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The Ultimate Guide to Driving into Malaysia: VEP, Road Safety, Driving Etiquette, Accidents

101 things to know before your drive to Malaysia

This article is contributed by 

With the borders between Singapore and Malaysia finally reopening, throngs of citizens from both countries alike are filled with anticipation to reunite with their loved ones. 

COVID-19 has unfortunately altered much of what we know about travelling aboard, and the process of visiting neighbouring Malaysia is no exception. This is what this article is for and should hopefully serve as a guide before you make your journey up North. 

Preparation Before Entering Malaysia  

Fully vaccinated visitors who wish to visit Malaysia need not undergo COVID-19 testing or quarantine. Children under 12 who are not fully vaccinated also need not undergo testing or quarantine.

Fully vaccinated visitors do not need to apply for entry approvals like the vaccinated travel pass. Visitors can head over to the SafeTravel website to acknowledge their online vaccination certificates. This only applies to visitors who are planning to enter Malaysia via land borders. Visitors planning to travel via air are still required to take the PCR test within two days before departure. 

While Singapore has Tracetogether, Malaysia has its counterpart in the MySehjatera app. They essentially mirror one another, and visitors going to Malaysia must download and register an account with the app. There, do not be surprised to see QR codes located near entrances to buildings and establishments. and simply scan before entering the establishment. 

Read Also: Travelling To Malaysia: 11 Things To Take Note When You Finally Cross The Causeway 

Here Are Documents That You Need When Crossing the Causeway 

Now that we have gotten the quarantine jargon out of the way, we move on to the important documents that you should have locked and loaded. The first document that you should have on hand is your passport. For those under the age of 15, passports are valid for 5 years. For those older than 16, passports will be valid for 10 years. Not having possession of your passport results in being unable to leave the country, so pack early and you will not face the risk of having to turn back on the occasion that you forget it. 

How can we mention important documents without talking about having your VEP (Vehicle entry permit)? As of 1st October 2019, only vehicles with said VEP will be allowed to enter*. First of all, drivers will have to register for a VEP via the Malaysia’s Road Transport Department website. After receiving the confirmation email, you will be required to head down to tag your car. 

Just like the EZ-link card that we’re so familiar with in Singapore, Malaysia has its TNG (Touch ‘n Go) equivalent as well. The TNG card can be used for public transport and payments at highway tolls throughout Malaysia.  

Another rule of utmost importance is the ¾ tank rule, which states that Singapore registered vehicles are required to have at least a ¾ tank full of fuel before exiting. Considering the substantially cheaper petrol costs in Malaysia, it is no wonder that some opportunistic Singaporeans may try to make use of this. Not adhering to this rule may result in being fined a sum of $500, so drivers should set their priorities straight and follow this rule lest they incur an even greater cost. 

Read Also: Guide To EZ-Link X Touch ‘n Go Motoring Card: A Contactless Card For Your Cross-Border Expenses On The Road 

Other Things To Take Note When Driving In 

So, you got through customs with little to no issue. Your Touch ‘n Go card is topped up, and you are prepared to have a blast with your friends or family. However, it may strike Singaporean drivers that their roads and road culture differ from our local roads. 

For starters, the traffic jams there can reach new heights. The occasional logjam on our roads can stir frustration and irritation in drivers, but the bottlenecks around the capital of Kuala Lumpur can leave many tearing their hair out. Without the overbearing costs of COE for example, cars are much more accessible to Malaysians as compared to Singaporeans, which results in an influx of personal vehicles. It is not uncommon to find yourself stuck in relatively unmoving traffic for hours. 

As established earlier, Singaporean drivers are different as compared to Malaysian drivers in a plethora of ways. However, rules mostly overlap in both countries. Some rules include not being able to use your phone while driving, requiring headlights to be switched on from 7PM to 7AM, and the like. Essentially, what you can find in this article should mirror your etiquette while driving in Malaysia. 

A common stereotype surrounding Malaysian drivers is that they tend to be more reckless behind the wheel. While there is no smoke without fire, we are willing to argue that impatient Singaporean drivers aren’t much better. Singaporean drivers are not impervious to road rage, making them drive recklessly as well. However, we suggest being on your toes as you are in a foreign country after all, and you may need some time to get used to the habits of other drivers in foreign countries. 

And then there’s the issue of petrol grades. Referencing the Former Prime Minister of Malaysia’s Facebook post, he explains that foreigners are not allowed to pump the subsidised RON95 petrol. Despite the rule being in place for a decade, some cheapskate Singaporeans have been caught in the act of trying to make use of the lower petrol costs. We implore our fellow Singaporeans to not throw our image overseas by displaying our “kiasuism”, among other embarrassing habits. 

Precautions To Observe When In Malaysia  

As mentioned in our previous guide, although Malaysia is a generally safe country, petty crimes are rampant, and you could fall prey to thieves. Make sure that your belongings are safe by keeping them out of view even in your car, as robbers have no qualms about smashing your window and fishing your possessions out by force.  

Also mentioned in the article is that investing in a steering wheel lock could be a good idea. Singapore-registered cars are not as easily tracked in Malaysia, so while getting a lock may seem excessive, the adage “better safe than sorry” always holds. 

Insurance is also another important factor. The possibility of something happening to you or your car is low, but never zero. Our other guide has a more comprehensive in-depth look at insurance policies, but you can also visit our website here. 

Yet another wise suggestion in the guide is getting a car dashcam. Dashcams provide important footage for if you encounter fits of road rage or an accident. Knowing that you are in the right is simply not enough, and dashcams provide the much-needed proof which works hand-in-hand with the aforementioned insurance policies. 

Read Also: What Happens If Your Singapore Car Gets Stolen In Malaysia? 

Things To Remember When Returning Back Home 

Maybe the 2 years of not being able to travel overseas have fogged our minds, but another thing to remember when re-entering Singapore is the customs. Items that need to be declared at customs include things like liquor and tobacco, and you are required to pay the relevant duty fee(s). 

Fully vaccinated visitors coming to Singapore, as well as children under 12 who are not fully vaccinated, do not need to partake in any quarantine. This is provided that they travel by land. 

A short trip to Malaysia shouldn’t require you to rack your brains with anxiety and worry. However, by preparing yourself in advance, it ensures a much smoother trip. A great way to ensure a fuss-free drive to Malaysia is with our Motorist app, using the checkpoint function.  

It provides traffic situation updates to and from Malaysia, helps warn about potential fuel checks in the left or right lane, and offers real-time camera footage from checkpoints. 

*(Note: Due to pandemic-related complications, the VEP requirement is currently not actively enforced. Nevertheless, Singaporean drivers are still strongly encouraged to register for it as soon as possible to avoid issues down the road.) 

If you need a car but are not willing to spend so much on one, you can consider getting a used car instead. Motorist is an automotive platform that allows you to buy used cars in Singapore. Alternatively, if you already have car that serves you well, why not consider renewing your COE instead? 

Whether it’s to buy a used car, renew your COE, or to rent a car, Motorist can help you search and make better car-related decisions in Singapore. You can download the Motorist app on the App Store or Google Play.