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Next year I'll be in Singapore for a month with school, visiting a university as a guest, but will have my hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and commute by bus CW2 or SJE to central Singapore.

I know there are numerous Malaysian cross-border commuters, who need passports to cross, meaning their passports would get full really soon.

Is there any program to register for that exempts you from having to have your passport stamped four times a day (i.e. 122 stamps in total including the inital entry and final exit from Singapore)?

If there is such a program, is a visa-free foreigner (in both countries) eligible?

UPDATE: Okaaayyy, so I called both immigration authorities today. The Malaysians obviously wanted to know why I booked a hotel in JB, whereby I said that the price difference AFTER adding the transport costs is 2,500 ringgit, which is a lot of money that could definitely go towards food etc. instead, and I'd still have some left over. I also made it clear I used to commute for 1.5-2 hours per direction as a teenager in my home country, and that I'd be happy to send screenshots of the search engine Trivago to show what I mean, but they essentially said it was fair enough.

For the Singaporeans, the instant red flag was the fact that I'm visiting the Duke-NUS Medical school. They said if I'm either a guest for a maximum of 90 days or an actual student for a maximum of 30 days, I don't need a student pass, whereby I said I'm a guest for 31 days. They then asked why the hotel in JB. Said the same thing. They then said they'd be interested in seeing the invitation letter once I get it. I said I'll gladly send it via email if they gave me an address. They finished by saying again that as long as I only do what I mentioned, it's OK.

Regarding the original issue, there seems to be something called MACS (an electronic Malaysian "visa" sticker), and EIACS in Singapore. I'm clearly not eligible for EIACS, but regarding MACS I was advised to contact the application office in Singapore. To save money, I've now emailed them. Those programs apparently exempt you from passport stamps.

  • The answer to this question might depend on your nationality. – The Photon Aug 6 '17 at 0:47
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    Would 600 euros of hotel savings over a month really be worth all the extra hassle? Assuming you spend an extra of 3 hours each day on your commute, that's 6.6 EUR/hour that you end up saving up or about half of the Swedish minimum wage. – JonathanReez Aug 6 '17 at 8:44
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    @JonathanReez 600 euros savings are definitely worth it, yes – Crazydre Aug 6 '17 at 12:53
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    @dda Those gates are only available at the airport, so could only use it for my final exit. – Crazydre Apr 20 '18 at 4:10
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    I'm honestly quite surprised by some of the reactions to this question and judgements about the OP. Commuting from JB to Singapore is a reality for many Malays - for very simple financial reasons. Why do we assume that "privileged" Westerners should have to afford Singapore accommodation instead? The commute can be intense (I live in SG and have crossed a couple of times) and I wouldn't want to do this on a regular basis but why not let her go for it? It's an experience in itself and good money saved. I wasn't aware that MACS works in your case but happy everything worked out smoothly for you! – martin Sep 1 '18 at 10:33
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Answer to my own question:

I was able to apply for (in Singapore) and obtain a MACS sticker in my passport for 30 ringgit, issued to foreigners other than nationals of Afghanistan, Colombia, Israel and African countries.

Holders don't get their passports stamped in or out of Malaysia, can be processed at dedicated lanes and don't need to fill out the arrival card.

So in the end, as I got MACS on the second day of my visit, I have 2 Malaysian stamps and 63 Singaporean ones (no final exit stamp from Singapore as I used AIG), whilst also not taking too long to cross the border (about 30-45 minutes per direction).

As many of you seemed worried that I'd get stuck in one country or perhaps get deported back to Europe, the crossings were painless, especially on the Malaysian side (admittedly I had MACS, but still).

One morning during my third week, the Singaporean officer did react to the many stamps. He didn't say anything but I saw it in him, whereby I explained a bit nervously that I was an invited guest at Duke-NUS Medical for a month and had my hotel in JB because my own uni hadn't organised accommodation and it was the cheapest solution for me by far. I asked if he wanted the invitation letter from Duke-NUS I had in my rucksack. After two seconds he shook his head and stamped me in (he didn't say a word to me at all in other words)

Other than that, nothing of the sort - the people at the phone hotlines clearly cared much more than the actual officers at the booths.

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    So it was really worth it to commute for 2-3 hours instead of 30 minutes just to save 600 euros? – JonathanReez Apr 19 '18 at 17:03
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    @JonathanReez Hell yes, 600 euros is a fortune to me. And it was rather 1 h 15-1 h 45 as I had roughly assumed (although with MACS), with the morning trip into Singapore generally taking longer – Crazydre Apr 20 '18 at 0:24
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    Hats off for being much more frugal than I am then! You should accept your own answer now. – JonathanReez Apr 20 '18 at 3:03
  • I am a frequent traveler. If you get to the blue bus and walk from Woodlands checkpoint, the crossing time will be significantly lower. – Anish Sheela Mar 22 at 6:00
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No, there is no program that will let you pass daily between Singapore and Malaysia without stamps in your passport. In fact, there is no program that will let you pass at all without the possibility of being refused entry after a couple of weeks (your legal status will be unclear, your ability to support yourself financially is questionable).

The commute you are thinking of doing will take you about 3 to 4 hours each way. That's 6 to 8 hours per day commuting. Your passport becoming full of stamps isn't the real issue here--the plan is simply impractical.

People who are legally resident in one of these countries and legally working in the other do not get their passports stamped, generally. But you are not such a person. Your travel may be seen as "visa running" and denied, since you will be applying to enter as a tourist on one or both sides.

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    @Crazydre: You have missed the most important part of my answer. I have bolded it now. Nobody will care about your hotel booking piece of paper. If you mention the word "business", you will probably get denied entry. You should either stay in Singapore, go to school in Malaysia, or stay home. – John Zwinck Aug 6 '17 at 2:07
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    Does it actually take 3 hours? I've been told it's 1.5-2 hours, and I used to commute for that Long in each direction to school between the ages of 12 and 19. So I'm more than used to it. Also I wouldn't say "Business", but that I'm visiting a School where I don't actually do a course. The letter of invitation me and my peers will get will explain it all. Also, for 30 nights, the cheapest private room in JB is ~195 euros, while in Singapore it's ~750 euros – Crazydre Aug 6 '17 at 2:59
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    @Crazydre: It will take 1 hour after you've cleared Singapore customs to get to the school campus. It will take a bare minimum of 45 minutes to clear customs, if you go at off-peak times and don't encounter any delays. It will also take at least 30 minutes to reach the checkpoint in Malaysia from your flat. We are now at 2.25 hours bare minimum if nothing goes wrong. Doing it in 1.5 hours is impossible, 2 hours extremely unlikely, and 2.5 hours is still not enough time to reliably get to school on time. And still you will probably get denied eventually. Drop this plan. – John Zwinck Aug 6 '17 at 3:06
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    @Crazydre: On the basis that you will be applying to enter as a tourist, but you are not a tourist. Or on the basis that your frequent hopping back and forth is suspicious for someone with no right to reside in either country. It is now clear to me that nothing will stop you from pursuing your plan, so please do give it a try and report back here once it's over. Should be interesting! – John Zwinck Aug 6 '17 at 3:50
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    From someone who is in Singapore now as a full time student: "that border crossing is exhausting to undertake - stamps are indeed not the issue. And if they say school to an SG border guard they are denied entry 100% without a student pass or IPA" – Kate Gregory Aug 6 '17 at 10:46
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Next year I'll be in Singapore for a month with school, but will be staying in Malaysian Johor Bahru and commute by bus CW2 or SJE to central Singapore.

This is illegal, unless you have a long term multiple entry visa for Malaysia.

Your 90 day exception is for valid tourist (or business) reasons - and is not there for extended stays in Malaysia.

In fact, it is not even a multiple entry visa and recently the government has become more restrictive towards so called "visa runs".

Therefore, this is not recommended. There is a very real risk that you maybe detained, deported and quite likely banned from Malaysia.

Isn't visiting a university (yes, visiting, not studying at) classed as business? And as for Malaysia, I'm literally only there for accommodation. Isn't that essentially tourism?

You are not visiting a university are you? You are enrolled in a university; and lying to immigration is immediate cause for denial.

Accommodation is not tourism. You are basically going to university in Singapore and living in Malaysia - which is not allowed under the 90-day visit rules for Malaysia.

  • Isn't visiting a university (yes, visiting, not studying at) classed as business? And as for Malaysia, I'm literally only there for accommodation. Isn't that essentially tourism? – Crazydre Aug 6 '17 at 5:53
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    Anyway I had a chat with the other answerer, and will contact the Immigration authorities of both countries – Crazydre Aug 6 '17 at 5:54
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    No, that's not tourism. You are living in Malaysia and attend university in Singapore. Its that simple; and this is not allowed under the free visa policy of Malaysia. – Burhan Khalid Aug 6 '17 at 5:55
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    Also says I don't need it even if I were to undertake a course, if no longer than 30 days. ica.gov.sg/services_centre_overview.aspx?pageid=256 – Crazydre Aug 6 '17 at 6:00
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    There is nothing wrong with your stay in Singapore, its Malaysia that is the problem. – Burhan Khalid Aug 6 '17 at 6:29

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