Assessing travel and visa obligations in Malaysia

When traveling to Malaysia, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if work authorization will be required. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Malaysia, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings or conferences
  • Audit company accounts
  • Perform factory inspections
  • Carry out investment opportunity surveys


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Malaysia?

All foreign nationals, including visa-waivered nationals, who intend to perform short-term business activities in Malaysia are issued a Social Visit Pass (SVP) upon arrival, which defines permissible activities for the business visitor.

Nationals of the European Union, the United States and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa to enter and conduct business activities in Malaysia.

Additionally, Malaysia is a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and foreign nationals in possession of a valid APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) endorsed with “Valid for travel to MYS” are eligible to enter Malaysia on visa-waivered status.

Foreign nationals who are not eligible for a visa waiver must obtain an Entry Visa from a Malaysian Embassy or Consulate, an eVisa from the online system or an eNTRI Note from the Electronic Travel Registration & Information (eNTRI) online system prior to traveling, as applicable depending on nationality. Additionally, select nationals are eligible to obtain a Visa on Arrival at the port of entry. Please obtain an individual assessment before traveling to determine the correct category for your nationality and circumstances.

Working in Malaysia

What types of activities require work authorization?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Malaysian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Malaysia, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • System installation
  • Auditing
  • Consulting


If I am traveling to Malaysia for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on your salary, on your work location and on the nature and duration of your work. The most common types of work authorization for Malaysia are:

  • Professional Visit Pass (short-term work authorization)
  • Professional Visit Pass — Digital Nomad Visa (DE Rantau Nomad Pass (short-term work authorization)
  • Employment Pass (long-term work authorization for direct hires)


Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

There are no nationalities eligible for an exemption to work authorization requirements in Malaysia.

What else should I know?

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.