Traveling to Malaysia

Updated 2022-05-18 15:08

Malaysia is a popular commercial and holiday hub in Southeast Asia. The country attracts tourists and expatriates from all over the world. Before traveling to Malaysia, be well informed about the different types of visas and entry requirements, which vary according to nationality, length of stay and reason for visit. Covid-19 restrictions are also strict, even if they have been eased since late 2021.

Which countries require a visa?

Citizens of North America, the European Union and most Commonwealth countries (except nationals of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Pakistan) do not need a visa for a tourist stay not exceeding 90 days in Malaysia. Citizens of most member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), excluding Myanmar, are granted a free 30-day visa upon arrival. These travelers will simply receive a stamp on their passport, which will be valid for the entire duration of the stay.

Nationals of other countries should contact the nearest Malaysian Embassy or Consulate as they may be required to obtain a visa in advance, particularly if traveling for more than one month. The Embassy will be able to advise on the visa application process and any additional requirements.

Since March 2016, it is possible to apply for an electronic visa (eVISA) for Malaysia by applying online (see the list of countries eligible for an eVISA). The eVISA is valid for three months, but the required length of stay varies depending on the traveler's country of origin. This visa can cover tourist (social visits), student or medical stays, and can also serve as a work visa for expatriates.

The application for an eVISA can be made from any country except Malaysia, Singapore, Israel and North Korea.

Once approved, this electronic visa must be printed in A4 format and presented upon arrival.

Covid-19-related measures

Severely affected by the pandemic, Malaysia closed its borders to foreign travelers, including expatriate workers, on March 18, 2020. A partial, cautious and phased reopening was launched at the end of 2021.

Since then, all visitors must present a negative PCR test dated less than 48 hours upon arrival, and undergo a second test at the airport. Whether or not they are vaccinated, they will be then taken to a quarantine center or hotel to complete a 14-day quarantine. The only authorized destination as of the writing of this article is the island of Langkawi (see below).

Following an upsurge in Coronavirus cases in May 2021, the Government of Malaysia declared total containment, aka Full Movement Control Order. The restrictions linked to this very strict sanitary confinement have been gradually lifted following the gradual progress of the national vaccination campaign (see Malaysia's current vaccination rate). Travel is now authorized, but the police remain severe in the face of any disobedience to health measures.

Malaysian authorities are currently considering the full reopening of borders, i.e. no quarantine is required for vaccinated travelers.

Special entry requirements

Travelers from Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Western Sahara are allowed to enter Malaysia only by air.

Colombian nationals are permitted to arrive in Malaysia or transfer via Kuala Lumpur International Airport only.

Israeli nationals can now visit Malaysia with a visa and provided they obtain official permission from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, they still do not have access to the “Malaysia My Second Home” (MM2H) program.

General entry conditions

To be allowed to enter Malaysia, you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry.
  • You must meet all entry requirements and obtain a visa beforehand if required.
  • You must be able to show a return air ticket to another destination.
  • You must present a negative PCR test dating back less than 72 hours upon arrival. A second test will be carried out at the airport.
  • You must be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Malaysia.
  • You must be able to provide proof of accommodation.
  • You will need to present a completed arrival and departure card to an immigration officer at the point of entry.
  • Your fingerprints will be scanned on arrival and departure.

Anyone arriving from certain countries in Africa or South America must be able to provide a certificate of immunization against yellow fever (Angola, Ethiopia, Senegal, Benin, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Bolivia, Gambia, and South Africa). South, Brazil, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Burundi, Kenya, Suriname, Cameroon, Mali, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Niger, Togo, Chad, Nigeria, Uganda, Djibouti, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Zaire, Guinea, Rwanda, Zambia, Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe).

Good to know:

The states of Sabah and Sarawak have different entry and visa requirements. You will also need your passport to enter these states by domestic flight from Peninsular Malaysia.

A visa is not an absolute guarantee of permission to enter Malaysia. The final decision rests with the immigration service at the point of entry into the chosen country.


Since Malaysia has not ratified the 1951 International Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, anyone classified under Section 8 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 will not be allowed to enter Malaysia.

Malaysian immigration authorities have strict procedures in place to deal with anyone who overstays their visa. A prolonged stay can result in a fine of up to MYR 10,000 (approximately USD 2,340) and lead to a prison term of up to five years.

Unauthorized entries are also severely punished, sometimes by beatings with a stick given in public. This punishment, however, is mostly reserved for illegal immigrants from neighboring countries seeking a better life in Malaysia.


The risk of terrorism is high in Malaysia, according to several international bodies. Since 2020, many international terrorists belonging to groups such as ISIS, Abu Sayyaf Group, al-Qa'ida and Jemaah Islamiyah have transited or, to a lesser extent, found refuge in Malaysia. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on travelers to Malaysia to exercise extreme caution.

The Canadian government advises against all non-essential travel on the east coast of Sabah (from the town of Kudat in the north to the town of Tawau in the south) due to the risk of kidnappings and violence. This zone includes all the islands and tourist resorts located off the coast between these two cities, including the resorts along the Kinabatangan (Sukau district) and Sabahan (Kunak district) rivers.

For its part, the British government stresses that places prized by tourists such as hotels, bars, nightclubs, and other tourist places are preferred attack targets for terrorists. The last attack in Malaysia dates back to June 2016. A grenade was thrown into a bar in Puchong, injuring 8, in an attack orchestrated by Daesh. In addition, in March 2017, another car bomb attack by the Islamic State was foiled by the Malaysian police. Seven people had been arrested.

It is therefore advisable to exercise great caution if you go to Malaysia, and follow attentively the instructions set by the authorities, and to be alert to the slightest suspicious behavior in public places.

Useful links :

Malaysia Immigration Office

Conditions for obtaining a visa according to eligible countries

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia

Apply for an eVISA for Malaysia

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