General Entry Information
U.S. citizens are generally allowed to travel to Malaysia without a visa for business/tourist trips of less than ninety days. However, final decisions on admission to Malaysia are made by the Malaysian Immigration Department in accordance with Malaysian law and regulations. Under Malaysian law, some common activities may not be considered “tourism”. Religious workers, missionaries, performers and other pursuing special programs may need to get a visa before traveling to Malaysia. You can find more information about Malaysian visas and application procedures on the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website . You can also find information about traveling to Malaysia on the Department of State’s Country Specific Information page.
While the vast majority of U.S. citizens who travel to Malaysia are admitted without incident, the Malaysian Immigration Department may deny entry to those deemed to be in violation of Malaysian immigration law. When travelers are refused entry, the Malaysian Immigration Department typically orders them returned to the airport from which they last departed, regardless of nationality or place of residence. If you are denied entry into Malaysia, the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur cannot intervene on your behalf nor can we attempt to influence the Malaysian Immigration Department’s decision.
What to Expect If You Are Denied Entry to Malaysia
Being denied entry to Malaysia can be upsetting for U.S. citizens and their loved ones. It helps to know what to expect, and what you can do to make the experience less stressful.
You could be denied entry to Malaysia for one of the following reasons:
- Your U.S. passport has less than six month’s validity remaining;
- Your U.S. passport is damaged or defaced
- You previously overstayed in Malaysia and have been banned from returning to Malaysia for a period of time;
- You are using tourist status inappropriately by trying to reside in Malaysia for longer than allowed; and/or
- You have lost or are not in possession of your U.S. passport.
If you are denied entry to Malaysia, you will be held at the airport until you can be returned to the airport from which you last departed. You are not under arrest and no criminal charges will be filed. You are simply not eligible to enter Malaysia on this visit. Because you are not considered by the Malaysian Immigration Department to be under arrest, immigration officers may not ask you whether you would like to contact your Embassy. However, you have the right to request to contact the U.S. Embassy. Although the U.S. Embassy cannot intervene on your behalf nor attempt to influence the Malaysian Immigration Department’s decision, we may be able to assist by advising your family or friends of your situation if you are able to sign and share a Privacy Act Waiver authorizing us to do so.
You will generally be returned to the airport from which you last departed on the next available flight offered by your airline. In some cases, it may be a long wait for the next available flight to your last departure location. The airline may charge you the cost of re-booking or purchasing a flight ticket to your last departure location. It will be your responsibility to pay the necessary airline costs.
The Malaysian Immigration Department also may retain to your U.S. passport to process “Not To Land” (NTL) documents, denying your entry to Malaysia. Your U.S. passport will be handed to you before you are returned to your last departure location by your airline. Malaysian Immigration Department offices at the airport have minimal facilities and you may be asked to pay for food and water while you wait for your outbound flight.
What You Should Do If You Are Denied Entry to Malaysia
Stay calm. Do not attempt to dispute Malaysian Immigration Department’s decision. Once you have been deemed inadmissible, you will not be permitted to enter.
Inform the Malaysian authorities if you have a medical condition, are taking medication, or are in need of medical treatment.
Listen, and ask why you were not admitted. Be sure you clearly understand what you will need to do the next time you intend to travel to Malaysia – i.e. do you need to renew your passport? Will you need a visa? Is there a waiting period before you can re-apply to enter?
Ask for documentation of the refusal as you may need to show it to the Malaysian Embassy in the U.S. if you require a visa or if you wish to appeal the Malaysian Immigration Department’s decision to ban you from entering Malaysia.
Contact your airline if you are not being returned to the U.S., as you may be required to pay for a re-booking fee or purchase a new flight home from your last port of departure.
What You Should Do If You Lose Your Passport At The Airport
Retrace your steps. Check where you may have dropped or lost your passport.
Speak with the airport’s lost and found office. Find out if someone has located or handed in your passport.
Speak to your airline and ask them to search for your lost passport around your seat area on the airplane on which you traveled to Malaysia. In some cases the airplane on which you traveled to Malaysia may have already departed for another destination. You may have to wait for the airplane to reach its next destination before the airline can conduct a thorough search for your lost passport. Check with your airline for regular updates.
The U.S. Embassy does not offer on-site emergency passport services at the airport except in emergency circumstances, such as if your passport is lost and cannot be found despite your/airline best efforts. In the limited circumstances in which we can provide on-site passport services at the airport, Department of State regulations require us to charge a fee of $135.00 per hour, payable in cash in U.S. Dollars or Malaysian Ringgit, for Consular Officer time. It typically takes around 5 hours total for a U.S. Consular Officer to meet you at the airport, return to the Embassy to process the emergency passport application and collect all applicable fees, and return to the airport again to issue you the emergency passport. Additionally, this service is not available after hours or on weekends/holidays, and there may be a wait of up to one business day for Consular staff to obtain permission from airport authorities to pass through security to meet with you and accept your passport application.
What You Should Do Upon Your Return to the U.S.
If you intend to apply for a Malaysian visa, you can find information about application procedures on the Malaysian Immigration Department’s website .
If you have questions about future travel to Malaysia or other general questions, review the Malaysia Embassy in Washington DC’s website .
If you have complaints about your experience at the border or about Malaysian Immigration Department staff, they can be directed to:
Malaysian Immigration Department Headquarters
No. 15, Floor 1-7 (Podium)
Tel: +603 8000 8000