Expats Guide: Work Permit Requirements in Malaysia

An Expatriate Guide to Working as a Consultant in Malaysia

Malaysia is a very popular expatriate destination for Oil and Gas consultants due to its culture, lifestyle and world-renowned national oil company, Petronas. Malaysia comes with its own set of rules and regulations that can be tricky to understand; let alone the mountains of paperwork relating to tax, banking and work permits.

Leap29 have extensive experience placing permanent employees and consultants’ in Malaysia. In our latest series, Global Operations Manager, Ben Harden and his team have come together to provide an overview of what to expect when starting a new contract.

 Work Permit Requirements in Malaysia

As an expat, before you can work in Malaysia you will be required to secure a work permit, also known as an employment pass. Any work permits need to have a local company in Malaysia to sponsor them.

Work permits generally last between six months and five years, depending on the duration of the work contract and the type of visa. Applications form are mostly in Bahasa Malaysia.

The Malaysian Government issue three different types of work permits

  • Professional Visa Pass
    A Professional Visa Pass is issued to foreigners employed by an overseas company but working with a company in Malaysia. This pass is normally appropriate for technical experts and trainees. The Professional Pass is normally valid for short periods of around six months to a year.
  • Temporary Employment Pass
    A Temporary Employment Pass is for unskilled of semi-skilled workers in the manufacturing, agriculture, construction and services fields. The length of this pass is dependents on the length of contract and car vary from three months to two years. Before the work permit can be issued, quota approval needs to be granted from the Local Centre of Approval, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Employment Pass
    An Employment Pass applies to those wanting to work in Malaysia and who have specific skills, generally in technical or managerial positions. It is issued for a minimum period of two years. Before the Employment Pass can be issued, the employment of the foreign worker must be approved by the Expatriate Committee or the relevant regulatory agency.

Documents Required for Work Permit Application

Generally, the following documents are required when applying for a work permit in Malaysia:

  • Employment Contract/Letter of Appointment
  • Original receipts of payment of application
  • Copy of employee’s passport (all pages, including cover)
  • Passport photographs on a blue background
  • Employee’s CV
  • Copy of Education Certificates and Qualifications
  • Medical report from the employee’s country of origin approved by the Malaysian Ministry of Health (dependent on industry)

If supporting documents are not in English or Malay, they may need to be attested.

Taking into account the collecting of relevant documents, the application process and liaising with the relevant government agencies in Malaysia, the process of application to approval can take between one and two months. Furthermore, if your work requires you to travel within Malaysia, you may need to apply for more than one work permit. There are four main work permit regions in Malaysia, these being Peninsular/West Malaysia (i.e. Kuala Lumpur), Labuan, Sabah and Sarawak. The four different regions have different processing times and different documentation may be required.

For more information on how Leap29 can help with your next career move, contact the team today.

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