Foreigners jetting into Malaysia now need to complete an extra step prior to travel, with the once-optional Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) now mandatory for passport holders of most countries, including Australians.
To be completed within three days of travel for every visit to Malaysia, the online MDAC form requires personal details and duration of stay, in addition to your accommodation.
It’s a similar process to other destinations including Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand, and is expected to significantly reduce waiting times at immigration.
The move to a mandatory MDAC officially came into play in early December 2023, albeit with a one month grace period – which ended on January 1, 2024 – to allow travellers to get up to speed with the new requirements.
While the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card collects the same basic information as its counterparts from around the world, we should note the mechanism for entering your date of birth and the date of your passport expiry is bewilderingly unique, rather than adopting a more common set of controls or even allowing travellers to type in the date themselves.
And the controls chosen by the MDAC developer team make for an incredibly long and confusing process of clicking to go all the way back to your date of birth, or into the future to when your passport expires.
So here’s a hint: click the DD/MM/YYYY field to show a drop-down calendar of the current month, then again click the same field – which will now be titled something like December 2023 – to show all months in that year.
Click the same field a third time and you’ll see the drop-down calendar view change to show all years in that decade, at which point you can use the left-arrow and right-arrow buttons to navigate into a specific year, and then click to select the month and date.
Also, the MDAC can only be completed inside of three days of your arrival into Malaysia: for example, if your flight touches down on January 30, you’ll only be able to complete and submit the digital arrival card on January 28, 29 or 30.
Holders of Singapore passports are not required to complete the digital declaration; others on the exemption list include any diplomatic and official passports, Malaysian permanent residents and long-term pass holders, as well as frequent and border pass holders from Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei.
Using Malaysia’s automated e-gates
In addition, a further three ‘low risk’ counties have been approved to use automated e-gates at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) main terminal as well as the KLIA2 hub favoured by low-cost airlines such as AirAsia, Jetstar Asia and Scoot, provided they fulfil the requirements of the country’s Social Visit Pass – an entry permit for stays up to 90 days for purposes such as business and tourism.
Arrivals from Germany, Japan and Korea are now on the list alongside Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the United States, United Kingdom, Brunei and Saudi Arabia, which have all used the e-gates since March 2023.
However, in order to use the e-gates, travellers must verify their passport at staffed immigration counters on their first arrival to have their fingerprints scanned.
Kuala Lumpur is the main entry point for most Australians flying into Malaysia, with Malaysia Airlines offering direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, while the Oneworld member says a return to Brisbane is on the cards.
Malaysia Airlines also plans to upgrade most Australian routes to its new A330neo jets, 20 of which will arrive across 2024-2026 to replace the A330s.
The A330neo fleet will also introduce a new international business class seat: the Elevation model from manufacturer Collins Aerospace, also seen in British Airways’ latest Club Suite business class and for Etihad Airways’ A350 Business Studio suite.