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Before you travel to Malaysia, it is advisable to enquire at your nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate about the requirements for entering Malaysia, as visa conditions and fees vary depending on the purpose of visit, duration of stay and your nationality.

As elaborated in our 'Travelling to Malaysia article, citzens from 95 countries do not require a visa for a social visit of less than one month, and several of these nationalities are allowed to stay for up to three months. However, passports need to be valid for a minimum of six months after entry into Malaysia, and a return ticket is often requested.

Single Entry Visa, Multiple Entry Visa and Transit Visa

For those who do require a visa, there are three types. A Single Entry Visa is valid for one entry of up to three months from the date of issue and is usually appropriate for holiday makers. A Multiple Entry Visa is valid for three to 12 months and is suitable for business or governmental trips that are no longer than 30 days each.

Some nationalities are allowed to stay in Malaysia on transit for up to 120 hours without a visa, so long as they arrive and depart from the same airport and have an onward ticket, as well as any documents required by their destination country. However, a Transit Visa is required by certain nationalities who need to leave the airport before their connecting flight.


Depending on the purpose of your stay, you will need to apply for either a Visa Without Reference or a Visa With Reference.

To apply for a Visa Without Reference for a social visit, you will need to submit:

  • Your original passport;
  • two copies of your passport;
  • two copies of the visa application form (Form IMM.47);
  • two passport photos of yourself;
  • the original, as well as two copies of your return ticket;
  • a recent bank statement or traveller's cheques;
  • proof of your visa fee payment; and
  • an invitation letter, if relevant.

If you are going to Malaysia as a student, dependent or professional, or to seek employment, you will need to apply for a Visa With Reference. To do this, you will need to first obtain approval from the Department of Immigration and include this in your application with the aforementioned requirements, excluding the bank statement.

Employment Pass (EP)

In order to stay in Malaysia for a period of employment, you will need to receive a work permit, also known as an Employment Pass (EP). This pass allows for a contract of employment of up to five years in Peninsular Malaysia, and the Expatriate Committee or relevant authorities must give approval before the issuance of an Employment Pass can be made by the Immigration Department of Malaysia. Expatriates will only be entitled to work for the company stated on their Employment Pass, so they will need to submit another application if they change company.

A company that seeks to employ an expatriate must register their company online via the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) portal and, upon approval, they can then submit an application for an Employment Pass on behalf of the expatriate. This website was established “to provide efficient, effective and innovative services for expatriates and companies”, and aims for work permits to be obtained for expatriates within five working days. The company will have to prove that the job cannot be filled by a local and that the potential expat employee is of vital importance.

You will need to meet minimum salary requirements and a minimum employment period to be granted an Employment Pass. You will also need to either occupy a top managerial position, hold a middle management post with experience and qualifications, or be highly skilled with indispensable technical knowledge.

The following documents are required to apply for an Employment Pass:

  • Application letter and letter of appointment
  • Offer of acceptance or employment contract
  • Completed application forms
  • Letter of approval from Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Original receipts of application payment
  • Copy of employee's passport
  • Passport photos
  • Copy of employee's CV and qualifications
  • Medical report from the employee's country of origin, approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Health

Dependent Pass or Long-Term Social Visit Pass

Employment Pass holders may apply for a Dependent Pass for their spouse, children under 18, parents or in-laws. The Dependent Pass is valid for as long as the breadwinner's Employment Pass is valid. They may alternatively apply for a Long-Term Social Visit Pass for their children under 18, parents or in-laws if these relatives aren't dependents.

Professional Visit Pass

A Professional Visit Pass (PVP) is granted to foreigners that have professional skills or qualifications who are employed by an overseas company but working with a company in Malaysia. With this pass, they are permitted to provide services or undergo practical training with a Malaysian company for up to 12 months.

Student Visa

Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) aims to promote Malaysia as an international education hub and is a “one-stop centre” for international student services. As the only approved gateway for international students, it promotes higher education at Malaysian universities and colleges, accredited skills training centres, and language schools. Requirements differ depending on the type of institution that you are applying to, so be sure to research the relevant requirements and calculate application fees once you have made your decision.

Students will need to apply for a visa before arriving in Malaysia, and there are two ways to do so. If you are a new student who has received an offer letter from a public university or private higher education institution, you can apply online for your student visa directly through the Education Malaysia website.

Alternatively, you can apply for your visa through the institution itself, which will begin the process of applying for your Visa Approval Letter (VAL) once you have submitted payment and required documents. You can expect to receive the Visa Approval Letter after a minimum of 14 working days from when the complete application has been received by EMGS. You can download the EMGS Mobile App to track your application status and receive notifications.

To apply for a student visa, you will be required to submit one passport photo with a white background, a copy of all relevant passport pages, a copy of your offer letter, your academic certificates and transcripts, a medical examination report, a personal bond signed on your behalf by the institution, which you will need to lodge with them and will be returned upon completion of your studies. A No-Objection Certificate or Letter of Eligibility will also be required of students from Iran or Sudan.

If you are a citizen that requires a visa to enter Malaysia, you will need to obtain a Single Entry Visa from your nearest Malaysian Embassy once you have your Visa Approval Letter.


Since the end of 2015, companies that are registered with the Expatriate Services Division can apply for a Social Visit Pass – Internship (SVP-I) for international students at a recognised foreign university to do a short-term internship in Peninsular Malaysia. A maximum duration for the SVP-I is 90 days and participants from countries that require entry visas must also obtain the respective Single Entry Visa (SEV) before entry to Malaysia. All passports must be valid for at least 6 months, although 12 months is recommended, and SVP-I holders must leave Malaysia upon completion of their internship or visa expiry, as renewals are not allowed.

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) is a programme promoted by the Malaysian government that allows foreigners who fulfil a certain criteria to stay in Malaysia on a multiple-entry social visit pass for an initial period of 10 years. It is renewable thereafter.

It is available to citizens from all countries, and applicants are allowed to bring their spouse and unmarried children below the age of 21 as their dependants.

To be part of this programme, applicants must be able to financially support themselves. If younger than 50 years old, you will be required to show proof of liquid assets worth a minimum of RM500,000 and an offshore income of RM10,000 per month. If you are older than 50, you wil need to show proof of RM350,000 in liquid assets and an offshore income of RM10,000 per month. If you have retired, you will have to show proof of a pension of at least RM10,000 per month.

If you buy a property in Malaysia that's worth more than RM1 milion, it is possible for these requirements to be lowered.

It is possible to apply for two types of part-time job through this programme if you are over 50 years old. You can apply to be a part-time lecturer or you could work for up to 20 hours a week for a company that can justify hiring you over a local citizen.

As of March 2017, the MM2H Centre has implemented an Online Application System to facilitate the application process, and manual application forms can no longer be submitted.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia
Malaysia Immigration Office
Visa and Pass Application Forms
List of countries that require a visa
Expatriate Services Division, Immigration Department of Malaysia
Education Malaysia Global Services
Malaysia My Second Home
MM2H Application System

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.