Malaysia - Visa
Malaysia is the most retiree-friendly country in Asia. The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program offers non-Malaysians a ten-year renewable multiple entry visa. This is very attractive to retirees. It gives certainty of tenure. It provides a streamlined application process. And it is tax friendly—all non-Malaysian income is tax-free for MM2H visa holders. The most popular locations for expats are Penang and KL. About 40 per cent of the total Malaysian expatriate population live in each. Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on the island once known as Borneo, has about 5 per cent.
Sabah has authority for its own immigration, so you have to get your MM2H visa from that state. Likewise, if you are moving to Sarawak, the other Malaysian state on Borneo, you must apply for a visa from the state of Sarawak. There is no official record of where expats are located but it is estimated there are around 16,000 expats on the MM2H visa—no one knows how many actually live here, but specialists guess 2000.
Just a few general pointers before we get into the details of the program. There are different rules for the under-50s and the over-50s. The income and asset test for applicants is relatively high. You will need proof of liquid assets (cash on deposit) of at least RM350,000 (A$120,000) and an income of at least RM10,000 (A$3400) a month if you are over 50. (It is slightly higher for the under-50s.) This benchmark will be lowered if you buy property in Malaysia. You will also need proof of health insurance coverage in Malaysia (although this can be waived if you can show that an insurance company has knocked back your application on the basis of age). A police report and a health check are also required.
So far, some 23,000 people have been approved, according to the Malaysian government. The program is primarily attracting people who wish to retire in Malaysia or spend extended periods there.
The government website www.mm2h.gov.my/index.php/en/ provides all the required documents and application forms and outlines clearly the steps to be followed (www.mm2h.gov.my/index.php/en/apply-now/where-to-apply/steps-to-apply).
Applicants have the option of using an approved MM2H agent or submitting their application directly. Using an agent will make the process a lot easier and avoid the need to place a cash security bond (the agent will sponsor you). But this, of course, involves paying the agent their fee. All agents have to be approved by the Ministry of Tourism. These can be identified by the initials (MM2H) in their company name. The Malaysian government sets the maximum fee of RM10,000 (A$3400) that an agent can charge an applicant.
The MM2H Application
Applications can be submitted while you are in Malaysia or can be submitted from overseas. Once the committee reviews the documents (original submission) and approves the application, they will issue a letter of ‘Conditional Approval’.
The applicant then has six months to complete the remaining conditions (obtain medical insurance, complete the medical examination and open the fixed deposit) and collect the visa.
The following documents are required to complete the application process, some at the time of original submission and others after receiving the letter of conditional approval:
- Covering letter: This should state the names of all people who are applying with you, how you will support yourself in Malaysia and which financial criteria you wish to use (see below).
- Three copies of IM.12 Social Visit Pass. (You can download this form and others from www.mm2h.com/mm2h-application-forms.php.)
- One copy of the Application Form MM2H.
- Four passport-sized photographs of the applicant; if accompanied by a spouse, you also need four photos of your spouse.
- Certified true copies of all pages of passport/travel document of applicant (and spouse if relevant). All certified true copies of documents must be countersigned by an embassy, high commission, justice of the peace, commissioner of oaths, solicitor, lawyer or notary public.
- Certified true copy of every page of previous passport if your current passport is less than one year old (only the page with personal particulars needs to be certified).
- Certified true copy of marriage certificate if accompanied by spouse.
- Certified true copy of children’s birth certificate if accompanied by children.
- A current resume outlining employment history of primary applicant.
- Evidence of financial assets (see Financial Requirements below).
- Evidence of regular monthly income.
- Medical report of applicant: Form RB1. This can be a self-declaration initially but after the conditional approval letter is issued, it must be signed off by a doctor in Malaysia.
- Letter of good conduct by a government agency where you currently live (if you have lived there several years) or your home country (usually the police department).
- Authorisation letter from applicant to Malaysia My Second Home Centre which allows them to verify the financial documents with the relevant financial institutions.
- Evidence of purchasing property in Malaysia over RM1 million (A$340,000) if requesting approval to make lower fixed deposit.
Once the application is approved, you will be issued a conditional approval letter. This can be presented to any bank in Malaysia to open an account.
Visa collection on conditional approval
After receiving the letter of conditional approval, the following documents must be submitted when collecting the visa:
- evidence of placing the fixed deposit—if applying under this criteria
- copy of Malaysian medical insurance
- copy of medical report
- a letter of good conduct from a government agency.
All applications for people who want to live in west (peninsular) Malaysia are submitted to the Second Home Centre in the Ministry of Tourism which has information about the program. Applications to live in Sabah or Sarawak have to be submitted to the respective state immigration offices. Agents can assist with application for peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
If you wish to live in Sarawak, you will have to contact the authorities in that state as they do not permit agents to assist with submissions of applications.
Malaysia My Second Home Centre
Ministry of Tourism Malaysia
Level 10, No.2 Menara 1
Jalan P5/6, Presint 5
62200 Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 8891 7434
Fax: 03 8891 7100
Department of Immigration, Sabah
Tingkat 6, Bangunan Wisma Dang Bandang
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman
88550, Kota Kinabalu
Tel: +6088– 80700
Fax: +6088– 240005
Department of Immigration, Sarawak
Tingkat 1 & 2, Bangunan Sultan Iskandar
Jalan Simpang Tiga
93550, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Tel: +6082– 245661 / 240301 / 230317 / 230280 / 230314
Fax: +6088– 240390/ 428606* Tourism Malaysia PWTC (see address below)
Currently, approval takes around 90 days for the documents to be processed and approved from the submission date. This all sounds terribly complicated. Judith’s story though may put your worries to rest.
Judith moved to Malaysia in 2007—but it all happened a bit quicker than she expected. This was because her MM2H visa was surprisingly easy to obtain. She explained: ‘I didn’t use an immigration agent. I just emailed the Malaysian government and said that I fancy becoming a resident and joining the MM2H so “What do I have to do?”
‘They emailed back and said they needed a copy of my passport, details of my income and proof of medical insurance. These had to be approved [certified] by a notary. And then I sent it all off. ‘Not long afterwards I received a letter saying, “Here’s your visa. You have six months to activate this.” Well, I panicked! I needed to get over to Malaysia, put money in a bank account, attend a medical exam in KL and then the visa was instant. It took me less than seven days to make it all happen.’
But then, Judith was faced with another problem—where to live. But that’s another story (link to Real Stories/Penang/Judith)
A payment of RM90 per year (A$30) is charged for the issuance of a Social Visit Pass under the MM2H program. The visa fee is charged according to the existing rate applicable to each country. The fee for a ten-year visa is therefore RM900 (A$300); however, if the applicant’s passport has less than ten years left, the visa will only be valid until the passport expiry date and the fee lower. Other visa charges may apply for certain nationalities but should not amount to more than RM600 (A$200) per person.
Visa renewal requirements
The applicant must be present in person at the Immigration Department of Malaysia and bring the following documents:
- letter explaining why you wish to renew the visa
- original and photocopy of passport (certified true copy of every page)
- Form IMM.55 (one copy per person)
- Form IMM.38 (one copy if applicable)
- proof of current offshore income of RM10,000 (A$3400) or more per month
- evidence your fixed deposit is still in place
- original and copy of confirmation letter from the bank (if applicable)
- original and copy of conditional approval letter
- original and copy of health insurance
- original medical report (RB2 Form, which is available at MM2H Immigration Unit)
- payment of RM90 per year for the visa.
Application for an extension with new passport
The visa is only issued for the validity of your passport. If you did not get the full period of the visa in your passport, you need to return to the immigration office in person when you have a new passport to get the remainder of the visa stamped in your passport. The following documents are required for an extension:
- letter of intention by the principal/sponsor
- copy of approval letter
- Form IM. 12
- Form IMM. 55
- the original and a copy of both your old and new passport for applicant and principal.
MM2H eligibility and requirements
The MM2H program is open to all countries that are recognised by Malaysia but the program has numerous requirements. These requirements are outlined below:
Applicants are expected to be financially capable of supporting themselves on this program in Malaysia.
a. Upon application
i. For applicants under 50 years of age:
Applicants aged below 50 years are required to show proof of liquid assets worth a minimum of RM500,000 (A$167,000) and offshore income of RM10,000 (or A$3400) per month. Applicants must provide the latest three months’ certified copies of their bank statement showing each month’s credit balance of RM500,000 (A$167,000) or more.
ii. For applicants aged 50 and above:
Applicants aged 50 and above need proof of RM350,000 (A$120,000) in liquid assets and offshore income of RM10,000 (A$3400) per month. Applicants must provide the latest three months’ statements showing each month’s credit balance of RM350,000 (A$120,000) or more. For those who have retired, they are required to show proof of receiving pension from government-approved funds of RM10,000 (A$3400) per month.
New applicants who have purchased properties worth at least RM1 million (A$340,000) qualify to place a lower fixed deposit amount upon approval.
b. Upon approval
i. For applicants under 50 years of age:
Open a fixed deposit account of RM300,000 (A$100,000). After a period of one year, the participant can withdraw up to RM150,000 (A$50,000) for approved expenses relating to house purchase, education for children in Malaysia and medical purposes.
Must maintain a minimum balance of RM150,000 (A$50,000) from second year onwards and throughout stay in Malaysia under this program.
Approved participants who have purchased and own property bought for RM1 million (A$340,000) and above in Malaysia may comply with the basic fixed deposit requirement of RM150,000 (A$50,000) on condition that the property has been fully paid and ownership documents, such as grant and land title, have already been issued. This amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate their participation in MM2H program.
ii. For applicants aged 50 and above
Applicants aged 50 or over can either choose to:
Open a fixed deposit account of RM150,000 (A$50,000). Note that applicants over 50 who can prove they receive a government pension in excess of RM10,000 (A$3400) a month can request exemption from making the fixed deposit. All others have to make a fixed deposit.
After a period of one year, participants who fulfil the fixed deposit criterion can withdraw up to RM50,000 (A$17,000) for approved expenses relating to house purchase, education for children in Malaysia and medical purposes.
A participant must maintain a minimum balance of RM100,000 (A$34,000) from the second year onwards and throughout their stay in Malaysia under this program.
Approved participants who have purchased and owned property for RM1 million (A$340,000) and above in Malaysia may comply with the basic fixed deposit requirement of RM100,000 (A$34,000), on condition that the property has been fully paid and ownership documents, such as grant and land title, have already been issued. This amount may not be withdrawn until the participant decides to terminate their participation in MM2H program.
All applicants and their dependents are required to submit a medical report from any private hospital or registered clinic in Malaysia.
Approved participants and their dependants must possess valid medical insurance coverage that is applicable in Malaysia from any insurance company.
However, exemptions may be given for participants who face difficulty in obtaining a medical insurance due to their age or medical condition.
Security bond: Direct applicant only
Applicants applying directly are required to fulfil the security bond condition. The rate per person changes by nationality. Australians pay RM1500 (about A$300).
Personal bond: Application via agent
Licensed companies are required to provide the personal bond for their clients who have been approved under the MM2H program.
Employment and business investment rules
MM2H visa holders aged 50 years old and over can work for up to twenty hours a week. This is applicable to visa holders who have specialised skills in certain approved sectors. We are advised the decision on whether to approve part-time work is based on the approving committee view on whether a Malaysian could do the job.
Visa holders are permitted to set up and invest in businesses in Malaysia. They will be subject to the same regulations as other foreign investors but will not be permitted to become actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. If they wish to do this, they must switch their visa to a work permit.
Applicants are allowed to bring along their dependants (children below 21 years of age, stepchildren, disabled children, and parents) under their MM2H visa. Older dependant children will have to get a separate visa. Dependants attending school in Malaysia are also required to apply for a student pass which allows them to continue their education in schools or institutions of higher learning recognised by the government.
Each participant is allowed to purchase an unlimited number of residences above the minimal applicable price set for foreigners buying property in the state where they make the purchase. In most cases the minimum price is RM1 million (A$340,000) although some states, like Penang, have lower minimums for MM2H visa holders. All purchases must be approved by the state authorities. Certain types of property cannot be purchased by foreigners, such as those on ‘Malay Reserve’ land.
Successful applicants are subject to Malaysian taxes on income sourced from Malaysia but income from overseas is not taxable. Even when foreign income (for example, a pension) is taxed at source by the overseas country, they will stop this once evidence is shown that the person is resident in Malaysia.
Approvals are given subject to security vetting clearance conducted by the Royal Malaysian Police. Applicants will also have to show a police clearance certificate (letter of good conduct) from their home country to prove they do not have a criminal record.
Successful applicants are not permitted to participate in activities that can be considered as sensitive to the local people like political or missionary activities.
7th Floor, Tower Block,
Syed Kechik Foundation Building,
Jalan Kapas, Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2094 9664 Fax: +603 2094 9670
Malaysia My Second Home Centre
Ministry of Tourism Malaysia
Putra World Trade Centre
Level 34, Menara Dato’ Onn
45 Jalan Tun Ismail
50695 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2693 7111
Immigration Department of Malaysia
(Kementerian Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri)
Tingkat 1-7, (Podium) Blok 2G4, Precint 2,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62550 Putrajaya, WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN
Tel: +603-88801000 Fax: +603-8881200