Malaysia launches digital nomad visa

Article Breakdown

Malaysia has recently introduced a new digital nomad visa in an effort to position itself as Southeast Asia’s next major destination for remote workers.

The country has committed to develop digital nomad communities in addition to offering the ‘DE Rantau Nomad Pass’ for qualified foreigners. It is also establishing additional distant work hubs with reliable internet access across the country.

Malaysia has quietly introduced a visa program that could become Southeast Asia’s first fully fledged digital nomad and remote worker visa.

Rounded Malaysia Flag IconAt least 25 countries now offer visas designed for remote workers, but Asia has been sluggish to catch up. The De Rantau Programme, which is supported by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), a government organization responsible with boosting the country’s digital economy, will open to candidates on October 1.

According to the program’s website, the goal is to “position Malaysia as the preferred digital nomad hub in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), while raising digital adoption and fostering digital professional mobility and tourism across the country.”

Malaysia Visa Requirements for Digital Nomads

While the Malaysia digital nomad visa is not yet officially accessible, we do know the following prerequisites for applying for it.

  • Valid Passport – At the time of application, your passport must be valid.
  • Work Remotely – You must work remotely for firms or clients based outside of Malaysia as an employee, business owner, or freelancer.
  • Earn at least $24,000 per year – You must fulfill the required minimum income.
  • The website claims that digital nomads with digital-related occupations, such as IT, UX/UI design, content creators, and so on, are preferred, although this does not appear to be a must.

Most digital nomad visas demand foreign health insurance as well as criminal background checks, although these requirements have yet to be disclosed.

If you match the current standards, you could be able to apply for a Malaysia digital nomad visa!

Malaysia Country Landscape Photo

Target audience of the Malaysia digital nomad visa

The program welcomes digital marketers and developers, content creators, and information technology (IT) professionals from all over the world for a processing cost of 1,000 ringgit (US$220), and provides a suitable “digital nomad pass” valid for up to 12 months to help with immigration.

Applicants must have a yearly income of at least $24,000 and evidence of a current three-month work contract with a foreign or Malaysian enterprise. The minimal criteria would be met by multiple shorter contracts.

Dependents like spouses and children can be added to the application for 500 ringgit each year. The visa can also be extended for another year.

Who is eligible to apply for a digital nomad visa in Malaysia?

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), a government initiative to improve the country’s digital transformation and economy, announced the new visa. The ‘DE Rantau’ initiative is aimed for both domestic and international digital nomads.

You must be a freelancer, independent contractor, or full-time remote employee working in the digital arena to be eligible. IT is the primary profession targeted, which includes cybersecurity professionals and software developers, as well as digital marketing and content production and development.

You must provide proof of employment, such as an active contract or multiple contracts with local or overseas clients lasting at least three months. An active work contract with a foreign company can also be used.

How long can a digital nomad visa holder reside in Malaysia?

Malaysia Coat of ArmsThe DE Rantau visa allows you to stay in Malaysia for a period of three to twelve months. It is renewable for an additional 12 months.

Workers may bring their spouse and children under the plan for a fee of MYR 500 ($112) per dependent.

Remote employees from qualified countries, including EU member states, the United Kingdom, and the United States, can stay in Malaysia visa-free for up to 90 days under existing visa requirements. Non-exempt nationals must apply for a visa, employment pass, or professional visit pass.

On October 1, 2022, applications for the 12-month DE Rantau Nomad Pass will open.

Is Malaysia a decent place to reside for digital nomads?

An InterNations survey in 2021 named Kuala Lumpur the best city in the world for expats to live and work in. It considered life quality, ease of settling in, finance and housing, and urban work life.

Malaysia, like much of Southeast Asia, is quite cheap in comparison to Western countries. The average monthly cost of living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, is €487, not including rent, according to financial technology company Wise. The monthly cost for a family of four is €1,736. A one-bedroom flat in the city center costs €461 per month on average.

In addition to emphasizing Malaysia’s low cost of living, MDEC is advertising its new nomad visa by emphasizing the country’s low crime rate and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

According to World Population Review, the country’s crime index (the total number of crimes per year per 1,000 inhabitants) is 57, which is slightly lower than France’s 52 and the United Kingdom’s 47.

In Malaysia, indigenous, Malay, Chinese, and Indian people coexist to produce a dynamic multicultural community. Although Islam is the official religion of the country, religious freedom is guaranteed by the government, and there are significant Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu minorities.

While alcohol is prohibited for Muslims in Malaysia, the rest of the population is permitted to consume it. Although nightlife in Kuala Lumpur is more subdued than in neighboring countries such as Thailand, expat pubs and luxury rooftop lounges define the city’s party scene.

It is also inexpensive and simple to go to neighboring countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia.

See additional investment visa options in Malaysia.

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