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What You Need to Know When You’re Moving to Kuala Lumpur

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Relocating to Kuala Lumpur

Your relocation to Kuala Lumpur will take you to Malaysia’s political and economic center. Kuala Lumpur is not only the capital, but also the largest city of this dynamic Southeast Asian nation.

In 1857, Chinese tin miners established shanty towns in the area between the Klang and Gombak rivers.They called this place “muddy confluence”, “Kuala Lumpur”. These modest settlements laid the cornerstone for the city’s future, as more and more people subsequently started moving to there.

The city has come a long way since then. Moving to Kuala Lumpur means settling right in the heart of the country.Here you’ll find the Parliament of Malaysia and can even visit the official residence of the Malaysian King.

The Klang Valley and Humidity

Kuala Lumpur is located a mere 35 km from Malaysia’s west coast. Together with Selangor, the city stretches throughout the Klang Valley. Kuala Lumpur is framed by the Titiwanga Mountains in the east and the Strait of Malacca in the west.

Expats moving to Kuala Lumpur often take a while to adjust to the tropical climate in the city. Due to the combination of high temperatures and abundant rain, be prepared for high humidity all year round. This is particularly the case during Monsoon season. You may experience flooding in the city center between October and March.

Exploring Kuala Lumpur by Rail or Bus

Many expats moving to Kuala Lumpur seem to prefer exploring the city by car. However, the city also has a public transportation system, even though it is not as well connected and well developed as the networks in some other Asian cities. For people moving to Kuala Lumpur, there are three major railway networks operating throughout Kuala Lumpur:

  • The LRT (Light Rail Transit) runs on two different lines, between Putra and Kelana Jaya and between Ampang, Sri Petaling, and Sentul Timur. These lines cover up to 24 stations. Their trains operate between 06:00 and 23:10-23:40 with three-minute to five-minute intervals during peak hours.
  • The KL Monorail connects KL Sentral to Titiwangsa. The line operates between 06:00 and midnight, running every five minutes during rush hour.
  • The two lines of KTM Komuter connect Batu Caves with Port Klang and Rawang with Sungai Gadut. Its services are available from 05:00-05:45 to midnight on a daily basis. During peak hours, trains run in 15-minute intervals.

In addition, you can travel by bus. These buses connect various train stations with designated areas throughout the city. You can find an overview of the bus routes in KL on Myrapid.

Where to Go in Kuala Lumpur

Shopping and nightlife dominate many districts of Kuala Lumpur, offering visitors and expats moving to Kuala Lumpur a multitude of opportunities to experienceMalaysia’s metropolis.

  • Bukit Bintang is the city’s entertainment district and very popular among local youth, visitors, and expats moving to Kuala Lumpur.
  • KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) functions as the city’s commercial focal point and is home to the Petronas Towers, the capital’s most popular landmark.
  • In Tuanka Abdul Rahman, you will find the traditional shopping district, located north of Kuala Lumpur’s city center. This area is sometimes referred to as Little India.
  • Chee Cheong Kay (Petaling Street) a.k.a. KL’s “Chinatown” is where traces of the city’s ethnic Chinese culture, heritage, and history prevail.
  • Most foreign embassies are based in Ampang, an eastern suburb partially located in the state of Selangor, making it particularly important for expats moving to Kuala Lumpur.
  • Subang Jaya, a major suburban city, is the educational center of the Klang Valley, featuring a higher education hub and several international schools. It is therefore a popular residential district for expatriates moving to Kuala Lumpur.

Visa Requirements for Kuala Lumpur

Which Visa Type Do You Need?

There are two types of visa for expats relocating to Kuala Lumpur:

  • single-entry visa
  • multiple-entry visa

Single-entry visas are valid for up to three months. Expats traveling to Kuala Lumpur on this visa type usually come to Malaysia for a social visit or a short-term business project. Nationals of Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, the EU member states, South Korea, Turkey, the US, and various other countries do not need a visa at all. (Please contact the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission to check if this applies to you.) For a long-term move, however, a single-entry visa is not sufficient.

Instead, a multiple-entry visa, which is valid for three to twelve months, may be of better use.If you want to move to Kuala Lumpur on a multiple-entry visa, you need to prove that you have sufficient funds as well as a valid return ticket. For a stay which exceeds 12 months, you will receive a pass (i.e. a work or residence permit), depending on the purpose of your move to Kuala Lumpur.

How to Apply for Your Visa

Your reason for moving to Kuala Lumpur also determines whether you need a visa with or without reference. Visas without reference apply to social visits. However, students, foreign employees, and dependents require a visa with reference.

To apply for your visa, please submit the following paperwork to the nearest Malaysian Embassy or Consulate well in advance of moving to Kuala Lumpur:

  • original passport
  • two copies of your passport
  • two copies of the visa application form (IMM.47)
  • two passport-size photos
  • original and two copies of your plane ticket
  • payment of visa fee
  • bank statement as proof of financial independence (for visa without reference)
  • approval letter from the Department of Immigration Malaysia (for visa with reference)

Keep in mind that you only have to provide a bank statement if you apply for a visa without reference. The original approval letter from the Department of Immigration Malaysia, however, is required only if you plan on settling in Kuala Lumpur and therefore require a visa with reference.

Visiting Kuala Lumpur

Short-term and long-term visit passes are handed out to foreign visitors upon their arrival in Kuala Lumpur. They apply to different activities such as social visits, attending seminars or closing business deals. To receive a long-term social visit pass, your visit should not be shorter than six months. Foreign spouses and children of Malaysian citizens or permanent residents may receive visit passes for up to five years.

You will receive a professional visit pass if you possess special qualifications or skills and need to move to Kuala Lumpur for a work assignment of twelve months or less. You have to apply for this pass from outside the country.

Employment Passes in Kuala Lumpur

If you would like to work in Kuala Lumpur for more than a year, you have to receive approval from the Expatriate Committee and/or other regulatory government agencies for your stay. It’s probably easiest to ask your Malaysian employer’s HR department or an immigration lawyer to help you with the paperwork. Then, to apply for an employment pass, you need to submit the following documents:

  • an authority letter from your company or a letter of appointment as your company’s representative
  • completed application form (DP11) with a passport-size photograph
  • offer and acceptance letter of your employment contract (10.00 MYR stamped)
  • copies of your official passport.

You have to submit your application documents personally or by mail to the Expatriate Committee in Putrajaya. Contact the Official Immigration Department of Malaysia for more information regarding your visa and employment pass.

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

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  • Adam Malewski

    With all the great information on this site, getting settled in Kuala Lumpur was a piece of cake.

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