Useful Information on Living in Malaysia

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The Language Barrier in Malaysia

Doing business in Malaysia may be quite easy as English is the country’s secondary language and is commonly used by professionals. However, living in Malaysia will prove to have its difficulties. This is because the primary language of the country is Bahasa Malaysian and many of the locals will not be familiar with English.

Laws to know while living in Malaysia

Before you move, you should understand that Malaysia is a predominantly Islamic country. This means that life in Malaysia will be quite the change from life in the UK. If you are a Muslim, you may be subject to local Shari’a law. Things like acts of homosexuality are illegal, resulting in imprisonment and corporal punishment.

Drug and firearm offences are taken very seriously in Malaysia and could result in the death penalty. You may be required to take a urine test upon arrival if you are suspected of previously using drugs.

You should also be cautious with your actions so as to not offend anyone, especially during the month of Ramadan or at any holy areas. It’s important that you’re mindful of other people’s religious beliefs, customs and traditions. You should also ensure that your family is dressed conservatively so that they do not offend any residents.

British Embassy in Malaysia

Address:British Embassy Kuala Lumpur
Ground Floor, West Block
Wisma Selangor Dredging
142C Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Phone:(60) (3) 2723 7900
Office hours:Local Time
Mon-Fri: 0900 – 2100
Sat: 1000 – 1800   Kuala Lumpur Local Time

Emergency Service Contact Information in Malaysia

Emergency ServiceContact Number
Police & Ambulance Service999
Fire Service994
From a Mobile112

Weather & Climate

Living in Malaysia will require quite the adjustment from life in the UK with the weather alone. The temperature at night rarely drops below 20 degrees C. Malaysia has a typical tropical climate with high humidity levels, high temperatures and varying levels of rainfall.

Living in Malaysia is likely to expose you to typhoons, especially between July and November, which may restrict your daily life and could even cause damage to your home if you live in a high risk area along the coast.

Health in Malaysia

If you’re planning on leaving the UK to live in Malaysia, you should visit your GP no later than 8 weeks before you’re scheduled to travel. This is to ensure you can receive any relevant medical advice that will help you and any necessary medical treatments or vaccinations that you will need.

The inhabitants of Malaysia are becoming increasingly aware of public health and are taking actions to improve it. Things like smoking in public have been made illegal and can result in up to 2 years imprisonment.

Malaysia is a high risk country for insect spread diseases, especially mosquito-borne ones, such as dengue fever and malaria. Both diseases can be extremely debilitating and dangerous, which is why the use of mosquito repellents is strongly recommended. You should visit your GP for medical advice against these and research where you’ll be living in Malaysia to see if you’ll be in a high risk region. View the Malaria Map of Malaysia

The standard of healthcare in Malaysia is high, and is constantly evolving to include the latest leading treatments in many specialist areas. Many medical establishments in Malaysia receive internationally recognised accreditation. The medical practitioners are also generally highly qualified and received international training in the latest medical techniques and treatment options.

Malaysia has both public and private health care services, both of which are inexpensive compared to western healthcare. Its major cities are popular locations for medical tourists because of the relatively cheap services and high expertise in specialist medical areas. Expats planning on living in Malaysia are encouraged to participate in the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) that allows individuals to save money for future medical services and/or retirement living costs.

A comprehensive health insurance policy is strongly advised for any British expat looking to live in Malaysia. Most British expats living in Malaysia use health insurance to gain access to private medical care. Although this is more expensive than using public medical care services, it significantly reduces waiting time and provides more in-depth service.

Driving In Malaysia

One thing that will make it easier to adjust to life in Malaysia is the fact that they drive on the left. This coupled with the world-class highways will make driving seem quite familiar to all British Expats that live in Malaysia.

Although Malaysia maintains world class highways, many expats tend to take advantage of the developed public transport systems. This could be because of the traffic congestion in city centres. Another consideration you should take into account is the tolls and parking, which are common in the major Malaysian cities. For this you should think about registering for a Touch ‘n Go Card, which will allow you to securely make payments for parking and tolls without needing to carry pockets full of coins around all day.

You will be allowed to drive on your UK drivers licence while living in Malaysia for up to three months, or up to a year if you have an international driving permit. After this, you will need to convert your UK driving licence into a local Malaysian driving licence.

Getting your Malaysian Driving Licence

Before converting your UK licence into a Malaysian one, you will need to first obtain a Certificate of Entitlement (D737). This needs to be done by contacting the DVLA on +44 1792 782341.

Once you have this, you will need to contact your local JPJ (Malaysian Road Transport Department). In order to convert your licence into a Malaysian one, you will need:

  • Your Passport (Original and Copy)
  • Your UK Driving Licence (Original and Copy)
  • A colour photograph (25mmX32mm)
  • Certificate of Entitlement from DVLA
  • The Appropriate Fee (Varies between local JPJs)

Once you have received approval from the Director General, you will need to resubmit your application along with the complete JPJL1 application form and the correct fees.

Legal Requirements

As in the UK, the minimum age to drive while living in Malaysia is 17.

You should be extra careful to avoid drink driving while living in Malaysia as any charges will be registered on your passport number. This could result in it being difficult for you to exit or enter the country.  The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.8, which is the same as in the UK.

If you are charged with drink driving, you will face a heavy fine and could face imprisonment between 3 months and a year.