I haven’t been active at all in my writing this year (I have only written 3 posts in 2021). But, I promise I will be writing more moving forward, now that I am jobless and going back to school! After years of contemplating, I have finally taken a sabbatical (unpaid leaves) from work, and will be heading off to Marseille to pursue my postgraduate studies.
Anyway, this post is not about my decision/plan to pursue my Masters, or why Marseille? We’ll leave that for another post ok.
In this post, I’ll like to share more about my experiences having to prepare for my departure, leaving Malaysia (for 18 months). You’ll be surprised that there’s a lot to consider, and I have had countless sleepless nights stressing over big things like tax clearance, Malaysia Travel Pass etc., but also the smaller things like how to ship my personal goods to France?
I hope from my experiences, you’ll get to better prepare yourself if you ever find yourself in this situation.
I do have quite a long list to cover. So, I’ll split this topic into 2 parts,
- Part 1: Things you want to get done no later than 1 month before you depart
- Part 2: Things you can get done within your last month in Malaysia
Things to get done no later than 1 month before depart
- COVID vaccination
- Tax clearance (if you are an existing tax payer in Malaysia)
- Visa application
- MY travel pass (immigration process enforced during COVID border lockdown)
- Shipping personal belongings to overseas
- Selling your car (if applicable)
First on the list, because let’s face it, this is the one thing every destination country will check. Some European countries may allow unvaccinated people to enter, but then you will need to be quarantined upon arrival.
So, do plan ahead, especially if you want to avoid having to pay exorbitant quarantine cost, e.g. SGD 2000 in Singapore. Do note that NOT all vaccination brands are recognised. It all depends on your destination country, e.g. EU still doesn’t recognise Sinovac.
Tips: Depending on the vaccine brand, you want to get this started as early as you can, e.g. AZ requires 9 to 12 weeks dosing interval (between 1st and 2nd dosage).
I wanted to make sure I didn’t get Sinovac, so I registered during the first offering of AstraZeneca to make sure I could get AZ, which is one of the recognised vaccines in EU.
Note: There’s a certain incubation period depending on the vaccine brand, so you need to make sure that you clock the days required post the completion dose prior to your travel, e.g. France requires 7 days after 2nd dose of Pfizer or AZ.
If you are travelling to France, with full vaccination of Pfizer or AZ, there’s no need to even home quarantine. Also, you can submit a request to have your vaccination certificate converted to a EU digital COVID certificate. Simply submit the forms in the following links, for students or others.
- In the form, you can submit your MySejahtera screenshot showing the vaccine brand and batch numbers, as well as passport scan, visa (if applicable), and flight ticket.
- They will reply you with a QR code, which you will later upload into your Tous Anti Covid app (French version of MySejahtera).
- Processing time: Mine took 4 working days
This was my biggest nightmare. If you are tax payer, your company, by law, is required to withhold your last salary, and can only release it to you, after your obtain Tax Clearance Letter (Surat Penyelesaian Cukai, SPC) from the tax authority (LHDN).
Now, per the website, LHDN’s promise is to deliver it within 14 working days, but in my experience, it took a month! And that was with me doing all the pushing and expediting. So, here’s my experience and hopefully it can help you better manage your situation.
- Your company will produce form CP-21, which is for leaver.
- You need to then fill in form BE (just like how you file your tax every April), declaring your income up to date, tax reliefs, and compute your tax payable.
- You need to also prepare other supporting documents (I’ll get to the complete list later), and the LHDN website says you can upload your documents online via e-SPC. What it doesn’t tell you is that CP-21 process requires you to submit signed BE hard copy in person.
- So, instead of submitting online, I recommend to submit directly to your branch where your tax file is kept. First, call the general Hasil Care Line (03-8911 1000) if you don’t know where your tax file is located.
- Next, go to Contact Us, find your branch, and use the e-form to contact them directly.
- If your tax file is in Duta branch (like me), you can email one of these officers in charge, either Puan Noorshah Amiera binti Maseri (email@example.com), or Puan Dalleena binti Tomat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Documents to submit (soft copies): CP-21, past 5 years EA, last year BE 2020, and form NR-51 (entry exit schedule, basically a detailed list of your entry and exit per passport stamps for the last 3 years)
- Documents to submit (hard copies): Signed BE 2021 and certified true copies of all passport pages with stamps corroborating your form NR-51
- In your email, ask for an appointment to drop off your documents at the branch.
- Once you done all the above, make sure the officer allocates your case file to someone (you’ll get an email acknowledgement). Otherwise, you may want to call/email them for a friendly reminder.
Mine took more time that expected because my case landed on the officer desk and she went on leave, my hardcopy was not picked up from the lobby where I dropped off, and there was a lot of miscommunications. Once it was all sorted out and I was allocated another tax officer, she got it done for me in 2 working days.
NR-51 form (entry exit schedule), you won’t be able to find this form online. The tax officer promised to send me a template but it never came. I found a sample online, and built one myself from scratch. Feel free to use my NR-51 form template.
Of course, you need to apply for your visa, whether it is for work or studies.
I applied for a French student visa. To prioritise other applications, I was only allowed to book an appointment 2 months before my departure date. On the day of my appointment, I submitted all my documents, paid the visa fees, and surrender my Malaysian passport. One week after, I got back my passport with my visa in it.
Note: Do check on your embassy website, whether an appointment is required. During MCO, no walk-in was allowed. So, the appointment slots got booked up fairly quickly as soon as they were opened for booking.
MY Travel Pass (MTP)
Malaysia Travel Pass is a document mandatory for Malaysians to exit Malaysia. Per latest advice on 26th July 2021, there are some exceptions, e.g. returning students, long term pass holders etc. The process takes 5 to 14 working days, in some occasions even longer. Hence, you want to start this process as early as you can.
Me, being a newly enrolled student, I am required to present MTP at the airport. For students, as minimum, you need to upload your passport page, vaccination certificate, and offer letter from university. To help increase your chances of approval (there are cases where students were rejected on the reason of “non essential matter”), you should upload as much supporting documents you can, e.g.
- Student visa
- Admission letter / receipt for payment of tuition fees
- Receipt for payment of accommodation
- Letter from university explaining why face to face is required (I read of others submitting this, but I didn’t)
You can follow this Facebook group, where many others will be sharing their progress and experiences. Be warned that it can be more stress inducing than relieving, reading others’ rejection stories, and delayed in response etc.
Ultimately, you just need to give it time for processing. Hence, the earlier you start the better. Although, many have shared what they have done to expedite the approval process, I don’t believe there’s a “guaranteed” way. Some of the stories shared and what some believed to have helped,
- Submit your application in Bahasa Malaysia (Malay)
- In the Travel Description text box, include as much details explaining why you need to make this trip, and why there is no other alternative
- Submit enquiries using the e-form via SPO to expedite
- Direct message on JIM Facebook and Instagram, though I would make sure to be polite and courteous, especially if you are messaging them ahead of their 14 working days promise
In my experience, I submitted my application late, on 26th August 2021. I submitted my passport, student visa, vaccination certificate, and admission letter from university. On 6th September, I sent a (polite) chaser email in Malay, pleading them to expedite my application because my flight is on 12th September – I didn’t get a reply. On 7th September, I direct messaged JIM Facebook – they responded me with standardised answers. On 10th September, I submitted another enquiry on SPO pleading them to expedite my application as my flight is in two day. And after one hour, I got my approval.
From my experience, I don’t think the email helped. They must be receiving 1000+ emails per day, and some applicants are resending the same email every day. I never heard anyone who has gotten a reply from these emails. I believe that SPO is the most “human interaction” I have experienced. Albeit they only reply standard answers, at least they reply within 48 hours. So, I believe if you keep your message short and concise, straight to the point, articulate clearly why your request is urgent, I think you have a good chance (this is purely my speculation from my experience).
Shipping personal belongings
If you have a lot of things to move (like me), you should consider shipping it via courier. Excess baggage fees on your commercial plane are always exorbitant. E.g. for my route Kuala Lumpur to Marseille, Turkish Airlines would charge me about USD 570 for 20kg excess baggage (RM120 per kg).
The cheapest option would be to deliver it via sea freight. It takes much longer time, e.g. KUL to MRS would take about 2 to 3 months. From my research, Pos Malaysia offers affordable sea freight charges, however the international shipping service is currently suspended until further notice. You can check out their prices on the website. E.g. 20kg from KUL to MRS would have cost RM503 (RM25 per kg).
Some shipping companies do provide sea freight for commercial customers, but their rates are not attractive for smaller volume. E.g. Allied Pickfords quoted me RM4,400 for 40kg (RM110 per kg). It is ridiculous because for RM10 per kg more, I can bring my belongings with me on the plane, instead of waiting for 2 to 3 months! Their services are most suitable for larger move, e.g. housing relocation.
Another option is air freight. Many courier services offer this, but the rates you find online are always quite high too. E.g. DHL RM2,100 for 20kg, FedEX RM1,000 for 20kg. Now, I found this website, Easy Parcel which firstly gives you a comparison between all the courier companies, and secondly offers much more competitive rates (I assume they negotiated special rates with the courier companies). I ended up shipping my 20kg from KUL to MRS for RM500 (RM25 per kg) with FedEx!
Note that the big difference is also because Easy Parcel quotes you only the shipping fees. Most courier companies’ quote would have included a fuel surcharge fee. The fuel surcharge is a percentage applied to your shipping fee, and it is updated weekly, which you can find online (DHL or FedEx). In the month I sent my box, FedEx fuel surcharge was averaging at 18%. So, inclusive of 18% surcharge, the Easy Parcel option would cost me RM590 (RM30 per kg), which is still the cheapest option, Pos Malaysia aside).
|Cost per kg||Remarks|
|Turkish Airlines (excess baggage)||RM120||Pre-book online|
|Pos Malaysia (surface delivery)||RM25||2 to 3 months delivery|
|Allied Pickfords (sea freight)||RM110||2 to 3 months delivery|
|DHL (air freight)||RM105||7 to 15 days|
|FedEx (air freight)||RM50||7 to 15 days|
|Easy Parcel with FedEx (air freight)||RM30||Inclusive 18% fuel surcharge|
In the end, my experience with Easy Parcel was perfect! I went with FedEx and paid RM500 online via Easy Parcel, then arranged a date for pick up. FedEx showed up on the arranged date, and picked up my box from the lobby of my condo. My box cleared French custom on Day 8, and reached my destination door step on Day 9. And to my surprise, I wasn’t charged the fuel surcharge! I was elated, of course! Though, I still believe I was lucky. I would still recommend you to include the fuel surcharge in your budgeting to avoid any surprise.
Selling your car
If you are planning to sell you car (like me), you probably want to start listing it early. You get the best prices only if you sell it NOT through a dealership. You also need to arrange for PUSPAKOM inspection. As a minimum, you’ll need a B5 report (RM30 plus booking fee and service tax) for ownership transfer at JPJ. If your buyer is getting a hire purchase (bank loan), you’ll need another B7 report (RM60 plus booking fee and service tax).
Once you have your inspection reports ready, you should make an appointment at JPJ (walk in is not allowed during MCO), to process the ownership transfer.
Note: When showing up at your JPJ appointment, men must wear long pants and shoes. I was denied entry because I was wearing shorts. Fortunately, there was a clothing store just behind JPJ, so I bought a cheap track pants for RM18.
Things to get done within last month in Malaysia
Stay tuned for Part 2: Things to get done within last month in Malaysia.