting for the impact of COVID-19
  • Shopee survey respondents say that their main online buys are
  • Clothing
  • Accessories
  • Shoes
  • Bags and Wallets
  • Muslim Fashion
  • Local Malaysian brands are gaining recognition in the country, with modest fashion in Malaysia is also being a trend that is here to stay

To find out more on what Malaysians look out for in fashion modest fashion, check out our articles on:

Health and Beauty Products

  • Health and beauty made up the majority of Shopee’s 9.9 sales in 2018. Below are some of the trends we’ve compiled regarding Malaysia’s health and beauty eCommerce market:
  • Cosmetics -
  • All-in-one style cosmetics for both appearances and skincare are gaining traction
  • Busy Malaysians with poor work-life balance are drawn to products with convenient and practical packaging
  • Halal cosmetics are becoming popular among Muslim consumers in Malaysia
  • Skincare -
  • Malaysians are concerned about damage from digital devices, air pollution and sun exposure,
  • Anti-ageing products grow in popularity with foreign brands leading
  • Skincare products increasingly aim to combat digital stress
  • Growth in demand for dermatological, natural and organic skincare as Malaysians look to avoid damage to skin from artificial ingredients
  • Health Supplement trends -
  • Malaysians have a tendency to be health conscious - they are concerned about lifestyle and chronic diseases like diabetes and search for health supplements to prevent them
  • Similar to skincare ingredient preferences, many are looking for natural and organic ingredients as they are wary of damage from artificial ingredients

This is a summarised version of our more in-depth articles exploring different health and beauty categories in Malaysia. To find out more or to see our sources for these, check out our following series:

Consumer Electronics

  • Market was growing rapidly, from USD 558.1 million in 2017 to USD 860.1 million in 2019.
  • Statista estimates market revenue for Malaysian electronics and media to hit USD 923.6 million in 2020, with average revenue per user at USD 96.39
  • Statista estimated that consumer electronics would make up most of Malaysian electronics and media eCommerce revenue in 2020
  • Top products include laptops, mobile phones and tablets

Notable Mentions

  • Food and Personal Care -
  • online purchases of groceries are ballooning. Milo is especially popular among online shoppers
  • Mom & Baby - Diapers, baby rompers, playmats and breast pumps are examples of widely purchased items on Shopee in Malaysia
  • Kids & Toys - Nintendo Switch and Lego are popular products in this category

This is a summarised version of one of our blog posts. To find out more, check out our post about Malaysia’s Top 4 eCommerce product categories

Ramadan is also a period with high online spending in Malaysia, but is also a time when Malaysians spend more on relatively different types of products. To find out they’re buying during the period, check out one of our recent posts about what Malaysians buy online during Ramadan

Primary Sources: Statista - eCommerce Malaysia | iPrice | Easystore | e27 | Malaysia Commercial Guide | International Trade Administration | Statista: Electronics & Media Malaysia | Statista: Consumer Electronics Malaysia | kr Asia | SoyaCincau | New Straits Times

Popular Payment Methods & Online Shopping Platforms in Malaysia

Preferred Payment Methods for Online Purchases

Mobile Banking

  • Mobile banking (online money transfers) is the most popular method of paying for online purchases
  • Upcoming payment methods to look out for include mobile payments, but for now the availability of payment methods like online bank transfers and credit cards means that collecting payments in Malaysia shouldn’t be too troublesome.

Cash on Delivery

  • Makes up 2 out of 10 payments for online transactions according to Statista
  • According to Nielsen, many 45 - 54-year-old Malaysian shoppers prefer Cash on Delivery when shopping online
  • Offering this payment method can help to overcome some Malaysians’ fear of online shopping fraud since they can verify the authenticity of the item before making payment

Popular Online Shopping Platforms

Malaysians are fond of cross-border eCommerce, which is why many of them shop online on websites like Amazon or Alibaba’s Tmall.

The International Trade Administration (ITA), US Department of Commerce reports that Malaysians like to buy items from the following countries:

  • China
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • the United States
  • South Korea

eCommerce Marketplaces

Locally, Lazada, Mudah, Lelong, Shopee, and 11street attract a large chunk of Malaysia’s e-commerce consumers. While eCommerce marketplaces that sell to a general audience have the most views, category-specific marketplaces like Zalora for fashion still get a large share of traffic too.

In terms of B2C marketplaces, iPrice’s ‘Map of eCommerce’ Malaysia* mentions the following are the top five e-commerce platforms in the country. (numbers updated to Q1 - 2020)

  • Shopee - 27.2 million monthly web visits
  • Lazada - 12.3 million monthly web visits
  • PG Mall - 1.6 million monthly web visits
  • Lelong - 1.1 million monthly web visits
  • Zalora - 1.1 million monthly web visits

Branded websites

  • Businesses sell directly to consumers from their own websites or stores.
  • This is especially useful for luxury or established brands that aim to maintain exclusivity and control, such as Love, Bonito or Nike
  • Others choose to use omnichannel retail, where their website is an additional sales channel to existing methods like brick-and-mortar

Social Commerce Platforms

  • Social commerce allows buyers to connect with individual sellers through online social networks like Facebook, or to encourage more communication between buyers and sellers such as platforms like Carousell and Bizapp.
  • Around 64 per cent of online purchases in Southeast Asia in 2019 were made via social networks.
  • Customers might purchase directly from businesses for their availability of supply or because they trust the seller or brand.

If you'd like a deeper look at these, find out more in our main article on who are Malaysia's online shoppers.

Sources: | iPrice | e27 | Statista - most used online payment method 2020 | Nielsen

Major Online Sales Events in Malaysia

Major eCommerce Shopping Events in Malaysia

Singles’ Day, 12.12, 10.10, Chinese New Year and Ramadan are some of the biggest online sales events in Malaysia.

Singles’ Day & 12.12

  • Singles’ Day started in Nanjing University in 1993 when four single guys met on November 11th to discuss ‘how to break free of the loneliness and monotony of single life’. It soon grew popular among single Chinese youths
  • Singles’ Day has since become an online shopping festival when Alibaba took the opportunity to launch “Double 11” deals to boost sales
  • In 2019, Lazada broke the 1 million item sales mark within the first hour of its 11.11 sale, while Shopee recorded three times the orders in Malaysia within the first hour compared to 2018
  • 12.12 has lately become a staple part of the fourth quarter shopping seasons. In 2019, Malaysians spent an average of RM244 per transaction during 12.12 - a 56 per cent increase from 2018.
  • In 2018, many Malaysians stayed up past midnight on December 11 to snag deals within the first hours of the sale.

9.9 and 10.10

  • With numbers 11 and 12 already taken, Shopee sought to capitalise on another double-number date.
  • In 2016, Shopee launched its 10.10 campaign and ran discounts throughout the week leading up to ‘Mobile Shopping Day’ on October 10th.
  • Shopee recorded a peak sales volume of 187,000 orders in a minute during its 2019 9.9 sale.

Culture-driven Shopping Spree

  • Ramadan
  • The Ramadan month is considered a sacred period for millions of Muslims in Malaysia.
  • During Ramadan, many Malaysian also prepare their homes for visits during the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations held after the fasting month by shopping for house décor, festive food and clothes
  • iPrice noted that online shopping in Malaysia soared during Ramadan, with increased traffic during the early mornings and at 10pm after breaking their fast
  • Top products during this festive season can be found in our Ramadan & Raya Consumer Insights for Malaysia
  • Chinese New Year
  • Malaysians start researching online for products related to Chinese New Year 5 weeks before the big week.
  • Shopee’s top performing products in 2018 during this period are Women’s Clothing, Mobile & Gadgets, Toys, Kids & Babies products, and Women’s Shoes

Other popular shopping seasons include:

  • MYCyber Sale - September or October
  • Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) - August 31
  • Lazada Birthday Sale - March or April
  • Black Friday - November
  • Christmas - December

If you’d like to find out more, we cover each of these periods in more detail in our post on Malaysia’s major online shopping events.


Malaysia's Top Import and Export Partners

EXPORTSRankMarket1Singapore2China3United States4Japan5ThailandIMPORTSRankMarket1China2Singapore3United States4Japan5Taiwan

Sources: Euromonitor International "Economy, Finance and Trace: Malaysia" (2018) | Public Holidays (2020)

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