Travel Advisories


Travel Advisories

Malaysia Travel Advisory

Travel Advisory
January 10, 2018
Malaysia - Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions

Exercise normal precautions in Malaysia. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise increased caution in:

  •  The eastern area of Sabah State due to crime and terrorism.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Malaysia:

Eastern Area of Sabah State

There is a threat of kidnappings-for-ransom and violence from both terrorist and criminal groups. These groups may attack with little to no warning, targeting coastal resorts, island resorts, and boats ferrying tourists to resort islands. 

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in eastern Sabah as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to parts of eastern Sabah. 

Read the Safety and Security Section on the Country Information page for further information regarding the Eastern area of Sabah State.

Travel Advisory Levels
1 Exercise normal precautions, 2 Exercise increased caution, 3 Reconsider travel, 4 Do not travel

Quick Facts

Six months beyond date of arrival


One blank page required for entry stamp


Not required for stays of less than 90 days




$10,000 or equivalent


$10,000 or equivalent

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur

376 Jalan Tun Razak
50400, Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +(60) (3) 2168-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(60) (3) 2168-5000 (press 1 at the recording)
Fax: +(60) (3) 2148-5801

Destination Description

Read Tourism Malaysia’s website for areas of interest.  See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Malaysia for information on U.S.- Malaysia relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

To enter Malaysia:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months. 
  • 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 Immigration Department for extensions of up to two months. 

See the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website for more information.

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.  Therefore, it is important that U.S.-Israeli dual nationals 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.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

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 2014, Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 150 supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, including many individuals who planned to fight in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. citizens are advised to use caution when traveling to 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 incursions on 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 to eastern 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. 

Border Crossings: You are advised to follow all entry directions, 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.

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.

Public Demonstrations: Local law prohibits non-Malaysians from participating in public protests. While most protests in Malaysia are peaceful, even peaceful demonstrations can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning. You should avoid areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests or demonstrations. 

Crime: Petty theft and violent crime in Kuala Lumpur continue to be concerns. Purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and residential burglaries are the most common crimes committed against foreigners. Criminals frequently target women, alone or with children, for purse snatching. These incidents can occur anytime or anywhere and have also targeted men. Avoid wrapping purse straps around arms or shoulders to avoid injury. Taxi drivers in downtown Kuala Lumpur have perpetrated violent crimes against foreign tourists and local residents. Travelers are advised to 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.

Scams: U.S. citizens and businesses continue to be frequent victims of internet-based scams originating in Malaysia and have reported millions of dollars in losses. Do not send money to people you have not met in person and who claim to be U.S. citizens in trouble in Malaysia. Resources on how to protect yourself from financial fraud can be found on our International Financial Scams information page. If you become the victim of a scam you may make a formal complaint (in person) to the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate.  You can also report the crime to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Credit Card Fraud: Closely 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:

Report crimes to both the local police and the U.S. Embassy:

  • The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Malaysia is 999 from a landline and 112 from a mobile telephone. 
  • Alternatively, call the Royal Malaysia Police 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.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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.

  • 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. 
  • Driving under the influence 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.

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 Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The government does not mandate accessibility to transportation for persons with disabilities, and few older public facilities are adapted for such persons.  New government buildings are generally outfitted with a full range of facilities for persons with disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for 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.  


Medical Facilities and Services:

  • Medical facilities and services are adequate in the larger cities, where you can find Western-trained doctors. 
  • The U.S. Embassy website has a list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions. 
  • Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services although major credit cards are accepted at some hospitals in larger cities.
  • Most over-the-counter medications can be purchased at local pharmacies but certain prescription medications are only available at doctors’ offices and hospital pharmacies, requiring a locally-written prescription. If you have ongoing prescription medication needs, we advise you to consult a physician prior to traveling to Malaysia.  Psychiatric medications can only be prescribed in Malaysia by physicians specialized in psychiatric care, unlike in the United States.

Emergency Services:

  • Malaysian paramedics do not have training equivalent to U.S. standards. Response time may be long and response area limited.  Long term visitors and residents should always be aware of the location of the nearest hospital and an alternate form of transportation. 
  • Callers to Malaysia's "999" emergency number (equivalent to “911” in the United States) are directed to whichever hospital the dispatcher chooses. 
  • If you are staying in Malaysia for a long time, and you have known health problems, you should 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.

  • Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas and know how to reach your insurance company to authorize payment.  Malaysian hospitals will not bill your insurance directly.  You must provide payment and seek reimbursement.
  • See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage
  • Most health care providers overseas only accept cash payments. 
  • Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Royal Malaysian Customs Department to ensure the medication is legal in Malaysia.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Disease: Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses that are endemic to Malaysia.  Preventing mosquito bites is the most important way to prevent these illnesses.  Leptospirosis, a rare bacterial disease spread through the urine of infected animals, has also been reported in Malaysia in recent years.  See CDC’s website for more information.  

Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, typically transmitted by the day biting Aedes aegypti mosquito, that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact and blood transfusion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other neurological conditions.  For general information and the latest updates about Zika and steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to the virus, please visit the CDC website.

Air Quality:  Air quality in Malaysia is acceptable most of the time.  However, when Malaysia and nearby countries burn vegetation, especially from March through June and during September and October, air quality can range from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “unhealthy.”

Vaccinations:  Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel to Malaysia.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:  Bottlenecks are common in major cities because infrastructure development has not kept pace with the proliferation 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.  We strongly advise you to 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:

  • Call the police immediately. Depending on the severity of the accident, you should call either the emergency number 999 (or 112 from a mobile phone) or the Royal Malaysia Police Operations Center in Kuala Lumpur, 03-2115-9999 or 03-2266-2222. 
  • Stay in your car and wait for the police to arrive before exchanging information with other parties involved in the 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: Please note that 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 for 90 days.  The IDP must be obtained outside of Malaysia. If you are staying longer than 90 days in Malaysia you will need a local driver’s license. The Malaysian Road Transport Department recommends contacting a local driving school to arrange all the paperwork. In order to obtain a local license, you will also need a valid 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, we strongly urge you to 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.

For more information, please visit our Road Safety page. For more information about Malaysian driver’s licenses, contact the Automobile Association of Malaysia.  Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Malaysia’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

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.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority as 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 website select “broadcast warnings”.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur

376 Jalan Tun Razak
50400, Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +(60) (3) 2168-5000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(60) (3) 2168-5000 (press 1 at the recording)
Fax: +(60) (3) 2148-5801

General Information

For information concerning travel to Malaysia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Malaysia.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.


Hague Abduction Convention

Malaysia is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between Malaysia and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.


Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Malaysia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444

Parental child abduction is not a crime in Malaysia. 

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see  Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 



Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Malaysia and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Malaysia for information and possible assistance.


Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia may provide a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law. 

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.


The Department of State is not aware of any government or private organizations that offer mediation services for custody disputes. 

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 


Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
Hague Convention Information

Malaysia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).  Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).  Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases.  The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider.  Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information.  Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600.  However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

The Adoption Act of 1952 governs adoptions of non-Muslim children.  The Registration of Adoption Act of 1952 governs adoptions of Muslim children.  Therefore, different procedures apply to adoptions of non-Muslim and Muslim children.  For example, prospective adoptive parents file their adoption applications with different Malaysian entities, depending on whether the adoption is of a Muslim or non-Muslim child.  Only Muslim prospective adoptive parents may adopt Muslim children.   

Adoptions of children who are not related to the prospective adoptive parents are not common in Malaysia.  Far more common are informal fostering arrangements of children within extended family groups.  (Note:  Participation in such informal fostering arrangements may not by itself be sufficient to qualify a child to immigrate to the United States.)  Prospective adoptive parents must be “ordinarily resident” in Malaysia, i.e. working and living in Malaysia, as defined by the Social Welfare Department, at the time of the adoption application.  In addition, Malaysian law may require prospective adoptive parents to remain in Malaysia for up to two years to complete a fostering period prior to finalizing the adoption. 

Prospective adoptive parents may wish to review our FAQ Information “Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari’a Law is Observed.”

U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Malaysia, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Malaysia:

  • Residency:  To adopt a non-Muslim child, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must be "ordinarily resident" in Malaysia, i.e. they must have been working and living in Malaysia prior to the application.  The Department of Social Welfare determines who is or is not “ordinarily resident.”  Prospective adoptive parents are also required to remain in Malaysia during the adoption process, which may take three months to one year.  To adopt a Muslim child, the prospective adoptive parents must have cared for or fostered the child for at least two years prior to the adoption application and therefore should have been living with the child in Malaysia for at least that period of time.
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  When adopting non-Muslim children, one of the adopting parents must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child.  If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative of the child, he/she must be at least 21 years of age.  When adopting Muslim children, one of the prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old and at least 18 years older than the child.  If the prospective adoptive parent is a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child, he/she must be at least 21 years old.
  • Marriage:  Prospective adoptive parents must submit their marriage license as part of the adoption application.  Single individuals may adopt with some restrictions, e.g. males may not adopt female children.  Same-sex couples may not adopt.
  • Income:  There is no minimum income requirement.
  • Other:  In some cases, prospective adoptive parents are subject to home visits from a court-appointed guardianusually a Social Welfare Officer from the national Social Welfare Department.  The court-appointed guardian will investigate the background and circumstances of the prospective adoptive parents to verify their overall suitability, including their ability to care for the child and family stability.  In many cases, the Social Welfare Department will exempt the prospective parents from home visits, instead accepting the report prepared by the court-appointed guardian.
Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Malaysia has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:

  • Relinquishment:  In adoptions of both Muslim and non-Muslim children, the prospective adoptive parents must obtain a statutory declaration (notarized affidavit), provided by either the national Sessions or High Court, in which biological parent(s) relinquish all parental rights of the child.  Both of the biological parent(s) must sign this statutory declaration.  If they are unable to appear during court appointments, they must also sign affidavits to exempt their absences.
  • Abandonment:  The statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) is not necessary if the biological parents cannot be found or if they have abandoned the child. 
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  A child must be under 18 years of age in order to be adopted. 
  • Sibling Adoptions:  No requirements.  In practice, however, siblings are normally adopted together.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  No requirements.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  To adopt a non-Muslim child, prospective adoptive parents must work with a local lawyer to file a notice (intention to adopt) with the national Social Welfare Department and a petition to adopt with the national Sessions or High Court.  The Court will set a date to appoint a guardian within a few months.  The guardian will investigate and issue his/her findings within three months, after which the Sessions or High Court can issue an Adoption Order.  For Muslim children, the prospective adoptive parents must have fostered the child for a minimum of two years prior to the application date.

Caution:  Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable.  In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

How to Adopt

Malaysia’s Adoption Authority

Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Malaysia generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Adopt [or gain custody of] the child in Malaysia
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1.  Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Malaysia is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption.  Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate.  The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

There are no adoption service providers in Malaysia.  All adoption inquiries should be directed to the Family Services Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.

2.  Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Malaysia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Malaysia and U.S. immigration law.  You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development of Malaysia.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.  As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.

3.  Be Matched with a Child

If you are eligible to adopt, and if a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Family and Children’s Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in Malaysia may provide you with a referral.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Malaysia’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section.  The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.

When adopting a non-Muslim child, prospective adoptive parents may identify a prospective adoptive child privately through friends or relatives in Malaysia or through the national Social Welfare Department.  Once the prospective adoptive parents have identified a child, they must obtain a statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) from the biological parent(s) relinquishing all parental rights of the child.  (The affidavit is waived if the biological parents cannot be found, or if they have abandoned the child.)  The prospective adoptive parents notify the Social Welfare Department of the Malaysian State in which they are resident of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order for the child.  If the Social Welfare Department identified the child, an "offer" letter will be issued to the prospective adoptive parents.  This notification must be in writing.  Regardless of how the child was identified, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must have been “ordinarily resident” in Malaysia at the time they file the petition with the Sessions or High Court, and must continue to reside with and care for the child in Malaysia for not less than three consecutive months afterwards.

When adopting a Muslim child, prospective adoptive parents may identifya prospective adoptive child privately or through the national Social Welfare Department.  The prospective adoptive parents must obtain a statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) from the biological parent(s) relinquishing all parental rights towards the child.  The statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) is not necessary if the biological parents cannot be found or if they have abandoned the child. 

4.  Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Malaysia

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Malaysia generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: When adopting a non-Muslim child, the national Social Welfare Department is responsible for providing a court-appointed guardian to investigate and report on the background and circumstances of the child and the prospective adoptive parents, including the financial and emotional stability of the family and whether there was financial compensation involved in the adoption and, if so, if it was in the best interests of the child.  The guardian’s final report is submitted to the Sessions or High Court on the day of the hearing. When adopting a Muslim child, the National Registration Department is the relevant authority able to register an adopted child (see additional information below). 
  • Role of the Court:  The Sessions or High Court is the primary authority on adoptions of non-Muslim children, as it issues the final Adoption Order that transfers guardianship, custody, and all rights and obligations to the child to the prospective adoptive parents.  The Court may either issue an Adoption Order or an Interim Order, which awards custody of the child to the adoptive parent(s) for a probationary period of six months to two years, subject to provisions for the maintenance, education, and supervision of the welfare of the child.

    The Adoption Order legally allows the National Registration Department to change the child’s birth certificate, replacing the names of the biological parents with those of the adopting parents.  The Registrar of the Court sends a certified copy of the Adoption Order to the National Registration Department and to the adoptive parent(s) within seven days.  The Registrar-General enters the Adoption Order in the Adopted Children Register.  The Register entry serves as the child’s official record instead of the original birth certificate.  The adoptive parent may apply for a certified copy of the entry in the Adopted Children Register through the Registrar-General.

    When adopting a Muslim childa court petition is not required.  The Muslim prospective adoptive parents apply directly to the National Registration Department to document the child as his/her adopted child.  To qualify, the prospective adoptive parents must have resided with and had continuous custody of the child for a period of not less than two years.  The application should include evidence relating to the care, maintenance, and education of the child during the two years from the date of the biological parents’ statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) relinquishing all parental rights of the child.

    If the National Registration Department is satisfied with the evidence submitted, an entry will be made in the Adopted Children Register and a certified copy of the entry delivered to the adoptive parents.  If the Registration Department is not satisfied with the evidence, an officer from the national Social Welfare Department will conduct an investigation on the well-being of the child.  Children adopted under the Registration of Adoptions Act cannot assume the name of or inherit property from the adoptive parents.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies:  There are no agencies in Malaysia.  All adoption inquiries should be directed to the Family Services Division, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
  • Adoption Application:  When adopting non-Muslim children, local legal counsel will assist adoptive parents with filing a notice of intention to adopt with the national Social Welfare Department.  The attorney may file an application for an Adoption Order with the Court (either Session or High) at that time.  When adopting Muslim children, prospective adoptive parents may apply directly to the National Registration Department.   
  • Time Frame:  Adoptions can take approximately eight months to two years or more, depending on fostering requirements.
  • Adoption Fees:  Adoption application fees are minimal and vary by region, but you must hire a local lawyer to process Adoption Orders through the Session or High Courts.  Lawyers’ fees may range from RM2,000 (US$570) to RM10,000 (US$2,850) or more.  For more information on how to obtain a list of lawyers in Malaysia, please email the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur’s consular section at:

    The UAA and Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions. 
  • Documents Required:  For adoptions of non-Muslim children, the prospective adoptive parents must present the following documents to the Malaysian Social Welfare Department under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development:   
    • His/her valid passport;
    • The original birth certificate of the prospective adoptive child;
    • Statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) containing consent from the biological parent(s);
    • Marriage certificate from the prospective adoptive parent(s), if married; and
    • Notice letter to the Social Welfare Department stating the intention to adopt.

For adoptions of Muslim children, prospective adoptive parents must present the statutory declaration (notarized affidavit) from the biological parents to the National Registration Department, along with proof that they have cared for the child for at least two years.

Note:  Additional documents may be requested.

  •  Authentication of Documents:  You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.

5.  Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Malaysia, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition oforphan under U.S. immigration law.  You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.  At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered.  For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.  Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition.  This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

6.  Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Malaysia, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child.  Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

After the Court issues the Adoption Order, the Register-General will issue (for a small fee) a new birth certificate that lists the names of the adoptive parents and makes no reference to the adoption.  The adoptive parents must provide identification in order to obtain the birth certificate. 

Malaysia Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Malaysia.

The adoptive parents may apply for a Malaysian passport for the child at any local immigration office.  They must bring their U.S. passports and the child’s new birth certificate, along with other required items, in order to apply.  The fee is 150 ringgit (approximately USD 50).  

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you have obtained the new birth certificate and passport for your child and have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you.  As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

The immigrant visa process involves complex Malaysian and U.S. legal requirements.  U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the child, the adoptive parent(s), and the biological parents(s).  Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before formalizing an adoption or grant of custody to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed.  This will help make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

Upon receipt of USCIS’ approval of a Form I-600 petition, or upon approving a Form I-600 petition filed directly with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Embassy staff will contact the petitioners and provide additional instructions on the child’s immigrant visa application process.  U.S. consular officers may not begin processing the child’s immigrant visa application until they have either approved a Form I-600 petition submitted directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur or received formal notification of approval from USCIS.  

Note:  Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur’s website.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States:  A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy.  The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Malaysia

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa.  A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit.  Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for Malaysia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country.  The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Malaysia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

After Adoption

After the adoption is finalized, adoptive parents have legal custody of the child and are not subject to any other restrictions or investigations related to the adoption process.  Parents must remember to obtain the child’s amended birth certificate from the National Registration Department.

Post-Adoption Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search: 

 Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur
376 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel:  (6)(03) 2168-5000
Fax:  (6)(03) 248-5801

Malaysia’s Adoption Authorities:

Family and Children’s Division
Social Welfare Department
Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
21-23rd Floor, Menara Tun Ismail Mohd Ali
Jalan Raja Laut
50562 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel:  (60)(3) 2616-5802 – General Line; (60)(3) 2616-5865 – Adoption

National Registration Department
Ministry of Home Affairs
Lot 2G5, Precinct 2
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62100 Federal Territory of Putrajaya
Tel:  (60)(3) 8880-7000
Fax:  (60)(3) 8880-7059

Embassy of Malaysia
3516 International Court N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel:  202-572-9700
Fax: 202-572-9882

Malaysia also has consulates in: New York City and Los Angeles and a Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
Fee Number
of Entries
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months
L-2 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 $9.00 Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months
R-2 $9.00 Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.



General Documents

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth and Death Certificates

Available. Birth and death certificates (certified extracts from the register of births and deaths) are available by application on prescribed forms to the Superintendent of Registrar of Births and Deaths for the registration area in which the birth and death was registered or to the Registrar-General of Births and Deaths, Registration Department Headquarters, Petaling Jaya (click here to visit their web site). The prescribed forms (JPN LM 12 for births and JPN LM 13 for deaths in West Malaysia, Form N in Sabah and Form X in Sarawak) include application for a search of any register. It should be noted that service is faster if application is made to the Registrar of the appropriate registration area (Petaling Jaya for West Malaysia, Kuching for Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu for Sabah). There is a minimal fee for these services.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Malaysian marriage certificates are issued under the following laws:

  1. The Civil Marriage Ordinance No. 44 or 1952;
  2. The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 effective from March 1, 1982.

Civil marriage certificates (certified copies of entries in a marriage register) may be obtained from the Malaysian Registrar-General of Marriages, National Registration Department, Headquarters at Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Certified copies of civil marriages for those marriages contracted in the state of Sabah and Sarawak, may be obtained from the Superintendent Registrar of Marriages in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Kuching, Sarawak, respectively.

Certified copies of Islamic marriage certificates may be obtained from the Mahkamah Syariah Court, Headquarters at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

There may be a fee for this service.

Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Malaysia.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Extract copies of civil marriage certificate with endorsement of divorce particulars are obtainable at the Marriage Registry on prescribed Form KC 09 and at a fee of RM5.00. It should be noted that service is faster if application is made to the appropriate courts where the proceedings took place. The fees will be determined by the relevant courts.

Certified copies of Islamic divorce decrees may be obtained from the Mahkamah Syariah Court, headquarters at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Adoption Certificates

Available. A certified copy of an entry in a register of adoptions may be obtained under:

  1. The Adoption Act of 1952 (Act 257) - the West Malaysia States from June 25, 1953;
  2. The Registration of Adoptions Act of 1952 (Act 253) - The West Malaysian States from January 1, 1955;
  3. The Sarawak Adoptions Ordinance of 1942 (for Sarawak);
  4. The Ordinance No. 23 of 1960, the Adoption Rules of 1961 and the Native Court Adoptions Regulations, 1961 (for Sabah).

A certified copy of an entry in the Adopted Children Register under (a) above may be obtained from the Registrar-General of Adoptions, Registration Department Headquarters, Wisma Pendaftaran, 46551 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. A certified copy of an entry in the Register of Adoptions under (b) above may be obtained from the Registrar of Adoptions for the district in which the adoption was registered or from the Registrar-General of Adoptions; under (c) above a certified copy may be obtained from the Central Register kept at the Registration Department Kuching, Sarawak; and (d) above from the Registrar of Adoptions, Registration Department, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. There may be a fee for this service.

Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Both Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have resided in Malaysia for a period of more than one year may apply for a Malaysian certificate of good conduct.

The application form for the Malaysian Certificate of Good Conduct, as well as the addresses and telephone numbers of Malaysian Missions abroad, are available here.

Processing time for the certificate is one to two months from the date of submission. 

Prison Records

Unavailable to private individuals. If a police check develops evidence of the existence of a prison record, or if an applicant volunteers such information, the Embassy can obtain relevant particulars by official application to the Director General of Prisons. The name of the applicant, prison number, and the name of the prison where sentence was served are necessary information.

Military Records

Unavailable. Military records are "privileged documents" which cannot be obtained by residents or former residents of Malaysia on personal application. Such information would not, as a matter of routine, be supplied to Embassy Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian military authorities. In special circumstances, however, consideration would be given to application by the Embassy for such records, each case being decided on its merits.

Passports & Other Travel Documents
  • Certificate of Identity. Issued by the Immigration Department of Malaysia. It meets the requirements of INA 101(a)(30) only when a Malaysian Reentry Visa and Reentry Permit are enclosed thereon.
  • Emergency Certificate. This certificate is issued by the local Malaysian Immigration Department or a Malaysian Diplomatic or Consular Representative overseas to a Malaysian citizen on an emergency basis when the citizen is unable to provide required documentary evidence for a Malaysian passport. The certificate is dark brown, 3 and 3/4 inches wide and 6 inches long, consists of 12 pages, and shows the name, date and place of birth, and nationality of the bearer. The document meets the requirements of INA 101(a)(30) of the Act. However, consular officers should ensure the document is endorsed to meet the requirements of INA 212(a)(7)(B).
Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Embassy)

Tel: 6-03-2168-5000


Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Malaysia. Immigrant visas for Brunei.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 572-9700 (202) 572-9882

New York, NY (212) 490-2722/2723 (212) 498-2049

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur
376 Jalan Tun Razak
50400, Kuala Lumpur
+(60) (3) 2168-5000
+(60) (3) 2148-5801
+(60) (3) 2148-5801
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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.