Staying in Malaysia for more than 182 days (Without working locally)

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Joined: 2/8/17
Staying in Malaysia for more than 182 days (Without working locally)

I've just recently found this forum and the group here appear to be very knowledgeable on Malaysia and I'm looking for some advice to help me with making a decision.

I did a quick search but I apologize if I've missed earlier advice that would make my question redundant.

My situation is a bit unique from most of what's posted here in that I have my own company based in Canada and I'm not working locally. I do via laptop, skype, etc work involved with managing my company i.e. consulting with clients (who are not in malaysia), managing the team, working on the business, etc.

I'm essentially a remote worker or "digital nomad" for lack of a better term, essentially a business owner with freedom to travel because my business can continue to create money while I'm traveling but until now I've mostly avoided staying long term in any specific country as it's my understanding that this could trigger some of the residency and tax laws etc (plus I just want to see more of the world while I can).

My question has two tiers...

1. If I stay in Malaysia beyond 182 days, and I'm making offshore income in the form of dividends from my business --- is there a potential that I need to file a tax return here in Malaysia? Is that income considered taxable? What about money transferred into the country to pay for my living expenses etc?

2. If I wanted to stay in Malaysia long term (not concerned really about permanent residency officially), is there any way to apply for tax residency other than the investment required for the MM2H program? I've read that consultants living and working in Asia can apply to be a resident if they have been here for more than 182 days, but is that possible for someone who's been here on a tourist visa (or i.e. 90 day arrival visa twice in a row -- I went out of the country for 4 days and returned).

I'm here with my wife who's also Canadian. We're in Sabah specifically. We love it here and are looking at the possibilities short and long term of making this a "home base".

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide, if you have any questions to help clarify -- just let me know. PM me for more specifics would probably be best.

Shardy's picture
Joined: 6/6/10

I have known a couple of other people in your situation. One managed to stay here for many years but the other eventually ran into trouble as the immigration officers at the airport eventually questioned why he had so many stamps coming in and out of Malaysia.

You would not be considered tax resident unless you are earning in MYR as far as I know. But it is definitely worth getting a more "official" status like MM2H if you plan to stay long term. My understanding of MM2H is that is does not give you the right to work (locally) but of course if your work is non-location-specific then no reason why you cannot keep doing that kind of work.