Guidance

Living in Malaysia

Advice for British people living in Malaysia, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Introduction

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Malaysia, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.

Health

The Malaysian medical system consists of private hospitals, government hospitals, specialist clinics and general medical practices. The medical care is generally good, but can be expensive. There is no reciprocal National Health Service agreement in Malaysia and medical costs must be met by the individual. If you are resident ensure you have taken out an appropriate health insurance policy. If you are visitor arrange comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers the following:

  • an air ambulance, in case you need to be flown home by this means
  • full medical cover (medical bills can be expensive)
  • repatriation of the body home in the event of death
  • repatriation of your family home in the event it is necessary for you to return home due to your illness or injury

Patients can choose providers from the government or private sector. In an emergency, patients can go at any time to the 24 hour Accident and Emergency departments located at government, or some private hospitals. It is usual for all hospitals to take an initial deposit from a valid credit card before treatment commences.

Please see the website of the Ministry of Health in Malaysia for further information.

Education

Malaysia has a wide variety of local and international schools. All schools are registered with the Ministry of Education in Malaysia.

Employment and recognised qualifications

British nationals must obtain a visa for taking up employment, study, or residence in Malaysia. This list is not exhaustive.

Before entering Malaysia it is essential you have the right visa. Do not overstay any visa granted. Malaysian authorities consider overstaying a serious matter. You may be held in detention, fined and deported. Any associated expenses of repatriation to the UK must usually be made by the individual.

For further information please visit the website of the Malaysia Immigration Department.

Entry and residence requirements

Generally, British nationals entering Malaysia as tourists do not require a visa. If you are entering for the purpose of studying, taking up employment, training, investment or residence, you must obtain a visa from the relevant Malaysian authority.

Do not overstay any visa granted. Malaysian authorities consider overstaying a serious matter. You may be held in detention, fined and deported. Any associated expenses of repatriation to the UK must usually be made by the individual.

For further detailed information, please visit the website of the Malaysia Immigration Department.

Benefits

British Nationals are not entitled to any social welfare benefits in Malaysia.

You may be entitled to claim some UK benefits and state pension while living abroad.

If you are moving to Malaysia you should tell the relevant UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax that you are moving or retiring abroad.

New policy on Proof of Life Certificates

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has changed their policy on who can now sign these “Life Certificates”. This now reflects the list of people who can countersign a passport photograph. Please read the DWP’s guide ‘State Pension if you retire abroad’ for more information.

Driving licences and vehicles

British nationals who wish to drive in Malaysia must possess documents recognised by the Malaysian authorities.

Two possible options are as follows:

  • a valid British driving licence and a (UK-issued) International Driving Permit
  • a Malaysian driving license

Obtaining a UK-issued International Driving Permit

For those driving under a British licence, an International Driving Permit may be obtained directly from the Post Office.

UK-issued International Driving Permits cost £5.50 and you must:

  • Have a valid UK driving licence
  • Be 18 or over

Applications for an International Driving Permit must be made from within the UK. The permit is valid for 12 months and if required, can be renewed, in person, annually.

Please note that Malaysia will only recognise a UK-issued International Driving Permit for one year following your date of entry into Malaysia (regardless of the validity date that appears on the card itself).

Obtaining a Malaysian Driving Licence

British Nationals may obtain a Malaysian driving licence by sitting for a driving test at a driving school in Malaysia.

A list of driving schools can be found through the JPJ (Malaysian Road Transport Department) website.

Obtaining a Malaysia-issued International Driving Permit

British Nationals who wish to obtain a Malaysia-issued International Driving Permit in order to legally drive overseas, must possess a valid Malaysian driving licence in the first instance.

A Malaysia-issued International Driving Permit may be obtained from any JPJ (Malaysian Road Transport Department) State or Branch offices. Applications may also be submitted at the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA) office.

Malaysia-issued International Driving Permits cost RM150. Further details regarding the application process and required documents may be found on the JPJ website.

Sale and Purchase of Vehicles

For the sale and purchase of vehicles, the British High Commission does not endorse British passports, or issue letters confirming passport details. Your passport can be endorsed at a JPJ office, or via a local notary public.

For further information about these processes please refer to the JPJ website.

Guidance on bringing medication into Malaysia

Malaysian Customs authorities allow you to bring in a maximum of one month’s medication for your personal use, provided it is accompanied by the prescription from your treating doctor. If you have any questions related to this, please send an email to the Ministry of Health Malaysia at pharmacy1@moh.gov.my.

Social ethics and traditions

Please refer to our Travel Advice for further information.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British High Commission will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 25 March 2013
Last updated 10 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. Updated information for British nationals driving in Malaysia
  2. Added section Death in Malaysia
  3. Scams in Malaysia added.
  4. First published.