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Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H)

Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) is a long-term visa program offered by three different authorities in Malaysia, primarily to high income expats and retirees. It allows for a stay of up to five years (renewable for another five years), comes with numerous benefits including the right to work, albeit with restrictions. In this article, I review the visa program, explain how to apply and provide alternatives.

The visa program

In a bid to attract wealthy expats and retirees, Malaysia has created a visa program which allows for an uninterrupted stay of up to five years (renewable for another five years, if all initial conditions are still met at the time of the renewal).

Three different visas are issued within the program, the federal MM2H visa, the Sarawak MM2H visa and the Sabah MM2H visa. Sarawak and Sabah are the two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. They have their own immigration systems, and thus the ability to issue visas.

The requirements and conditions of each visa differ, but they all allow the holder to live anywhere in Malaysia.

Qualifying used to be very easy but has become more challenging / expensive since the 2021 update. You now need to be at least 35 years old to apply and must meet the requirements listed below (in the Application section). Another negative change was the introduction of a requirement to spend at least 90 days every year in the country (30 for the Sarawak and Sabah visas, in the issuing state), and an increase to the minimum term deposit amounts. Do note that spending 90 days every year in Malaysia, long-term, will make you a Malaysian tax resident under the 90 days qualifying route (90 days per year, 3 out of every four years).

Worst of all, the government fees for the federal visa were significantly increased, across the board (there is now a 5000 MYR application fee for the primary applicant + 2500 for each dependents, a 500 MYR annual fee for the pass renewal etc).

Working locally is allowed but only if you are over 50 years of age and even then, there are severe restrictions on the nature of the work that can be carried out. Working outside of Malaysia is obviously allowed without restrictions.

Malaysia is a territorial taxation country and this means that in most cases, foreign-sourced income will be exempt from local taxation even if remitted. To be clear, foreign-sourced income refers to income generated outside of Malaysia, not income received from outside of Malaysia. If you work from Malaysia, your income will likely qualify as local even if your clients and business are based overseas. I have written a guide that covers how income source determination works, you can read it here. I have also written a guide covering tax residency in Malaysia in details, you can read it here.


There are two routes that can be used to qualify under the federal MM2H program, one for those over 50 years of age (easier) and one for those between 35 and 50 (harder).

For those over 50 years of age, they are as follow:

1. Liquid assets of over 1500000 MYR.
2. Minimum monthly income of at least 40000 MYR.

For those between 35 and 50, they are as follow:

1. Liquid assets of over 1500000 MYR.
2. Minimum monthly income of at least 40000 MYR.
3. Stable employment income.

If you do qualify, your first step will be to prepare all necessary documents. A complete, up-to-date list, can be found on the Malaysian government site here.

Once you have all the necessary documents, you can choose to either apply by yourself or hire the help of an immigration agent. The process is fairly straightforward and as such, I recommend going through it on your own.

Once your application has been approved, you will receive a letter that will allow you to travel to Malaysia and enter the country as a resident. Upon your arrival, you will be asked to open a term deposit with a Malaysian bank of at least 1000000 MYR. It is entirely possible to open the deposit with an international bank if it has a presence in Malaysia (HSBC, OCBC etc). A portion of this amount can be withdrawn from the fixed deposit to cover approved living expenses. This includes housing, education, medical expenses etc. You will also need to undergo a medical exam and purchase medical insurance. Once those steps have been completed, you will receive a resident permit.

The requirements and procedures for the Sarawak visa and Sabah visa are fairly similar although the amounts required are much lower. You can review the Sarawak visa requirements here. The Sabah visa was recently announced (2024), the requirements will be added here once confirmed.


Alternatives exist for those who wish to live in Malaysia but do not qualify for MM2H. My favourite one is the remote work visa. In short, you qualify by showing proof that you will earn at least 2000 USD per month while in Malaysia, from a source located outside of the country, in an approved industry. Unlike MM2H, the remote work visa allows for unlimited work hours, is far cheaper and does not require any investments.

Neighbouring Thailand offers a visa similar to MM2H, the Thailand Elite visa. Thailand does not offer the same tax benefits but it can be still an interesting option for those who prefer to live there. Qualifying is also very easy and only requires paying the Elite membership fee.

The Philippines allows for long stays (up to three years) as a tourist, without the need to apply for a visa. This is thanks to one of the world’s most generous visa extension policies. An ID card is issued after a few months in the country (which can be used to open bank accounts etc) and the stay conditions are similar to that of MM2H and Thailand Elite.

There are other long stay options in the region but none of them are interesting, in my opinion, due to the tax systems of the countries issuing them.


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