Digital Nomad Visa Comparison: United Arab Emirates vs. Malaysia

A comparison of remote work visas for United Arab Emirates and Malaysia.

Digital Nomad Visa Comparison: United Arab Emirates vs. Malaysia

Digital Nomad Visa Comparison: United Arab Emirates vs Malaysia

If you're a digital nomad, you're probably aware that visa requirements can make it a little challenging to live and work while on the road. It helps to find countries that have specific programs that cater to remote workers.

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates offers a Virtual Working Programme for digital nomads. Here are some of its features:

Country United Arab Emirates
Program Virtual Working Programme
Cost of Visa US$611 (including application fees, processing fees, pre-application medical exam, and Emirates ID)
Income Requirement Yes - a minimum of US$5,000 per month salary
Taxation No
COVID testing required No
Quarantine required No
Length of Stay 1 year, renewable upon re-application
Work Restriction Virtual Program document holders and their dependents cannot perform work for a local employer in Dubai or provide any services to any person or entity carrying out business in Dubai
Other Requirements
  • Hold a passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Must have a health insurance with UAE coverage validity
  • Proof of employment from current employer with a one-year contract validity
  • Must have a minimum salary of US$5,000 per month along with last month's pay slip and 3 preceding months bank statement
  • Business owners must provide proof of ownership of their business and should have an average monthly income of US$5,000 along with 3 preceding months' bank statement


Malaysia also has a digital nomad visa under the DE Rantau Program. Here's what you need to know about it:

Country Malaysia
Program DE Rantau Nomad Pass under DE Rantau Program
Cost of Visa Application Fee : - For individual: MYR1,060 (including SST of 6%) - For dependents: MYR530 per additional dependent (including SST of 6%)
Immigration Pass Fee for each applicant: - For 3 months: RM90 - For 1 year: RM360 - Multiple entry Visa Fee: Varies country by country
Income Requirement Yes:
  • For foreign Digital Nomads: above US$24,000 annually
  • For Local Digital Nomads: above RM36,000 annually
Taxation Yes, unless it can be exempted under the Double Taxation Agreement subject to meeting the required conditions
COVID testing required No
Quarantine required No
Length of Stay 3 to 12 months; with an option to extend to additional 12 months i.e. total of 24 months of stay. The holder of this Pass will also enjoy multiple entry rights for the validity duration of Pass. Malaysian does not require a work pass.
Work Restriction The applicant is required to have a career in a domain related to Information Technology, Digital Content Creation and Development, or Digital Marketing. If a foreign digital nomad is applying for the DE Rantau Nomad Pass as a remote worker, then his employment should be with a Foreign/Non-Malaysian Company. Local digital nomad as a remote worker, the employment may either be local or foreign company. Digital Freelancer and Independent Contractor can work either with foreign or local company.
Other Requirements
  • A passport valid for more than 14 months is required
  • For Digital Freelancer, contracts or invoices and orders and clients mentioning the duration and value of the contract will be required. In case there is no specific contract, the applicant would be required to prove that income generated is more than US$24,000 annually for foreigners or MYR36,000 annually for Malaysians
  • For remote worker, proof of an active employment with a company outside Malaysia is required stating the monthly or annual salary, which should be more than US$24,000 annually for foreigner or MYR36,000 annually for Malaysian.
  • The age of the main applicant should be above 18 years, and immediate family members of the applicant are also eligible to apply.
  • A copy of Certificate of Good Conduct (COGC) is required for submission of foreign digital nomad application.

Both the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia have specific visa programs for digital nomads, with unique features and requirements. Choosing between the two countries will depend on your lifestyle preferences, work requirements, and other factors that suit your personal situation.