Malaysia has a number of different visas available according to the nature and length of one's planned visit. Regulations vary according to nationality – for example, expats of certain nationalities may enter Malaysia for a period of up to 90, 30 or 14 days without a visa for tourism or business purposes.

All those arriving in Malaysia should have a passport valid for at least six months, a valid return ticket and proof of funds to sustain themselves while in the country. 

Tourist and business visas for Malaysia

Visas for tourism and business purposes can be valid for single or multiple entries into the country.

Nationals of some countries are able to apply for a visa on arrival, but visas should generally be applied for before departure at a relevant Malaysian embassy or consulate, or online.

Multiple-entry visas are issued to foreign visitors wishing to travel in and out of Malaysia a number of times, and are normally for business or official government matters. Multiple-entry visas are usually valid for a period of three to 12 months from the date of issue. Holders can be in the country for up to 30 days per entry.

Nationals of some countries need not apply for a physical visa but can instead apply online for an electronic visa known as an eVisa, which can be processed within 48 hours. Valid for 90 days from the date of issue, eVisas allow the holder a stay of up to either 15 or 30 days. Some eVisas allow multiple entries while others allow only one entry.

Upon entry into Malaysia, tourists will have their passport stamped with a social visit pass. While holding the social visit pass, individuals are permitted to conduct a range of activities related to tourism and business. These are listed by the authorities. However, social visit pass holders will not be allowed to take up employment in Malaysia. 

Malaysia My Second Home Programme

The Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) was introduced by the Malaysian government as a means of allowing foreign nationals to retire or live in Malaysia on a long-term basis. The programme invites foreigners to gain residence status for the applicant as well as their family.

Applicants must show proof of offshore income and liquid assets of a specified value and must make a fixed deposit of a certified amount in a Malaysian bank account. After the second year of the programme, MM2H participants can make withdrawals from this account but a minimum balance must be maintained.

As part of the programme, applicants will get a renewable 10-year visit pass and multiple-entry visa. Unless specific approval is sought, expats may only be employed part-time in Malaysia under this programme.

While an extremely popular programme, expats are warned that applications for the MM2H programme have been put on hiatus without warning in the past due to backlog and programme restructuring. Before proceeding with their application, expats are advised to check up on the current situation.

Permanent residency in Malaysia

Expats wishing to work and live in the country permanently can apply for residency in Malaysia if they fit into one of the following categories:

  • A high-net-worth investor with a minimum of USD 2 million in a fixed deposit in a Malaysian bank

  • An individual with exceptional skills and talent who has been approved by a relevant agency in Malaysia

  • A professional with outstanding skills in any field who has been recommended by a relevant Malaysian agency and has worked in the country for at least three years

  • An individual who has been married to a Malaysian citizen and has lived in Malaysia for at least five years

  • Those who qualify under a point-based system whereby points are given according to one’s age, qualifications, language proficiency and employment, among other criteria. A minimum score of 65 out of 120 is required.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

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