Expats FAQ in Malaysia

What city are you living in ?


Q: What are the bank notes in Malaysia?

A: The Malaysian Ringgit (RM) consists of 100 sen. RM notes come in RM1, RM2, RM5, RM10, RM50 and RM100 while coins in use are one, five, 10, 20 and 50 sen.

Q: What are the most trusted local banks in Malaysia?

A: Among the reliable and trusted local banks are Affin Bank, Alliance Bank Malaysia, AmBank Malaysia, CIMB Bank, CitiBank, Hong Leong Bank, Maybank, Public Bank, RHB Bank and United Overseas Bank Malaysia.

Q: What are the documents needed to open a bank account in Malaysia?

A: Original passport with photocopies, a letter of employment from the employer,copies of work permit (if applicable) and MM2H visa, which is valid for ten years that offers multiple entries are the required documents when opening a bank account.

Q: How much is the average monthly Internet cost?

A: For a 6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL, the average Internet cost is at 150 RM.


Q: Can a foreigner register a company with 100% foreign equity in Malaysia?

A: Foreigners can register a business except for these industries: education, petroleum oil and gas, banking and finance, tourism and agriculture.

Q: What is the process of starting a business in Malaysia?

A: One can file the necessary documents with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM). From there, the would-be foreign entrepreneur can complete the company incorporation, obtain the tax registration, and register with the Employment Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organization and the Inland Revenue Board.

Q: What are the corresponding costs when registering a business?

A: Fees depend on the nominal share capital. For shares of up to 100,000, the corresponding fee is 1,000 RM; 100,001- 500,000 shares, fee is at 3,000 RM; 500,001 -1 million shares, fee is at 5,000 RM.


Q: Are there schools for children with special needs in Malaysia?

A: In large cities and even in small towns, there are school for children with special needs. The Malaysian CARE (Christian Association for Relief) is the leading advocate for pre-school and primary children with special needs to be included in mainstream schools. In Selangor, Mary Anne Special Needs school helps children with autism while in KL, Sri Rafelsia school is tailored for children with slow learning curve.

Q: Are there many childcare services in Malaysia?

A: Childcare in Malaysia varies from private run nurseries offering childcare to younger children in urban areas to Montessori nurseries. But most families employ a nanny, who can also help in household work, and in which services are much cheaper. Hotels and serviced apartment especially found in the city centre also have babysitting services.

Q: What are some theme parks that children can enjoy during the weekend?

A: Malaysia is sprawling with theme parks with its vast land. Legoland is the favourite among children, located in Johor Bahru and easily accessible from Singapore. Another popular theme park is Sunway Lagoon, a water-based park, located in the southern outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Other theme parks include Lost World of Tambun near Ipoh and Genting Highlands with its indoor and outdoor amusement attractions.

Cost of living

Q: What is the most expensive city in Malaysia?

A: Penang, being a major tourist draw, is considered to be the most expensive than the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Q: How much is the basic mobile phone package in Malaysia?

A: Basic mobile phone package can start at approximately 150 RM.

Q: What is the average cost of renting an apartment in the city center?

A: A one-room apartment in the city Centre can cost from 1,500 RM while for a three-room starts at 2,500 RM.


Q: What are the recognised health tourism hospitals by the Malaysian Ministry of Health?

A: These health tourism hospitals include Assunta Hospital, Selangor; Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau, Selangor; Gleneagles Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, Gleneagles Medical Centre, Hospital Fatimah, Perak; HSC Medical Center; Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) , Wilayah Persekutuan - Kuala Lumpur; Island Hospital, Pulau Pinang, KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital, Selangor, among others.

Q: What are the medical treatments available in Malaysia for both expats and tourists?

A: As the Malaysian government has been boosting health tourism through qualified doctors and skilled specialists to above par medical facilities, many visit Malaysia for a wide range of treatments in cardiology, oncology, aesthetic surgery, fertility treatments and ophthalmology.

Q: What are the medical benefits from Malaysia My Second Home program (MM2H)?

A: With an MM2H visa, one can enjoy Malaysia's state-of-the-art medical facilities. Also, part of one’s medical needs will be covered under the compulsory medical insurance.


Q: What is the average monthly rental cost?

A: Rents can start from 1, 000RM to a whooping 10,000RM per month, depending heavily on location and type of property.

Q: What is the average lease duration when renting in Malaysia?

A: When renting and signing a rental contract, the lease is usually for a minimum of one year, unless otherwise agreed by the landlord and tenant, wherein a short-term lease can be agreed for six months only.

Q: What is an exit clause in the rental contract?

A: An exit or escape clause is added in the Tenancy Agreement by the tenant when renting an apartment or property in Malaysia in the event that the work permit expires, cease of employment or migration to another country.


Q: Where are the top destinations in Malaysia?

A: Gunung Mulu National Park, the city of Kuala Lumpur, the heritage city of Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Kota Bahru, Melaka/Malacca, Cameron Highlands are just some of the many interesting places in Malaysia.

Q: What are the most visited islands in Malaysia?

A: Being a Peninsula, Malaysia has a lot of breathtaking island such as Pulau Langkawi, Pulau Tioman, Pulau Perhentian, Pulau Pangkor, Pulau Redang, and many more. Diving is the major draw of these islands amongst locals and foreigners.

Q: What are the places to visit in Kuala Lumpur for a one-day visit?

A: Kuala Lumpur is a bustling modern city that offers both urban attraction like the iconic Petronas Tower and cultural spots such as Batu Caves and Chinatown - all these spots can be visited in day.

Looking for a job

Q: What is an i-Pass?

A: An i-Pass replaces the i-card for expatriates working in Malaysia. The i-Pass is collected at the local immigration office once an expat secures an employment.

Q: What are the best means to find job openings in Malaysia?

A: One can find job opening in newspapers such as The Star and The New Strait Times, both are in English; but the easiest and most effective is browsing jobsites online.

Q: What are the best employment sites when job hunting?

A: Popular jobsites include http://www.jobsmalaysia.gov.my, run by the Ministry of Human Resources; Job Street Malaysia; Best Jobs Malaysia; Job City; and JAC Recruitment Malaysia.


Q: Is there a GST in Malaysia?

A: GST has not been implemented in Malaysia. At present there is only sales tax at 10% and service tax rates at 6%. The Malaysian government plans to introduce GST (Goods and Services Ta) by April 2015 at 6 (%), and in turn will abolish the sales tax and service tax.

Q: What is the difference between a service tax and service charge in Malaysia?

A: A service tax is a legislated tax at rate 6% imposed by establishments in the hospitality and service industries; it is not imposed on the service charge but on the cost of goods or services provided. The collected service tax by the business owners is then paid to the government. On the other hand, the service charge also applied in the service and hospitality sectors is at 10%. The establishments or business owners imposing the service charge turn it into a fund that is paid to the workers. The service charge can be considered as a tip to staff/workers in restaurants, hotels, and other businesses.

Q: What is the process for filing taxes in Malaysia?

A: Expats who are liable to pay income tax in Malaysia must complete the Income Tax Return Form (ITRF) before 30 April and in the form, must declare their income. The tax from can be downloaded from the IRBM (Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia) website.


Q: What are the emergency numbers that need to be noted by newly arrived expats?

A: For tourists, there is a Tourist Police Hotline to call at 03 2149 6590. When in need of police or ambulance, call 999 or 112 from a mobile phone.

Q: Is English widely spoken in the country?

A: Whilst Malay (Bahasa Melayu) is the official language, English is the language of choice in the business sectors and widely spoken not just in large, urban cities, but also throughout the country.

Q: What does Halal Certified sign means in restaurants?

A: Halal Certification is a recognition wherein products sold are permissible under Islamic law. Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful, the opposite of which is Haram. Haram food includes Swine/pork and its by-products are considered unlawful. Most restaurants in Malaysia have signs displaying that they are Halal certified catering to the Muslim community.


Q: How long is the quarantine period for pets in Malaysia?

A: The quarantine period can last seven days or less and 10 days for dogs and cats entering from Australia. It may even extend for six months if deemed necessary.

Q: Where are the quarantine facilities in Malaysia?

A: Quarantine facilities for dogs and cats are found in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang, Penang International Airport, and Padang Besar (Perlis-Thai border). Note that if the dog or cat requires quarantine, the said places must be the entry point.

Q: Is there an age restriction for transporting pets in Malaysia?

A: Cats and Dogs must be at least 3 months old in order to be allowed entry in Malaysia provided that all documents are met.


Q: How much is the tuition fees of international schools in Malaysia?

A: Approximately, tuition fee for international schools can cost as much as 50,000 RM. It is considered most expensive as compared to public schools and private schools.

Q: Can a foreigner student enroll to a public school in Malaysia?

A: The public school system accepts foreign students. Although it may be a cheaper option for parents, language barrier can be an issue for children.

Q: What are some of the main universities in the country?

A: Top universities are the Universiti Malaya (UM),Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).


Q: What are the best buys in Malaysia?

A: Generally, electronics are cheaper compared to its neighboring countries; items include cameras mobile phones, laptops, etc. Other best buy items are Batik Fabric, Pweter Ware and local snacks such as ice cakes, water chestnut cakes and sweet bean cakes, cassava chips, roti, samosa, etc.

Q: Where is the best place to shop for bargain fashion items?

A: From cheap accessories to chic dresses, you'll find everything you need at Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall located in the heart of Malaysia's shopping district of KL.

Q: What are the biggest shopping malls in Malaysia?

A: Malaysia boasts of big, majestic shopping malls. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there's Suria KLCC, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Fahrenheit 88, Avenue K and Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall.


Q: What are the major telcos in the country?

A: Established telephone companies providing phone and broadband include TM Berhad, Celcom, Maxis,, DiGi and U Mobile.

Q: What are the types of broadband technology available in Malaysia?

A: There are three types of broadband, the oldest and cheapest is ADSL, the most popular is wireless while fiber proves to be the fastest but most expensive.


Q: What are the local transports in Malaysia?

A: The local transport services vary which include buses and taxis throughout the country. However, in some rural towns, bicycle rickshaw is a common sight.

Q: Is sea travel recommended in Malaysia?

A: Sea travel is recommended especially when visiting the peninsula and offshore islands of Malaysia. Its biggest and busiest port, Port Klang, is the main gateway to travel by sea and one of the main stopover destinations for cruise ships in the Asian region as well.

Q: What are some of the road and driving policies in Malaysia?

A: Like its neighboring country of Singapore, one drives on the left and overtakes on the right side. Items that must be displayed prominently are the vehicle’s road tax tag and car registration plates. The road tax must also be valid as well as the car insurance. Driving under the influence is a serious offence and is subject to strict penalty in Malaysia.


Q: What is the travel time from the city centre of KL to Kuala Lumpur Airport via taxi?

A: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located in the Sepang district of Selangor, approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Kuala Lumpur city centre; hence, travel time via taxi can take an hour or more, depending on traffic.

Q: How to go From Kuala Lumpur to Genting?

A: From Kuala Lumpur, one can take a coach (can be booked online), an express bus (from KL Sentral Station), Skyvans with 8 and 10 seater (suited for budget travellers) and taxi (most expensive means). Travel time by road takes around 45 minutes from KL to Genting.

Q: What are the international airports in Malaysia?

A: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) is the main international airport; other important international airports include Subang Airport, Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Penang International Airport.


Q: What are the countries that do not need a visa entry to Malaysia?

A: ASEAN countries except for Myanmar do not need a visa upon entry to Malaysia for 30 days. For commonwealth countries such as Ireland, Switzerland and the Netherlands and other countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Australia and USA do not need visas if the social visit is not more than three months.

Q: What are the types of visa issued to foreigners when visiting Malaysia?

A: Single Entry Visa is for foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia mainly for a social visit, usually valid for three months from the date of issue. For business or government purpose, a Multiple Entry Visa is issued for a period of three months to one year; whereas foreigners travelling to other countries and need to enter Malaysia will need a Transit Visa.

Q: For nationals who require a visa, what are the required documents?

A: Once a visa is approved by the country's Department of Immigration, foreigners need to present the original approval letter from the Immigration Department of Malaysia or from other authority agencies, valid and original passport with two photocopies of the applicant’s passport, two photocopies of visa application form (Form IMM.47), two passport size photograph of the applicant and original with two photocopies of the air fare ticket. Note that there is a visa fee and varies according to country of origin.