Quick Visa Facts
Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Overview
The Malaysia digital nomad visa (or DE Rantau Nomad Pass) allows foreign location independent workers in the digital sphere to stay in Malaysia for up to 12 months in the first instance. There is a minimum income requirement of $24,000, and dependents can accompany the applicant.
The visa is open to nationals from all other countries if they meet the minimum income requirements and work in the digital sphere in areas such as IT, digital marketing and content creation, software development, cyber security, and digital currencies. Applicants must provide proof of their employment and income, as well as a clean criminal record report or letter of good character.
As well as obtaining a visa for Malaysia for up to 12 months, which can be renewed, visa holders receive the DE Rantau Nomad Pass, which grants privileged access to coworking facilities and other services for digital nomads. Created by MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation), local digital nomads can also apply for the pass. The expectation is that this will help foster and a stronger community of digital entrepreneurs in Malaysia.
You are eligible to be accompanied by dependents, including a spouse and children under the age of 18, on this visa. Their names should be included on your application.
Types of Malaysia Digital Nomad Visas
Citizens from many countries do not need a visa to arrive in Malaysia for tourism or business for a period of up to 90 days. This includes citizens from the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. You will receive a stamp in your passport on entry to authorize your stay.
Malaysia also issues several different work and employment passes for foreigners who have obtained employment in Malaysia. These are usually issued for a period of two years in the first instance.
The new digital nomad visa was launched on 1 October 2022 and is an update to the existing Professional Visit Pass.
Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
The high-level requirement for obtaining a Malaysia digital nomad visa is that you are a location-independent worker in the digital economy with a minimum annual income of $24,000.
A more detailed description of the requirements and documentation is provided below.
Proof of Financial Self-Sufficiency
First and foremost, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself in Malaysia. This should be provided through proof of employment and proof of an annual salary of at least $24,000. The following documentation is recommended.
- Employment contract that has been in place for at least three months. If you are a freelancer, it is suggested to provide evidence of a contract with a long-term client.
- Proof of income in the form of payslips or personal income statements.
- Bank statements for at least the last three months and a yearly income statement from your bank.
The required documentation is not strictly set since the visa accommodates contracted workers, freelancers, and business owners. But you should prove that you meet the minimum income requirements and that your source of income is already well established.
Proof of Professional Field
The new visa has been designed specifically to attract digital professionals to feed and grow the local digital economy. One of the requirements is to demonstrate that you work within an area of digital expertise, including IP, digital marketing, digital content creation, cyber security, digital currencies, and software development. While this may be clear from your employment contract, you should also supply an up-to-date resume as part of your application that highlights your expertise and experience in a digital field.
Proof of Insurance
You will be required to provide proof of health insurance, or travel insurance including health cover, for the duration of your proposed stay in Malaysia. No minimum level of coverage is provided in the visa guidance.
Health care is generally quite good in Malaysia but waiting times can be long due to the large population. Health insurance will give you access to private hospitals and facilities, which tend to have significantly shorter waiting times.
Clean Criminal Records
As for visas around the world, you will need to provide evidence that you are of “good character” to be admitted to Malaysia on a long-term visa. The form of this evidence will depend on the issuing country, which should be any country that you have lived in during the last five years. You will probably require a clean criminal background check or a letter of good conduct issued by local authorities. These documents should be authorized by an Apostille for international use.
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How to Apply for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa – Step-by-Step Instructions
Step 1 – Acquire the Necessary Documents
You will be required to submit your application online, so before starting you will need to acquire and digitize the relevant documents. Documents should be submitted in English, and you will need to organize authorized translations, approved by local authorities, where relevant.
Below is a list of required documents. If you do not have one of these documents, you may need to obtain a relevant alternative.
- Passport Copy
- Passport Photos
- Employment Contract
- Proof of Income
- Bank Statements
- Yearly Income Statement
- Latest Resume
- Criminal Background Check / Letter of Good Conduct
- Personal Bond Form
- Health Insurance
- Proof of Relationship for any dependents that will be traveling with you
A personal bond form is required for all Malaysian long-term visa applications and is a declaration of your intention to abide by the conditions of your visa and the local laws. You can download a copy of the Malaysian personal bond form here.
Residents of the United States and Canada should offer a personal bond of RM2,000, while residents of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand should offer a bond of RM 1,500. Find a complete list of personal bond requirements here.
Step 2 – Complete the Online Application
Your application for the Malaysia digital nomad visa should be submitted online via the MDEC portal. You will need to create an account using your email address, for which you will be sent a confirmation email.
Please note that this is a separate site from the online portal for other visa applications. This online portal is only open to 10 countries. Applicants from most countries will need to make an appointment at their local embassy to acquire a different type of visa for Malaysia.
When your account is accessible, you should choose the application form for the DE Rantau Nomad Pass and complete the form and upload your documents. The form is straightforward and will ask you to confirm your personal information, and details about your employment and income. If you are planning on bringing dependents, you will include them in your application, rather than making separate applications.
When you complete your application, you will be asked to make a payment, which can be done using most credit cards or PayPal. The application costs $221 for the principal applicant, and there is an additional fee of $110 per dependent.
Step 3 – Wait for your Visa
Once you have submitted your application, you may need to wait for up to four weeks to receive an official response via email. This will provide you with proof of approval documentation that you should print out and take with you when you travel. This will allow your visa to be issued to you upon arrival at an airport in Malaysia.
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Timeline for Applying for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
Once you have gathered the relevant documentation and submitted your application, you can expect to hear about your visa application within four weeks. The response will be via email, and you will be issued your visa upon arrival in Malaysia.
You will then be free to travel to Malaysia on or after the initial date of validity for your visa. You will have specified your anticipated travel dates in your application.
How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa for Malaysia?
Outside of the expense related to gathering your documents, the cost for submitting a visa application is $221 for the lead applicant, with an additional fee of $110 per dependent applicant. If your visa is denied, you can get a 75% refund on the processing fee.
Taxes for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
According to the Malaysian tax system, you only pay taxes on income earned in Malaysia, so if your income is coming from employment or freelancing from companies abroad, you will not be taxed. But you will need to pay local taxes for any income you receive from Malaysian companies.
Malaysia has a banded tax rate starting from 14%. Find more details on Malaysian tax rates here.
How to Open a Malaysian Bank Account
With your digital nomad visa, you will be able to open a bank account in Malaysia. At most traditional banks you will be required to show proof of identity (passport), proof of legal residence (visa), proof of address, and proof of employment. Minimum opening deposits depend on the bank and the type of account.
But online bank accounts are also becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia and do not generally require proof of employment or a minimum deposit, but services such as loans and credit card limits are much more restricted.
Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Denial
Since the Malaysia digital nomad visa has only been launched recently, limited information is available on recourse in case of denial. It is assumed that reasons for refusal will be provided in the email response to your application, which may allow you to apply again and fix any problems with your application. It is unclear how rigidly authorities will interpret working in the digital economy.
Living in Malaysia as a Digital Nomad
Malaysia has long been a popular destination for ex-pats, ranked as the best country in the world for ex-pats in 2021 by InterNations. The new digital nomad visa will likely see them joined by many digital nomads.
Malaysia has a tropical climate and an affordable cost of living, combined with a welcoming culture and community. English is widely spoken, and while Islam is the country’s official religion, it is much more relaxed than other Islamic countries, and Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism are also widely practiced.
The local infrastructure in terms of housing, internet, and availability of international products is very good, crime is low (though petty theft in tourist areas exists), and it is a trouble hub for exploring much of the rest of Asia, including neighboring Singapore and Thailand.
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Attractions and Best Places to Visit
Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur)
the tallest twin towers in the world that represent the major metropolis that is the capital of Malaysia.
Batu Caves (Gombak, Selangor)
vast and colorfully painted Hindu temple complex built in 10 caves, including a shrine to Lord Murugan.
Central Market (Kuala Lumpur)
a popular wet market in a heritage-listed Art Deco building, it is the perfect place to soak up Malaysia’s melting pot of cultures.
Taman Negara (West Malaysia)
one of the world’s oldest rainforests with rare flora and fauna, including the Malayan and Sumatran tigers.
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi (George Town, Penang)
an elaborate Chinese clan house built in the 19th century.
Kek Lok Si Temple (Air Itam, Penang)
the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and an important pilgrimage site in Southeast Asia.
a tropical island of beaches and jungles perfect for scuba diving and hiking.
Cameron Highlands (Pahang)
an ideal hiking district full of tea plantations, strawberry farms, and resorts.
Digital Nomad Hotspots
Benefits of Working in Malaysia as a Digital Nomad
Malaysia is a very affordable cost of living, about 50% less than in the United States. But the standard of living is still extremely high as Malaysia is an international hub where most things are available, and key services, such as health care and internet connections, are very good.
It is estimated that around 60% of Malaysians speak very good English, which helps reduce the barriers to establishing a life and making friends in this Asian country.
Malaysia is working hard to foster its digital nomad community, providing services and perks for both international and local digital economy workers. This makes Malaysia an increasingly likely place to encounter new inspiration, partners, and opportunities.
While Malaysia is a majority Muslim country, it is a multi-cultural and multi-religious nation. The mix of Indigenous Malay, Chinese, and Indian people make for a fascinating culture, and also means that the local population tends to be accustomed to and accepting of different people.
But it is worth noting that Malaysia is conservative when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and that public displays of affection between same-sex couples are frowned upon. Sodomy is still a crime and can carry a sentence of 20 years in prison.
Those looking for support from people going through similar life experiences will find some great new friends in the vibrant Malaysian ex-pat community. They are also at the center of Malaysian nightlife since alcohol is not served in most Malaysian establishments.
Property and housing in Malaysia are affordable, and it is relatively easy for foreigners to enter the property market. But resale can be difficult as there is not a high demand for property in most of Malaysia.
Malaysia has a tropical climate, which means that it is warm most of the year. In winter, you can expect lows in the 20s, and in summer, highs in the 30s. You do need to watch out for the wet season between September and December when flooding can be a problem.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Malaysia is highly affordable, considered about 50% less than the average cost of living in the United States. Kuala Lumpur is the most expensive city. Other parts of the country can cost 20-30% less.
|Item (in Kuala Lumpur)|
|Rent in City Centre per month||RM2,000-4,500 = $400-950|
|Rent outside City Center per month||RM1,200-2,300 = $250-500|
|Amenities per month||RM225 = $48|
|Internet per month||RM115 = $24|
|Childcare per month||RM1,300 = $240|
|Fitness Club per month||RM175 = $36|
|Public Transport one way||RM3 = $0.60|
|Average lunch||RM15 = $3.20|
|Dinner for two||RM100 = $22|
|Beer||RM20 = $4.20|
|Coffee||RM12 = $2.50|
|Milk (1 liter)||RM7.40 = $1.50|
|Bread (loaf)||RM3.6 = $0.75|
|Eggs (dozen)||RM7.7 = $1.60|
|Apples (1 kg)||RM11.15 = $2.35|
|Red meat (1 kg)||RM40 = $8.40|
Digital Nomad Essentials
- Internet Speed – average download speed 100 Mbps, GB connection available
- Time Zone – GMT +8
- Socket Type – Type G, 240V and 50Hz
- Calling Code – +60
- SIM Card – Celcom, Hotlinks, Digi, U Mobile, UniFi Mobile, Tune Talk, Yes, XOX Mobile
Malaysia is home to many coworking spaces, and it feels like new and exciting offices are opening every day. Below is a selection of some of the most popular working spaces in Malaysia.
- CO3 Social Office – Selangor – coworking, event space (9 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday)
- Found8 – Kuala Lumpur – coworking space (9.30 am-4.30 pm, 7 days)
- H Space – Selangor – coworking space, private office, virtual office, event space (9 am-6 pm Monday-Friday)
- The Hatchery Place – Selangor – coworking and coliving (10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday for reception, 24/7 for members)
- Inspace International – Selangor – coworking space, business address, private offices (9 am-6 pm Monday to Friday)
- Like A Boss – Batu Caves – coworking space, virtual offices, private suites (24/7 for members, 10 am-10 pm reception 7 days)
- Masco Co-Working Space – George Town, Penang – coworking, events (10 am-10 pm 7 days)
- My Office – Skypod Square – Selangor – coworking space (9 am-6 pm, Monday to Friday)
- Plus Space – Kuala Lumpur – coworking space, reception services (8.30 am-5.30 pm Monday to Friday, 24/7 for members)
- Settlements Penang – George Town, Penang – coworking space, private offices (9am-6pm Monday-Friday)
- Triune Center – Kuala Lumpur – coworking space, virtual office, conference venue – 10am-6pm Monday-Friday for reception, 24/7 for members)
- WSpace Coworking – Kuala Lumpur and Mid Valley City – coworking space, private offices, virtual office, events (9am-6pm Monday-Friday)
The new Malaysia digital nomad visa offers a great opportunity for more location-independent workers to experience the vibrant country that is Malaysia. It is a bubbling melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures that is sure to leave you wanting to spend more time in this region of the world.
FAQs About the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
Does Malaysia have a digital nomad visa?
Since October 2022, Malaysia has had a digital nomad visa that allows location-independent workers from the digital sector with a minimum annual income of $24,000 to live in Malaysia for up to 12 months.
What is the difference between a Malaysia digital nomad visa and a tourist visa?
Tourist visas to Malaysia are usually capped at 90 days, while a digital nomad visa will allow you to stay in the country for 12 months. The digital nomad visa will also allow you to access fundamental local services, such as opening a bank account.
What is the length of the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
The Malaysia digital nomad visa is issued for between 3 and 12 months, depending on the period specified in your application.
Is it possible to extend the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
Yes, it is possible to extend the Malaysia digital nomad visa for an additional 12-month period if you continue to meet the criteria.
How long does it take to complete the entire application process for the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
Gathering your required documents will depend on the delivery times of your local country. But it should take only about half an hour to submit your online application, and you will hear the result via email within four weeks.
Can you apply for a Malaysia digital nomad visa while abroad?
You can apply for the Malaysia digital nomad visa from any country using their online application system.
In what currency should you pay for the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
You will pay for your Malaysia digital nomad visa online using a credit card, PayPal, or other accepted online payment method. The payment will be taken in Malaysian Ringgit.
How can you pay the visa fee for the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
There is an online payment portal for your Malaysia digital nomad visa as part of the application process. It accepts most forms of international online payments.
Can you pay the Malaysia digital nomad visa fee online?
You are required to pay the Malaysia digital nomad visa fee online using the online portal. The visa is aimed at digital workers who are expected to be able to understand and work with the system.
Will you get a refund if your Malaysia digital nomad visa application is denied?
You can request a 75% refund on your application fee if your Malaysia digital nomad visa is denied. The remaining 25% is required to cover the cost of processing your initial application.
Is it safe in Malaysia?
Malaysia is considered a safe country with violent crime, especially against foreigners, rare. However, petty theft in tourist zones is common, including pickpocketing and bag snatching, which is often done from a motorbike and can cause injuries.
Is it expensive to live and work in Malaysia?
Malaysia is considered a highly affordable place to live and work. The cost of living is about 50% less than in the United States. In Kuala Lumpur, you might expect to pay a minimum of $500 for rent per month, and another $500 for other expenses.
How much money do you need to make per month to quality for the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
You need to make at least US$2,000 per month to qualify for the Malaysia digital nomad visa. There is no additional income requirement if you intend to bring dependents.
Can U.S. citizens travel to Malaysia without a visa?
U.S. citizens can travel to Malaysia without a visa. They will be issued with a visa upon arrival that allows them to stay in the country as a tourist for up to 90 days.
Is there a digital nomad community in Malaysia?
There is a fast-growing community of both local and international digital nomads in Malaysia, as well as a large ex-pat community. There are estimated to be around 150,000 western ex-pats in Malaysia.
Are people in Malaysia friendly?
The people of Malaysia are friendly and, as a highly multicultural community, curious about what is new and different. While a majority Muslim country, Islamic laws are not universally enforced. But is worth being aware that attitudes across the country tend to be conservative when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and relationships.
What is the best time of year to visit Malaysia?
It is best to visit Malaysia between December and April, just after the rainy season when the weather is dry. Located just above the equator, expect summery temperatures year-round.
Which of Malaysia’s neighboring countries issue visas for digital nomads?
Currently, the three countries in Southeast Asia offering digital nomad visas are Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Do you need a COVID-19 test/medical certificate to enter Malaysia?
Malaysia currently has no COVID-19-related travel requirements. Read the official guidance here.
What’s the situation with COVID-19 in Malaysia?
COVID-19 cases in Malaysia have been extremely low since April 2022 thanks to a high vaccination rate of around 84% of the population. If you test positive for COVID while in Malaysia, you will be asked to quarantine for 7 days, but you may be released early if you test negative on the fourth day.
Can I get help applying for the Malaysia digital nomad visa?
Citizen Remote offers a variety of services to help digital nomads find their next destination, make visa applications, and live and work happily on the road. The best way to access these services is by downloading our app, available on iPhone and Android. You will find surveys that can help you determine your visa eligibility and one-on-one services to assist you with your application.
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