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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, Singamata, Sipadan, and other resort islands off the shores of Semporna. 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. Violent incidents occur regularly. On July 12, 2014, gunmen opened fire at a dive resort on the island of Mabul, killing a police officer and kidnapping another. On April 2, 2014, a foreigner and a local employee were abducted from a resort on the island of Singamata. 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.
On September 21, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a statement threatening retaliation for the American-led coalition campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The statement encouraged opportunistic and indiscriminate attacks against citizens and interests of countries supporting the coalition, including Canadians. Individuals and terrorist groups in the region may be inspired to carry out attacks in a show of solidarity with ISIL. Canadians could also be targeted by a terrorist attack and be considered kidnapping targets. Exercise a high degree of personal security awareness, maintain a heightened level of vigilance and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
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.
Large-scale protest rallies took place in Kuala Lumpur at the end of August 2015 and in mid-September 2015, close to many tourist attractions. Malaysian police used offensive techniques (such as water cannons and tear gas) to control crowds during those protests and this has led to clashes between security forces and protesters. Remain vigilant at all times, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
The Government of Canada does not provide information on the safety of foreign domestic airlines. Research foreign domestic airlines, aircraft and government safety supervision if you have concerns about aviation safety standards abroad.
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. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
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
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination 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.
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - August 25, 2015 12:58 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - July 16, 2015 09:48 EDT
- Dengue Fever: Global Update - June 26, 2015 14:02 EDT
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 through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. 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, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture 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 by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. 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 a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from 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, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting 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 standards of hygiene and 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.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
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.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against 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 the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- 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.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services are adequate in the larger cities. Upfront payment is expected.
Decompression chambers are available in Kuantan, Lumut, Ipoh, Sabah and Labuan.
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. See Arrest and detention 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.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Malaysia. If local authorities consider you a Malaysian citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. Ramadan is expected to begin on or around June 6, 2016.
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.
On June 5, 2015, an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale struck the State of Sabah, causing several injuries and deaths. Tourist activities in the Sabah Park, including activities on Mount Kinabalu, have been affected with some being suspended indefinitely. Exercise caution, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Unrestricted burning periodically causes atmospheric pollution (haze) to rise to unhealthy levels in various parts of the country, 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.
Kuala Lumpur - High Commission of Canada
Penang - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance, call the High Commission of Canada and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre located in Ottawa.
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