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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 southeastern Sabah
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the coastal areas of southeastern Sabah, from the district of Beluran in the north to the town of Tawau in the south and all nearby islands, due to the risk of kidnapping and violence. These areas include, but are not limited to, the beaches of Sandakan, resorts along both the Kinabatangan River (district of Sukau) and the Sabahan River (district of Kunak), and the islands of Kapalai, Lankayan, Ligitan, Mabul, Mataking, Pom Pom, Selingan, and Sipadan. 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 southeastern 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.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page 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
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.
Kuala Lumpur - High Commission of Canada
Penang - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.