Malaysia is one of those beautiful Asian paradises that is often ignored when it comes to conversations about tourist destinations and retirement destinations. I think, in large part, this has to do with the domination of the west that represses the potential of places in the rest of the world through their narratives about the superiority of western regions. There’s no denying that places like Cyprus and Portugal are great to settle in and visit—but that doesn’t take away the fact that there are other places that people can go to.
Malaysia is one of the places on earth that has developed and significantly urbanized itself without compromising on the natural beauty that comprises of beaches and lush forests. The country is widely recognized as one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet and with countless species of flora, indigenous fish, birds and over 150,000 different invertebrates. Beyond these natural treasures, the climate’s great, the people are very welcoming and it’s a really affordable place to live in.
Lately, I’ve had many discussions with a lot of people to move to the country and live there. The reasons for that are fairly obvious—living in a place like Malaysia is nothing like what it is to live in Europe, the US or South America. It’s like Asian culture is something that you’ve never seen before and its exoticism must be experienced at least once in your life and while Malaysia doesn’t represent the entirety of Asian culture, it’s still a huge part of the collective Asian identity.
With that said, I think it’s an important conversation about what the visa requirements and processes to get to the country are. Thankfully, it’s a lot less confusing to figure out the visa to Malaysia because the travel policies are quite lax and the country maintains fairly open borders for foreign travelers.
Visa Requirements for Malaysia
One of the good things about Malaysian visas is that all national belonging to the countries in the British Commonwealth are exempt from visa requirements. The visa process is incredibly simple too in the sense that there aren’t a lot of bureaucratic requirements or huge lists of different visa categories that you can apply for. I’ll go through each visa category and explain how Malaysian law regulates these visa grants.
For the Malaysians, there’s only one reason anyone wants to visit Malaysia—and that’s for travel purposes. Their definition of travel purposes is pretty wide in the sense that it includes traveling for business, tourism or medical purposes. Which is why the Malaysian Immigration Ministry offers three basic types of travel visas:
- Single Entry Visas—The visa is granted to people who’re entering Malaysia for purely leisure purposes. It’s usually granted for three months.
- Multiple Entry Visas— This is a long-term visa granted to people who’re entering Malaysia for business and diplomatic purposes. This visa is valid from anywhere between three months to twelve months.
- Transit Visa—This is granted to people who’re flying off to other countries via Malaysia. You’re not allowed to leave the airport when you’re granted a transit visa.
Visas For Foreign Workers
If you’re going to Malaysia for work purposes, you will be granted something like a work permit and a work visa. Much of the work will likely be handled by your employer and this permit is extendable indefinitely for the duration of your employment. As a matter of general interest, foreign workers can only be employed in specific sectors of the economy up to a quota sum and no further foreign workers may be hired beyond that quota limit.
Alright, so this is where it gets interesting, this entry permit is the equivalent of a permanent residency visa in Malaysia. It’s granted only under very specific circumstances, with four different categories of entry permits allowed. If you fulfill any one of the four category requirements, the government will grant you a residency based on the tenets of the Immigration Act and Regulation 4, Immigration Regulations of 1963. These four categories are:
- Entry Permit A1— Granted to investors and experts. Granted under the following condition:
- If you invest $2 million in a Malaysian bank for 5 years. Spouses and children under 18 also get permanent residence. You need a Malaysian sponsor to apply for this permit.
- If you are recognized as an individual with expertise, “world-class” talent and skill by an international organization. You must present a character certificate, be vetted by a Malaysian agency and a Malaysian sponsor to apply.
- Entry Permit A2— Granted only to professionals who have been working with Malaysian organizations (public or private) for at least three years. You will need a character certificate from the country of origin, a recommendation from the agency you’re working with and one Malaysian sponsor to qualify.
- The Point System— This is how most countries assess the eligibility of people applying for a permanent residency permit and Malaysia is no different in this regard. Anyone can apply for this type of visa, and the applications are assessed on a point system based on the following seven criteria:
- How long they have stayed in Malaysia prior to application
- Familiarity with Malaysia
- Investment values, if any
- Work experience in Malaysia, if any
- Proficiency in the native Bahasa Malaysia—the native Malay language
Entry Requirements Into Malaysia
These are rules that everyone must follow when they set out for Malaysia. It doesn’t matter if you have an entry permit, travel visa or a work permit—the Malaysian authorities will not let you enter the country if you don’t follow these rules:
- Must Possess Passport or Travel Documents—These include:
- Valid national passports or international travel documents.
- If you don’t have a passport or documentation recognized by the Malaysian government, you must present a document in lieu of a passport.
- Documents must be valid for at least six months from the point of entry.
- You should have a return ticket if you’re on a travel visa and sufficient funds with proof of income.
- You must fill out the departure/arrival card given to you at your entry point and present it to the immigration officer along with your travel documentation/passport.
So, you see traveling to Malaysia is a really simple affair. There isn’t a lot of bureaucracy involved and there’s little hassle associated with getting a passport. This minimal regulatory environment makes it pretty easy for people to travel and move into the country through the established channels. On a personal note, Malaysia is quite possibly one of the freest countries in the world with respect to travel and has one of the most efficient state systems that I have seen.
With natural beauty, low cost of living, multiple travel opportunities, and ease of travel to and from Malaysia make it a great place for you to settle in. Whether you’re thinking of moving to the country permanently or just staying there for a little bit and then moving out—in either case, there are few places that offer the same cultural experience that Malaysia does.
I hope you got value from reading: Getting a Malaysian Travel Visa. If you are interested in a second resident/citizenship any where in the world, please reach out to our office HERE and we will be happy to assist. I have also included a few articles that I’m pretty sure you will love!
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About The Author
Mikkel Thorup is the Director at EscapeArtist.com the oldest and largest offshore website in the world and host of The Expat Money Show podcast. He is also the author of #1 Best-Selling book Expat Secrets on Amazon. Mikkel has spent over 20 years in continual travel around the world, visiting more than 100 countries including Colombia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Iran. His goal is to help people just like you to generate additional streams of income, eliminate your tax bill, and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again. Follow Mikkel Thorup on Twitter @ThorupMikkel
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