What do I need to know about custom clearance Malaysia?

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A customs inspection is an official measure carried out by the customs office and for some specific reasons for a customs inspection may include doubts regarding the customs declaration, monitoring, or suspicion of smuggling or trademark violations.

During a shipment inspection, the goods are inspected by customs, or more specifically by a customs agent, to check their quantity, properties or value.

A declaration process is a process to declare any shipment that shall give a full and true account of the number and description of packages, of the description, weight, measure or quantity, and value of all such dutiable goods and the country of origin of such goods.

Documents that required by RMCD includes Custom Form 1, airway bill, commercial invoice or any relevant permits, licenses or certificates.

Incorrect declaration is the failure to indicate the correct value of the goods, description of goods or the quantity. Shipments should not be declared as a nominal value for samples, gifts or free-of-charge items. The declaration shall give a full and true account of the number and description of goods and of the description, weight, measure or quantity and value of all such dutiable goods and the country of destination of such goods.

The reason for a shipment to Return to Origin (RTO) is  due to the customer unable to provide the relevant permit to the Customs. Besides, when a customer disagrees with HS code amended by customs and request for appointment with customs and the appeal is rejected, customer will need to pay the duty and tax amount as indicated by the customs. If the customer refuses to pay, the shipment will be RTO.

Yes, DHL Express Malaysia performs customs clearance for all shipments imported into Malaysia as it acts as a broker on behalf of its customers.

No, an importer does not need to appoint DHL as a Clearance Agent as it is not required by the RMCD (Royal Malaysian Customs Department) for Express Courier Companies.

Customs clearance process will start when we (DHL Express at Destination Country) receive the invoice and other relevant document image from DHL Express at the origin country.

In Malaysia, the shipment will only be cleared and released once all payment of duties and taxes have been paid. A shipment may also be released by Customs before shipment arrival. However, if there are any issues with the shipment and documentation, shipment release may take 24 to 48 hours after the arrival of the shipment.

In order to perform customs clearance, a full set of complete invoice and the air waybill are required. If the item shipped is a controlled/restricted or prohibited, additional permit/license may be required by the authority.

Yes, this is allowed by Customs. However, shipments which are controlled and restricted may require clearance to be completed after arrival as there may be customs examination required and additional documentation needed from the importer.

Customs Form No 1 (K1)Declaration of goods imported
Customs Form No 2
Declaration of goods to be exported
Customs Form No 3
Application/ Permit to transport goods from Peninsular Malaysia to East Malaysia or vice versa
Customs Form No 8
Bonded Movement of Dutiable and Non Dutiable Shipments in Malaysia

Top reasons why your goods have not been released by the Customs authority:

  • Item requires permit from a government agency
  • Pending clearance approval from Importer
  • Pending duty and tax payment confirmation by Importer
  • Item requires physical examination by Customs or Other Government Agencies
  • Valuation Related Issue – Item Value is not agreeable by Customs, may require Proof of Purchase from Importer
  • Classification Issue – Customs is not agreeable with the item classification, may require catalogue or technical information of the item
  • Insufficient Invoice provided during pick up at origin
  • Temporary Import and Repair and Return Shipments require Physical Examination by Customs
  • Expired Exemption
  • Duties and Taxes exceed RM5000 – requires a direct cheque/payment by importer
  • Shipment is confiscated by Customs or Other Government Agencies

Requesting a Duty and Tax Drawback must be done by the importer as DHL does not perform the drawback process.

DHL is only able to assist for Duty and Tax Calculation and provide that information to importer if they wish to perform a duty drawback.

HS Codes is used to determine the duties and tax rates, control and restrictions as well as any rules of origin applicable to the country.

All duties or customs taxes imposed on imported goods will need to be paid in advance before the goods can be released (import tax and goods and services tax).

Export clearance defines all the procedures and formalities that must be followed in order to export a particular good from an exporting country including but not limited to obtaining any export license or other official authorization and carry out all customs formalities necessary for export of the goods.

Import clearance refers to a series of procedures for the release of imported goods. The importer declares the goods to be imported to the head of a customs, who would accept the declaration if it is legitimate and justified according to the Customs Act and relevant laws, and then issue the certificate of import declaration to the declarant to ensure that the imported goods are legitimately declared.

The term OGA refers to Other Government Agencies (OGA). Some items from the shipments may require Other Governmental Agencies (OGA) clearance or permit. It depends on which OGA that requires what permit and the contents of the shipments.

OGA clearance means that the shipment is undergoing clearance with Other Government Agencies (OGA) for the purpose of border control. These items going through OGA clearance are listed or suspected by the Customs to be listed in the Customs (Prohibition of Import) Order 2017.

Listed below is the common OGAs for which type of shipment and the timeline should be within 24 hours depending on the product. Any other permit support will be handled on case to case basis.


  • Camera/ Digital Camera
  • Car DVD player
  • Android tv box/ TV box
  • Wireless device
  • Laptop/ Notebook/ Computer


  • Plastic figurine/ figurine
  • Toys (all types)
  • Puzzles
  • Scale model


  • Vegetable seeds
  • Food items
  • Wood items
  • Plant based products

Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ)

  • Helmet

There will be no additional charges for Other Government Agencies (OGA) clearance.

Any person who is dissatisfied with a decision of a proper officer of customs as to whether any particular goods are or are not included in a class of goods appearing in an order with valuation, weighing, measuring or examining of any goods may pay the customs duty levied under protest. 

The owner may, within the times limited in Customs Act 1901, bring an action against the Collector, in State Court of competent jurisdiction, for the recovery of the whole or any part of the sum so paid. 

Customer will have to go to the Customs office based on company registered address (e.g. Kuala Lumpur in Kelana Jaya and Selangor in Port Klang) for a duty drawback. The customer will also need to prepare the related documents as per required by the Customs.

Customer can reclaim back the duty that has been paid, challenge to Customs with strong reason and a proper document.

Any person who is dissatisfied with a decision of a proper officer of customs under subsection 13 (1) under Customs Act 1967 as to whether any particular goods or are not included in a class of goods appearing in an order made under subsection 11 (1) or with the valuation, weighing, measuring or examining of any goods may pay the customs duty levied under protest. 

Transshipment is the shipment of goods or containers to an immediate destination, then to yet another destination. Transshipment usually takes place in transport hubs; much international transshipment also takes place in designated customs area.

K8 is customs declaration form gazette by the government for the movement of goods between bonded areas. This applies to both import and exportation to and from bonded area.

K8 and K3 can be referred to the Gateway Clearance Work Instruction. K9 is a movement of shipments going out from LMW companies. DHL Express does not perform any K9 declaration. It is the LMW licensee responsibility to do so. 

Drop shipment is usually when a shipment is having a different delivery address than the actual importer.

Strategic Trade Act (STA) has a list of Strategic Trade Goods (STG) that are of dual use or used for any act of terrorism or for the manufacturing of Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). STA items has to be alerted to DHL Express by the shipper and a service alert must be included on the shipment. An STG must have an STA permit issued by MITI.

Shipments going to a diplomat and addressed to a diplomatic address are exempted from any payment of duties and taxes.

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Confiscation means lawfully seize of illegal prohibited goods and seize of conveyance in Customs for concealing of exported goods or carrying smuggling of any goods. 

If the customs is detaining the shipment, it will usually take within a few days. Should there be any suspicious contents, customs will request for an inspection. Thus, shipment will be on hold for more than 14 days and will not be cleared from customs without a solid reason. 

If Customs decided to detain a shipment, they will provide the importer with a formal detained letter

  • That the goods has been detained by Customs
  • The precise reason for the detainment
  • Any additional information that may assist in the prompt disposition of the detainment

You will get it within five (5) days of the determination to detain the shipment.

Yes, however if the shipment is a prohibition item that is imported without knowledge, customs may release with a warning. 

The shipment may contain sample posters thus it will require inspection from Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN). Most publications materials (such as DVD, books) will require inspections from KDN.

Shipment is confiscated by Customs as it is imported without the required import license or permit. The shipment may also be an item listed as absolute prohibition under the Prohibition of Import or Export. 

This is because the shipment has been confiscated by Customs or has been handed over to Customs due to non-claimable items, prohibited item or any non-compliance to the Customs Act committed by any related parties.


Physical examination is an examination of goods which is carried out after declaration of goods in order to inspect if there is any suspicious item in the shipments.

Physical examination determines the following:

  • Whether the imported of goods are truly and correctly described in the customs declaration and by the invoice.
  • Whether the imported of goods are of classification which is prohibited either absolutely or conditionally under existing laws and regulation
  • Significant information on characteristics, physical or chemical and usage of imported goods which determines proper valuation and classification

Shipments going through Physical Examination may experience a delay of 24 to 48 hours from arrival.

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) will instruct for a physical examination if the shipment declared with vague description, the value is too low or there is a risk profiling done by Customs.

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) does profiling of the shipments entering Malaysia. The shipment which goes into physical examination as instructed by customs may be suspicious of violating the Customs Act 1967. It may be misrepresented, undervalued or items omitted from the declaration.


Return to Origin (RTO) is an instruction to return the shipment to its origin. The instruction needs to be provided by Customer Service or authorized management. RTO happens as an outcome of a Trace or Complaint and MUST follow the Global SOP Standard Network Trace Procedures or Global SOP Reference Guide Service Recovery.

Return To Origin charges will depend on the errors that resulted to the instructions i.e. either DHL error or Customer error.

Shipments which have arrived in gateways but are not allowed to enter Malaysia due to Customs and Border regulations can be RTO upon approval by Customs. However, the freight charge has to be incurred by the shipper.

A shipment is subjected to Return To Origin when:

  1. A Shipment cannot be cleared due to regulations
  2. Consignee in Malaysia unable to obtain required permits
  3. Clearance has exceeded timeline
  4. There's no update from consignee
  5. A request from shipper is made to RTO
  6. A request from consignee is made to RTO 


Israel is a Sanction Country specific only to Malaysia. Any shipments originated or known to be going into Israel must be accompanied by a permit issued by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Shipments without the permit are not allowed to enter or exit Malaysia.

An importer attempting to import a shipment with certificate of origin Israel must liaise directly with MITI to obtain the permit for importation.

Every shipment entering Malaysia must have a form of declaration. Specific for Israel, in addition to the import declaration the shipment must be accompanied with an import permit issued by MITI.

No shipment can exit or enter Malaysia without an approval from Customs.

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