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Malaysia - Citizenship

It is not especially easy to become a Malaysian citizen and it is by no means a speedy process, but it is possible for British and American expats to become Malaysian citizens if you really want to. If a foreign national wishes to become a Malaysian citizen, he or she must undertake either a registration or a naturalization process.


In cases of registration, the person must be legally entitled to a citizenship, but has not yet been registered. For example, the individual is the son or daughter of a person born in Malaysia. This is a straight forward process as you are quite clearly either eligible or not. If one of your parents is Malaysian by birth, or you yourself were born in Malaysia, then you will be eligible to register as a Malaysian citizen.


If you and both of your parents were born outside of Malaysia then you will only be able to gain Malaysian citizenship via the naturalization process. Malaysia does not allow an individual to have a dual citizenship, so if you wish to become a Malaysian citizen then you must denounce your former nationality.

Before applying for naturalization, you must have been living in Malaysia for 10 of the previous 12 years. You must have lived in Malaysia for the 12 months immediately preceding the application. You must also have an adequate knowledge of the Malay language. ‘Adequate’ is the term laid out in the constitution, but there is a level of disagreement as to what this actually means. The naturalization tests for knowledge of the language tend to be fairly subjective, and a written knowledge of the language is not always assessed.

For accurate and up to date information about the registration and naturalization processes, contact the National Registration Department of Malaysia.

National Registration Department of Malaysia
Ministry of Home Affairs
Tel: +60 3 8000 8000
Email: pro@jpn.gov.my

Permanent Residency

If you want to make a further commitment to Malaysia, but do not want to give up your citizenship elsewhere, you could apply for permanent residency.

- High net worth individuals: People who have a minimum of US$ 2 million Fixed Deposit in a Malaysian bank. This sum needs to remain in the Malaysian bank account for at least five years. This individual, along with their spouse and children, will be eligible to apply for permanent resident status after they have been living in Malaysia for at least 5 years. Applications should be submitted to the Immigration Department.
- Highly talented and highly skilled individuals: These are people whose skills are considered "world class" by any international organisation and who are personally recommended by an organisation.
- Professionals: These are individuals who are considered to have outstanding skills in their chosen field.
- Spouse of a Malaysian Citizen: Any person married to a Malaysian citizen may apply for permanent residency after they have been married for at least five years.

For more accurate and up to date information about obtaining permanent residency in Malaysia, visit the Immigration Department’s website by following this link:


Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.