Skip to the main content.
How You Can Become A Resident In The Beautiful Country Of Malaysia

5 min read

How You Can Become A Resident In The Beautiful Country Of Malaysia

There are many advantages to life in Malaysia. The cost of living is very affordable. You are surrounded by nature, English is commonly spoken, and the people are very friendly. Malaysia also enjoys high levels of political and economic stability. The Malaysian economy has averaged 4.26% growth over the last 20 years and was ranked 12th in the world for ease of doing business by the World Bank in 2019. 

The infrastructure in Malaysia is very well developed relative to Asian norms. However, you must be cautious because it does have relatively high criminality. The temperature tends to be moderately hot, between 68°F (20°C) and 85°F (29.4°C). Consumer goods tend to be inexpensive, so you get more value when shopping. International flights within Asia out of Kuala Lumpur are also fairly inexpensive, so if you want to explore other Asian destinations, it is affordable to do so.


Map of Malaysia

Map of Malaysia

Like the country itself, Malaysian cuisine is a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay dishes, although there are plenty of international influences as well. Plain white rice is the most important staple of the Malay diet, and noodles are also popular. Chicken, fish, and beef are the most common proteins, as the Muslim majority does not eat pork, although it is also widely available. Fresh fruit and vegetables are grown locally year-round. 

Street vendors are an indispensable aspect of everyday life. Locals commonly eat a number of small meals a day from outside food stalls. The options are virtually limitless between the different Malay, Indian, and Chinese vendors. 


The iconic food of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak

The iconic food of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak


If you are interested in becoming a resident in the beautiful country of Malaysia, there are certain steps and requirements to consider. Gathering accurate information is crucial to understanding the process. Malaysia offers various types of permits and visas for different purposes of stay, whether it's for tourism, study, work, or to reunite with family.

To initiate your application, you need to meet specific criteria set by the Malaysian government. These criteria vary depending on the type of permit or visa you are applying for. It is important to ensure that you possess all the necessary documents, such as a valid passport, application forms, and any supporting documentation required for your particular case.

For certain countries and applicants, additional requirements may be necessary. Some nationalities have specific conditions or restrictions in place, which you should be aware of before starting the application process. It is always recommended to consult the official immigration authorities or embassy for up-to-date information on the latest requirements and procedures.

In certain cases, you may also be required to show proof of financial stability, medical clearance, or other supporting documentation. If you plan to bring dependents, such as children or elderly parents, you will need to provide the necessary documents to demonstrate your ability to support them during their stay in Malaysia.

Malaysia has many ways for you to become a permanent resident, and I will list them briefly here for you. However, you must have lived in Malaysia for at least five years to qualify for permanent residency.

There are five categories under which individuals can apply for permanent residency in Malaysia. Those are:



If you are applying for residency based on family ties, such as having Malaysian parents or being married to a Malaysian citizen, you may need to provide relevant documents to establish your relationship. This can include marriage certificates, birth certificates, or any other legal proof of familial ties.

The application process for becoming a resident in Malaysia typically involves submitting the required documents, completing application forms, and paying any necessary fees. The authorities will review your application and may conduct interviews or background checks as part of the assessment process.

The spouse of a Malaysian citizen can first apply for a long-term social visa, valid for five years. During this time period, they are allowed to engage in employment or business activities. Once the five-year period is up, they can apply for permanent residency. They are required to be legally married in Malaysia and have their marriage registered with the proper authorities. 


Malaysian Ringgit

Malaysian Ringgit


To qualify for permanent residency as an investor, you need to deposit two million US dollars in a bank in Malaysia for a period of five years. You’ll also need a Malaysian sponsor, but if you have two million dollars in the bank, it probably won’t be that hard to find someone to vouch for you. 



If you want to apply for permanent residency as a professional, you need a clean criminal record check, a Malaysian sponsor, to have a professional vocation, and to be employed by either a private company or a government organization for a period of three years. You will also need to be recommended by the appropriate Malaysian agency.



Another category you can apply under is that of an expert. This grouping also requires a clean criminal record check, as well as the recommendation of the relevant agency. You also need to be recognized by an international organization for having world-class talent or skill in a particular field. 

Permanent resident applications will be evaluated based on a point system that evaluates age, working experience, language proficiency, and how long you have lived in Malaysia.


Related content: Thailand Immigration - How To Get Residency In Thailand.


Malaysia National Monument, Tugu Negara

Malaysia National Monument, Tugu Negara


Another option for residency is the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Visa. To qualify, you must be over 35, with an income of at least RM 40,000 and liquid assets of RM 1,500,000. If approved, you must make a fixed deposit of RM 1,000,000, around $250,000 USD, to secure your visa, although you can withdraw RM 500,000 to purchase property or to pay for education or health care. An additional RM 50,000 deposit is required for each dependent brought with you. 

This program is a five-year renewable visa but is not a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.



Malaysia has a territorial tax system, so individuals only pay taxes to the Malaysian government based on income sourced from within the country. Non-tax residents are taxed at a flat rate of 30%, whereas tax residents pay a progressive income tax with a top marginal rate of 30%. In addition, tax residents of Malaysia can apply deductions like employment expenses and charitable contributions against their income tax liability, whereas non-tax residents cannot. Furthermore, tax residents can also benefit from personal relief, reducing their tax burden.

The government imposed an important tax reform for the 2022 calendar year. Foreign sourced income derived from overseas but received in Malaysia is now taxable. This tax was granted a five-year moratorium until December 31st, 2026. Malaysian tax residents must pay tax on foreign-sourced income received in Malaysia. 

Typically, tax residency is determined by whether an individual has lived in Malaysia for more than 182 days out of the year. 


Batu Caves, Selangor Malaysia, God Murugan

Batu Caves, Selangor Malaysia, God Murugan


As a Malaysian permanent resident, you will have virtually all of the rights of a citizen. The only difference is that you cannot vote or participate in any political activities. But as a permanent resident, you would be free to start a business, seek employment, travel, and reside in Malaysia continuously. 

As a resident, you can purchase property and access public health care, and if you send your children to school, you get to pay the discounted “domestic student” rate. 

If you want to start a business, you can take advantage of an inexpensive labour force and the pro-business policies of the Malaysian government. The Malaysian economy is dynamic and market-oriented, with historically strong growth, making it a profitable place to invest.



It is important to note that there are different types of permits and visas available, each with its own specific conditions and limitations. For example, a tourist visa allows for a temporary stay for tourism purposes, while an immigrant visa grants permanent residency. Understanding the distinctions between these types will help you determine the most suitable option for your intended stay in Malaysia.

Becoming a resident in the beautiful country of Malaysia requires careful planning, adherence to the established criteria, and the submission of accurate and complete documents. By following the proper procedures and providing all the necessary information and contacting the Expat Money Team, you can increase your chances of a successful application and enjoy the benefits of living in this diverse and vibrant nation.


Secure Your Familys Future Off-Grid - BLOG SECTION


If you want the best intel from the expat world, including profitable offshore opportunities, little-known tax-saving strategies, and hard-won insights on immigration, passports, and Plan-B residencies, all delivered to your inbox every single week, then join our daily correspondence, EMS Pulse. Currently enjoyed by over 84,000 expats and expat-hopefuls worldwide. Fill in the form below to join our newsletter free:


Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

Recent Posts

Why The Proposed 90% Tax In France Makes A Plan-B Non-Negotiable

Why The Proposed 90% Tax In France Makes A Plan-B Non-Negotiable

A few days ago, I wrote an article about the recent EU elections and the rise of the ‘hard-right’—nationalist parties rejecting the woke agenda,...

Continue Reading
How To Apostille Documents From New Zealand

How To Apostille Documents From New Zealand

Relocating or working in a foreign country often requires expats to ensure their official documents are recognized internationally. This is where the...

Continue Reading
Essential Guide For Expats: Safe Online Banking And Financial Transactions

Essential Guide For Expats: Safe Online Banking And Financial Transactions

Navigating a foreign country’s banking system is undoubtedly challenging. You must understand new regulations, unfamiliar contract terms and...

Continue Reading