MALAYSIA: Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said on Tuesday (Dec 5) that Singaporeans travelling to Malaysia will not be required to fill up the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC), which will otherwise be compulsory from Jan 1 for foreign travellers.

Mr Saifuddin said at a press conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) that some Singaporeans enter Malaysia almost on a daily basis, and “it is more realistic for us to exempt them”. The exemption for Singaporeans applies at all entry points, not just at Johor’s southern entry points. Other travellers exempted include diplomatic passport holders, Malaysian permanent residents, Brunei General Certificate of Identity holders, and Thailand Border Pass holders. Filling up the card is voluntary for now, but incoming travellers are encouraged to do so.

Initially, a number of travellers reported mixed messages from Malaysian immigration officers about the MDAC. When a reporter from The Independent Singapore went to Malaysia on Dec 1, he was not asked by Malaysian Immigration officers about the submission of his digital arrival card. On his return to Singapore, he asked immigration officers what would happen if someone did not submit it when they entered via Johor Bahru (JB), and was advised that the person would be asked to go online and submit it. When another Singaporean driver drove into JB on Dec 4, he was asked whether he submitted MDAC.

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Singapore residents and visitors leaving the Republic can clear checkpoints without using their passports starting in 2024. Instead, they can clear immigration via QR code at land checkpoints if travelling by car or the new contactless Automated Border Control System (ABCS) at passenger halls. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said the manual counters at all passenger halls at checkpoints will be progressively replaced by about 800 automated lanes using ABCS from the first quarter of 2024. The ABCS lanes will use biometrics for clearance and are part of ICA’s new clearance concept (NCC), which was announced in 2019.

The MDAC should be completed within three days before arrival in Malaysia. Travellers will have to fill out personal particulars on the MDAC website, including their name, nationality, passport details, and arrival and departure dates. They will have to show their passports and the completed MDAC to the immigration officer on duty upon arrival.

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The move comes after Malaysia allowed citizens of China and India 30-day visa-free entry to the country from Dec 1 as part of efforts to boost tourism and the economy. “Just like how Malaysians who want to go to neighbouring Singapore – we have to fill up (a form) two to three days before – now we are implementing the same for travellers to Malaysia and we are allowing a grace period until Dec 31,” said Mr Saifuddin. /TISG