Starting September 1 this year, any person leaving Malaysia by air will need to pay a departure tax ranging from RM8 (US$2) to RM150 (US$36), according to a Malaysian federal government gazette issued on July 31.

The departure tax will depend on the flight destination and travel class.

For flights departing from Malaysia to other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, passengers travelling in economy class will need to pay a departure tax of RM8 (US$2), while those flying in other classes will have to pay a higher fee of RM50 (US$12).

The departure tax will be much higher for flights to non-ASEAN destinations: economy class passengers will be required to pay RM20 (US$5), while those travelling in premium classes will need to pay as much as RM150 (US$36).

Another federal government gazette issued on the same day outlines a list of people exempted from paying the departure tax. This include infants and toddlers below 24 months old, air passengers transiting via any international airport in Malaysia within 12 hours and crew members on duty on board of any vehicle including aircraft or vessel.

According to the Departure Levy Act 2019, anyone who fails to pay the departure levy will be liable to a fine of up to RM500,000 (US$119,418), or “imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both”.

Malaysia is not the only country in the Asia-Pacific region to impose a departure or visitor tax. For example, effective from January 7 this year, most visitors to Japan also need to pay a departure tax of ¥1,000 (US$9.4). Travellers flying out of Singapore’s Changi Airport also have to pay additional charges.

Most recently, New Zealand imposed a levy on most international visitors of up to NZ$35 (US$23) from July 1 this year, while Australian citizens and permanent residents, as well as visitors from many Pacific Island countries are exempted from paying the tax.