Malaysia: Border Crossing and Documentation

This post is about the government documentation we needed and obtained to bring our car and ourselves into Malaysia.

Malaysia in General

Our car arrived by container ship into Port Klang near KL. The import process was extremely easy and we were assisted by Rani from Ipsen Logistics. The entire process from the ship arriving at the port to us driving Sterlin out of the gate was less than 36 hours. We watched as the seals on the container were broken and the car unlashed from the container. It seems that the battery was not even disconnected and therefore did not need to be reconnected. As far as we can tell no customs officer was involved in the unpacking process.

Malaysia accepts the Carnet de Passage as a means to temporarily import a vehicle. And our shipping agent took care of the customs clearance process for us. Our shipping agent was not willing to assist with insurance and other car documentation to drive of Malaysian roads. So we were on our own here.

Based on our research from forums on the Internet, it seems the only issue with importing a car into Malaysia is related to obtaining third party car insurance which is valid in Malaysia. Maybe we were lucky, but we managed to get our International Circulation Permit (ICP) and Third Party Insurance in about 90 minutes (during which time we also had time to pop out for a coffee).

Discharge from Port

We did not have to complete any documentation at the Port, except to obtain a visitors pass to access the free-port area. At the Port our container was unsealed and Sterlin was unlashed and unloaded by the shipping agents. There was slight problem with the stamps in our Carnet, two problems actually. Firstly, although the car is being imported, Customs had mistakenly stamped the export voucher and not import voucher. Further, the unstamped import voucher had not been removed from the carnet. There was not much i could do to fix this. Secondly, Customs had not stamped the top slip, or the voucher retained in carnet as our record of import. There was a brief discussion where I insisted that the top slip of the carnet be stamped. So the carnet disappeared for 10 minutes and turned up with a stamp, but not entirely sure who stamped it, or if the stamp is even valid as no customs officials seemed to be anywhere around. All a bit too informal really.

Breaking of the container seal.
Rani from Ipsen Logisitcs who arranged import.
Rani from Ipsen Logisitcs who arranged import.
The only official I ever saw. But I think he was just checking our visitors permit.
The only official I ever saw. But I think he was just checking our visitors permit.

Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM)

After picking up our car from the Port, we headed straight for the head offices of the Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) which are about 15 kms away. We had a little trouble actually finding the business park and the exact offices, but various locals helped us out with directions. Google Maps incorrectly indicated the location of the offices and had them about a 1km away from where they really are. So, the AAM can be found at 3° 5’31.13″N, 101°32’36.85″E if anyone needs to find them. The address is 225, Block 4, No.7, Persiaran Sukan, Laman Seri Business Park, Section 13, 40100 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

Clearly the AAM know all about how to issue the ICP and arrange Third Party Insurance. The process was extremely simple. We handed over originals for the following:-

  • Carnet de Passage
  • Passport
  • Foreign Registration
  • Certificate of Title (Ownership papers) (*)
  • International Driving Permit

A few minutes later the originals were returned. The AAM did the rest. We did not even have to fill out any forms or provide any details for the insurance, like car valuation, engine size etc. When everything was done they rang us and we returned from coffee to pickup up the permit and of course to pay. The cost for the ICP and Third Party Insurance was RM 150.00 (about USD$50) and RM 398.94 (about USD$125) respectively. We paid using a Visa card.

The ICP was issued for 3 months, which is long enough for our intended stay in Malaysia. The Third Party Insurance was issued for 12 months. 12 months is the minimum they can issue insurance for. Apparently we can cancel the insurance once we leave the country and get a partial refund. Although it was a little unclear how this might actually happen. Realistically, for USD$125, I don’t think we will even bother. The Third Party Insurance was issued by AIG Malaysia Insurance Berhad with the AAM acting as broker or agent.

As far as I can tell the ICP is like road tax. The ICP is affixed to the inside of the windscreen so that it is visible. I asked about other regulatory requirements, like signage for left hand drive vehicles or carrying fire extinguishers, but it seems that there aren’t any.

ICP and Third Party Insurance
ICP and Third Party Insurance

(*) I do not think the Ownership Papers are actually required. It is just that the AAM asked who owned the car and I responded by providing the Ownership Papers. So they took a copy.

Exit from Malaysia

We crossed out of Malaysia into Thailand at the Bukit Kayu Hitam border post. The exit process was pretty straight forward. We joined a line of vehicles and drove through immigration officially exiting in the comfort of our car. With our passports stamped, we parked and looked for Customs to process the Carnet. Everyone was very helpful and it did not take long to find the office where Carnets are processed. Of course our particular Carnet was incorrectly stamped when we entered the country, something the Customs officer noticed straight away. There was a short discussion between the various customs officials on how to proceed, and it was quickly determined that the export voucher would become the import voucher and vice versa. Problem solved. A few minutes later the carnet was stamped and we were on our way. There was no vehicle inspection.