To position itself as one of Southeast Asia's hubs for digital nomads, Malaysia has recently launched the Malaysia digital nomad visa, officially known as the DE Rantau Nomad Pass. It is a special permit allowing digital nomads to live in the country for up to a year. So, if you ever dream of living as a digital nomad in Malaysia while taking advantage of its tropical climate, now is your chance.
Malaysia is a multicultural country with plenty of exciting things to offer for digital nomads. Here, you can choose to live in the modern and bustling metropolis of Kuala Lumpur or the more laid-back city of Penang, famous for its colonial architecture and delicious street foods. Regardless of where you base yourself, you can enjoy a more affordable cost of living in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a great jumping-off point to other Southeast Asian cities, with Singapore only an hour's flight away and Thailand a train ride away. What's more, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the hub of Air Asia, a low-cost carrier with affordable flights all over Asia and beyond. Malaysia has modern transportation infrastructures, so getting around within the country is easy. With so many great things to love about Malaysia as a digital nomad, it's time to apply for the Malaysia digital nomad visa.
About the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
The Malaysian government launched the Malaysia digital nomad visa as part of its De Rantau program, which aims to attract IT professionals, digital marketers, and content creators to move to the country. This program aimed as much towards local people as towards foreigners. The De Rantau program tries to create an ecosystem of service providers as well that can be part of this program. From an initiative to attract digital nomads I think it is an excellent program. The De Rantu program has gone live on 1 October 2022.
The government hopes to transform Malaysia into a hub for digital nomads while boosting the country's digital adoption. By going for an ecosystem for digital nomads together with a low income entry level requirement, Malaysia goes in a different direction as Thailand which has launched a LTR visa that is hard to get and targets wealthy expats to move.
The Malaysia digital nomad visa will serve as a special residence permit supported by the MDEC or the Malaysia Digital Economic Corporation, the agency tasked with promoting the country's digital economy. Under the De Rantau program, qualified digital nomads can live in Malaysia from three months to one year, with the option to renew for an additional 12 months.
Although the scheme applies to those working in the IT industry, there are no actual restrictions on the profession. Any digital nomad can apply for the DE Rantau pass, whose job allows them to work remotely using digital means. Applicants for the Malaysia digital nomad visa can include their immediate dependents or spouses in their visa application.
Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Eligibility
To be eligible for the Malaysia digital nomad visa or DE Rantau pass, you must meet certain qualifications, which include the following:
- A digital freelancer or independent contractor with an active contract from local or foreign-based companies.
- Remote workers with an active employment contract from local or foreign-based companies.
- Working within the IT industry, including digital marketing, digital content development, and digital creative content.
- You earn at least $24,000 each year.
Documents to Submit When Applying for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
If you meet the qualifications mentioned above and are interested to apply for the Malaysia digital nomad visa, here are the documents you need to prepare:
- Passport copy – you need to submit a copy of all the pages of your passport. It should have a minimum of six empty pages.
- Passport photo – you need to upload your passport photo when applying for the digital nomad visa online.
- Employment contract – you must submit an employment contract showing an active project with a duration of more than three months. It can be multiple contracts, and the company or client can be in Malaysia or foreign countries.
- Proof of income – you need to submit proof of income, stating that you earn more than 24,000 USD per year. This can come in the form of a pay slip.
- Latest resume – you will be required to upload a copy of your latest resume.
- Bank statements – submit a copy of your latest three months bank statement and yearly income statement.
- Letter of good conduct – request a letter of good conduct from the authorized body in your country.
- Personal bond form – download the personal bond form online, fill out the form, and upload the signed form.
- Health insurance – you need to submit a health insurance certificate valid in Malaysia that will cover your medical expenses if you and your dependents get sick.
- Additional documents if you will include your dependents – if you are bringing your spouse or kids to Malaysia while living there as a digital nomad, you must submit proof of relationship. Submit a marriage certificate if you plan to bring your spouse or birth certificates for your kids.
Applying for the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
The Malaysia digital nomad visa must be applied online, through the website of the DE Rantau Digital Nomad Pass. Here are the steps.
- Access the Website for the DE Rantau Digital Nomad Pass – First, you need to access the official website of DE Rantau Digital Nomad Pass. It's worth browsing through the website to learn more about the program. When you are ready to apply, click “Sign Up Now.”
- Sign Up for An Account – To sign-up for an account, provide your complete name, email address, and password. Wait for an email for the verification code. Enter the verification code to proceed with your account registration.
- Choose your profession – Before you are taken to the application page, you will be required to choose your type of profession, whether a digital freelancer, remote worker, independent contractor, etc.
- Fill out the application form – On the next page, upload your passport photo and fill out the application form. Enter your personal details, passport details, and other information required.
- Submit the documents – After you fill out the online application form, upload all the required documents. Refer above for the list of requirements for the Malaysia digital nomad visa. You must have a digital copy of these documents since you will upload them online. All documents have to be in English or translated into the English language.
- Make a payment – The final step is to pay the visa fee. It will cost 1,000 MYR or around USD 218. If you have dependents on the application, you will pay an additional fee of 500 MYR or around USD 109 for each dependent.
Paying Taxes in Malaysia as a Digital Nomad
Citizens and residents of Malaysia are taxed on any income incurred or derived from within the country. Holders of the Malaysia digital nomad visa are not required to pay tax for income earned outside the country. However, those whose clients are based in Malaysia and those who work for a Malaysian-based company may have to pay income tax.
Living as a Digital Nomad in Malaysia
Boasting a tropical climate and some of the world's most beautiful beaches, Malaysia is a great country to live for digital nomads. And now that the Malaysian government is giving digital nomads the option to apply for a digital nomad visa, it won't be long before Malaysia can rival Thailand or Bali as Southeast Asia's digital nomad hub.
Digital nomads in Malaysia will have the option to live in big cities like Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru or more laidback cities like Penang or Malacca. Regardless of where you plan to live, you can enjoy a lower cost of living.
Like much of Southeast Asia, Malaysia has a more affordable cost of living than many Western countries. For instance, if you live in Kuala Lumpur, the average cost of living is only $1,612. The bustling metropolis is a melting pot of cultures, home to many great attractions that you can explore while on a break from work. Kuala Lumpur offers high living standards with great amenities for digital nomads, such as fast internet and a growing number of co-working spaces.
Penang is ideal if you want a quieter alternative to Kuala Lumpur. The average cost of living in this gorgeous city is only $981 per month, and you can find accommodations to rent for as low as $200 per month! The city is home to many historical sights and is considered Malaysia's food capital, making it a great place to live for foodies.
You can enjoy a healthy work-life balance while living in Malaysia as a digital nomad. When you are not glued to your computer completing tasks or attending online meetings, you can relax or swim at the sandy beaches of Kota Kinabalu, hike at the scenic trails of Cameron Highlands, or discover mouth watering street foods in Penang. Malaysia is a digital nomad-friendly destination and a great country to live for digital nomads.
FAQs on the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa
How Much Will the Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa Cost?
The application fee for the Malaysia digital nomad visa is 1,000 MYR or around USD 218. If you have dependents on the application, you will pay an additional fee of 500 MYR or around USD 109 for each dependent. If your application is rejected, you can get a 75% refund of the respective processing fee.
How Long is the Processing Time for the Cape Verde Digital Nomad Visa?
It will take around four weeks for the visa to be processed. The DE Rantau Nomad Pass will be issued within a week of getting approved, in accordance with the Malaysian Immigration Department.
How Long Can You Stay in Malaysia with the Digital Nomad Visa?
The Malaysia digital nomad visa will let you stay in the country for three to 12 months, with the option to renew for additional 12 months.
Do I Need to Be in Malaysia to Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa?
No, the application for the Malaysia digital nomad visa is online, so you are not required to be in Malaysia to apply for the visa.
Other Countries with Digital Nomad Visas
There are a few other countries with digital nomad visas in Asia, Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Dubai. Indonesia is still working on its digital nomad visa. For a full list of countries with digital nomad visas read this article.