Expatriation in Malaysia : expatriation procedures and formalities

The expatriation process can be very long if you do not prepare yourself in advance. Among the countries in Asia that attract the most expatriates is Malaysia. Malaysia has developed at a phenomenal rate. You will only have to make a small passage in Kuala Lumpur to see how fast the country evolves. If you want to know more about expatriation in Malaysia, please visit expatriation malaysia.

In recent years, Malaysia has seen an exponential increase in the number of expatriates. The country is attractive because of its tropical beaches, low cost of living, cultural diversity and exotic cuisine. Malaysia also attracts expatriates because of the many economic opportunities available. If you want to know everything about expatriation procedures, this guide is for you.

Expatriation procedures : Working Visa / work permit

To become an expatriate in Malaysia, there are several steps to follow.
One of them is to obtain a work permit.
You will obtain this document by cooperating with your new Malaysian employer.

Your employer will need to assist you in the application process. If you still haven’t landed your job, don’t worry. You can still go to Malaysia on your tourist visa to look for work.
This tourist visa can be upgraded to a work visa while you are in Malaysia, but the process can be lengthy, so plan ahead.

The work permit in Malaysia grants expatriates the right to live and work in the country. The permit is valid for a maximum of 60 months. Once you get the license, it will be linked to the company you applied to. Keep in mind that changing your company or career will require you to reapply for another work permit. However, be careful, Malaysia does not joke with illegal employees. The laws on illegal workers are quite strict in the country. If the authorities catch you, you will not be able to work or apply for a new permit.

The DEPENDANT PASS : the visa for your children and spouse.

Once you have received your work permit, you can apply for a residence permit for dependents : this is the DEPENDANT PASS.
You can also apply for a long-term social visit permit for your spouse, children or parents.
The social visit permit also allows you to bring a cleaning lady to Malaysia (between 21 and 45 years old, for a maximum of 12 months, renewable).
Please note that these permits are only valid as long as the work permit holder’s visa remains valid.


expatriation procedures

Documents to prepare for an expatriation

Now that you know the basics of the work permit, let’s see what documents you need to apply.

  1. A copy of each page of your passport (including the front and back cover). Generally, a certified copy will be required. You can request it at any city hall, free of charge. Please note that if you make this request at a consulate or embassy abroad, there is a fee. For us, in Turkey, we had to pay per passport page!
  2. Passport with a validity of at least 2-3 years.
  3. Passport with at least 6 blank pages for visa and blurring at the airport.
  4. Academic degrees and certifications: consider having them translated (into English) by a certified translator. You can also find them on sites like fiverr etc.
  5. Certificate of criminal record. The request is made on the internet, free of charge.
  6. A certified copy of the marriage certificate (if you are married).
  7. A certified copy of your birth certificate.
  8. Passport size photos with a blue or white background. Personally, we were able to have the photo validated on a white background.
  9. Certificate of medical fitness to work.
  10. Signed and legalized copy of the employment contract.

Be aware that the immigration department in Malaysia will put an employment card sticker on your passport.
Your company must send your passport within 7 days of your arrival in Malaysia.

Expatriation steps: alternatives to the work visa

What to do if you are unable to obtain a work permit? Don’t worry, there are other methods. These methods include :

Professional business card

Generally this visa is short term, however you can use it to work. With the business card, you are legally allowed to work only for the company listed on your approval. If you choose to change employers later, you will need to apply for a new visa. Your rental company must also be registered with the Expatriate Committee before submitting the application. There is a need for highly skilled professions in Malaysia. However, your company will have to prove why it is imperative to hire an expatriate rather than a Malaysian national.

MM2H 2022 Visa

If you have a decent amount of savings in the bank and a regular monthly income, the MM2H program will grant you a long-term residence (10 years). You can stay up to 10 years (renewable) in Malaysia.
You can also bring dependents or open your own box.
Those under 50 years of age will be required to have RM500,000 in the bank in the first year. While people over 50 years old will need to have RM 350,000 in the bank. Regardless of your category, you will need a monthly income of RM10,000 and a fixed deposit.
Details are given on our page dedicated to the MM2H program.


The criteria are much stricter since 2022, for the MM2H visa.
It now requires RM1000000 in an escrow account, and proof of RM40000 income per month.

Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur (MTECH)

In 2017, Malaysia launched the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Program (MTEP).
This program was set up to attract digital startups and strengthen the country’s technological growth.
You will be able to stay in Malaysia as a new entrepreneur for a period of 12 months (renewable).
All the details, including registration fees, are on their official website.

Visa through a Labuan company

It is to create a company on Labuan, and to ask thereafter, a work visa.
This solution will only suit a certain category of entrepreneurs.
All the information concerning the creation of Labuan company.

Malaysia is a beautiful country that will appeal to you as an expatriate.
The opportunities are enormous in this emerging Southeast Asian country.
The quality of life as well as the cost is worth the effort.

All these alternatives will be more fully detailed : visa in Malaysia.

Our personal advice for a successful expatriation

Obtaining a residence visa or a work permit can be very complicated.
We add it in one of the big disadvantages in Malaysia: the access is not very simple and the laws change regularly.
It will be necessary to carry out long researches, before arriving on the spot, in order to prepare itself and not to waste time.
Here are our tips:

  • Some abbreviations used in this jargon:
    • DP : Dependant Pass
    • EP: Employment Pass
    • WP: Working Permit
    • MM2H : My Malaysian Second Home Program
  • You can start at look for a job on the internet without having to go anywhere.
  • If you prefer to go to the site to look for a job, you can come with a tourist visa for a period of 3 months (for French or Moroccan passport holders in particular): don’t waste your time visiting the shopping malls, or tasting all the different dishes of the local restaurants 🙂
  • Try to get your network going: it’s difficult, but you never know! Also consider sites like Lindkn, especially if you have a particular expertise, or even Facebook.
  • Always keep official documents with you: copy of passport, birth or marriage certificate, diplomas, international driving license, etc. At best, put them in your phone or on your cloud.
  • All the information we give you is to be checked with the official authorities: the regulations change very regularly and we will not be able to keep this article permanently up to date.

Read also

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *