Sales Tax Exemption Guidelines for Malaysian Hotels

Malaysia is a popular tourist spot with its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and top-notch hotels. For hotel operators, knowing how to get sales tax exemptions can help save money and stay compliant with the law. This guide will explain the basics of sales tax exemptions for Malaysian hotels. 

First of all,  what is Sales Tax? Sales tax in Malaysia is a tax on goods made in the country or imported. It is governed by the Sales Tax Act 2018, with the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) overseeing its implementation. However, certain goods and services are eligible for exemption, including specific scenarios in the hospitality sector.

Understanding Sales Tax Exemption

Sales tax exemption is the exemption or waiver of sales tax on certain goods or services. In the context of Malaysian hotels, sales tax exemption means that hotels are not required to charge sales tax on their services. This exemption is granted to eligible hotels to promote tourism and stimulate the hospitality industry.

Qualifications for Sales Tax Exemption

To qualify for sales tax exemption, hotels in Malaysia must meet specific criteria and adhere to designated processes. Here are the key points:

  1. The hotel must be registered with the Malaysia Tourism Board.
  2. The hotel must be classified as a three-star or higher establishment.
  3. The hotel must have a valid license issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia.

Hotels that meet these qualifications are eligible to apply for sales tax exemption. Below are eligible goods that hotels can get exemptions on:

  1. Furniture and Fixtures: Beds, chairs, tables, etc., used in guest rooms and common areas.
  2. Operational Equipment: Kitchen appliances, laundry machines, and other essential equipment.
  3. Renovation Materials: Items used to renovate or refurbish hotel facilities.

Application Process for Hotels

Step-by-step to Apply for Sales Tax Exemption in Malaysia

The application process for sales tax exemption for hotels in Malaysia involves several steps.

  1. Submit an Application: Send an application to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD).
  2. Provide Documents: Include invoices, purchase orders, and contracts related to the goods.
  3. Await Approval: Wait for approval from the RMCD, which might include inspections or more document requests.

If approved, the hotel will receive a sales tax exemption certificate. Hence, it is a must for hotels to follow the below requirements: 

  1. Maintain detailed records of all tax-exempt transactions.
  2. Submit reports to the RMCD showing the use of tax-exempt goods.
  3. Ensure tax-exempt goods are used as intended within the hotel.

Documentation Required

Now that you understand the qualification criteria and application process, let's take a closer look at the documentation required for Malaysian hotels to secure sales tax exemptions. 

This includes the hotel's registration details, which should include the hotel's name, address, and registration number. Additionally, the hotel must provide a copy of its classification certificate, which proves that it is a three-star or higher establishment. The hotel's license issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia is also required.

All of these documents are necessary to support the hotel's application for sales tax exemption.

Benefits of Sales Tax Exemption

Sales tax exemption provides numerous advantages for hotels in Malaysia, significantly impacting their financial health, competitiveness, and contribution to the economy. Here’s a concise look at these benefits:

1. Financial Relief for Hotels - Sales tax exemption reduces operational costs, allowing hotels to allocate resources more efficiently and improve cash flow management. This financial relief can be used for quality improvements and other essential investments.

2. Competitive Pricing and Customer Attraction - Without the added sales tax, hotels can offer more competitive pricing. Lower prices attract more customers, both domestic and international, leading to higher occupancy rates and increased revenue.

3. Promotion of Tourism - Making hotel stays more affordable encourages tourism. This benefits not only hotels but also other sectors like retail, transportation, and entertainment, contributing to overall economic growth.

4. Encouragement of Investment - Sales tax exemptions make the hotel sector more attractive to investors. Reduced tax liabilities incentivize investment in new projects or expansions, leading to more hotels, better infrastructure, and job creation.

5. Enhanced Economic Growth - The positive effects of sales tax exemptions extend beyond the hotel industry. By stimulating tourism, encouraging investment, and creating jobs, these exemptions help fuel broader economic growth.

Sales tax exemption is a valuable tool for improving the financial stability and competitiveness of Malaysian hotels. By leveraging these benefits, hotel operators can attract more customers and contribute significantly to the country's economic growth.


Navigating the sales tax exemption landscape in Malaysia can be complex, but with the right knowledge and preparation, hotel operators can leverage these exemptions to enhance their financial efficiency. For further guidance, hotel operators should consult with tax professionals or the RMCD to stay updated on any changes in tax regulations.

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