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Written Guidelines Issued for Expats to Return to Malaysia

Image Credit: Malay Mail
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Updated Thursday, June 25, 11:30am.

Following the announcement that Malaysian Immigration is beginning to relax the rules for some categories of work permit holders to return, they have now issued written guidelines on the Immigration and Expatriate Service Division (ESD) websites.

Some people quickly reported to us that they were confused by the guidelines issued on June 23, and we agree that there appeared to be some minor contradictions, so we’re pleased to inform that a revision has been published on the ESD website (as of late on June 24) which generally clarifies and simplifies matters. However, some notable changes were also made, so please refer to the points below.

The quick takeaway here is that expats holding either a valid Category I Employment Pass or a valid Resident-Pass Talent, along with their dependants, may now return to Malaysia without having to obtain prior permission. (They still need to have a Covid-19 PCR swab test with negative results performed within three days of their return to Malaysia.) For all other expats, read on.

The complete official guidelines can be found here, and we advise you read them carefully.

The guidelines are effective as of June 24.

If you have reliable information which shows we have incorrectly understood any of the points, then we welcome clarification. A word of warning: It often takes some time for these announcements to reach the airlines, so it’s prudent to check with your airline that they agree you can fly to Malaysia or they may deny you boarding.

The points we refer to below are the same as the numbers on the official announcements.

Points 1 & 2

The government has announced that expats with certain types of employment passes can return to Malaysia without the need for prior approval from Immigration. At this time, the only relevant visas are Employment Pass Category I, or EP1 (work permit for staff with salary over RM10k per month) and the RP-T (the 10-year Residence Pass-Talent visa). The same guidelines cover their dependants and foreign maid, if applicable, with a valid visa. The type of pass is noted on the full-page Malaysian visa affixed in your passport.


Point 3

Those with other employment visas, such as EP Category II (EP2, salary over RM5K) and EP Category III (EP3, salary under RM5k) can only enter with prior approval from Immigration. Previously, these expats were exempt from this if they were coming from designated “green zone” countries, but this seems to have been rescinded. The guidelines explaining how to request approval for re-entry can be found here.

Point 4

Expats with the Professional Visit Pass (PVP) must have prior approval from Immigration. Again, this was previously not the case, but now seems to be.

Point 5

Those holding a long-term social visit pass (LTSVP) must also seek approval from Immigration prior to re-entry.

Point 6

Everyone must:

  • Show Covid-19 PCR swab test (negative) taken overseas not more than three days before entering Malaysia. (Our information based on feedback from those who have returned: The test results must be dated within three days of boarding flight, or you will probably be denied boarding. If the test is over three days on arrival, you will be given another test at airport which may take several hours. If it’s still within three days, you will probably not be tested on arrival.)
  • Install the government app ‘MySejahtera’ on your mobile phone.
  • Go through 14 days of self-quarantine, unless you are a national of and travelling from a “green zone” country (currently Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, or Singapore) AND have a valid EP Category I or RP-T visa. (We are admittedly unclear what difference the visa category makes in your likelihood of having Covid-19.) PVP holders are not required to self-quarantine if they are in the country for urgent work, but must leave Malaysia after the completion of that work assignment.
  • Have a valid pass as stated Employment Pass Category I, II, or III, RP-T, PVP, LTSVP, or DP (dependant pass). This is noted on your Malaysian visa.
  • The list of designated “Green Zone” countries may change, so check this periodically.

A handy chart showing which rules apply to specific categories and subcategories of expats can be found here.

Good luck to all those affected by the new rules. We very much hope that Immigration will soon allow all expats with valid visas and those with visas which expired during the MCO to return to their homes and families.


Apart from those holding the EP1 and RP-T visas, it’s still quite cumbersome for expats to return to Malaysia, and it certainly seems the government is sending a signal that they are not welcome here. We find it somewhat concerning that they are now discussing allowing foreign tourists from selected countries to visit Malaysia while still imposing significant obstacles for resident expats with valid visas to return.

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