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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Malaysia

Malaysia - Consular Information Sheet
December 30, 1999

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Malaysia is a federal parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. Its population of approximately 22.7 million is ethnically divided into Malay (47 percent), Chinese (26 percent), Indian (7 percent), other indigenous (10 percent), and other ethnic groups (10 percent). Islam is the national religion. Bahasa Malaysia is the official language although English is widely spoken. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for at least six months is required to enter Malaysia. American citizens do not need a visa for a pleasure or business trip if their stay in Malaysia is 90 days or less. For more information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Malaysia, 2401 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone: (212) 328-2700, or the Malaysian Consulates located in New York, telephone (202) 328-2700, or Los Angeles, telephone (213) 892-1238. See also the Malaysian Government home page on the Internet at http://www.jaring.my. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Malaysian embassy or consulate.

DUAL NATIONALITY: Malaysia does not recognize dual nationality. Adult U.S. citizens who are also Malaysian citizens could experience close scrutiny by Malaysian immigration officials when entering or departing Malaysia on Malaysian passports. The United States requires all U.S. citizens to enter and depart the U.S. on U.S. passports. U.S. visas cannot be issued to dual citizen Americans. Dual nationals may be subject to Malaysian laws that impose special obligations on Malaysian citizens.

CRIME INFORMATION: Violent crime, particularly against foreigners, is not common in Malaysia. Foreigners are often the target of pickpocketing, burglaries, automobile break-ins and purse snatchings referred to as "snatch-thefts," in which the assailants on motorcycles or in cars snatch purses, cell phones, and other items from pedestrians and speed off. Pedestrians have occasionally been injured when dragged to the ground during these incidents. Pickpocketing is common in crowded public places. Credit card fraud is a prevalent and growing crime problem. Use of credit cards should be limited to major international establishments such as large hotels, and credit card numbers should be closely safeguarded at all times. Theft of items from parked vehicles occurs frequently, and items that are likely to be desirable to thieves should be removed from vehicles or placed out of sight. The loss or theft abroad of U.S. passports should be reported immediately to the local police and U.S. Embassy. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government printing office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities and services are adequate in the larger cities where Western-trained doctors can easily be found. The U.S. Embassy can also provide a list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals upon request. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services although major credit cards are acceptable.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include overage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at telephone: 1-877-FYI_TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or the Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Malaysia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Good
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Good
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

Malaysian Road Safety: Traffic patterns in Malaysia move on the left. Pedestrians are reminded to look carefully in all directions when crossing roads. Motorcyclists attempt to circumvent traffic blockage by weaving through vehicles and pedestrians. Traffic is heavy during the morning and afternoon rush-hours and slows down considerably when it rains. Bottlenecks are common sights in Kuala Lumpur. Development of the infrastructure has not kept pace with the proliferation of motorized vehicles. Multi-laned highways often merge into narrow two-lane roads in the center of town and cause added congestion. Many streets are narrow and winding. Towns are often filled beyond capacity. Taxis are metered but some drivers charge a rate much higher than the metered rate during peak hours, when it is raining, or when the passenger’s destination is to or through a heavily congested area.

A well-maintained, heavily congested, divided highway with two separate lanes runs through Malaysia from Singapore to the Thai border. Malaysia’s west coast also has well-developed paved roads between major cities. These two-lane highways are usually congested. Serious accidents can occur from collisions and from drivers who lose control of their vehicles when driving too fast in hilly regions.

For specific information concerning Malaysian driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Malaysian National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet at http://www.visitmalaysia.com/ or the Malaysian Government home page via the Internet at http://www.jaring.my.

AVIATION OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Malaysia’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation telephone number within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at telephone number (618) 256-480l.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Malaysia’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Malaysia of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, medications, business equipment, currency, ivory, and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Malaysia in Washington or one of Malaysia’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212)354-4480; send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. The Malaysian criminal code includes a provision for a sentence of caning for certain white collar crimes, including criminal misappropriation, criminal breach of trust and cheating.

DRUG PENALTIES: Malaysia strictly enforces its drug laws. Malaysian legislation provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers. Individuals arrested in possession of 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin or 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana are presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.

CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov and look for International Child Adoption and International Parental Child Abduction. The Office of Children’s Issues telephone number is (202) 736-7000 and the fax number is (202) 647-3825.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Malaysia are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country. The U.S. Embassy is located at 376 Jalan Tun Razak 50400, Kuala Lumpur. The mailing address is P.O. Box No. 10035, 50700 Kuala Lumpur; Telephone (60-3)2168-5000. The fax number for the U.S. Embassy is (60-3)242-2207; the fax number for the Consular Section is (60-3)248-5801. Internet home page: http://usembassymalaysia.org.my/; e-mail address: klconsular@state.gov.

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