Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Malaysia is a multicultural, majority Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, other religious festivals or if you intend to visit religious sites. See Travelling during Ramadan
You should also dress modestly, particularly in conservative and rural areas and when visiting places of worship.
If you’re a Muslim you may be subject to local Shari’a law.
There are severe penalties for all drug offences; this includes amphetamine-type stimulants. Trafficking incurs a mandatory death penalty. Possession incurs a custodial sentence and possible whipping.
You could be asked to take a urine test on arrival in Malaysia if you’re suspected of having used drugs before your visit. Urine tests can also be taken when individuals are detained following raids on bars and nightclubs. If the test is positive, you could be detained, charged and/or deported and blacklisted.
Importing unlicensed firearms and ammunition into Malaysia is prohibited and can carry the death penalty.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Malaysia and punishable under federal law, and in some states, shari’a law. You should avoid any behaviour which could attract unwanted attention, including public displays of affection. Openly gay and lesbian support groups exist. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Malaysia follows the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) for the classification of goods. All imported and exported goods into the country must be categorized based on the Malaysian Customs tariff numbers. Any queries regarding the classification of import and export goods should go to the particular customs station of which the goods are to be imported.
Malaysian customs require the following documents for exporting products to Malaysia:
Additional documentation may be required to certify U.S. content. U.S. exporters are advised to confirm documentary requirements before shipping.
Free import :
The trafficking of illegal drugs is a serious offence in Malaysia and the penalty for such an offence is death.
The items can only be imported duty free if the following conditions are met:
Quantitative import restrictions are seldom imposed, except on a limited range of products for the protection of local industries or reasons of security. Seventeen percent of Malaysia’s tariff lines (principally in the construction equipment, agricultural, mineral, and motor vehicle sectors) are also subject to non-automatic import licensing, which is designed to protect import-sensitive or strategic industries.
Malaysia’s tariffs are typically imposed on a value-add basis, with a simple average applied tariff of 6.1 percent for industrial goods. For certain goods, such as alcohol, wine, poultry, and pork, Malaysia charges specific duties that represent incredibly high effective tariff rates. Duties for tariff lines where there is significant local production are often higher. The Ministry of Finance announced on July 16, 2018, that the SST is chargeable on the manufacture of taxable goods in Malaysia. The SST is also applied to the importation of taxable goods into Malaysia at the rate of 5 percent or 10 percent, or a specific rate depending on the category of products.
Baggage is cleared at the airport of final destination in Malaysia.
Not applicable to baggage of transit passengers:
1. with a destination inside or outside Malaysia if:
– transiting between terminal KLIA and terminal KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur (KUL). Passengers must collect their baggage on arrival in Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and re-check in;
– the connecting flight is booked on a separate ticket. Baggage must be collected and re-checked in for the connecting flight;
2. with a destination outside Malaysia if not leaving the airport transit area and if their baggage have been checked through to the destination abroad.
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Malaysian Ringgit-MYR) and foreign currencies: No restrictions. Amounts exceeding MYR 30,000.- and USD 10,000.- or equivalent must be declared for re-export.
Currency Export regulations:
Allowed: local currency (Malaysian Ringgit-MYR): up to MYR 30,000.- and foreign currencies: up to USD 10,000.- or equivalent. Higher amounts may be exported if import has been declared upon arrival
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry to Malaysia for British nationals is prohibited. Some exemptions may apply, including: British nationals with permanent resident status, resident pass, My Second Home Programme (MM2H) pass, expatriates of all categories, including professional visit passes as well as dependants pass, spouse to Malaysian nationals (spouse visa) and students and temporary employment passes.
The situation is changing regularly, and any British national who wishes to enter Malaysia will need to seek permission from the local Malaysian Embassy/High Commission or the Immigration Directorate before travelling.
If you normally reside in Malaysia and wish to seek further guidance, contact the Malaysian High Commission or Embassy in the country you currently stay for further guidance and your airline and keep up to date with developments, including this travel advice. You may need to complete an application on the MYTravelPass online platform. You should speak to the local Malaysian authorities for further guidance.
You can transit via Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as long as you remain airside.
Transit that requires passage through immigration (to collect bags, or to move between the two Kuala Lumpur terminals – KLIA and KLIA2) is not possible, unless you meet the general immigration requirements above.
You may need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival (even if you have a negative test from your country of origin) and on completion of your quarantine. If you have an onward domestic flight in peninsular Malaysia, you will undergo quarantine in Kuala Lumpur. Any onward flight to a regional airport will need to be booked at a later date.
Anyone (including British nationals) who gets permission to enter the country under the immigration rules mentioned above will be obliged to enter quarantine for 10 days at a designated government facility. You will need to meet all costs associated with your quarantine. You will need to download the MySejahtera app.
If you’re travelling to East Malaysia (Sabah or Sarawak) please consult the Malaysian High Commission/Embassy and your airline as regards quarantine procedures and onward travel from Kuala Lumpur to these provinces. Sabah and Sarawak have additional immigration rules in place. You will only be permitted to enter if you have permanent residence or an employment pass in the relevant state.
You will need to download the MySejahtera app.
British nationals do not need a visa to visit Malaysia. You will normally be given permission to stay for 3 months on arrival. Visas for longer stays or for non-tourist purposes must be obtained from the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission before you travel.
The Malaysian authorities are running a vigorous campaign against illegal immigration. Do not overstay your visa, or violate the terms of entry. Even if you overstay for just a few days, you can be fined, detained, deported to the UK and blacklisted. Flight costs will be the responsibility of the individual.
If you’re travelling between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (sometimes known as Malaysian Borneo and comprising the states of Sabah and Sarawak) you will need to carry your passport. You must get an entry stamp in East Malaysia at your initial port of entry.
Recent changes to visa requirements for Thailand may affect travellers wishing to make regular crossings at land borders between Malaysia and Thailand. See Thailand Travel Advice for further information.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Malaysia.
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for exit from Malaysia. You’re likely to need to get a special exit pass from Malaysian Immigration before leaving and there will be a cost for this. If travelling to another country, other than the UK, you will need to check with the relevant Embassy if a visa is needed in the ETD. If you plan to use an ETD to enter or transit through Malaysia, check entry requirements with the nearest Malaysian Embassy or High Commission before you travel.
Malaysia doesn’t recognise dual nationality. Technically you can be refused entry if you’re found to be holding two passports of different nationality.
You can import or export up to 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit without prior approval. There are no limits on the amount of foreign currency you can import or export, but you must declare any amount in excess of US$ 10,000. Penalties include a fine of up to RM 1 million and up to 3 years’ imprisonment. Further information can be found on the Royal Malaysian Customs Department website.
In February 2013, around 100 armed men from the Sulu archipelago landed on the eastern coast of Sabah and occupied the small village of Kampung Tanduo approximately 100 km east of Lahad Datu. On 1 March 2013 there was an exchange of fire and a number of fatalities. On 3 March 2013 there were reports of further incidents on the coast between Lahad Datu and Semporna. Additional Malaysian security forces were sent to the area on 4 March 2013 and on 5 March 2013 airstrikes and other military action was reported against locations held by the armed group from Sulu around Kampung Tanduo.
The Malaysian authorities have designated the entire eastern portion of Sabah (extending from the town of Kudat in northern Sabah to Tawau district near the border with Indonesia) as the Eastern Sabah Security Zone, and established the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to co-ordinate security forces’ activity in the area. The Malaysian security forces have strengthened their presence in the area and introduced measures to reduce the risk of unauthorised boat landings.
The local authorities have imposed restrictions on travel by water in some coastal districts of eastern Sabah and in the coastal waters off eastern Sabah, including a night-time curfew. For more information, visit the Sabah Tourism website.
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Avoid carrying valuables and take particular care of your passport whilst walking, in aircraft, cafes, airport and railway terminals, and hotel rooms. Do not open your hotel room door to strangers, especially late at night. This applies particularly to women travelling alone. Credit card and ATM fraud is widespread. Take great care when using your card.
Incidents of bag snatching are common, particularly in major cities and including by thieves on motorbikes. Bags with shoulder straps should either be carried with the bag towards the pavement rather than the road, or tucked under the arm. Do not wrap the strap around your arm or shoulder and do not try to hold on to your bag. People have been injured or killed by being pulled to the ground by their bag straps.
Taxi coupon systems are in place at airports. In other areas, taxis should use a meter.
Be careful if you’re offered a drink by a stranger, even in a reputable bar or restaurant. These approaches can involve spiked drinks, and have resulted in cases of robbery and assault.
If you’re a victim of crime, inform the local police and get a police report.
You can drive in Malaysia with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year from your date of entry into Malaysia. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.
After a year, you will need to get a Malaysian driving licence. Further information is available from the Malaysian Road Transport Department.
British nationals already in possession of a Malaysian driving licence can continue to renew their Malaysian driving licence as before.
Road conditions in Peninsular Malaysia are generally good, but less so in East Malaysia. Vehicles (particularly motorcycles) do not always stop at traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. If you’re involved in a road accident you’re obliged by law to stay at the scene until the police have arrived. If a crowd gathers, it may be safer to leave the scene and report to the nearest police station.
There have been a number of fatal bus crashes, particularly on overnight journeys. Choose a reputable operator for your journey.
If you rent a motorbike you should take the same safety precautions as in the UK. Malaysian law states that helmets must be worn.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and the traffic police regularly carry out breath tests. Anyone over the legal limit can face a heavy fine and/or a jail sentence and deportation.
Piracy in South East Asian waters is an ongoing problem. There have been a number of attacks against ships in and around Malaysian waters, particularly in the Strait of Malacca and the waters between Sabah and the southern Philippines. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions. Reduce opportunities for theft, establish secure areas on board and report all incidents to the coastal and flag state authorities.
Some passenger boats have sunk due to overloading and/or poor maintenance. Take care at all times when travelling by passenger ferry or speedboat and avoid travelling on vessels that are clearly overloaded or in poor condition. Make sure life jackets are available.
If you rent jet skis or any other type of water sports equipment, make sure adequate safety precautions are in place. Only use reputable licensed operators, insist on training before use and make sure you’re insured.
Check dive operators’ credentials carefully and make sure you’re insured. Check that safety equipment is available on the boat, including oxygen. Ask about contingency plans, which should include the ability to call for help while at sea and to evacuate divers to the nearest hyperbaric chamber if necessary.
You should take great care if you’re diving the sites of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, which lie in international waters off Kuantan. They have been declared ‘protected places’ under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. You should only dive there on a ‘look not touch’ basis. Do not attempt to penetrate the wrecks, which lie in deep water. A British diver died in November 2011 while diving on HMS Repulse. Make sure any boat operator you use holds a licence for diving at the wreck site.
Police have sometimes used tear gas and water cannons to control public protests. Monitor local and international media and avoid all demonstrations. Under Malaysian law it’s illegal for foreign nationals to take part in demonstrations.