SEPANG: Foreign tourists will be required to fill out the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) three days before their arrival beginning Dec 1, however for the time being, they will be able to do so at the country's entry checkpoints, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
"This (relaxation) is to allow adapting to the new requirement," he explained, adding that MDAC is part of the primary initiative to improve immigration facilities following the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Plan (PLV), which exempts Chinese and Indian tourists from visa requirements for 30 days beginning Dec 1.
He said that the ministry adopted MDAC in order to ensure national security was not compromised during the implementation of visa liberalisation intended to stimulate economic development, particularly in the tourism industry.
Saifuddin said that after Dec 31, it would be compulsory for foreign tourists to fill up the MDAC ahead of time as it would contain all the necessary information on their whereabouts in the country.
"Come Jan 1, filling in the digital arrival card is a must as all the details given will provide us with important information such as their address of where they are staying.
"This is an important step for us to know about their whereabouts while they are here," he said at a press conference after conducting a visit to the Immigration Department counters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Terminal 1, here.
Fourteen newly-established counters will help to cut airport lineups, raising the total number of immigration inspection counters to 60, and will be operating around the clock.
Saifuddin also said that the use of MDAC was in line with the implementation of the visa liberalisation plan, which serves as a prelude to the Visit Malaysia Year 2026 programme.
"What we are doing is the visa liberalisation plan, which aims to improve the tourism sector by making the visa process less complicated for travellers.
"MDAC implementation then becomes a control element, allowing us to track their movements around the country.
The MDAC is part of the five main initiatives to improve the Immigration Department services, and is in line with the implementation of the visa liberalisation plan, which exempts a 30-day visa for tourists from China and India.
According to the Immigration Department, people transiting through Singapore, persons with Permanent Resident (PR) status, and holders of the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) card are excluded from the new regulation, which went into force last Friday.
The 30-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India covers the period from Dec 1 to Dec 31 next year, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last Tuesday.
Currently, Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, and Iran, as well as all West Asian countries, including Turkey and Jordan, enjoy visa exemption facilities.