How to apply for Permanent Residency in Malaysia (PR)

Yumiko Kijima

If you’re a long term expat resident of Malaysia, you may be considering taking the next step, and applying to become a Malaysian Permanent Resident (PR).

This guide walks through the key considerations you’ll need to think about, including:

  • Benefits of becoming a Permanent Resident of Malaysia
  • Malaysian Permanent Resident requirements
  • Documents needed to become PR in Malaysia
  • How to apply for PR in Malaysia

We’ll also run through a smart way to manage your money as an expat living in Malaysia, by using Wise. Wise offers cheap and secure international transfers at a much lower cost than many regular banks and alternative providers, allowing you to spend less on fees.


Wise - fast and secure low cost international payments

Before we dive into the details of obtaining Permanent Residence in Malaysia, let’s look at a quick cost example to illustrate how Wise can help you save.

Imagine you’re sending MYR 10,000 from Malaysia to a $ bank account in USA¹

Provider Fee Exchange rate(1 MYR→USD) Recipient gets
Wise 57.25 MYR Real exchange rate (0.236379) 2,350.26 USD Send money
Maybank 10.00 MYR Exchange rate with a markup (0.232342) 2,321.10 USD
Public Bank 32.00 MYR Exchange rate with a markup (0.232666) 2,319.21 USD
PayPal 21.99 MYR Exchange rate with a markup (0.227034) 2,265.35 USD

(August 3 2020 at 11:11 (GMT+3))

In each of these examples, you’re sending the same amount - MYR10,000. However, when you use Wise, your recipient ends up with more in dollars in the end. That’s because Wise uses the real mid-market exchange rate with no markup, and charges a transparent fee. Other providers often include some of their costs in the exchange rate they use, which can push up the overall costs for the sender - and mean the recipient gets less in the end.

Here’s how it works:

  • Maybank
    Amount converted: 10,000MYR - 10.00 MYR = 9,990 MYR
    Exchange rate offered: 1 MYR = 0.232342 USD
    Recipient gets: 9,990 * 0.232342 = 2,321.10 USD

  • Wise
    Amount converted: 10,000MYR - 57.25 MYR = 9,942.75MYR
    Exchange rate offered: 1 MYR = 0.236379 USD
    Recipient gets: 9,942.75 * 0.236379 = 2,350.26 USD

This is a great illustration of the importance of checking exchange rates when you send money overseas. If you only look at the transfer fees you might miss an exchange rate markup, and end up paying more for your international transfer. Choose a provider which uses the mid-market exchange rate, like Wise, to cut your costs.


Who is Permanent Resident (PR) in Malaysia?

Malaysian Permanent Residents are foreigners who have the right to live indefinitely in Malaysia. That means no more applying for visas, and a range of benefits which aren’t available to expats on short term permits and passes.

Being a Malsyian PR is not the same as being a Malaysian citizen, however. You’ll still retain your original citizenship, and there are some limitations on the activities you can undertake while in Malaysia. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a Malaysian PR.

Benefits and limitations of Malaysian Permanent Resident(PR)


  • Malaysian PRs are entitled to remain in the country indefinitely
  • As a PR you can be employed or own a business without further visas or permits
  • You can access public healthcare and education services
  • PRs are taxed in line with local people and pay into the EPF (Malaysian pension system)
  • Greater access to homes for purchasing, as well as a bigger range of mortgages and banking services


  • Malaysian PRs may not take part in any political activities or vote in Malaysia
  • If your personal circumstance - or Malaysian laws - change, your PR could be cancelled
  • You’ll still be subject to some limits as a foreigner, including some restrictions on the property you can buy

Malaysian Permanent Resident (PR) requirements

There are several ways to become a Permanent Resident of Malaysia - but they all require you to fulfil a range of eligibility criteria and have your application reviewed and assessed.

One important point to note up front is that you must have lived in Malaysia for 5 years to be eligible under any of the PR application routes.

Once you have fulfilled that requirement, you can then choose one of the following application routes:

  • Investor or expert
  • Professional
  • Spouse or child of a Malaysian citizen
  • Points based system

Here’s an outline of the requirements for each route.²


To qualify for Malaysian PR as an investor you must deposit the equivalent of at least USD 2 million in a fixed deposit account in Malaysia. You can’t access this money for at least 5 years. You’ll also need a Malaysian sponsor to get PR on this route.


You may qualify as an expert if you’re considered a world class expert by any International organization. You’ll also need to be approved by the relevant Malaysian agency, have a Certificate of Good Conduct in your home country, and have a local sponsor.


If you don’t hit the benchmark for Expert, you may still be able to apply for Malaysian permanent residency as a professional. In this case you need to have outstanding skills in your field, and have worked in Malaysia for a relevant company or government agency for 3 years already. Again you must be approved by the relevant Malaysian agency, have a Certificate of Good Conduct in your home country, and have a local sponsor.

Here’s a list of government agencies which can approve PR applications for experts and professionals.

  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of International Trade and Industries (MITI)
  • Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Base Industry
  • Ministry of Transport
  • Ministry of Higher Learning
  • Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
  • Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture
  • Ministry of Youth and Sports
  • Malaysian Sports Council
  • Central Bank
  • Security Commission

Spouse or child of a Malaysian citizen

If you’re married to a Malaysian citizen, you can also apply for Malaysian permanent residency. And a Malaysian citizen’s child below age of 6 is also eligible.

Points system

The final route to Malaysian PR status is through the points based system. Under this route, you’ll need to score at least 65 points on the government’s calculator which looks at these factors:

  1. Age
  2. Educational and professional qualifications
  3. How long you’ve lived in Malaysia
  4. Familiarity with the Malaysia Institute
  5. Values of investments in Malaysia
  6. Work experience in Malaysia
  7. Proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia

Contact the immigration department directly for more information to see if you’re eligible to apply via the Points Based route for Malaysia PR.

A cheap and transparent alternative: Wise

If you’re an expat who has chosen Malaysia as your home, you’ll likely find you need to make international payments from time to time. Here’s how to cut the costs - and save time and hassle - when sending money overseas.

With Wise, you can send money to 70+ countries with low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate. Compared to Malaysian banks, it can be up to 4 x cheaper to send money abroad with Wise. Most likely much faster as well.


Moreover, you can receive money to a Wise multi-currency account from the UK, U.S., Australia, New Zealand and any Eurozone country, just as if you had a local bank account in those countries. Hold your money in 50+ different currencies, and switch it using the mid-market rate whenever you want to.

To send money with Wise,

  1. Create a free account
  2. Choose an amount to send
  3. Add recipient’s bank details
  4. Verify your identity
  5. Pay for your transfer by bank transfer or debit/credit card

And that is it! You can track your transfer in your account and your recipient will also be notified when a transfer reaches them.

Join 11 million customers and enjoy a cheaper, faster and transparent way to send money abroad with the fair mid-market exchange rate.

Send money abroad
up to 7x cheaper than banks🚀

How to apply to become Permanent Resident (PR) in Malaysia

The process followed when applying for your Malaysian Permanent Resident status will depend on which route you are eligible under. However, there are some basic steps which all applicants will need to go through.

Necessary documents

Contact the Immigration Department to see the exact documents needed for your application route. You can expect to be asked for a suite of paperwork including:³

  • Valid passport
  • Letter of approval from the relevant agencies
  • Personalised cover letter
  • 2 copies of Form IMM.12
  • Form IMM.38 if relevant to your application
  • Marriage certificate or birth certificate if applying as a spouse or dependant
  • 2 passport-size photographs

Here are the basic steps to follow:²

  1. Check your eligibility for PR status. If in doubt, contact the Immigration Department
  2. Gather all the paperwork and approvals required for your application route
  3. Apply by submitting your documents at the Immigration Authority of Malaysia
  4. Attend an immigration interview and undergo police vetting
  5. Your application will be reviewed and a decision made

Other options to consider than Permanent Resident (PR) in Malaysia

Permanent Residency is not the right route for everyone. If you don’t qualify for PR there are other options available to you to enter and reside in Malaysia. Here are a few to consider:

  • MM2H programme which offers a 10 year pass to people who have a home in Malaysia⁴
  • Employment Pass
  • Residence Pass-Talent
  • Professional Visit Pass
  • Dependant Pass
  • Long-Term Social Visit Pass

Each of these pass and visa types has different eligibility criteria attached, and will require a different application process.

Contact Immigration Department of Malaysia

Living as an expat brings many great opportunities - but also costs. Don’t forget to use a specialist such as Wise to arrange your international money transfers so you can save money, and have more to spend on enjoying life.

Send money with the "real" exchange rate🚀

Wise for sending money

  1. Wise | Compare exchange rates (August 3 2020 at 11:11 (GMT+3))
  2. Immigration Department of Malaysia | Entry Permit
  3. Immigration Department of Malaysia | Expatriate and Dependant's Permanent Residency Status
  4. Official Portal Malaysia My Second Home

Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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