Freelancer Visa In Malaysia: The Ultimate Guide

Venturing into the freelance jungle of Malaysia? A freelancer visa is your essential gear.

This ultimate guide is your compass, pointing you towards the freedom to work amidst Malaysia’s stunning landscapes and dynamic cities.

We’ll break down the application process, requirements, and tips with the clarity of a tropical sunrise, ensuring you’re well-prepared for this exciting expedition.

Let’s dive in!

Is Malaysia Embracing Digital Nomads With Its New Visa Program?

As of October 1, 2022, Malaysia implemented a new visa program tailored for digital nomads, effectively replacing the existing professional visit pass. 

This initiative, officially termed the De Rantau Program, signifies a strategic move by the government to invigorate economic activity and foster technological ,within the nation. 

With the introduction of this specialized visa, Malaysia is actively positioning itself as a welcoming destination for remote workers, freelancers, and digital entrepreneurs seeking to establish a temporary or long-term presence.

Malaysia aims to capitalize on the global trend towards remote employment and strengthen local innovation and talent by streamlining visa procedures and providing tailored support for individuals engaged in distant working or digital ventures.

The Malaysian government seeks to leverage international experts’ diverse skills and experience to drive growth, increase competitiveness, and accelerate Malaysia’s development into a thriving digital hub by issuing Digital Nomad visas.

Are You Eligible For A Digital Nomad Visa In Malaysia?

You will be eligible for a Malaysia digital nomad visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are older than 18.
  • You are a digital freelancer.
  • You are an independent contractor.
  • You are a remote worker, meaning you are an employee of a company with flexible working arrangements.
  • You have one of the following professions:
  • Digital marketing.
  • Digital creative content.
  • Digital content development.
  • Software development.
  • UX.
  • UI.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Blockchain.
  • AI.
  • Machine learning.
  • Data-related etc.
  • You have an annual income of $24,000 if you are a foreigner, whereas local digital nomads must have $7,863.
  • You have proof of your work.

Guide To Applying For A Digital Nomad Visa In Malaysia

If you’re interested in applying for a digital nomad visa in Malaysia, here’s a step-by-step process to help you:

  1. Prepare Your Documents: Before starting your online application, ensure all the necessary documents are ready. Refer to the document checklist in the “Requirements for a Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa” section below.
  1. Register on the De Rantau Digital Nomad Pass Website: Register using a personal email and enter a verification code. Once logged in, indicate whether you’re applying as a foreigner or a local.
  1. Choose Your Occupation: Select ‘digital freelancer/independent contractor’ or ‘remote worker’ based on your employment situation. 

Opt for the former if you work remotely without ties to a specific company or location. Otherwise, choose the latter if you’re employed by a company with flexible work arrangements.

  1. Complete the Application Form: Provide personal details such as your name, date of birth, nationality, and address. 

Upload your passport photo and emergency contact information. Additionally, furnish passport details, academic qualifications, sponsor information, etc.

  1. Upload Required Documents: Ensure all documents are in English or translated into English. Combine all pages of each document into a single PDF file, at most 20MB.
  1. Pay the Application Fee: The fee is RM1,000 (approximately $225). A fee of RM500 (about $112) per accompanying dependent is required.
  1. Await Confirmation: Processing typically takes around four weeks. You’ll receive notification of your visa application decision via email.

Note: Citizens from EU member countries, the UK, and the US can stay in Malaysia visa-free for up to 90 days.

Requirements For A Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa

When applying for a digital nomad visa in Malaysia, you’ll need to upload the following documents as part of the online application:

  1. Valid Passport: Ensure your passport has at least 14 months of validity and contains six blank pages.
  1. Passport Photo: Follow Malaysia’s photo requirements, including dimensions of 35 mm width x 50 mm height, color, not older than six months, and specific head measurements facing the camera.
  1. Financial Documents: Provide the latest three months’ bank and yearly income statements, demonstrating an annual income of $24,000 for foreigners or $7,863 for local digital nomads. Also, include three months’ payslips.
  1. Resume: Submit an updated CV detailing your professional achievements.
  1. Good Conduct Letter or Statutory Declaration Form: Obtain a letter of good conduct from an authorized body in your country or current residence. Alternatively, complete and certify a statutory declaration form, downloadable from official sources.
  1. Personal Bond Form: Complete a declaration affirming your commitment to visa conditions and Malaysian laws.
  1. Educational Certificates: Include certificates, diplomas, and other relevant documents reflecting your educational background and qualifications.
  1. Health Insurance: Although not required during the application process, you’ll need health insurance coverage for yourself and your dependents upon approval and entry into Malaysia.
  1. Proof of Work: Depending on your employment status:
  • Digital Freelancer/Independent Contractor: Provide active project contracts with local or foreign clients, each at least three months old.
  • Remote Worker: Submit an active employment contract from a non-Malaysian-based company for at least three months

How Long Can I Stay And Work As A Digital Nomad In Malaysia?

The digital nomad visa in Malaysia offers flexibility in terms of duration, allowing holders to stay and work in the country for periods ranging from 3 months to up to 12 months. 

This means there is a lot of opportunity for Digital Nomads to become immersed in Malaysian culture, experience its various scenery, and be part of the economy through remote work. 

In addition, the visa may be renewed for a further 12 months, providing continued stability and support for their professional activities in Malaysia if they wish to extend their stay beyond the initial period.

How Long Does It Take To Process A Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa?

The typical processing time for a Malaysia digital nomad visa is around 4 weeks. During this period, applicants are advised to wait patiently as their visa undergoes processing. 

However, it’s important to note that the processing time may be extended in certain circumstances due to various factors.

How Much Does It Cost to Get A Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa?

To apply for a Malaysia digital nomad visa, there are specific fees you need to know about:

  1. Application Fee: You’ll have to pay RM1,000, about $225.
  1. Additional Fee for Dependents: If you have any dependents, you’ll need to pay an extra RM500 for each, around $112.
  1. Refund Policy: If your visa application is not approved, you can get back 75% of the fees you paid.

Bringing Family Members To Malaysia With A Digital Nomad Visa

You can bring your immediate family members along with a digital nomad visa to Malaysia. 

When applying for the visa, make sure to include the names of your dependents in the application.

Furthermore, there’s an extra fee of RM500, approximately $112, for each dependent you bring.

Paying Taxes As A Digital Nomad In Malaysia

As a digital nomad in Malaysia, you won’t need to pay taxes on your income earned outside the country. However, you’ll be subject to income tax if you work for a Malaysian-based company or clients.

For Malaysian citizens and residents, taxes are applicable on income earned within Malaysia. The tax rates vary depending on your income level, with higher rates for higher income brackets:

  • Income between RM0 to RM5,000 is taxed at 0%.
  • Income between RM5,001 to RM20,000 is taxed at 1%.
  • Income between RM20,001 to RM35,000 is taxed at 3%.
  • Income between RM35,001 and RM50,000 is taxed at 8%, and so on, with increasing rates for higher income bands.

Cost Of Living In Malaysia: Sample Expenses

  • Inexpensive restaurant meal: RM11.50 or approximately $2.59
  • Mid-range restaurant meal for two (three-course): RM80 or around $18.02
  • A one-way ticket for local transport: RM3 or about $0.68
  • Monthly public transport pass: RM100 or roughly $22.53
  • Essential utilities: RM195.61 or approximately $44.06
  • Internet: RM119.02 or around $26.81
  • 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: RM1,594.85 or approximately $359.24
  • 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center: RM1,075.59 or about $242.28
  • 3-bedroom apartment in the city center: RM2,907.88 or roughly $655
  • 3-bedroom apartment outside the city center: RM1,834.87 or approximately $413.30

This list provides an overview of everyday expenses in Malaysia, with costs in both Malaysian Ringgit (RM) and United States Dollars (USD) for clarity and comparison.

Benefits

✅ Flexibility: The freelancer visa offers flexible work arrangements, allowing freelancers to work remotely for clients worldwide while residing in Malaysia.

✅Long-Term Stay: With the freelancer visa, individuals can stay in Malaysia for an extended period, from 3 to 12 months initially, with the option to renew for another 12 months.

✅ Access to a Vibrant Environment: Malaysia offers a diverse and vibrant environment, providing freelancers with unique cultural experiences, networking opportunities, and modern amenities.

✅ Economic Opportunities: By obtaining a freelancer visa, individuals can tap into Malaysia’s growing economy and business ecosystem, potentially securing new clients and expanding their professional networks.

✅ Affordable Living: Malaysia offers a relatively low cost of living compared to many Western countries, making it an attractive destination for freelancers looking to stretch their income further.

✅ Easy Application Process: Malaysia’s freelancer visa application process is straightforward, with precise requirements and guidelines, making it accessible for freelancers worldwide.

✅ Family Accompaniment: Freelancers can bring their immediate family members to Malaysia, providing an opportunity for a shared adventure and cultural immersion.

Overall, the freelancer visa in Malaysia offers many benefits, making it an appealing option for freelancers seeking a supportive environment to pursue their professional goals while enjoying a high quality of life.

Conclusion

As we wrap up this guide, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to secure your freelancer visa in Malaysia.

With every step of the application process demystified, the path ahead is as inviting as Malaysia’s beautiful beaches and vibrant culture.

It’s time to pack your bags, gather your documents, and embark on your freelance adventure with confidence.

Happy freelancing!

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