Malaysia Adding New Departure Tax For Visitors

Filed Under: Malaysia

Malaysia has just announced the latest way that they plan to tax tourists.

In 2017 the country introduced an additional nightly fee on all hotel stays, depending on the type of hotel you were staying at. Now they’re adding an additional tax for airline passengers.

This new departure tax will kick in for international travelers as of September 1, 2019. The fee will vary depending on the country you’re traveling to, as well as the cabin you’re flying in, as follows:

  • RM8 (~2USD) fee when flying to ASEAN countries in economy
  • RM50 (~12USD) fee when flying to ASEAN countries in non-economy
  • RM20 (~5USD) fee when flying to non-ASEAN countries in economy
  • RM150 (~36USD) fee when flying to non-ASEAN countries in non-economy

Since this is a departure tax, it’s based on the type of flight you’re taking when leaving Malaysia (this fee doesn’t apply on flights to Malaysia).

ASEAN countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Connecting and transit passengers spending less than 12 hours in Malaysia won’t be subjected to this fee either. Lastly, those under 24 months old won’t be subjected to this new tax.

Ultimately this isn’t a huge amount, in the sense that it’s not as drastic as the UK Air Passenger Duty, which can be $200+ per person. However, it also does add up.

Malaysia’s finance minister notes that these fees are in line with what some other countries charge, and says that the revenue generated from this will be used to boost domestic tourism. Alrighty, so they’ll tax international tourism to invest in domestic tourism.

  1. It would be interesting to know if this applies on O&D or just on the flight segment from Malaysia (e.g. someone flying KUL-SIN-SYD).

  2. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of whether this applies to new bookings only, or of those with existing tickets will need to stump up. I’m assuming that the fee will be bundled into the airfare, and I have a booking from BKI to SIN in October, will I need to pay separately?

  3. I wonder how that charge will apply seeing that I’m already ticketed and flying out out of KUL not long after the tax is implemented?

  4. I have a flight booked in November, KUL-PNH. How will I need to pay this tax? In person with cash? Or can I pay by card?

  5. Besides the UK and now Malaysia, what other countries do you know charge departure taxes? Or arrival taxes in the form of a VISA? I’m sure I’ve pay them before but my mind is blank now.

    And is this an extra expense we need to have at the airport or will it be included in the airfare?

    Although it may not be a huge expense (except for the RM 150 for Biz award to non-Asean), don’t they know that such VISA/arrival/departure taxes have been known to hurt tourism? Just ask Brazil as an example.

    Thanks, Ben!

  6. @Tom C.

    Japan charges international travelers 1,000 yen, or $9.19, when they leave the country.

  7. @ TOM C

    So departure taxes hurt tourism, yet Heathrow is now so overcrowded they need to build a new runway?


    It’s like arguments in the U.K. that museums and galleries need to be free, or it would reduce tourism. Yeah, right, like as an art buff I’m not going to London if galleries charged, I’ll go to, er, Poland, which has the cheapest gallery entrance charges in the EU?

    This kind of charge makes only the most marginal difference — even at the high rates set in the U.K.

  8. The interesting thing is that taxes like these will likely impact MH the most. Take BA for example; the high british APD for longhaul flights makes their direct flights more expensive (low margins make it impossible to cut profits and keep prices low), thus making it more attractive for passengers to fly KL/AF/LH etc.

  9. The question is where does the money go to, airport development, or another 1MDB type piggy bank?

    I see this as the government wants to cash in on AirAsia, period. Everything in Malaysia, including petroleum, is dying except AirAsia.

  10. @Daniel

    I think you got it all wrong.
    BA charges much more for flying nonstop. AF/KL/LH needs to be cheaper to compete and get people to make a connection.
    Either way you are subject to the same APD tax rate to your destination regardless of connection, unless you buy separate tickets, (which you might pay more for nonstop from AMS,CDG,FRA anyway)

  11. @Ben, will this be included in the price of the ticket, or will the passenger have to pay the fee themselves on their way out?

  12. I don’t think APD has anything to do with BA charging more for direct flights! It’s simply their privileged position to be able to fly direct, and that’s something many people are willing to and do pay for!

  13. It’s just another way for the gov’t to hire bumiputra (native Malays) and give them job security while collecting cash at the airport. It’s overstaffed and they’re inefficient. Slap it onto the fees during ticketing. There’s no reason for passengers to waste time to queue up at an additional counter just to leave the country.

  14. Expect more of this – LOTS more – in your future, as the whole “flight shaming” idiocy spreads. Count on it.

    Ben, what’s your take on that? Given your business, your lifestyle, and everything you advocate, I would expect this to be an issue that you are on top of. You should write an article on it.

  15. Chile charges Australian arrivals at SCL $US117 tax. Payable by CC or cash (crisp bills only, thank you).
    Great for Chilean tourism, leaving that bitter taste in your mouth before you even leave the airport!
    You start to wonder if Chile has a currency of its own, as hotels etc hit you up with charges wherever you go in American dollars.

  16. @airoli I think it would be similar to that of UK APD tax, in which the final city of the booking that will determine the level of tax that one has to pay (CMIIW)

  17. Malaysian here.

    Please take your racism somewhere else.

    “Alrighty, so they’ll tax international tourism to invest in domestic tourism”
    I believe the statement given by the minister is actually to “encourage domestic tourism”, meaning they want Malaysians to travel more within the country as this new departure fee applies to Malaysians as well.

    I do hope that the fee will be built into flight tickets (like most other countries that have a departure tax) instead of a messy separate counter at the airport. Although I have just booked a flight to BKK in Dec and I don’t see this tax anywhere in my airfare.

  18. Why have you included ‘for visitors’ in the title? Do Malaysians not also have to pay this? It makes it sound like they’re just picking on foreigners…..

  19. @TheNicePaul
    Keeping museums and art galleries free has an upside and the balance is healthy IMO: V&A, Tate, Met are all free, but charge an arm and a leg for the special exhibitions and the merchandise associated with them. I guess this subsidises the free admission to the permanent exhibits, providing access to those who might not be able to afford it.
    As for Malaysia: is it so desirable as a destination/stopover that it can add $20 or $50 to each departure? From my perspective, no. I’m quite happy to o/n in KL, if the fare is cheap ( sometimes 2 nights, rarely longer). So I spend on transport, accommodation, food, sometimes shopping. Would I do it if the ticket becomes more expensive via this new tax ? Maybe not ( although one tends to forget the existence of these taxes/fees after a while, once they are buried in the ticket price package).

  20. @Glenn T
    That charge for Australians visiting Chile is based on what Chileans have to pay for an Australian visa, so there is reciprocity.
    It is waived for holders of the APEC Business Card, but not for tourists.
    Sometimes Australians feel hard done by in the visa fees area, but are unaware of the outrageous fees would-be visitors to Australia have to pay ( in addition to the jumping-through-hoops process itself)

  21. I’m flying there in a couple of months. Family (ex Malaysian Airlines staff) haven’t heard about it from any current MAB colleagues or in the news till I told them. Even the official Gov’t notice doesn’t say how or where it has to be paid, or if it’s on existing bookings or new.

  22. @Paulo~ I am told that Chileans are one of the nationalities who are prime
    offenders in overstaying their tourist visas in Australia. Therefore their visa applications receive extra scrutiny.
    The Chilean government response is petty kindergarten playground tit-for-tat stuff. Maybe it says a lot about the country generally. I will never know as I’m able to fly right over from AKL to Buenos Aires, my favourite South American city. The Argentine government was mature enough to scrap a similar fee years ago as they did not want it to damage their tourist industry.

  23. Malaysia is picking on Foreigners all the time to support their bankrupt economy ! But they will regret when the visitors stop coming.

  24. @GlennT
    I don’t disagree. I haven’t been back to Chile since my APEC card expired and have no plans to go. I ,too, go to Argentina as the preferred stop on a RTW.
    In respect of Malaysia, it would be interesting to know what the tourism/hospitality industry/lobby thought of this new tax.

  25. This is strategy to quickly cull the financially haemorrhaging Malaysia Airlines (MH).
    Since the departure taxes are lower to ASEAN countries, one should fly to Malaysia via Singapore, Bangkok or Jakarta. If one were to fly to say, Penang, from a non-ASEAN origin, if flying MH, it would be via Kuala Lumpur (KUL), which incurs the highest levels of Departure Tax upon departure from KUL.
    Alternatively, if flying on Singapore Airlines (SQ) to Penang, you would be flying via Singapore, which is an ASEAN member state, thus incurring the lowest Departure Taxes.
    Hence, don’t fly MH and fly SQ, Thai, Garuda or Malindo instead if you wish to avoid the higher Departure Taxes.

  26. @Eskimo – I don’t think that’s true, APD is charged based on the first flight. Look at LHR-AMS-KUL in J, where a tax of 26GBP is charged (price of LHR-AMS).

    Of course direct flights are more expensive, but this tax hits direct flights quite a bit more than connecting flights, thus making it easier for connecting flights to compete against the direct flights. This especially hits the leisure segment, as fares are very low and profit margins even lower. The tax-difference is huge then.

  27. What in the heck is the exemption for pedestrians?
    Lucky, you’re not a very pedestrian guy so I guess it doesn’t apply to you.

  28. MAB have now clarified – you will pay it when you book; and it’s only for tickets booked/issued after 1 Sep. Previously booked tickets are not affected, even if you travel after the start date.

    “Passengers will be able to view the departure levy amount reflected on all Malaysia Airlines’ Internet Booking Engine (IBE) for tickets purchased on and after 1 September 2019 (The tax code for departure levy is G1).

    Airlines’ passengers including infants below 24 months, international transit passengers arriving and leaving Malaysia within 12 hours, crew on duty, and those who purchase tickets before 1 September 2019 for departure after the levy is enforced, however, will be exempted from the departure levy.”

  29. Turkey demands 10 Euros on entry, if I remember right.

    Once the UK APD tax on growth was enforced, the Americans were apparently ‘irritated’ as it reduces tourism there.

    Malaysian business travellers will get a package with an economy short hop to Singapore, Bangkok, etc. Then business seat from there. Or perhaps asian airlines will change the description of economy and business class. E.g., Economy+ ?

    Like any tax people will work around it. So now, all the long haul flights to Asia out of the UK involve a short-haul hop to Frankfurt, Zurich, Munich (Paris, Amsterdam) etc. Then the long haul segment from continental Europe to avoid the APD tax. London airports lose out, European airports gain significantly. Governments will never learn.

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