Kuala Lumpur

Cars and Driving

Buying a Car

A wide range of cars is available including locally manufactured and assembled or imported, both types may be either new or used. In general, prices for imported cars are substantially higher than the USA and Europe although tariffs are slowly being lowered. Vehicle loans may be available through the dealership. You can find second-hand cars by viewing notice boards at the Shell office, expat association notices, newspapers, Auto Trader magazine, or the Classifieds section in our monthly newsletter Expatalk.

There are several companies that can assist in finding and buying a car. For their details please contact Outpost or check our Inside Guide in the publications library (requires log-in).

Driving License Requirements

In Malaysia you can drive using an international driving permit, but if you plan to be here a while it is necessary to obtain a Malaysian driver's license within 3 months of arrival. It is best to check with your own embassy about the regulations.

To apply for a license, you or your partner must have a valid Malaysian work permit (and a dependent pass for the non-working partner) for one year or more. Usually, only a road signs test is required. License holders of USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Netherlands are exempt from this test. In addition, some countries have a two-way agreement with Malaysia so that the driver's license conversion is "automatic". Please check the Road Transport Department of Malaysia to see if your country has a two-way agreement.

Application Requirements for a Malaysian driver's license:

  • A written confirmation (in English) from the issuing authority of the date that your original license was issued. This can normally be obtained from your embassy for a fee.
  • Your original passport and copy.
  • Copy of employment/dependent pass
  • Original driver's license and copy.
  • Translation of driver's license to English if needed (services for a fee provided by embassy)
  • 2 photographs (driver's license size)
  • Renewal of the Malaysia Driver's license can be done at any post office of POS Malaysia.

Car Insurance

Vehicle registration (road tax) and liability insurance is mandatory. Proof of a “no claims record” should be on original letterhead (copies or faxes are often unacceptable). The ‘no claims' discount only applies to one vehicle.

Car insurance is readily available through several agencies in KL. The dealership where you purchase the vehicle may sell insurance. Automobile Association Malaysia (AAM) is another resource, which also provides car breakdown services that may be purchased separately.

Driving in Malaysia

Malaysians drive on the left-hand side of the road. Kuala Lumpur is served by a complex system of highways, which bring vehicles into the center of the city. However, traffic jams and gridlocked intersections are common during rush hours and heavy rainstorm, and driving standards vary. Although driving and traffic seems chaotic to begin with most people adjust quickly. If you choose to drive, always go prepared with a map, a bottle of water, a mobile phone (with credit), toll fares, and a lot of patience! 

Driving in Kuala Lumpur can be a challenge and requires a good, up-to-date map. When purchasing road maps it is advisable to select the latest detailed street directory and a large map so that you can see the whole picture. The thick and comprehensive UBD "Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley Street Directory" is highly recommended. Satellite navigation systems are becoming popular and have increasingly accurate information. Various systems, including Garmin, are available in Kuala Lumpur. A popular app used by many people is Waze, a community-based navigation app which has the added advantage of up-to-date information on Kuala Lumpur's ever changing roads.

On the highway, you have two alternatives for paying tolls - cash or Touch n' Go smartcard. The cash tollbooths are usually located at the far end (left or right side) - look for the signs that say Lorong Tunai (meaning cash lane) or those with no marking at all.

Touch n' Go lanes are usually located at the center of the Toll Plaza, and are a great way to avoid the queues which inevitably develop around the cash lanes. The Touch n' Go can be used at all around Malaysia and is available for a refundable deposit or RM15 plus the stored value you choose of RM20, RM50, RM100, RM200, RM500. You can also use the card to pay for parking in some car-parks, for the PUTRA-Light Railway Transit and the PUTRALINE feeer buses (including the ParkMay Cityliner buses found in Kuala Lumpur). Top up your card at the booth marked Tambah Nilai (as you enter the highway but not available at every Plaza!). Make sure there is a minimum of RM10 on your card.

To purchase a Touch n' Go card, visit the sales counter located in the administration office at most toll plazas on PLUS, Metromac, LINKEDUA, ELITE highways and the Penang Bridge. You can also purchase them from the PUTRA-LRT stations. For added convenience, the SmartTAG unit is also available at the sales counter for RM220. This device can be placed on your car windscreen and the Touch n' Go card is inserted in the back allowing you to drive thru the SmartTAG lanes without stopping. If the SmartTAG lanes are not available, just enter the Touch n' Go lane and use the card as normal.