Singaporeans exempt from Malaysia digital arrival card that applies to foreigners from Jan 1

The exemption for Singaporeans applies at all entry points, and not just at the southern entry points in Johor. - ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SEPANG, Malaysia: Singaporeans travelling to Malaysia will not be required to fill up the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC), which will be compulsory from Jan 1 for foreign travellers.

“All Singaporean citizens will be exempted (from filling up the digital card),” Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Dec 5.

Explaining the move, he said that some Singaporeans enter Malaysia on an almost daily basis, and therefore “it is more realistic for us to exempt them”.

Other travellers exempted include diplomatic passport holders, Malaysian permanent residents, Brunei General Certificate of Identity holders, and Thailand Border Pass holders.

Filling up the card is voluntary for now, but incoming travellers are encouraged to do so.

The formal implementation of the MDAC was initially scheduled to start on Dec 8, but foreign travellers have now been given a grace period of almost one month.

Malaysia’s two border crossings with Singapore are among the busiest in the world, with some 135 million transits via the crossing each year, a figure that is expected to increase to 150 million in 2026, said Saifuddin.

The exemption for Singaporeans applies at all entry points, and not just at the southern entry points in Johor, he added.

On social media and chat groups, many travellers reported mixed messages from Malaysian immigration officers about the MDAC.

There was confusion over whether those driving into Malaysia from Singapore via the two land checkpoints across the Straits of Johor will be required to fill up the MDAC.

“I was advised by JB customs to fill up the MDAC. He (an immigration officer) said Dec 7 is compulsory to do so even if you are driving in,” said a driver on a Telegram chat group.

“And he advised not to do it last minute, just in case their system could not capture the data immediately.”

Another person said his friend was “forced” by an immigration officer at the Causeway to fill up the form, causing a long queue for 10 minutes as a result.

“I understand not every officer is imposing it yet, but to be safe and to avoid any possible risks of causing delays, please do so before going into Johor,” said the unnamed person.

Some drivers said they had been able to enter Malaysia without filling up the MDAC.

One person on a Telegram group said he went into Malaysia via Tuas and Woodlands on two occasions, and no one asked for the MDAC either time. Another person on a separate Telegram group said he experienced the same thing.

Still, Madam Lim, a saleswoman, told Singapore’s Chinese language newspaper Shin Min Daily News before Mr Saifuddin announced the exemption: “The process is not difficult, and the current ringgit exchange rate is still very attractive to Singaporeans. Just this alone offsets spending one or two minutes to fill in the immigration card.”

Malaysia is expecting to receive 7.8 million visits by Singaporean tourists this year, according to the Tourism, Arts & Culture Ministry (Motac).

Singapore is currently the highest contributor to tourist arrivals in Malaysia, with 4,537,550 tourist arrivals recorded up to July this year.

The MDAC card should be completed within three days before arrival in Malaysia. Travellers will have to fill up personal particulars, including their name, nationality and passport details, as well as arrival and departure dates, on the MDAC website.

They will then have to show their passports and the completed MDAC to the immigration officer on duty upon arrival.

“Just like how Malaysians who want to go to neighbouring Singapore – we have to fill up (a form) two to three days before – now we are implementing the same for travellers to Malaysia, and we are allowing a grace period until Dec 31,” said Saifuddin.

The minister said the move to introduce the digital card was to ensure security.

“The information on the card will give us important information as to the travellers’ whereabouts. This is an important step for us to keep track of their whereabouts. This is nothing new. Other countries are also implementing this,” he said.

Saifuddin said that on Dec 4 the MDAC would ensure that the government can keep track of tourists in the country.

This comes after Malaysia allowed citizens of China and India 30-day visa-free entry to the country from Dec 1, as part of efforts to boost tourism and the economy.

“The security aspects of the country will not be compromised. The MDAC will be enforced to keep track of the tourists,” he said.

Saifuddin also said 14 new passport control counters have been set up at KLIA from Dec 1, bringing the total number of counters to 60, in order to ease the arrival process. - The Straits Times/ANN

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