Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Malaysia International Travel Information
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Malaysia for information on U.S.- Malaysia relations.
Malaysia has implemented strict entry restrictions and quarantine requirements due to COVID-19. Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Malaysia.
To enter Malaysia:
Your passport must be valid for at least six months. You must have at least one blank page required for entry stamp. Permission to enter and remain in Malaysia is at the decision of and discretion of the Malaysian Immigration Department.
If you are planning onward travel after departing Malaysia, please note that many other countries in the region require at least six months’ remaining validity on your passport to enter.
You do not need a visa if you are coming for business or tourism for 90 days or less.
Immigration officials will place an entry stamp, known as a social visit pass (visa), in your passport authorizing a stay of up to 90 days. Travelers may apply to the Malaysian Immigration Department for extensions of up to two months.
Neither the U.S. Government nor the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur can intervene on your behalf when you apply for a Malaysian visa, nor can we advocate for your admission into Malaysia if you are denied entry.
See the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website for more information.
Travel Document: Persons traveling on a USCIS-issued Travel Document must apply for a visa prior to traveling to Malaysia.
Border Crossings: Follow all entry instructions, present your passports only to immigration officials, and be sure immigration officials stamp your passport with the correct date upon entering and exiting Malaysia. Lacking correct documentation or proof of entry into Malaysia may result in high fines and detention.
Sabah and Sarawak: The eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) have special entry requirements. You must have your passport to enter or exit Sabah or Sarawak, even when arriving from peninsular Malaysia on domestic flights.
Dual Nationality: Malaysia does not recognize or permit dual nationality. If Malaysian authorities learn that you are a U.S.-Malaysia dual national, they may require you to immediately forfeit your U.S. passport or your Malaysian citizenship. U.S.-Malaysia dual nationals should consider this issue seriously before traveling to Malaysia. See our dual nationality page for more information.
U.S.-Israeli Dual Nationals: Immigration officials have denied entry to U.S.-Israeli dual nationals who have presented their Israeli passports to show exit stamps from their last destination. U.S.-Israeli dual nationals should use their U.S. passports to depart the last country on their itinerary prior to arriving in Malaysia.
Visa Overstays: Malaysian immigration authorities have exit controls at all ports of departure and routinely fine and detain foreigners who overstay their social visit passes (visas). If you overstay your visa, you will not be allowed to exit Malaysia until you resolve the overstay with the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
Carry your passport (containing the Malaysian entry stamp) with you at all times in case authorities question your immigration status. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested during immigration sweeps and detentions may last from a few hours to several weeks. Check your visa status periodically while in Malaysia and strictly follow immigration laws and regulations.
Visit the Embassy of Malaysia website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Malaysia.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
Information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Since 2013, Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 500 supporters of ISIS terrorist group, including many individuals who planned to fight in Syria and Iraq.
Use caution in eastern Sabah because of the threat of kidnappings-for-ransom and violence from both terrorist and criminal groups, including the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group (see the Philippines Travel Advisory for more information). In addition to targeting coastal or resort islands themselves, criminal or terrorist groups may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists from the mainland to resort islands.
Due to safety concerns, U.S. government employees traveling for both personal and official travel to Sabah east of the north-south line drawn from the cities of Kudat to Tawau, including all islands, must obtain official written permission from the Embassy. The exceptions are the cities of Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau, the Sepolik Nature Reserve, and the Kinabatangan River areas, which require U.S. government employees to officially notify the Embassy prior to travel.
Malaysian law enforcement officials have enacted land and water-based curfews in the coastal areas of eastern Sabah. Check local media or ask local police for the most recent curfew information if traveling to eastern Sabah.
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
Crime: Petty theft and violent crime in Kuala Lumpur continue to be concerns. Purse snatchings, pick-pocketing, and residential burglaries are the most common crimes committed against foreigners. Avoid wrapping purse straps around arms or shoulders to avoid injury. Taxi drivers in central Kuala Lumpur have perpetrated violent crimes against foreign tourists and local residents. Book taxis in downtown shopping areas by phone or online, rather than hailing a taxi on the street, particularly after dark.
Criminals also target motorists stuck in traffic or stopped at a light with smash and grab robberies. Keep valuables out of sight while driving or remove them from the car (including from the trunk) when parked. GPS devices should not be left on the windshield or dashboard.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Local law prohibits non-Malaysians from participating in public protests.
Sophisticated internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Malaysia. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or less frequently by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
If you become the victim of a scam you may make a formal complaint (in person) to the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate.
Credit Card Fraud: Safeguard your credit cards at all times and use them only at reputable establishments. If you must use a credit card in Malaysia, check your account information frequently for fraudulent charges.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police via the emergency line at 999 (landline) or 112 (cell/mobile). Alternatively, call the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) Operations Center in Kuala Lumpur, 03-2115-9999 or 03-2266-2222. Contact the U.S. Embassy at +(60) (3) 2168-5000. A police report is necessary for the embassy to help victims follow up on incidents of crime. In some tourist areas, the police have established small "Tourist Police” stations manned by personnel familiar with helping visitors to Malaysia.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance, and first responder capabilities may vary. When participating in trekking or other activities in extremely remote areas, particularly in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, it may be difficult for first responders to reach patients quickly. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Malaysia are more severe than those in the United States, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, or death. Malaysian law provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers.
It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, such as military facilities, government buildings and offices, and Ministry of Health facilities including public hospitals and clinics.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail.
Certain white-collar crimes are punishable by caning.
You may be prosecuted and sentenced to heavy fines, expulsion and/or imprisonment if you collect local flora or fauna without authorization from the Malaysian government.
It is illegal to distribute religious literature of another faith to Malaysian Muslims. Special religious authorities and local police occasionally conduct raids on popular nightspots and hotels to deter activities among local Muslims that contravene religious customs, including drinking alcohol and adultery.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Currency: Currency exchange and Western Union money transfers are readily available. Credit cards are accepted throughout the country, but you should be aware of the risk of fraud. ATMs can be a safer means of obtaining Malaysian Ringgit. PINs in Malaysia are six digits long, and some travelers have reported having difficulty retrieving cash from ATMs using four-digit PINs.
Customs: Malaysian authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the import or export of items such as firearms, narcotics, medication, business equipment, currency, books, cultural property or any material which might be considered obscene or harmful to the public interest. Contact the Malaysian Embassy, or one of Malaysia’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: Malaysia’s penal code criminalizes homosexual acts, termed “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” leading to punishment of up to 20 years in prison and/or whipping. Several states in Malaysia have instated Islamic Sharia laws, applying to male and female Muslims, criminalizing same-sex activity with up to three years imprisonment and whipping. Transgender individuals have been arrested and charged with "indecent behavior,” and received fines and prison sentences of up to three months. LGBTI individuals may face discrimination or even violence, especially in more conservative rural areas. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Malaysia prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, but the law is not enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is as prevalent as in the United States. The most common types of accessibility may include accessible government facilities, information, and communication/access to services. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, older lodging, and older public infrastructure, and common in newer lodging, communication/information, and newer public infrastructure. Accessibility is more limited in rural areas.
Malaysia has an active civil society and NGO community focused on disability welfare and protection. They are usually able to provide information and assistance in employment services, assistive devices and equipment, chore services, companion-based services, day services, and support network for parents.
Women Travelers: In cases of sexual assault, victims should go directly to the nearest major public hospital which will offer “one-stop” response including medical care and testing, forensic testing, access to the police to make a criminal report, legal assistance, counseling, and temporary shelter. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Malaysia.
For emergency services in Malaysia, dial 999 (landline) or 112 (cell/mobile). Callers to 999 emergency number are directed to whichever hospital the dispatcher chooses.
Ambulance services are
Long term visitors and residents should always be aware of the location of the nearest hospital and an alternate form of transportation. Visitors or residents with known health issues are also recommended to investigate private ambulance services in the area and provide family and close contacts with the direct telephone number(s) of the service you prefer.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
Malaysian hospitals will not bill your insurance directly. You must provide payment and seek reimbursement.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Royal Malaysian Customs Department to ensure the medication is legal in Malaysia.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for travel to Malaysia.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The air quality varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the dry season from July to October due to large agricultural fires in the region. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Health facilities in general:
Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy
General Health Language
The following diseases are prevalent:
Road Conditions and Safety: Bottlenecks are common in major cities because road building has not kept pace with the spread of motorized vehicles. Multi-lane highways often merge into narrow two-lane roads in the center of town and cause congestion. Many streets are narrow and winding. Traffic is heavy during the morning and afternoon rush hours and slows down considerably when it rains. Monsoonal rains can quickly flood roads located in low-lying areas.
Traffic Laws: Traffic in Malaysia moves on the left side of the road, and most vehicles are right-hand drive. By law, you must use your front and back seat belts and must not use your cell phone while driving unless it is hands-free (e.g., Bluetooth). Turning left at a red light is not legal unless otherwise marked. Carry your passport or Malaysian identification card at all times when driving.
Motorcyclists attempt to circumvent traffic blockage by weaving in and out of traffic, temporarily using vacant oncoming traffic lanes, and running through red lights. Use your turn signals well in advance of turning to alert motorcycles of your intent to turn.
If you are involved in a traffic accident:
Reports of road rage incidents, especially after midnight, are rising. Avoid confrontational behavior if you are involved in an accident. If you are threatened, leave the scene and file a report with the local police within 24 hours.
Sobriety Checkpoints: Laws against drinking and driving are strictly enforced and carry serious penalties. Police operate sobriety checkpoints in many entertainment districts frequented by expatriates. At these checkpoints, all drivers must submit to alcohol breath tests. If you fail a breath test, you will be arrested.
Driver’s License Requirements: International Driving Permits (IDP) may be used in conjunction with a valid U.S. license. The IDP must be obtained outside of Malaysia. If your IDP or U.S. license has expired, you will need to obtain a local driver’s license. Some classifications of visa holders may also be eligible for driver’s license “conversion,” a quicker process to obtain a local license. For additional information on this process, please contact the Malaysian Ministry of Transportation directly. The Ministry of Transportation recommends contacting a local driving school to arrange all the paperwork. In order to obtain a local license, you will also need a valid long-term visa or work permit.
Many car rental agencies in Malaysia are willing to rent vehicles for a short term to U.S. citizens with valid U.S. driver’s licenses. Nevertheless, if you plan to drive in Malaysia, obtain an IDP before leaving the United States. More information on how to obtain an IDP is available on the Driving Abroad section of the Department of State website.
Public Transportation: There have been fatal and other serious accidents involving long-distance tour buses in Malaysia, particularly at night or in adverse weather conditions. If you plan to travel by bus, choose a reputable company, and avoid overnight routes.
Taxis are metered, but many drivers refuse to use the meter and instead charge a much higher rate, particularly during peak hours, when it is raining or when the passenger’s destination is to or through a heavily congested area. By regulation, metered fares increase by 50 percent between midnight and 6:00 a.m.; meters are programmed to display the higher fee automatically during these hours. Many individuals prefer to book taxi and car services through widely-used smart phone apps both for convenience and fare transparency.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Malaysia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Malaysia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.