MALAYSIA - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Malaysia. Exercise normal security precautions.
Regional Advisory for the coastal areas of south-eastern Sabah
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the coastal areas of south-eastern Sabah, from the town of Tambisan in the north to the town of Tawau in the south and all nearby islands (including, but not limited to, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking), due to the risk of kidnapping and violence. Consult the Security tab for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Coastal areas of south-eastern Sabah (see Advisory)
Clashes between Philippine gunmen and Malaysian authorities occurred from February to March 2013, resulting in several deaths. This area was declared a Special Security Area by the Malaysian government. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Despite increased security in the region, the risk of kidnapping and violence perpetrated by Philippine militants remains, especially on resort islands and surrounding waters, including around Sipadan. On November 15, 2013, a foreign couple was attacked in a resort on the island of Pom Pom; one was murdered and the other was abducted. Foreigners were also kidnapped in 2000 and 2003.
Violent crime against foreigners is uncommon. Petty crime is prevalent, especially in tourist areas and at the airport. Snatch-and-grab incidents against tourists occur. Thieves on motorcycles frequently grab bags and other valuables from pedestrians, often resulting in injury. Women walking alone or with children are common targets. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not leave valuables unattended in vehicles.
Be particularly cautious at bars or clubs. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Touts at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, including the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, attempt to get travellers to take their "taxi" into town. Several incidents of robbery and/or assault have occurred, as well as gross overcharges by such individuals. Take registered airport taxis only, after obtaining a coupon from the airport taxi stand near the door before exiting the customs and arrivals hall.
Large-scale demonstrations have increased. Police permission is required for any public gathering or demonstration. Offenders could face lengthy jail sentences. Passersby have become victims of acts of violence during demonstrations. Avoid all political demonstrations and stay away from areas where they might occur. Protests can turn violent quickly and without warning. Demonstrations are usually accompanied by a heightened police presence and traffic delays.
Traffic drives on the left. Road conditions are good. Aggressive driving habits by motorcyclists may pose a risk to foreign drivers who may not be accustomed to these competitive driving techniques.
Review the Travel Advice for Thailand if you are contemplating overland travel from Malaysia to Thailand.
Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
A number of scam artists operate within Malaysia. Male travellers, usually alone, have been approached in public places with invitations to participate in card games offering attractive opportunities for winning large amounts of money. Victims have lost thousands of dollars before realizing they were being scammed.
There are reports of travellers encountering serious problems after responding to advertisements to do volunteer work with some adventure or environmental organizations. If you are interested in doing volunteer work abroad, conduct careful research before making a commitment.
Internet dating and financial scams are common. Foreigners, including Canadian expatriates, may be targeted. Consult our Overseas Fraud page for more information.
Credit card fraud
Credit cards should be safeguarded at all times. Malaysia has one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world. Credit card magnetic strips have been duplicated, even in international hotels. Swiping your own card may not always be possible. Pay careful attention when others are handling your card during payment processing. Scams involving debit cards also occur. Before using your card, carefully inspect the automated banking machine to ensure that it has not been tampered with.
Pirate attacks and armed robberies occur against ships in and around Malaysia, particularly in the Strait of Malacca and in the waters between Sabah and the southern Philippines. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Malaysian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for Malaysia or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Malaysia, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country.
Tourist visas are not required for stays of up to three months. For stays of over three months, you must apply for an extension (for up to an additional two months) at any Malaysian Immigration office.
Before you apply for an Employment Pass (at the Immigration Office or a Malaysian High Commission overseas), your prospective employer must apply for approval from the Standing Committee for Malaysianisation or the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority to fill the position with an expatriate. While waiting for the approval, your employer can apply to bring you into the country on a Social Visit Pass (for example, Temporary Employment). We strongly recommend against this last step: you should obtain your Employment Pass before arrival since it is very difficult to change visa status once inside Malaysia. Foreigners are limited to three Visit Pass extensions, after which they must leave the country or a fine will be imposed for overstaying.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays of up to three months)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
Foreigners are required to register their biometrics (fingerprints) at their port of entry. Children under 12 years of age and diplomats accredited to Malaysia are exempt from this screening.
Malaysian authorities have implemented screening measures at all international airports in response to the H1N1 flu virus outbreak. Travellers entering Malaysia from Canada may be subject to a body temperature check. In some cases, travellers may be isolated and treated.
An airport tax, which is usually included in the price of your ticket, is applied to all international flights.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Malaysia.
Medical services are adequate in the larger cities. Upfront payment is expected.
Decompression chambers are available in Kuantan, Lumut, Ipoh, Sabah and Labuan.
Unrestricted burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan, in Indonesia, periodically causes atmospheric pollution (haze) to rise to unhealthy levels, especially from June to October. Levels change quickly and should be closely monitored. For more information on the level of air pollution in Malaysia and recommendations on reducing health risks, refer to the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Health. Consult your physician prior to travel if you have respiratory problems.
Carry a letter from your doctor authorizing the use of prescription drugs.
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
Some aspects of Shari’a (Islamic) law have been introduced in some regions of the country. In keeping with Islamic laws and customs, some states, particularly Kelantan and Trengganu, have strict controls on the purchase and consumption of alcohol by Muslims.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are very strict and include the death penalty for serious offences.
It is illegal for foreigners to participate in demonstrations.
Carry your passport at all times as a form of identification.
Travellers must complete a Traveller's Declaration Form upon arrival and departure. A special permit is required to bring in more than US$10,000 in the form of cash or other negotiable items. Excess amounts are seized upon arrival. Visitors may leave the country with only the amount of currency declared on the Traveller's Declaration Form on arrival. Exporters and importers should contact the Commercial Section of the High Commission of Canada in Kuala Lumpur for details affecting their transactions.
An International Driving Permit is recommended. Seat belts are mandatory. Laws against drinking and driving are strictly enforced. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited.
Foreign vessels travelling in the waters off Sabah are subject to Malaysian law and must use routes designated by Malaysian authorities. Vessels must also fly both a Malaysian flag and the flag of their home country.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the ringgit (MYR). Traveller's cheques are accepted at banks, hotels and large department stores. Some major hotels will not accept credit cards due to the extent of fraud. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in main cities.
Natural Disasters & Climate
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from October to February. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services. Consult our Typhoons and Monsoons page for more information.
Share this page
- Date modified: