Visa requirements, residency rules, special programs like Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) and the benefits of these programs (as well as the costs) for potential retirees to Malaysia are complicated.
Some might think unnecessarily complicated, but they are what they are. Let’s tackle them one at a time.
Malaysia Visa Rules
The first requirement for a visa, if you need one, is that you have a passport or other legal travel document. Your passport must be valid for another six months from your arrival date and must have at least one blank page
Then it depends on where you come from. For citizens of many countries, entry is visa free if the purpose of the visit is social or business. See the map from Wikipedia below for further definition of country status.
The map show seven different categories of visitors. Three categories don’t require visas at all but can stay for varying lengths of time. Interestingly enough Cuba is a 90 day country but Mexico only 30 days.
If you are from a country that requires a visa then you must apply in advance through a consulate unless you are from India or China. Then you apply in advance but electronically. Some applicants must also have secondary government approval. You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself for your stay and you must have a ticket out of the country.
Dual citizenship isn’t recognized here and if you are visiting, you need to pick one country or the other as your country of origin. Do not present the other passport or it will be confiscated. Even if you have a visa the final decision of your entry is made by the gatekeeper; the customs official in the primary booth.
Everyone must also complete an arrival/departure visitor’s pass, which you must keep on your person at all times, as you must your passport. This pass is your permission for temporary residency. You will need this card to exit.
Overstaying your allowed visa or visitor time period is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 USD and/or 5 years in prison. In the event of a fine you will be incarcerated until it is paid.
If you have any doubts about your status, it’s smart to visit a Malaysian embassy or consulate before you travel and ensure your prior conclusions are correct!
Malaysia My Second Home Program (MM2H)
This highly regarded program is an initiative by Malaysia to attract longer term foreign residents with money to invest. There are surprisingly good benefits for those who qualify.
We’ve listed the requirements for the Malaysia My Second Home program below:
Financial Qualifications for the Malaysia My Second Home Program
If you are below age 50 then you must show liquid assets of 500,000RM or about $125,000 USD and a monthly income of 10,000RM ($2,500 USD) or better.
If you are above age 50 then you must show liquid assets of 350,000RM or about $87,500 USD and a monthly income of 10,000RM or better.
These qualifications must be supported by certified statement for three consecutive months.
The funds availability requirement will be lowered after the participant purchases a property with a value of 1,000,000RM ($250,000 USD) or above.
What Happens After Approval for the Malaysia My Second Home Program?
If you are under age 50…
- You need to purchase a certificate of investment of 300,000RM ($75,000 USD) in a prescribed Malaysian financial institution.
- After a period of one year you can withdraw 150,000RM ($37,500) for approved purchases such as housing, tuition for children or for medical purposes. The balance of 150,000RM must be maintained for the length of participation in the program.
- If up to half of the deposit wasn’t used to purchase a house and a subsequent purchase was made, providing it had value over 1,000,000RM then you can apply to reclaim ½ of the deposit or 150,000RM.
If you are over age 50…
- The certificate is for 150,000RM, the allowed withdrawal is 50,000RM and the balance to be maintained is the remaining 100,000RM. If you are retired this may be waived (see below).
- For retirees over 50 years of age with a state pension of at least 10,000RM ($2,900) per month, the fixed deposit requirement may be omitted.
- Again, purchase of property entitles the participant to draw down the certificate to 100,000RM if it hasn’t already been used up.
For all applicants, irrespective of their age…
- You need a medical report from a clinic or hospital in Malaysia for yourself and all family members.
- You’ll have to show proof of medical insurance unless you are uninsurable due to age or medical condition.
(Check out our article about health insurance for expats.)
- If you are applying directly you must post a security bond in the amount of 200RM to 2,000RM depending on your nationality.
- If you are applying through an agent the agency has to post the bond (they will charge you for it).
- Agents will charge anywhere from 1,200RM to 10,000RM, depending on services offered.
Benefits of the Malaysia My Second Home Program
- You can live anywhere in peninsular Malaysia for a period of up to ten years. The residency is renewable with proper applications.
- You can purchase a Malaysian assembled car or import a previously owned car duty free.
- You can buy a property, if valued at more than 1,000,000RM and own it outright.
- Your pension or other income remitted into the country is tax free.
- You don’t have to pay tax on interest from your fixed deposit if it stays for more than 12 months in the account.
- You can send your kids to private or international schools.
- You can hold a part-time job.
- You can hire household help.
- You can bring your pets from home.
How do you apply to the Malaysia My Second Home program? You can either do it yourself, directly on the Malaysian government’s website, or you can use one of their registered agents.
The government’s website is your best source of information. It’s in English, so you won’t have any language problems.
Other forms of Visa and Residency in Malaysia
Compared to most of the Central and Latin American countries in our top 10 places to retire, the financial requirements for retirees are high in Malaysia.
So, what other options do you have if you want to stay longer than three months in Malaysia, or if you want to work there? You could leave the country every three months and come back on a social visit pass. But Malaysia is quite stringent in its law enforcement against illegal foreign workers, and you might face detention or deportation.
No need to dispair yet, there are a few legal options as well. Applications for all ‘passes’ listed below must be made before you arrive in the country and require a Malaysian ‘sponsor’ who agrees to be responsible for maintenance and repatriation of the applicant, if necessary:
- Employment Pass: to take up employment for at least 2 years and with a minimum salary of 3,000RM per month.
- Dependent’s Pass: for spouses and children of Employment Pass holders.
- Visit Pass (Temporary Employment): to take up employment for less than 2 years or with a salary of less than 3,000RM per month.
- Visit Pass (Professional): for short term contracts with an angency in certain professions, like artists, researchers or volunteers.
- Student’s Pass: to study in any educational institutions approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs.