General Entry Information
U.S. citizens are generally allowed to travel to Malaysia without a visa if they are coming only for tourism and only for a short time. However the decision on admission to Malaysia is made by and at the discretion of 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 passes, and the 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 for tourism are admitted without incident, the Malaysian Immigration Department has the right and responsibility to enforce their laws and as a result not everyone who arrives at Malaysian port of entry is permitted to enter. When travelers are refused entry, the Malaysian Immigration Department usually 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;
- 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 you 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 under arrest, and because the U.S. Embassy cannot intervene or influence the Malaysian Immigration Department’s decision, the Malaysian Immigration Department may not ask you whether you would like to contact your Embassy.
You will generally be returned to your last departure location on the next available flight offered by your airline. In some cases, you will have 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. You will not be given food and water by Malaysian Immigration Department while you wait for the flight to your last departure location.
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 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 apply to re-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 you traveled to Malaysia. In some cases the airplane you traveled to Malaysia on may have already departed for another destination. You will have to wait for the airplane to return to Malaysia before the airline can conduct a thorough search for your lost passport. Persevere. Check with your airline for regular updates.
The U.S. Embassy will not attend the airport to issue you an emergency passport unless it is an exceptional situation. In accordance with U.S. Department of State’s regulations, in addition to the cost of a passport, there is a fee of $130.00 per hour, payable in cash in U.S. Dollars or Malaysian Ringgit, for the U.S. Consular Officer to travel to airport to meet with you. It typically takes around 6-7 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 return to the airport again to issue you the emergency passport.
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