Reopening of the Malaysia-Singapore Border: Strict Health Protocols to Impact Travelers

Posted by Written by Ayman Falak Medina Reading Time: 5 minutes
  • Malaysia and Singapore have suspended the green lane for travel due to Malaysia’s rising COVID-19 cases.
  • As of May 17, visitors from both countries can cross the border for compassionate reasons, such as death visits or visiting family members that are critically ill.
  • Strict health protocols, such as COVID-19 testing and self-quarantine measures will apply to all travelers.

Malaysia and Singapore have suspended the green lane for travel due to rising COVID-9 cases in Malaysia.

The two countries did issue two schemes to facilitate the cross-border travel – the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) in June 2020. The RGL enables short-term travel for official purposes and essential business for up to a maximum of 14 days’ stay. The PCA scheme allows the entry of residents of both countries who hold valid work passes.

Both travel schemes incorporate strict health and visa protocols, such as mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 tests and self-quarantine upon arrival.

Malaysia and Singapore have one of the world’s busiest border crossings. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the land border would see more than 300,000 people traverse each day and more than 29,000 annual flights; the equivalent of 82 flights a day.

The compassionate travel scheme

Both governments have established a compassionate travel scheme that will begin on May 17. Under this scheme, travel will only be permitted on compassionate grounds, such as attending funerals or visiting those who are critically ill.

What are the prerequisites to enter Malaysia?

Under the compassionate travel scheme, only Malaysians, Singaporean citizens, holders of permanent residents in Singapore, and holders of a Singaporean Long Term Pass, who are immediate family members of the critically ill or deceased family in Malaysia can enter the country.

Applicants allowed to enter Malaysia due to the death of a family member are of the following:

  • Spouse;
  • Children;
  • Parent; or
  • Close siblings.

Only a maximum of two family members can apply.

Applicants allowed to enter Malaysia due to a critically ill family member are of the following:

  • Spouse;
  • Children;
  • Parent;
  • Close siblings; or
  • Legal guardian.

Appeals may be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

What are the application procedures?

Applicants must first fill in the form requesting permission to enter Malaysia for compassionate reasons. The form can be viewed here.

Travelers arriving through the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) or the Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar (KSAB) entry points in the city of Johor must submit their application to the following email;

cprcjknj@moh.gov.my 

Whereas, travelers arriving through Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) must submit their applications to this email;

cprc_sel@moh.gov.my

All applications must be copied to hso@moh.gov.my

Those visiting due to the death of a family member will need the following documents:

  • Death certificate;
  • Proof of familial ties; and
  • Other supporting documents.

Those looking to visit a critically ill family member will need the following documents:

  • Doctor’s letter to support the critically ill case;
  • Proof of familial ties; and
  • Other supporting documents.

All the aforementioned documents must also be physically presented by the applicants at their chosen point of entry to Malaysia.

In addition, applicants should have the MySejahtera mobile app downloaded on their phones.

Arrival in Malaysia

Upon arrival in Malaysia, travelers will undergo a COVID-19 test at their point of entry. If the results are negative, the traveler will be escorted to their quarantine facility. The cost of the COVID test and quarantine facility will be borne by the traveler.

If the traveler tests positive, they will be transferred to a COVID-19 hospital where they will bear the costs.

Once at the quarantine station, the traveler can for ‘time off’ from staff of their quarantine station who will approve of the visit the applican’ts emergency destination (eg funeral home, hospital).

The traveler will be granted a one-off, three-hour visit to their emergency destination (this does not include travel time).  All transportation costs are borne by the traveler and must allocate one seat for a member of the quarantine facility who will accompany them to their emergency destination.

The Travelers’ movements are restricted to their approved destination in accordance to their application. Once their visit has been completed, the traveler will return to the quarantine facility to complete the remaining 14-day stay before returning to Singapore.

The process can be seen through the following graphs here.

What are the prerequisites to enter Singapore?

For Malaysian visitors entering Singapore, the government has only allowed a maximum of two visitors per case.

Applicants must first complete an online form under the category ‘Appeal for entry into Singapore under Compassionate Reasons’.

They should attach the following supporting documents:

  • Death certificate for proof of death or doctor’s letter to support critically ill cases;
  • Documents to prove familial ties;
  • Passport biodata for all travelers; and
  • Other supporting documents.

Applicants must take a COVID-19 PCR test at least 72 hours before traveling. In addition, travelers must register and pre-pay for another COVID-19 test and the quarantine facility in Singapore.

Arrival in Singapore

Travelers must have downloaded the TraceTogether app and their profile must be registered with the app. 

Upon arrival, the traveler must undertake another COVID-19 test, after which they will be able to continue to their pre-paid quarantine accommodation. Two more tests will be conducted on day 14 and at the end of the 21-day quarantine period.

The local authorities will facilitate arrangements for the travellers to make short and safe visits to the medical facility and/or funeral

Periodic commuting arrangement

The periodic commuting arrangement (PCA) scheme has not been suspended by both governments.

The scheme allows citizens as well as permanent resident holders entry to the other country if they have a valid work visa. Workers can stay in the country of work for 90 consecutive days, after which they can return home for a short leave.

All applications are treated on a first-come-first-served basis and there will be a quota for entry. The Singaporean government may revise this from time to time. The PCA scheme only covers the land crossings between the two countries (the Johor-Singapore crossing).

What are the prerequisites to enter Singapore?

To be eligible, applicants must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Must be a Malaysian citizen or permanent resident;
  • Holds a valid work visa in Singapore; and
  • Must be willing to spend 90 consecutive days in Singapore upon entry.

Individuals are not allowed to apply for this travel scheme, all applications must be completed by the Singaporean-based employer on behalf of the employee and must be submitted at least seven days before the employee enters Singapore.

Employers must provide the following information when completing the application:

  • The employee’s foreign identification number (FIN);
  • The expiry date of the employee’s work pass;
  • The intended date of entry into Singapore;
  • The employee’s accommodation address; and
  • Details of the company’s contact person.

What are the post-arrival measures in Singapore?

Travelers must register with the TraceTogether app, which will be inspected by immigration officials. 

Travelers will be subjected to quarantine for 21 days at the end of which they undergo a COVID-19 PCR test on day 14 and at the end of the 21 days. If negative they can commence their work. However, if found positive, they will undergo medical treatment at their own expense.

If the employee tests negative for the virus then they can commence their work, but if they test positive, then they will undergo medical treatment at their own expense.

What are the prerequisites to enter Malaysia?

To enter Malaysia under the PCA scheme, the employee must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Is a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident holder;
  • Holds a valid work visa in Malaysia; and
  • Must be willing to spend 90 consecutive days in Malaysia upon entry.

As with Singapore, individual employees are not allowed to apply for this scheme, rather it must be completed by the employer on behalf of the employee through the MySejahtera website.

The application must be done at least 10 working days before the date of departure from Singapore and the employer must provide the following documents:

  • Letter of appointment; and
  • Copy of passport.

Applicants must also take a COVID-19 PCR test at least 72 hours before arrival in Malaysia.

What are the post-arrival measures in Malaysia?

Travelers should have the MySejahtera mobile app downloaded, which will be checked by immigration officials.

The employee must undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated facility and undergo COVID-19 tests. If these are negative at the end of the quarantine period, they are permitted to continue their travels.

This article was first published in August 2020 and has been updated on May 24, 2021, as per the latest developments.


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ASEAN Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia and maintains offices throughout ASEAN, including in Singapore, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang in Vietnam, Munich, and Esen in Germany, Boston, and Salt Lake City in the United States, Milan, Conegliano, and Udine in Italy, in addition to Jakarta, and Batam in Indonesia. We also have partner firms in Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Thailand as well as our practices in China and India. Please contact us at asia@dezshira.com or visit our website at www.dezshira.com.

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