Available from October 1st, 2022, the Mayalsia digital nomad visa offers digital remote workers the opportunity to live and work in the country for an initial period of up to 12 months.
Malaysia joins both Thailand and Indonesia with a remote working visa in the nomad paradise of Southeast Asia with the program tailored to professionals in digital industries.
From the bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur to the white sand beaches of Penang, Malaysia is an up-and-coming country that’s got it all. With a maximum of 24 months offered to qualifying digital nomads, there’s plenty of time to get a taste of the full country.
However, there is a range of requirements that applicants must satisfy before they’re able to pick up their official documentation. Find out everything you need to know about the Malaysian digital nomad visa, from the entry requirements to the application process, in our article below.
What is the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa?
Known as the DE Rantau Nomad Pass, the Malaysian digital nomad visa offers remote workers to live and work in the country for an initial 12-month period. This can then be renewed for a second 12-month period for nomads satisfying the remote working criteria.
To qualify for the Malaysian digital nomad visa, applicants are required to work in the digital space (freelancer, independent contractor, or remote worker in IT). Areas of interest include software development, cybersecurity, AI, blockchain, digital marketing, and more. A full list of valid professions can be found in the downloadable FAQ at the official site.
The focus on digital professions for the nomad visa is a requirement that we’ve not seen in other visa applications. However, with Malaysia’s plans to boost the local economy and to work on the digitalization of the country, these digital professions offer the most value to the country.
Why is the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Better Than a Tourist Visa?
The Malaysian digital nomad visa is a fantastic solution for online professionals and their dependents looking to live and work in the country.
The first benefit of the visa over the typical tourism option lies in the length of time that can be spent in the country. Applicants are able to stay for an original 3 to 12 months with the further option to renew the visa for an additional 12 months. Dependents are also permitted to travel to and live in Malaysia with the digital nomad visa, although additional processing costs will be incurred during the application process.
In addition to the official documentation, nomads will be eligible to claim a range of benefits exclusive to holders of the DE Rantau Nomad Pass. Nomad-focused hubs for living and working, handpicked nomad-ready local services, discount vouchers, and additional promotions are all offered as perks of the remote working visa.
Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
When applying for the Malaysian digital nomad visa, all applicants must satisfy the following criteria for a successful outcome:
- Valid Passport: The applicant's passport must be valid for at least 14 months from the date of the application.
- $24,000 USD Minimum Annual Income: Applicants must prove a minimum income of at least $24,000 USD per year.
- Proof of Remote Digital Work: Applicants must be able to prove that they work remotely as either a business owner, employee or freelancer in the digital space.
- Health Insurance: Applicants must show proof of health insurance with coverage in Malaysia.
All applications must be completed in English to qualify for the remote working visa.
How to Apply
With countless documents, application fees, and criteria to satisfy, applying for digital nomad visas can be a tricky and confusing process. That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step guide detailing everything you need to do for a successful visa application.
Step 1: Gather all Necessary Documentation
The first step to applying for any digital nomad visa is to gather all of the necessary documents ready for application submission. For the Malaysian digital nomad visa, applicants must supply the following:
- Copy of all Passport Pages (Minimum 14 Months Validity)
- Proof of Income
Evidence of Remote Work in a Digital Field
- Proof of Health Insurance with Malaysian Cover
A full list of required documents can be found in the FAQ uploaded to the DE Rantau site.
Step 2: Submit an Application and Pay Fee
All applications must be made online via the official DE Rantau website with the required documentation above attached during the submission process.
There is an application fee of 1,060.00 RM per applicant and a further application fee of 530.00 RM for each dependant. These are non-refundable and must be paid upon submission and include the 6% SST.
Step 3: Await a Verdict
All applications submitted for the DE Rantau will be processed within four weeks of the completed submission receipt.
If an application is rejected, applicants are able to appeal within a six-month period. Otherwise, a refund of 75% of the application value can be applied for.
Step 4: Receive an Immigration Pass
The issuance of the pass will then be completed within one week, subject to the discretion of the Immigration Department.
There is the additional fee of an Immigration Pass Fee and is a requirement for every applicant/dependent at the cost of 90 RM every three months, or for the annual fee of 360 RM.
Why Choose Malaysia for Your Next Remote Working Trip?
Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is famous as a popular layover destination, but there’s much more to the city, and the country, than a convenient aviation refuel.
One of the most popular upcoming destinations for remote workers, Malaysia is ranked 42nd overall out of a total of 167 countries in the 2021 Legatum Prosperity Index. The index utilizes more than 100 different indexes, evaluating countries on everything from Governance and Social Capital to Healthcare and Education. This puts Malaysia in near-equal standings with Greece, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Croatia.
The most popular destination for digital nomads within the borders is undoubtedly the Kuala Lumpur capital, but there’s plenty more to see and do. Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Malacca are all top choices for those traveling the country.
Remote Work Culture in Malaysia
There is a fantastic remote work culture in Malaysia with countless coworking spaces (such as Colony and DOJO) and top-quality cafes (such as Bean Brothers and Feeka), a digital nomad community is only ever a stone's throw away.
In the cities, spacious apartments with speedy WiFi can be sourced easily for affordable rates. These are often complete with air conditioning, alongside gym and pool facilities making a perfect base for digital nomads.
Cost of Living and Quality of Life in Malaysia
The cost of living in Malaysia is low with the average reportedly 53.8% lower than in the United States. This cost of living is further lowered by the rental market in the country with the average rental prices 80.2% lower than in the States. The estimated cost for a single person living in Malaysia is 1,994 RM with the estimated value increasing to 7,125 RM for an average family of four.
The quality of life in Malaysia is rated as Moderate with an index of 126 on a scale between 0 and 240. The main struggle for quality of life in the country lies in pollution whereas the top indexes are the healthcare and low cost of living offered by the country.
Healthcare in Malaysia
The healthcare system in Malaysia is rated as good with a ranking of 44th out of 167 different countries in the 2021 Legatum Prosperity Index.
A two-tier system is used in the country with the government offering a universal public healthcare system that is used in conjunction with a privatized health system. All digital nomads should ensure that they are covered with health insurance for Malaysia when applying for the digital nomad visa.
The Malaysian digital nomad visa is a fantastic option for remote workers with a focus on digital remote workers.
Offered for an initial period of between 3 and 12 months, the visa offers nomads the chance to spend as long as 24 months living and working in the country. The application, which can be submitted online, is quick and easy to complete for both first-timers and those renewing their visa, providing that the small requirement selection is satisfied.
Criteria are relatively straightforward for applicants to meet with a minimum annual income of $24,000 USD, a valid passport with at least 14 months of date left, and proof of a remote work income in the digital sector. An application fee of 1,060 RM for individuals (530 RM for dependents), and an annual Immigration Pass Fee of 360 RM prove the only costs of the remote work visa.
With the impressive metropolis that is Kuala Lumpur, the stunning beaches of Penang, and the small city of Kuching—there’s a location for everyone in the stunning South East Asian country.