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International Driver's License In Malaysia: Rent a car with ease

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IDP is essential when driving abroad

driving abroad with idp

International Driving Permit (IDP), regulated by the United Nations, certifies that you are the holder of a valid driver's license in your country of origin.

documents needed for international driving permit

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world.

How to get your IDP


Fill in the forms

Have your driver’s license and delivery address handy


Verify your ID

Upload pictures of your driver's license


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Wait for confirmation and you’re ready to go!

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Getting an International Driving Permit in Malaysia

First of all, it’s not called an “International Driver’s License” because nobody is authorized to produce them. They are officially called an International Driver’s Permit and you can get them at an authorized office here or even online. The International Drivers Association is an organization that provides an International Driving License (Permit) that’s valid here and globally.

This document functions as the primary translation of your local licence. This lets you bid farewell to those miscommunication woes of travelers. So, if you’re planning a road trip here, get yourself an international driver's licence.

Driving in Malaysia

View of AKLEH Elevated highway and the Petronas Twin Towers
Source: Photo by qaz farid on Unsplash

If you're seeking an adventure that combines bustling urban centers with rainforests and pristine coastlines, then Malaysia should undoubtedly be on your travel radar. To fully appreciate the splendors of this Southeast Asian country, renting a car in Malaysia is no better way than hitting the open road.

I often hold myself back from travelling because of the stressors that come with it. With an international driving permit, I can conveniently cruise smoothly through the roads of Malaysia without fuss.

Avoid the long waits associated with taking public transport and opt for the convenience of a rental car. We're here to guide you in preparing by securing your foreign driver's license to explore Malaysia at your own pace!


Is My Local Driver’s License Valid In Malaysia?

If you're a resident of Southeast Asia, your valid driving license can be used in Malaysia without requiring an International Driver's Permit. However, for those residing beyond this region, an International Driving License and your native driver's license (such as a US driver's license), are necessary to legally drive within Malaysia.

If your foreign license is in a language other than English, it's essential to have an English translation of your valid driving license to overcome potential language barriers when dealing with local traffic authorities.

Numerous car rental agencies may request documents verifying your driving eligibility in their country. It's advisable to have all the required paperwork to ensure a smooth and trouble-free travel experience.

Does an International Driving Permit Replace My Native License?

No, it does not. The International Driving Permit (IDP) serves as an additional document for use in countries that require it. It is not a substitute for your native license and is only valid in the country for which it is issued. This document is designed to facilitate your travels, eliminate language barriers, and address other issues that may arise when dealing with foreign traffic officials.

What Are The Requirements For An International Driver's Permit?

Tourists coming from countries outside of Malaysia and South East Asia need an IDP if they plan to drive on Malaysian roads. Even though Singapore is part of the ASEAN countries, Singaporean license holders cannot utilize their Singaporean licenses when driving a Malaysian vehicle.

Therefore, if you reside in Singapore, you would still require an IDP for your driver's license. IDPs are issued to individuals aged eighteen and older who possess a valid driver's license that remains valid for at least one year.

It's important to note that you cannot apply for an IDP if you hold only a probationary driving license. Motorcycle learner's license holders are also ineligible for IDP applications. The process for obtaining an International Driving Permit for Malaysia can be conveniently completed online for a swift and efficient service.

Do I need a Malaysian driving license to drive in Malaysia?

If you intend on staying in the country longer than three months as an expat, then you would need to get a driving test, so you can get yourself a Malaysia driving license. However if you intend on just staying in the country for less than three months, you can simply use your domestic driving license as long as the expiry date is not within three to six months. The following are some of the foreign countries which recognize the use of an IDP:

What if you lost your IDP in Malaysia, or what if it expires?

In the event you lose your IDP in Malaysia or it expires, the renewal process is straightforward. Simply provide the correct photo size, complete your address and zip code, pay the appropriate package fee, and fulfill all the essential requirements for renewal.

If you misplace your driver's permit in Malaysia, you can promptly request a replacement IDP from the International Drivers Association (IDA) and have it within 24 hours, with the only cost being the shipping fees.

The validity period of your IDP depends on the package and price you selected and your native driver's license status.

Most Important Driving Rules

If you want to drive a rental car while visiting, it's crucial to know the Malaysia driving rules. Some of these might be new to you, so remember them to stay safe on the road. Before you start, make sure you have an international driving license that you can get online. Also, remember that most cars in Malaysia are left-hand drive.

Always carry your valid driving license and IDP

Driving without a valid license is a serious offense, and individuals caught without a driver's license and IDP may face severe consequences. It is essential to carry your driver's license at all times, particularly when encountering a Road Transport Department checkpoint.

Violation of this requirement can result in imprisonment for up to three months or fines of up to MYR 1,000.

Zero tolerance for driving under the influence

Malaysia strictly prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a leading cause of road fatalities worldwide. The penalties for driving while intoxicated are severe, and these substances impair a driver's faculties, affecting alertness and focus on the road. It's far wiser to opt for a taxi if you've consumed alcohol rather than jeopardize your safety and that of others.

Adhere to the speed limits

Exceeding speed limits is strictly prohibited in Malaysia. The prescribed speed limits typically range from 90 to 110 km/h on highways and 50 to 70 km/h in urban areas, which is generally lower than in Western countries.

Numerous cameras and radars are strategically placed to monitor traffic and catch speed violators. Being caught speeding can lead to substantial fines, and respecting these speed limits is imperative to ensure the safety of all road users.

Seatbelt use is mandatory

Seatbelt usage is a crucial safety measure, proven to reduce road accident fatalities. Malaysian authorities rigorously enforce this rule, requiring drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts while traveling.

Children under eight years of age must occupy the back seat and use a child seat. Violating this regulation can result in severe consequences, including potential suspension of your Malaysian driver's license. To avoid such repercussions, always buckle up when driving.

Prohibition of handheld mobile phone use

Using handheld mobile phones while driving is strictly forbidden in Malaysia, as it is a significant contributor to road accidents globally, as it diverts the driver's attention from the road. If you need to answer an important call, use a hands-free system to ensure safety while driving.

Avoid Driving with an Expired Domestic License

Driving with an expired driver's license can lead to severe penalties in Malaysia. An IDP merely serves as a translation of your native driver's license, making it an inadequate substitute for an expired license.

Your driver's license should contain essential information such as your name, address, driver's license number, vehicle class, validation date, photo, and other details found on your domestic driver's license. Renewing your driver's license is a straightforward process, which can be done online through the IDA's website. The renewal fee for a driver's license in Malaysia is 30 ringgit, valid for one year, while the IDP costs $49.

Top Destinations of Malaysia

Malaysia is celebrated for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful natural landscapes, and exquisite cuisine that collectively make it a world-class travel destination​​. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is renowned for its modern skyline, dominated by the Petronas Twin Towers, and is one of the world's most visited cities​​.

For beach enthusiasts, Langkawi offers stunning beaches and a wide range of attractions suitable for all types of travelers​​. Additionally, George Town in Penang is famous for its street food, street art, and vibrant heritage architecture​​, making these some of the best places to visit in Malaysia.

George Town

The iconic Petronas Towers, standing at 452 meters with 88 floors, are a must-visit. Avoid the long waits associated with taking public transport and opt for the convenience of a rental car. Prepare by securing your foreign driver's license to experience the country more liberally.

George Town

Georgetown Dispensary heritage building in Penang, Malaysia, under blue skies
Source: Photo by Sandip Roy on Unsplash

Explore George Town, a renowned tourist spot famous for the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the country. In this charming town, street art, delectable street food stalls, and lively street festivals prevail.

Penang Hill

One of the best unwinding spots in this country that offers the best skyline views is in the state of Penang. Aside from George Town, Penang Hill is one of the top destinations tourists should check out in Penang. Drive here and ride a funicular for a 2,007-meter-high climb to reach the top of Penang Hill in about five to ten minutes. If you're planning a driving trip to Malaysia, include Penang Hill on your list.

Enjoy a 360-degree view of the islands in the Skyway. You may also take a nature walk on a 1.6-kilometer trail, which leads to the rainforest and tropical gardens. You can also try the heart-thumping ziplines or trudge along the canopy walk that's about 40 meters up in the sky. January and February are the best months to visit the Penang Hills, while September and October are the wettest months in Penang.

Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands are a group of small islands, which was once a stopping point for traders traveling around Southeast Asia. The place is famous for its pristine waters, white-sand beaches, and jungle. You can tour each island by taking a water taxi or trek the island's walking trails. Trekking is highly recommended since you get to trek jungle paths and enjoy the waters' stunning views.

You can engage in fun water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. You can also join turtle conservation programs on the island and see the area where turtles lay their eggs. You might even get a chance to see them in action. It's best to visit the island in summer to experience the beach activities and trek the trails. It's challenging to get to the islands between November and March because of the rough sea conditions.

Mount Kinabalu

Standing at 4000 meters high, Mount Kinabalu is one of the safest peaks to climb in the world. You can find Mountain Kinabalu in Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides being a famous destination for climbers, Mount Kinabalu is the home of different plants and animals. There are buses at the transport center in the park that would take you to the mountain.

Only 180 permits are issued every day, so you need to make reservations and hire a guide to trek the mountain. The climb can take two days and one night, so bring enough supplies with you. It's best to visit the place during the driest months since it's challenging to trek the mountain on muddy trail paths. Also, plan an overnight stay in Kinabalu Park, so you have enough time to explore the oldest park in this country.

Sipadan Islands

Sipadan Islands, known for its pristine diving sites, present swimming opportunities with captivating marine life. However, remember to reserve your spot in advance, as only 120 permits are available daily.

Tourists usually take a day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, all visitors must leave the island at 3 PM. Nonetheless, it's still a destination you should keep on top of your list. The best time to go to the islands is during the dry season from March to October.

Pulau Langkawi

Gunung Mulu National Park entices adventure enthusiasts with its awe-inspiring caves and colossal limestone formations. The park's remote location can be reached by plane or a long boat ride through lush jungles. Pulau Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands, offers the Langkawi SkyCab experience, where glass-bottom gondolas provide breathtaking views. For a hassle-free journey, ensure your International Driver's Permit is ready.

Pulau Langkawi

On the country's west coast in the Andaman Seas lies an archipelago consisting of 99 islands surrounded by crystal clear waters. Pulau Langkawi is famous for the Langkawi SkyCab. The glass-bottom gondola lifts let you view the pristine waters above while on the 2.2-kilometer trip to the top of Gunung Machinchang mountain. It takes 15 minutes to finish the journey from the base station.

The trip includes a stop in the middle station to get a better view on a viewing platform. You can also take a nature hike through a trail from the middle station that leads to the jungle. You can also find a pedestrian sky bridge and strike up a conversation with the locals. The best months to visit Langkawi is between December to February when the weather is best.

Cameron Highlands

Aside from being the home of the Rafflesia, the largest individual flower in the world, Cameron Highlands is the largest tea-producing region in the country. You can find several tea estates sitting atop the hills where you can enjoy the overlooking view with a warm cup of tea. The tea estates are one of the remnants of British colonial times. Aside from the tea shops, people visit Cameron Highlands because of the colder climate.

If you're not a tea-loving guest, you can head to the orchards, lavender farms, or tea plantations for a stroll. Cameron Highlands is only 20 kilometers east of Ipoh and 150 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. Cameron Highlands is one of the top road trip destinations for a driving holiday here that you shouldn't miss.

Taman Negara

As one of the country's most famous ecotourists, Taman Negara National Park is the home of the world's oldest rainforest, where you'll find different species of plants and animals. The park encompasses three states: Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu. The park served as the land intended to be a protected area covering the three states after Theodore Hubback lobbied for the idea of the states' sultans.

Hike the trails in the 130-million-year-old rainforest and find elephants busking on the muddy banks of winding rivers. Taman Negara offers several wildlife adventures, including camping, trekking, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and rock climbing. The park is crowded between July and September because of the holidays, so it's best to visit it around February to October.

Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru, a delightful town where historical and contemporary infrastructure harmoniously coexist, has a fascinating transformation from its origins as a sleepy fishing village to its current status as the second-largest urban area in the region. For history enthusiasts, the Sultan Abu Bakar State Mosque and the Old Chinese Temple, situated in the heart of the downtown area, provide a glimpse into the city's rich heritage. Tourists often flock to Johor Bahru to revel in the fun rides and amusements at Legoland Malaysia.

Johor Bahru offers a wide selection of malls, such as City Square, KSL, Angsana, and Komtar, catering to the desires of avid shoppers. Food enthusiasts will find their culinary cravings satisfied by the top-rated restaurants and cafes dotting Jalan Dhoby. The ideal time to visit Johor Bahru is from June to August, when the climate is less humid, ensuring a comfortable experience.


Malacca, historically recognized as a thriving trading hub, stands as one of the country's smallest states, situated approximately 145 km from Kuala Lumpur and 240 km from Singapore. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts a plethora of charming historical landmarks that narrate the tale of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial influences. Among the notable historical sites are Christ Church, the Stadthuys, St. Paul's Hill, the Dutch Fort, the Portuguese Settlement, and many others.

In addition to the rich historical tours, Malacca also offers captivating attractions like the immersive Submarine Museum and the family-friendly Melaka Thousand Tales of Adventures. Visitors can browse through an assortment of goods and items at the vibrant night market on Jonker Walk. The best time to explore Malacca is during the dry season, extending from April to October, making it an excellent choice for a driving holiday in this region.

Get an IDP to Explore Malaysia's Wonders

Malaysia is a Southeast Asian destination that offers numerous attractions for travelers. It has pristine nature parks that cater to adventure seekers and wildlife enthusiasts.

For a hassle-free trip, make sure you have your idp ready alongside your native driver's license. Happy travels!

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