Currently, citizens traveling to Europe from Malaysia do not need to apply for a visa for short stays up to 90 days, as they are visa-exempt for Schengen passport-free zone. The Schengen Area is comprised of 22 European Union countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, among others, as well as 4 non-EU countries: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
However, although Malaysian citizens who plan to visit Europe do not need a visa, from 2021 they will need to apply online for an ETIAS visa waiver in order to travel to the Schengen Area. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is an electronic visa waiver designed to improve the screening of visa-exempt travelers to the region, to strengthen border control in the EU and to improve security for Europeans living in the Schengen Zone, and visitors traveling to it.
The European Parliament approved the ETIAS for Malaysia citizens in 2016, but it will take roughly 4 years to fully develop the new electronic visa waiver. The information provided on an ETIAS application from Malaysia will be screened against several European security databases managed by eu-LISA (European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice). This is to identify any potential threats to Europe before the visa waiver can be approved.
Europe Visa Waiver Requirements for Malaysian Citizens
From 2021, all citizens from Malaysia will be required to register for ETIAS in order to travel to Schengen Area countries for short stays for tourist, business, transit, and medical purposes. An ETIAS from Malaysia is valid for arrival in Europe by air only: travelers will need to show their approved ETIAS in order to board an aircraft for Europe.
In order to submit an ETIAS application, it is first necessary to meet the following 3 basic ETIAS requirements for Malaysian citizens:
- A valid Malaysian passport with at least 3 three months validity remaining from the date of arrival in the Schengen Area
- A current email address (needed to receive a copy of the approved ETIAS visa waiver)
- A credit or debit card (to pay the ETIAS from Malaysia fee)
Applicants for the ETIAS from Malaysia must have a biometric passport that is machine-readable.
Those who have dual nationality in Malaysia and another country should take care to use the same passport to complete the ETIAS application as that which they will later use to travel to the Schengen Area, as ETIAS is electronically linked to an individual passport. Malaysian citizens who erroneously attempt to travel to ETIAS countries with the wrong passport are likely to be denied boarding their transportation carrier or turned away at Schengen border control.
It will not be mandatory to print a paper copy to present to transportation carriers or Schengen Area border control, as the approved ETIAS is electronically linked to the traveler's passport. However, applicants are nevertheless advised to print a copy of ETIAS to keep on their person during their stay in Europe in case there is a need to show it at any point.
The ETIAS Application Process for Malaysians
The ETIAS visa waiver will be a legal requirement for Malaysians from 2021. Malaysian citizens will be able to submit a Europe visa waiver application from anywhere outside of the Schengen Area. The process is exclusively online and the applicant is able to use either their desktop, tablet, or mobile phone to complete the process.
Malaysian citizens are able to apply for the Europe visa waiver through the simple ETIAS application online, which only takes a few minutes to complete with personal, passport, and travel information, including:
- Full name
- Place of birth
- Date of birth
- Country of birth
- Current address
- Passport number
- Issue and expiry date of the passport
- Phone number
- Email address
- Schengen member state of first intended entry.
It is essential to make sure that all of the information provided on the ETIAS form for Malaysian citizens is correct and matches the details of the traveler's Malaysian passport. Any incorrect information, even small mistakes, is likely to result in the rejection of the ETIAS application.
It is necessary to submit a separate ETIAS authorization for Malaysia application for all children under the age of 18. Parents or legal guardians are able to submit an ETIAS application on behalf of a minor, although every child is required to have an individual approved ETIAS.
Before submitting the Europe visa waiver application from Malaysia, it is also necessary to answer a few security-and-health related questions, including about:
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Drug use
- Travel to conflict areas
- Past European travel information
ETIAS from Malaysia Security Procedures
The information provided on ETIAS visa waiver applications from Malaysia will all be screened against several information databases to identify any security threats to Europe before the travel authorization can be granted, including Interpol, SIS, VIS, Europol and EURODAC.
SIS, VIS, and EURODAC make up the Schengen Area security system and are all managed by eu-LISA, which also has responsibility for the management of the ETIAS application process. SIS allows Schengen countries to share information about suspected criminals entering Europe, as well as stolen assets, and missing people. The aims of the database are to promote border control cooperation, to increase cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and to enable cooperation on vehicle registration.
VIS supports the common EU visa policy by allowing Schengen Area countries to exchange visa information through a central information system. It collects biometric data from visa applications and stores it in a central database, and allows European countries to prevent fraudulent activities, protect travelers by fighting identity theft, and to enhance security.
EURODAC works in tandem with SIS and VIS, and is a fingerprint database which allows Schengen countries to identify those who illegally cross European borders. EURODAC compares fingerprint datasets to registers instant recognition of a traveler's fingerprints every time they apply for asylum in the European Union. This allows Schengen states to determine responsibility for examining the individual applications of asylum seekers.
An ETIAS visa waiver for Malaysian citizens is likely to be refused if any serious criminal activity related to the applicant shows up on these databases. As the system is geared more towards identifying terrorist and human trafficking threats, many countries will still grant entry to travelers with a minor criminal history. However, Malaysians with serious drug offenses or a public order conviction are also likely to be denied entry by many Schengen countries.
ETIAS from Malaysia for Short Stays in Schengen
The ETIAS Europe visa waiver is a multiple entry travel authorization which permits Malaysians to travel freely between countries around the Schengen zone. It will allow multiple short stays of 90 days within every 180-day period, and is valid for 3 years from the moment of approval, or until the ETIAS holder’s passport expires. It is therefore not necessary to apply for ETIAS before every trip to the Schengen zone.
ETIAS authorities recommend that Malaysia citizens apply for the Europe visa waiver at least 72 hours (3 days) before the intended date of entry to the Schengen Area in order to allow sufficient processing time for the ETIAS to be approved. In some cases, additional information may be requested from the applicant before an approved ETIAS can be granted.
Travelers should be aware it is possible for a Malaysia to Europe visa waiver to be revoked if the conditions for issuing the travel authorization are no longer met. This is most likely to be in cases where authorities believe the ETIAS was obtained by providing misleading or fraudulent information.
It is also important to note that the Schengen visa waiver for Malaysians does not guarantee entry to Schengen countries: it merely grants holders permission to travel to Europe. The final decision for entry will be made by immigration officials at the border, and supporting documents may be required to guarantee entry, including:
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover the stay in the Schengen Area
- Proof of travel insurance with medical cover
- Return flight tickets/tickets to an onward destination
Schengen Visa for Malaysian Citizens for Long Stays in Europe
Any Malaysian citizen that wishes to enter Europe for over 90 consecutive days, or for other purposes than those permitted with ETIAS, such as to work or study, will need to apply for a Schengen visa. As opposed to an ETIAS for Malaysian citizens, a Schengen visa is only valid for entry to one specific country in the area. It is necessary to apply for a Schengen visa from an embassy or consulate in Malaysia of the specific Schengen country the traveler wishes to visit.
It is necessary to make an appointment at the relevant embassy or consulate, and bring a range of documents, including:
- A valid Malaysian passport containing at least 2 blank pages
- A completed Schengen visa for Malaysians application form
- Copies of any previously issued Schengen visas
- A recent photograph of the traveler, passport-sized and taken against a white background
- Proof of sufficient financial means to cover the stay in Europe
- Travel insurance which covers medical care in the Schengen Area
- Round trip flight tickets, or tickets to an onward destination
- Any accommodation bookings the traveler has made for their stay
The length of validity a Schengen Europe visa for a Malaysian citizen is determined on an individual basis. It may be issued as a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visa.