- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Natural Disasters and Climate
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation:
Avoid non-essential travel until further notice:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.
If you are currently travelling outside of Ireland:
Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate. For this reason, where commercial flights are still an option, we recommend that people who wish to do so make arrangements to return to Ireland as soon as possible.
We are working with airlines to show maximum flexibility to those passengers who need to change their existing flight arrangements. Where commercial flights are no longer available, we are working side-by-side with our international partners to identify alternative options where possible.
It may not be feasible or possible for everyone who wants to travel back to Ireland to do so in the short term. We ask Irish citizens remaining abroad to make decisions that safeguard their health and well-being and that they follow local public health and safety requirements. We ask that they remain in close contact with family, friends and their local Irish Embassy or Consulate.
We know that this is a stressful situation for citizens and our embassy network is working around the clock to provide people with all the information and assistance that we can, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under our control.
What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:
The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. Check the Irish Health Service COVID-19 Advice Page for full information on these requirements. This includes Irish residents. Exemptions are in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff.
Where to go for more information:
We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and especially their Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Avoid non-essential travel.
We advise against non-essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.
Latest Travel Alert
In order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Malaysia announced the introduction of a Movement Control Order from 18-31 March. On 25 March, the Prime Minister announced that the Order will remain in effect until 14 April 2020.
As part of this Order, Malaysia is prohibiting the entry of foreign visitors and tourists.
Foreign nationals are permitted to depart the country during this period. However, flight options have now becoming increasingly limited. We urge anyone who wishes to return to Ireland to make arrangements to do so as soon as possible. Flight restrictions and route cancellations are now happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate in the coming weeks. Additional travel restrictions apply with regard to travel to the East Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak, which have local autonomy over immigration at points of entry. Anyone entering Sabah directly from overseas, either via land, air or sea, will now automatically be sent to quarantine centres for 14 days. It is understood that foreign nationals may not currently travel between East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) and West Malaysia except to transit directly onto an international flight. You should carefully confirm any transit arrangements for connecting flights with your airline, ensuring that your luggage is checked all the way through to your final destination, and checking that you do not have to present at Malaysian Immigration. Transit between terminals KLIA and KLIA2 will not be possible during this period.
The Movement Control Order introduced by the Malaysian government prohibits mass movement within Malaysia and gatherings, including for religious, sports, social and cultural purposes. All business premises and houses of worship are closed, except for supermarkets, grocery stores and certain specified essential services e.g. banks, pharmacies and hospitals. Schools and education institutions are closed. Citizens should follow the advice of the local authorities. Further details of the order may be found on the PMO website. You can also contact the hotline of the National Operations Management Centre on +60 388882010.
A number of cases of the Novel Coronavirus have been reported in the region.
There is an ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China. Cases have been reported in other countries, including Malaysia.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Please be wary of these symptoms and seek immediate medical attention should such symptoms occur.
International travellers: practice usual precautions
You can reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while travelling by:
• avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
• frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;
• avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals;
• travellers with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Malaysia.
Additional information on the Coronavirus can be found via the following links:
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
- Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
Political unrest, risk of kidnapping
There is a threat of kidnapping on the eastern coast of Sabah, particularly on the islands close to the Sulu Archipeligo of the Philippines.
We advise against all but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.
Exercise great caution in areas on the eastern coast of Sabah including in the town of Sandakan and along the coast to Tawau, as well as the areas east of Lahad Datu and around Semporna. Keep up to date with developments and follow the advice of your tour operator and the local authorities.
Irish citizens visiting eastern Sabah should exercise extreme caution. In some areas (see above) we advise against all but essential travel. You should ensure that you take appropriate personal security measures, and follow the advice of authorities and tour operators. Despite the increased police and army presence, the size and remoteness of the region means that future security incidents cannot be ruled out.
Tensions between the Malaysian Government and opposition have occasionally led to demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere. We advise you to avoid all demonstrations and follow developments in local media.
Terrorists may be planning attacks in and around Kuala Lumpur. Attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners. You should be vigilant at this time.
Crime remains relatively low in Malaysia but bag snatching by thieves on motorbike is becoming a regular occurrence in the central tourist areas of Kuala Lumpur. You should be vigilant and take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime.
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
- There have been a number of reports of scams involving gambling and the spiking of drinks, which has led to robbery and assault.
- Credit card fraud and ATM scams are commonplace in the region, so be vigilant when making payments and also when using ATM machines to withdraw cash.
- As in other countries, avoid opening your hotel room door to strangers – especially if you’re a woman travelling alone.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Malaysia, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy if you need help.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.
Malaysia is a multicultural but mainly Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don't offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.
You should also dress moderately, particularly in conservative and rural places and when visiting places of worship.
Importing unlicensed firearms and ammunition into Malaysia is prohibited and can carry the death penalty.
Homosexual acts are illegal.
There are severe penalties for all drug offences; this includes amphetamine-type stimulants. Trafficking incurs a mandatory death penalty. Possession incurs a custodial sentence and possible whipping.
The Malaysian authorities may require you to take a urine test on arrival if you are suspected of having used illegal drugs before your visit.
The rules of the road in Malaysia are broadly similar to those in Ireland, and roads are modern and well maintained.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence and those over the legal limit could receive a jail sentence and/or a heavy fine. Breath testing is common in Malaysia
- Take care as motorcyclists don’t always stop at pedestrian crossings or at traffic lights. If you’re driving, make sure that motorcyclists are not overtaking on the inside when you’re making a left turn.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural Disasters and Climate
Natural disasters and climate
The Northeast Monsoon from November to March brings heavy rainfall, particularly to the east coast states of peninsular Malaysia and western Sarawak. This occasionally leads to heavy and dangerous flooding.
Air quality in Malaysia is compromised seasonally on account of smoke haze. This improves with the onset of the monsoon season. At present, air pollution is worse than usual for this time of year in a number of states due to land and forest fires and the persistent hot, dry weather. You should monitor the information on air quality on the Malaysian Department of the Environment website and follow health advisories.
There was a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Sabah early on 5 June 2015. This affected Mount Kinabalu. Please see the Sabah tourism website for more information and continue to monitor local media for updates.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
In general, Irish tourists visiting Malaysia for less than 3 months do not require a visa. Malaysian immigration requires international visitors (with the exception of children under 12) to provide fingerprints before entering Malaysia. For full entry requirements for Malaysia, please contact the nearest Malaysian Embassy or Consulate.
We advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
Malaysia has an extensive network of public and private hospitals. However, you should get medical advice on vaccinations and other preventative measures against various tropical diseases as well as TB and Hepatitis A and B before you travel to Malaysia.
A H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu)
There have been over a thousand reported cases of influenza A H1N1 virus (swine flu) in Malaysia and several deaths. Make sure you follow developments through the media, the World Health Organisation website and the Malaysian Ministry of Health website.
Dengue fever is present in all states in Malaysia and you should take precautions to avoid mosquitoes bites by using insect repellent and covering up, particularly when in jungle areas or near stagnant water. There has been a considerable increase in the number of dengue cases this year, including in Kuala Lumpur.
In the event of a genuine emergency involving an Irish citizen, call the Embassy of Ireland in Kuala Lumpur at + 60 3 2067 8200 and leave a detailed message including a contact number at which you can be reached. This mailbox is monitored regularly. Note that this service is strictly for emergencies. Queries or requests that can wait until normal office hours cannot be taken out of hours.
Embassy of Ireland
The Amp Walk
218 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Monday – Thursday: 9.30- 12.30 and 14.30 – 15.30; Friday: 9.30 – 12.30
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.