Is Not

Love Is Not Tourism is a global grassroots movement dedicated to reuniting binational couples and families who have been forcibly separated by travel bans and border closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic Malaysia has severely restricted the entry of non-Malaysian citizens and the exit of Malaysian citizens. While the exact rules have changed overtime (sometimes becoming more relaxed, at other times stricter), it has been very hard for married and unmarried couples to get permission to exit or enter Malaysia to reunite. Foreigners who want to enter and Malaysians who wish to exit the country need to apply for permission from Malaysian immigration at the MyTravelPass website.

There are currently two types of relationship related travel that are officially recognized as essential travel:

- Officially Malaysia allows foreigners who are married to a Malaysian citizen and got married in Malaysia or have registered their foreign marriage in Malaysia (or have had it endorsed by the Malaysian embassy) to apply for permission to enter Malaysia if they have the intention to settle down in Malaysia and apply LTSVP for the foreign spouse. It is possible to apply for this on MyTravelPass with supporting documents. However, even couples who meet the requirements for this (married in Malaysia, plan to stay in Malaysia) do not always get approval and may need to apply multiple times before getting approval.

- Malaysian citizens who have a residence permit abroad, such as a spouse visa, are allowed to exit Malaysia without needing approval.

Officially all other relationship related travel is not allowed, including married couples who only wish to reunite for a visit and not settle down yet, married couples who have not registered their marriage in Malaysia yet and unmarried couples (with or without wedding plans). However, Malaysia does allow people to apply for an exemption on compassionate grounds. Therefore, anyone who wishes to see their married or unmarried partner can try to apply for entry or exit approval on MyTravelPass under 'Foreigner (social visit)' and hope immigration will be moved by their story and give approval. However, it is quite hard to get approval. For married couples who plan to settle down or unmarried couples who want to get married and settle down (one way trip), it is definitely possible to get approval when they apply with sufficient and strong supporting documents and the foreign partner is not from one of the banned countries. However, getting approval for just a visit, especially if you're unmarried, is pretty much impossible.

For those who do want to apply for permission to enter Malaysia, keep in mind that Malaysia has a mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days (for some countries 21 days) that you have to pay yourself. Sadly, many couples and families who may be able to get approval to enter Malaysia are still unable to reunite because they cannot afford the high quarantine costs.

For more information and advice on how to apply for permission to enter/exit Malaysia and the latest and most up-to-date information on immigration and quarantine rules, you can join the Love Is Not Tourism Malaysia Facebook group at

Love Is Not Tourism Malaysia was established in July 2020 and has since advocated for the Malaysian government to allow married partners, couples with children together and unmarried couples with sufficient proof that they are in a serious long-term relationship to enter/exit Malaysia to visit their partner or to get married and/or settle down with their partner (and children if applicable).

In an attempt to achieve that goal there is a petition: And several social media channels where we try to raise awareness for the suffering of the many binational Malaysian couples who have been separated for more than a year now with still no end in sight:

We have also organized email campaigns in which separated couples sent emails to members of parliament and/or ministers to bring the problem of separation to their attention. Unfortunately, while some members of parliament and ministers have expressed they are sorry about our situation or seen/reacted to our social media posts, and one of our representatives even met with Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri, so far none of these efforts have paid off and Malaysia still officially does not recognize reuniting with your partner as essential travel, except in the two situations mentioned above. While some have managed to reunite with an exemption on compassionate grounds, the majority of binational Malaysian couples are still waiting to be reunited as they have received nothing but rejections or they have no hope in trying as they/their partner is from a banned country or they cannot afford the quarantine costs or time off for lengthy hotel quarantine.