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International shipping guide to Malaysia

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Updated on 04 Jul 202112 min read

On this page, you will find some of the essential information you’ll need if your business will engage in international shipping to Malaysia. We offer an overview of the import process, including the customs procedures and requirements for bringing goods into Malaysia, and a rundown of route information for both air and ocean freight shipping.

Freight Forwarding to Malaysia: Import and Customs Facts

The following information will help you to know what to expect when your shipments reach the Malaysian border.

If you are entrusting your shipments to the team here at Shipa Freight, or you find a good freight forwarder in Malaysia, you won’t need to worry too much about how to meet the various customs requirements that we outline in this section. That’s because the fees you pay for shipping include the services of customs clearance experts who interact with Malaysian customs on a daily basis, and have deep knowledge of the import process.

Therefore, the details here are just for your interest and information. Of course, if you do decide to manage customs declarations internally, it will be critical to extend your research beyond this page. In fact, you’ll need to become something of an expert on international shipping to Malaysia, and on the associated requisites to clear your shipments. Either that or you will need to recruit an employee with the necessary knowledge and shipping experience.

Malaysian Customs Service: Requirements for Imports

If you ask a freight forwarder in Malaysia about the customs procedures for inbound shipments, you’ll probably receive a response indicating that the process is not that hard, and indeed, in comparison with many other countries, it really isn’t. Even the customs documents have very simple titles, like “Customs Form No.1” and “Customs Form No.2”, with No.1 being the import declaration and No.2 being for exports.

These days, freight forwarding companies in Malaysia typically file import declarations online, on behalf of their customers, using the uCustoms system accessible from the Malaysian Customs website homepage.

If you decide to make your own declarations, you can find full instructions for using uCustoms on the Royal Malaysian Customs Department website. However, as even the smallest error or lack of clarity in the details of a declaration can lead to delays in customs processing, we recommend that you entrust the task to your freight forwarder in Malaysia, or of course to our team if you are a Shipa Freight customer.

Documents Required by Malaysian Customs

As already mentioned, you or your appointed agent must lodge your import declaration on Customs Form No.1. You will also need to make the following documents available for submission with the declaration:

  • The bill of lading for your shipment;
  • The commercial invoice
  • Bank documents (such as a letter of credit)
  • A packing list
  • Certificates of origin for the goods you are shipping
  • Copies of any applicable import licenses

When Malaysian Customs is in possession of the above documents, along with your declaration and the physical goods, they will calculate the duties and taxes that you must pay. The Customs Department will not release your goods their control until you have paid the full amount of calculated duty and/or tax.

Shipping to Malaysia: Prohibitions and Restrictions

The Malaysian government operates quite a liberal policy in terms of what it allows to be imported. However, it may prohibit imports of certain products, for certain periods, if it deems that local production of those products is sufficient to keep the country supplied. The government applies this particular policy mainly to dairy and poultry products, and to sugar.

If your business will be attempting to import these product types, you should first check with us (if you are a Shipa Freight customer) or with your shipping company in Malaysia, to ensure that no such prohibitions are currently in place.

Another important thing to remember if you will ship meat or animal products to Malaysia is that it must be certified Halal. You must also be in possession of an appropriate import license if you plan to ship these products to Malaysia. Other products that require an import license include:

  • Agricultural products and foodstuffs
  • Iron products
  • Plants
  • Vehicles and heavy equipment
  • Chemicals

Ocean Freight Shipping to Malaysia

Ocean freight is the ideal way to transport your goods if you wish to minimize the shipping cost to Malaysia. Of course, you won’t enjoy the speed advantage of air freight, but you will have the flexibility to choose between less-than-container-load and full-container-load shipping, which will really help you to find the most cost-efficient way to ship your freight, depending on the size of your consignments.

You will also have the freedom to select either port-to-port or door-to-door shipping, both of which are services offered by Shipa Freight—and by some local freight forwarding companies in Malaysia.

Please note that the route information on this page relates only to port-to-port shipping, but if you want door-to-door shipping, you just need to select that option when requesting your quote on the Shipa Freight platform.

International Shipping to Malaysia: Top Ocean Routes

International shipping lines have no trouble filling their Malaysia-bound vessels with cargo. Capacity is in high demand and freight forwarding companies in Malaysia and around the world keep containers flowing in at a steady rate.

The bulk of that cargo comes from the many Asian countries that enjoy trading relationships with Malaysia, as evidenced by the popularity of the following five top ocean routes for Malaysian imports:

  • Ningbo (China) to Port Klang
  • Ningbo (China) to Tanjung Pelepas
  • Shanghai(China) to Port Klang
  • Singapore to Tanjung Pelepas
  • Surabaya (Indonesia) to Tanjung Pelepas

The Longest and Shortest Ocean Routes for Shipping to Malaysia

Any shipping company in Malaysia will have many customers booking transportation along the intra-Asian ocean trade lanes. However, as well as being the busiest, these lanes also comprise the shortest routes for international shipping to Malaysia.

Two of the very shortest routes bring freight to Malaysia from its two closest neighbors—Singapore and Indonesia. The two routes in question link Belawan in Indonesia with Port Klang, and the port of Singapore with Tanjung Pelepas. Both of them involve transit times of less than one day.

The longest route for ocean freight to Malaysia, as you might expect, is one that brings freight from Eastern Canada. That route originates in Montreal and terminates at the Georgetown port on the Malaysian island of Penang. The transit time for this route is around 52 days.

List of Ocean Routes for Shipping to Malaysia

From America

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Brazil Santos Port Klang 25 Days
Brazil Itaguai Port Klang 23 Days
Canada Vancouver Port Klang 30 Days
Canada Montreal Pasir Gudang 45 Days
Canada Montreal Penang 52 Days
Canada Montreal Port Klang 44 Days
United States Oakland Port Klang 22 Days
United States Atlanta Port Klang 31 Days
United States Atlanta Penang 41 Days
United States Atlanta Pasir Gudang 33 Days
United States Boston Pasir Gudang 39 Days
United States Boston Penang 46 Days
United States Boston Port Klang 42 Days
United States Baltimore Port Klang 39 Days
United States Baltimore Penang 49 Days
United States Houston Port Klang 44 Days
United States Houston Penang 46 Days
United States Charleston Penang 38 Days
United States Charleston Port Klang 27 Days
United States Long Beach Pasir Gudang 26 Days
United States Long Beach Penang 26 Days
United States Long Beach Port Klang 23 Days
United States Miami Penang 40 Days
United States Miami Port Klang 40 Days
United States Mobile Penang 45 Days
United States New Orleans Port Klang 43 Days
United States New Orleans Penang 46 Days
United States Norfolk Penang 45 Days
United States Norfolk Port Klang 45 Days
United States Port Everglades Port Klang 40 Days
United States Port Everglades Penang 42 Days
United States Savannah Port Klang 29 Days
United States Savannah Penang 39 Days

From Europe

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Belgium Antwerp Tanjung Pelepas 21 Days
Belgium Antwerp Port Klang 20 Days
Croatia Rijeka Port Klang 30 Days
Croatia Rijeka Pasir Gudang 30 Days
Croatia Rijeka Penang 33 Days
Croatia Rijeka Tanjung Pelepas 27 Days
Denmark Aarhus Port Klang 35 Days
Denmark Aarhus Penang 38 Days
Denmark Aarhus Pasir Gudang 39 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Penang 46 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Pasir Gudang 44 Days
Denmark Copenhagen Port Klang 39 Days
Finland Helsinki Port Klang 43 Days
Finland Helsinki Pasir Gudang 47 Days
Finland Helsinki Penang 46 Days
Finland Helsinki Tanjung Pelepas 40 Days
France Le Havre Port Klang 24 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Port Klang 28 Days
France Fos-sur-Mer Tanjung Pelepas 24 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Tanjung Pelepas 23 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Port Klang 30 Days
Greece Athinai Tanjung Pelepas 14 Days
Greece Athinai Pasir Gudang 22 Days
Greece Athinai Penang 22 Days
Greece Athinai Port Klang 19 Days
Ireland Dublin Port Klang 37 Days
Italy Genoa Port Klang 26 Days
Italy Genoa Tanjung Pelepas 23 Days
Italy La Spezia Tanjung Pelepas 27 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Port Klang 44 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Pasir Gudang 43 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Tanjung Pelepas 41 Days
Lithuania Klaipeda Penang 47 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Port Klang 32 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Tanjung Pelepas 28 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Penang 35 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Pasir Gudang 35 Days
Norway Oslo Port Klang 41 Days
Poland Gdansk Pasir Gudang 37 Days
Poland Gdansk Tanjung Pelepas 40 Days
Poland Gdansk Port Klang 39 Days
Poland Gdansk Penang 42 Days
Portugal Lisbon Port Klang 38 Days
Portugal Lisbon Tanjung Pelepas 38 Days
Russia Vladivostok Tanjung Pelepas 18 Days
Slovenia Koper Tanjung Pelepas 21 Days
Slovenia Koper Port Klang 30 Days
Slovenia Koper Penang 46 Days
Spain Barcelona Tanjung Pelepas 32 Days
Spain Barcelona Port Klang 35 Days
Spain Barcelona Penang 42 Days
Spain Valencia Port Klang 30 Days
Spain Valencia Tanjung Pelepas 29 Days
Sweden Gothenburg Port Klang 35 Days
Sweden Gothenburg Penang 44 Days
Ukraine Odessa Port Klang 30 Days
Ukraine Odessa Pasir Gudang 34 Days
Ukraine Odessa Penang 33 Days
Ukraine Odessa Tanjung Pelepas 26 Days
United Kingdom Belfast Port Klang 37 Days
United Kingdom Belfast Tanjung Pelepas 39 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Penang 40 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Pasir Gudang 39 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Tanjung Pelepas 37 Days
United Kingdom Grangemouth Port Klang 33 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Tanjung Pelepas 24 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Port Klang 34 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Penang 34 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Port Klang 34 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Tanjung Pelepas 24 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Penang 29 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Tanjung Pelepas 24 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Port Klang 35 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Penang 29 Days

From Asia and Oceania

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Australia Brisbane Tanjung Pelepas 11 Days
Australia Sydney Tanjung Pelepas 19 Days
Australia Adelaide Pasir Gudang 14 Days
Australia Adelaide Penang 16 Days
Australia Adelaide Tanjung Pelepas 17 Days
Australia Adelaide Port Klang 11 Days
Australia Fremantle Tanjung Pelepas 11 Days
Australia Fremantle Penang 14 Days
Australia Fremantle Port Klang 14 Days
Australia Fremantle Pasir Gudang 14 Days
Australia Melbourne Port Klang 14 Days
Australia Melbourne Tanjung Pelepas 19 Days
Australia Melbourne Penang 18 Days
Australia Melbourne Pasir Gudang 17 Days
Bangladesh Chittagong Port Klang 4 Days
Bangladesh Chittagong Tanjung Pelepas 5 Days
China Dalian Port Klang 17 Days
China Fuzhou Port Klang 10 Days
China Ningbo Port Klang 9 Days
China Ningbo Tanjung Pelepas 8 Days
China Nansha Port Klang 6 Days
China Nansha Tanjung Pelepas 4 Days
China Shanghai Tanjung Pelepas 9 Days
China Shanghai Port Klang 11 Days
China Qingdao Tanjung Pelepas 12 Days
China Qingdao Port Klang 13 Days
China Fuzhou Tanjung Pelepas 7 Days
China Xiamen Port Klang 8 Days
China Shekou Tanjung Pelepas 4 Days
China Xingang Port Klang 13 Days
China Tianjin Tanjung Pelepas 12 Days
China Dalian Tanjung Pelepas 19 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Port Klang 7 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Tanjung Pelepas 6 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Penang 11 Days
Indonesia Semarang Tanjung Pelepas 2 Days
Indonesia Belawan Port Klang 1 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Tanjung Pelepas 4 Days
India Chennai Port Klang 4 Days
India Mundra Port Klang 9 Days
Japan Yokohama Penang 15 Days
Japan Hakata Tanjung Pelepas 16 Days
Japan Nagoya Tanjung Pelepas 15 Days
Japan Yokohama Tanjung Pelepas 12 Days
Japan Yokohama Port Klang 12 Days
Japan Kobe Penang 15 Days
Japan Kobe Tanjung Pelepas 15 Days
Japan Kobe Port Klang 10 Days
Japan Hakata Pasir Gudang 12 Days
Japan Tokyo Pasir Gudang 20 Days
Japan Nagoya Pasir Gudang 18 Days
Japan Shimizu Pasir Gudang 18 Days
Japan Kobe Pasir Gudang 17 Days
Japan Yokohama Pasir Gudang 20 Days
New Zealand Auckland Port Klang 19 Days
New Zealand Auckland Penang 26 Days
New Zealand Auckland Tanjung Pelepas 28 Days
New Zealand Auckland Pasir Gudang 23 Days
New Zealand Tauranga Tanjung Pelepas 18 Days
Pakistan Karachi Port Klang 10 Days
Philippines Manila Port Klang 11 Days
Philippines Manila Tanjung Pelepas 14 Days
Philippines Manila Penang 10 Days
Singapore Singapore Tanjung Pelepas 1 Day
Singapore Singapore Pasir Gudang 11Days
Sri Lanka Colombo Tanjung Pelepas 4 Days
Sri Lanka Colombo Port Klang 4 Days
South Korea Busan Tanjung Pelepas 19 Days
South Korea Incheon Penang 8 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Tanjung Pelepas 7 Days
Taiwan Taipei Tanjung Pelepas 11 Days
Taiwan Taipei Pasir Gudang 7 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Tanjung Pelepas 2 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Port Klang 3 Days
Thailand Bangkok Port Klang 4 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Penang 6 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Tanjung Pelepas 2 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Pasir Gudang 2 Days
Vietnam Da Nang Tanjung Pelepas 4 Days
Vietnam Qui Nhon Tanjung Pelepas 3 Days
Vietnam Haiphong Tanjung Pelepas 6 Days

Trade Lanes for Air Freight to Malaysia

If your import strategy prioritizes speed over the need to minimize the shipping cost to Malaysia, air freight will be your natural choice of transportation. As a full-service logistics and shipping provider, Shipa Freight offers competitive rates on air freight to Malaysia, and as with our ocean freight services, you have the possibility to select from door-to-door or port-to-port shipping.


Busiest Routes for Air Freight Shipping to Malaysia

In terms of freight volume, trade lanes for air freight to Malaysia mirror those for ocean freight, particularly in the fact that intra-Asian routes are the busiest and most popular with shippers. The five following routes are among the most patronized by businesses importing goods to Malaysia by air:

  • Singapore to Kuala Lumpur
  • Jakarta(Indonesia) to Kuala Lumpur
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) to Kuala Lumpur
  • Hong Kong(Hong Kong) to Kuala Lumpur
  • Bangkok(Thailand) to Kuala Lumpur

Air Freight to Malaysia: Longest and Shortest Flights

The longest direct route for air freight to Malaysia is from the United Kingdom. The transit time for this route between London Heathrow Airport and Kuala Lumpur, is approximately 13 hours. This of course, does not mean 13 hours is the maximum transit time for air freight to Malaysia.

For example, if you are shipping from a location in the United States, your freight will likely fly indirectly, either by two or more legs on one aircraft with refueling layovers or by transshipment to a different aircraft at some point midway between its origin and final destination.

Shippers bringing freight to Malaysia from Singapore have no such concerns about flight time. It’s possible to send air freight from Changi Airport to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur) on one of the many daily flights between the two cities. The flight takes less than one hour, making Changi to KLIA the shortest international route to Malaysia. Indeed, it is likely that the transit time to and from airports will be much more of a concern than the flight time.

Some Example Air Freight Routes and Transit Times to Malaysia

From Africa and the Middle East

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Oman Muscat Kuala Lumpur 7 Hours
Qatar Doha Kuala Lumpur 8 Hours
Saudi Arabia Jeddah Kuala Lumpur 9 Hours
Turkey Istanbul Kuala Lumpur 11 Hours
United Arab Emirates Dubai Kuala Lumpur 7 Hour

From Europe

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Germany Frankfurt Kuala Lumpur 12 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Kuala Lumpur 12 Hours
United Kingdom London Heathrow Kuala Lumpur 13 Hours

From Asia and Oceania

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Australia Sydney Kuala Lumpur 8 Hours
Australia Melbourne Kuala Lumpur 8 Hours
Australia Perth Kuala Lumpur 6 Hours
Australia Brisbane Kuala Lumpur 9 Hours
Bangladesh Dhaka Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Cambodia Phnom Penh Kuala Lumpur 2 Hours
China Guangzhou Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
China Beijing Kuala Lumpur 6 Hours
China Shanghai Kuala Lumpur 6 Hours
China Shanghai Penang 5 Hours
China Xiamen Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
China Guangzhou Penang 4 Hours
China Chengdu Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
China Shenzhen Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Penang 4 Hours
India Chennai Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
India Mumbai Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
Indonesia Denpasar Kuala Lumpur 3 Hours
Indonesia Jakarta Kuala Lumpur 2 Hours
Indonesia Surabaya Kuala Lumpur 3 Hours
Japan Tokyo Kuala Lumpur 7 Hours
Japan Osaka Kuala Lumpur 6 Hours
Japan Tokyo Penang 7 Hours
New Zealand Auckland Kuala Lumpur 10 Hours
Philippines Manila Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Singapore Singapore Kuala Lumpur <1 Hour
Singapore Singapore Penang 1 Hour
South Korea Seoul Kuala Lumpur 6 Hours
Sri Lanka Colombo Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Taiwan Taipei Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
Taiwan Kaohsiung Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Thailand Bangkok Kuala Lumpur 2 Hours
Thailand Bangkok Penang 2 hours
Vietnam Hanoi Kuala Lumpur 3 Hours
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Kuala Lumpur 2 Hours
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Penang 2 Hours

Shipa Freight: Your Forwarder for Malaysia, Asia, and the World

Whether your business is based in Malaysia or elsewhere, whether you want air freight or ocean freight services, from port to port or door to door, and whether your shipments are large or small, Shipa Freight is here to simplify your fulfillment processes.

Our logistics experts have deep knowledge and experience of working with shipping lines and customs authorities—as much as you are likely to find in any freight forwarding company in Malaysia or elsewhere, and our technology helps you get fast, competitive freight quotes, and fast, efficient transportation for your international shipments.

Visit the Shipa Freight platform now, and see how simple it can be to get your goods on the move to Malaysia, Asia, or anywhere around the world.

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