MALAYSIA PROCEDURES & VISAS
Ships’ documents and valid passports for all crew members must be carried to gain entry into Malaysia. Most international visitors will be granted a tourist visa on entry. This is valid for 60 days and extendable by up to three months.
Yachts entering Malaysian waters on the Malacca Straits side should proceed to the nearest port of entry.
From Singapore north these are Puteri (pronounced Poo-tree) Harbour – 5 miles past the Tuas 2nd Link bridge in the west Johor Strait – Malacca, Port Dickson, Port Klang, Lumut, Penang and Langkawi.
Yachts entering east side of Peninsular Malaysia through the South China Sea from Singapore can clear into Malaysia close by at two international ferry terminals with Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities.
These are located in the East Johor Strait, seven miles from Changi Village at Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal – in the mangrove channel north of Pulau Tekong – and at Pengileh Ferry Terminal Pengarang east of Pulau Tekong just south of the Malaysian Navy base.
Opportunities to check in much further up the South China Sea coast are located at Tioman Island, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu.
Yachts making passage past ports on either coast are unlikely to be challenged as long as ships papers are in order and they are heading for Thailand or another local port of entry. Visiting yachts should always report to Marine Harbourmaster, Immigration, and Customs in that order.
On leaving the port, this process needs to be repeated and a port clearance document for the vessel and crew obtained even if you are heading for another destination in Malaysia. Most officers will facilitate both on the same day if required.
Since the new government came into power in 2018 there have been occasional ‘sticky’ new policy interpretations of old and new pleasure yacht marine transit laws. Some on-line forums have complained of recent clearing in and out procedural headaches for visiting yachts.
For instance, in Langkawi Marine Department officers insist that an agent must facilitate all ‘Motor Boats’ over 24 metres, including some smaller sailing catamarans. Malaysian Marine Department is currently undergoing sweeping changes in personnel and procedures, including those for foreign yachts and crews.
We’ve been assured that the changes (when fully implemented) are designed to assist free passage and support foreign yachts cruising or parked within Malaysian territories without compromising the safety and security of the nation’s sovereign waters. At the time of writing foreign yachts can still be left periodically in Malaysian marinas and the formalities involved for vessels and crew are relatively simple compared with other countries in the region.