Langkawi Customs Duty & Tax
Since 1987, Langkawi has been given the status of 'Duty Free' island by the Malaysian Government. As a result, the customs duty and sales tax acts of the country were amended to create special provisions for the island. Until then, Langkawi too was guided by the same customs duty and tax regulations as the mainland of Malaysia. But no longer so.
So what does it mean to the tourists and visitors traveling to Langkawi? The good news is you can bring in almost all dutiable goods into the island and not pay customs duty or sale tax on them. But had it been some other place in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, you would have had to pay 30% duty on the assessed value of the dutiable goods, of course for the amount that exceeds the duty free allowance limit.
As a tourist or a visitor planning for a short vacation in Langkawi, is it worth bringing in lots of items into the island to save cost during your stay? Actually no. There are many duty free stores in the island including at the Airport, Kuah town, Jetty Point complex at Kuah near the ferry terminal, Pantai Cenang etc. You get almost all the items that you may need here at reasonably cheap prices. Items include liquor, tobacco, chocolates, perfume, cosmetics, clothes, accessories and lot more.
In Langkawi, there is no concept of Duty Free Allowance because customs duty on good does not apply at all, except for few specified items. So does it mean that you can bring in anything into Langkawi freely. NO. There are some goods on which you will have to pay the duty as per prescribed norm. And there are several items that are prohibited from importing into Langkawi like in any other place in Malaysia.
Items attracting customs duty at Langkawi
You can enter Langkawi by waterway through the Ferry Jetty Point at Kuah, by cruise or by air. If you carry any of the following items, you will need to pay customs duty at the entry point as per current tariff structure (30%) and based on assessed value.
Prohibition & restriction of import into Langkawi & Malaysia
None of the entry points will allow any prohibited material being imported into Langkawi. At all these entry points, one may be inspected and luggage checked in case the authorities suspect of such items being present. Although I have seldom seen checking being done, but there have been many instances of seizures and severe penalties & punishments.
Items under strict prohibition of import
Here are the items that are absolutely prohibited:
Pornographic or obscene materials of any type.
Any item or article that may be construed to disturb the peace & welfare of the island.
Turtle eggs, cocoa pods, rambutan fruits, pulasan, longan and nam-nam from Philippines and Indonesia.
Highly intoxicating spirits having quantity of lead exceeding 3.46mg per liter.
Daggers and Flick Knives.
Broadcast receivers capable of receiving radio transmissions for certain range.
Cloth having imprint of any verses of Quran.
Items requiring special permission/license to import
Here are some of the restricted items which can be brought in only with license or permit from the appropriate authority:
Diamond (except in personal jewelry in acceptable limit)
Eggs in shell, fresh or preserved meat, skin, poultry parts, chicken or duck meat.
Live fish, Milk & Milk Products, Animal oils & fats, meat extracts & meat juices.
Live animals like monkeys, lemurs, ape and others.
Round cabbage, rice flour, rice bran, rice polishing.
Arms & ammunitions, explosives, imitation arms & toy guns, fireworks & crackers.
Soil & pests.
Radio equipment capable of transmission below 3,000GHz frequency.
Plants, pesticides etc.
Electrical equipment operating at 50V, 120V DC or above (for domestic use).
Live or dead corals (except in jewelry).
Note that illegal drug trafficking carries a death penalty by hanging. Any drug import will require special permission from the Health Ministry of Malaysia.
Strict prohibition of export
Like restrictions in importing certain items into Langkawi, you can not take out or export certain items out of the island. Here are the items that have absolute export prohibition:
Export requiring permission/license
And here are the items that you can take out of the island only with permission from appropriate authority or proper license.
Animals or birds live or dead (other than domestic animal or fowl)
Poultry, eggs, meat of bovine animals, skins, plants including Orchids
Vegetables (fresh or frozen) in excess of 3kg per consignment
Palm seeds & kernels, cloned rubber seeds, sugar.
Arm & ammunitions, army equipment.
Corals live or dead, live prawns, shrimps, fish.
Further Information & Contacts
Royal Malaysia Customs & Excise
Block 2GI8, Ministry of Finance Complex, Precinct 2
Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62598 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Phone: (603) 8882 2100/2300; Fax: (603) 8889 5889
David Moore (December 2016)
I bought liquor at the duty free shop at Cenang Mall but security at Kuala Lumpur Airport would not let me take it through customs because it was not sealed. I told the cashier I was going back to Bali and she said I would have no problem taking the liquor back home. The security guards kept the 2 bottles of liquor. I was not happy. What a waste of money!!