While you are traveling in Malaysia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don't have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In Malaysia, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Malaysia, your U.S. passport won't help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It's very important to know what's legal and what's not wherever you go.
If you violate the law, even unknowingly, you may be fined, expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Malaysia strictly enforces its drug laws. If you possess, use, or traffic in illegal drugs in Malaysia, you will be sentenced to significantly longer prison sentences and much heavier fines than in the United States. Malaysian legislation provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers. If you are arrested in possession of 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin or 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana, you will be presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.
The Malaysian criminal code includes a provision for a sentence of caning for certain white-collar crimes, including criminal misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, and cheating. If you collect and/or remove local flora and fauna or protected species without authorization from the Malaysian government, you may be prosecuted criminally and may be sentenced to heavy fines, expulsion, and/or imprisonment.
Distribution of religious leaflets or books of another faith to Malaysian Muslims is illegal; if you engage in this action, you may be arrested and imprisoned. Occasionally, special religious authorities coordinate with local police to conduct raids on popular nightspots and hotels to deter activities among local Muslims that contravene religious customs, including drinking alcohol and having premarital sex.
Arrest notifications in Malaysia: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case in Malaysia. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as you are arrested. You should carry your U.S. passport and current social visit pass (visa) with you at all times, so that if you are questioned by local officials, you will have proof of your identity, U.S. citizenship, and legal status in Malaysia readily available.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.