indonesian domestic helpers

The Complete Guide to Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

  • Category : Regulations, Malaysia, Costs, Hiring Practices
  • Date : December 19, 2019
  • Comments : 15

We've got you covered. Read our comprehensive guide on how you can hire a domestic helper in Malaysia.

With the increasing number of dual income families in Malaysia, most households have a hard time balancing work and family responsibilities. As such, there is healthy demand for domestic helpers and maids to help families alleviate the pressures of maintaining a clean household, babysitting kids, caring for elderly parents, caring for the sick and the usual household tasks of cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

According to the Malaysian Maid Employers’ Association (Mama), there are more than 250,000 registered domestic workers in Malaysia.

Eligibility on Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

In order to employ a domestic helper or maid in Malaysia, you have to satisfy these eligibility requirements:-

  • You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia
  • Your reasons for hiring a maid must include being a married couple, single parent or individual with:
    • children under 15 years old
    • sick or ill parents

There are also income requirements for employers depending on the helper’s source country:-

Country of Origin Employer’s Net Income Payment (Personal Bond)
Indonesia RM3000 RM250
The Phillippines RM5000 RM750
Sri Lanka RM5000 RM750
Thailand RM3000 RM250
Cambodia RM3000 RM250
India RM5000 RM750
Laos RM3000 RM1500
Vietnam RM3000 RM1500

Who cannot hire Domestic Helpers in Malaysia?

Individuals who are bankrupt, have pending cases with the Immigration Department of Malaysia and/or have been blacklisted by the Labour Department.

Other points to note when hiring a domestic helper in Malaysia:

Domestic Helper's Upkeep and Maintenance

  1. FDH (foreign domestic helper) can only be tasked to do domestic chores. (not including car wash)
  2. FDH should be given proper food, rest and sleep, as well as room accommodation equipped with basic facilities.
  3. FDH cannot marry in Malaysia while on PLKS (Temporary Foreign Worker Permit)
  4. FDH cannot apply for an Entry Permit while she has an issued PLKS.
  5. FDH cannot change employment without the permission of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.
  6. Employers or agencies aren’t allowed to strike or inflict any act that may harm or injure the FDH.
  7. Both the employer and FDH have to strictly adhere to the conditions of the employment contract. Employers who have been given permission to employ FDH, but failed to comply with the conditions will be blacklisted in the future.
  8. For the continuation of the PLKS or applying for the Check Out Memo (document needed when terminating the Work Permit of foreign workers), the employer is responsible for keeping and submitting the payroll records of the FDH upon request, paying the FDH’s monthly salary, and paying for the medical treatment of the FDH during employment.

Conditions for Employers

  1. Employers who are hiring FDH for ill family members need to present medical reports or proof of relationship.
  2. Muslim employers may only hire Muslim maids.
  3. Non-Muslim employers who hire Muslim maids must respect and allow FDH to do their religious practices.
  4. A couple or family is only allowed to employ 1 maid at a time.
  5. Employers are accountable for reporting to the Immigration Department if the FDH is deceased, has gone missing or has absconded.
  6. If an employer or a spouse dies, their beneficiaries should report to the Immigration Department to verify the status of the new employer of the FDH.
  7. Employers who want to take the FDH to work in overseas stations are required to inform the FDH’s country of origin representative in Malaysia.

Other Conditions

  1. Approval from the Immigration Department is needed if the employer or the FDH wishes to terminate domestic services or to get the Check-out memo from the Department of Deportation if the pass has expired. 
  2. Request for PLKS extension should be submitted to the Immigration Office three months before the expiry and after FDH has passed the medical examination.
  3. Immigration Department of Malaysia has the right to revoke the issue of approved passes and the power to transfer the FDH without the consent of the original employer.

Countries You Can Hire Helpers From

The countries that employers are allowed to hire from are:

  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Cambodia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Laos
  • Vietnam

Qualifications For Foreign Maids

  • Must be a female
  • Must be between 21 to 45 years old
  • Must have an approval from an appointed medical center
  • Must be a resident of her country of origin
  • Must have a Visa with Reference (VDR) issued by the Malaysian representative office in the country of origin
  • Does not have an active Temporary Work Permit (PLKS) with other employers
  • Must have a Certified Pass for Immigration Security Clearance (ISC) at the source country

Steps on applying for admission of a foreign domestic helper in Malaysia

 Here’s a brief summary of the process:

Identify suitable domestic helper
Fill up relevant application forms and submit to State Immigration Offices in accordance with the employer’s address
FDH gets approval letter for Visa With Reference at the Malaysian Representative Office in country of origin
Employer or agency will report the presence of the FDH at the State Immigration Office or Immigration Headquarters that approved the visa
FDH will be provided a 30-day pass to enter Malaysia at permitted entrances
Employer or agency will wait for FDH at permitted entrance
Employer or agency required to bring FDH to any FOMEMA Pte. Ltd registered clinic. (within 1 month)
When FDH passes the medical exam, they will get a Visitor’s Pass Sticker in accordance with approved period of VDR in approval letter
Upon receiving the Visitor’s Pass Sticker(Temporary Work Permit), the FDH is now allowed to work until the deadline placed on the sticker or PLKS

Since January 2018, employers can apply for a foreign domestic helper through the Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia's online portal, Sistem Maid Online (SMO). The portal allows employers and maid agencies to submit the necessary paperwork online. Once your domestic helper is in the country on a valid Social Visit pass, you may start the application process through the Sistem Maid Online portal.

For further guidance on how to use the portal, please contact the Jabatan Imigresen via their hotline at 03-88801468 (call centre Unit Pembantu Rumah Asing) / Email :

Now that you have an idea of the regulatory requirements, you’re probably deciding on how best to search for a domestic helper, be it through a maid agency or directly.

Costs of Hiring a Domestic Helper in Malaysia

Since the Immigration Department of Malaysia expanded hiring options for domestic helpers in 2018, you have other ways to go about hiring a domestic helper in Malaysia than through a maid agency. You may choose to source for and hire a helper directly without going through middlemen.

Each route has its pros and cons so let’s break it down by time, budget, and preference.

Hiring Through A Maid Agency

What are the costs associated with hiring a helper in Malaysia?

Let’s break it down into individual costs:-

  • Malaysian agency’s placement fee can start from RM3,000 onwards. This fee is mostly made up of a fee for matching employers to suitable candidates, processing and facilitation of the various employment-related visas and documents
  • Overseas agent’s fees for services such as recruitment of the said helper, arrangement of the helper’s exit visas in her home country
  • Other fees such as work permit costs, flight tickets, training costs, medical check-up fees and insurance costs

However bear in mind, the final amount paid by employers will only be a part of the total fees as the other part is the fee paid by the helpers to their agents (typically 2-6 months of their monthly salary). The employer is expected to front the helper’s portion of the fee. The amount will be recovered by the employer progressively over the next few months once the helper starts work.


The minimum salary of an Indonesian domestic helper as of 2019 (updated) is RM1,000 per month, a Filipino domestic helper expects to be paid a minimum of US$400 a month, which translates to approximately RM1,600 per month (US$1 = RM4).

However, the actual market rates for Indonesian and Filipino helpers can vary greatly from the official minimum salary level, depending on the helper's experience and qualification. Furthermore, many helpers, especially the experienced ones tend to gravitate to countries that can offer higher pay such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Employers in Malaysia should be prepared to fork out RM1,800 per month for Filipino helpers and RM1,500 per month for Indonesian helpers. 


While the Malaysian and Indonesian governments have imposed an official fixed rate of RM8,000 on Malaysian employers for the hiring of an Indonesian maid, in reality, an employer will need to initially fork anywhere from RM12,000 to RM18,000 to employ a maid from Indonesia or from other countries. This comprises of:-

  • Agent’s fee to helper (paid upfront by the employer): RM5,400 - RM9,600
  • Agent’s fee to employer: RM3,000
  • Other ancillary costs


Costs of a Direct Hire Domestic Helper

Given the prohibitive cost of hiring a domestic helper through employment agencies, the Malaysian government are allowing employers to hire domestic helpers directly from approved source countries online, without going through maid agencies. Read more about the process of hiring domestic helpers directly here.

As stated by Immigration Department Director-General, Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, the overall cost of hiring a foreign helper directly will range from RM1,600 up to RM2,500, including levies, depositing fee, and other processing fees.

The employer will also be required to shoulder other costs such as the flight fees  depending on which country your domestic helper is from, insurances and other fees for training and medical checkup.

Maid Agency VS. Direct Hire: What Are The Pros and Cons?

Having looked at the costs, here are the things you should consider when deciding between the two options.

Maid Agencies

The major drawback of using an agency is the high cost. Aside from its higher rates, there have been complaints about the completion timeframes. For a typical placement, it takes about 2 to 3 months for you to hire a maid. Some agencies also require additional fees to hasten the process.

However, using an agency is an ideal solution for those who want a easy and hassle-free process from sourcing candidates to negotiating the terms, completing the visa/work permit arrangements and finally settling the logistics of getting the helper into the country themselves.

Furthermore, many agents include additional services as part of their fees to include the helper’s training, orientation, replacement policy for changing helpers and counselling and mediation services should there be any issues between the employer and domestic helper.

Specialist agencies can also source for helpers who have special skills in newborn care, elderly or nursing care.

Direct Hire Maids

For direct hiring, its low cost may already be a winning factor for some. Once you have identified your prospective candidate, processing your application through the MyOnline*Maid system is expected to take only about 5-7 days.

Even so, there are still things you should be mindful of. If doing all the legwork is not an issue for you, it’s might be harder to find a maid on your own without having various candidates to review from an agency’s database.

Unless your prospective helper is already in the country and possesses a social visit pass, it might be challenging for you to search for and identify the right candidate all the way from Malaysia. This translates into a longer recruitment process and you should factor this in when deciding between a direct hire maid or agency.

Comparison of hiring a maid through an agency vs direct hiring

Source Costs Time Taken Pros Cons
Through an agency Agent’s fee to helper (paid upfront by the employer): RM5,400 - RM9,600

Agent’s fee to employer: RM3,000-RM20,000

Other ancillary costs

Usually takes about 2 to 3 months -Easy and hassle-free process

-Trained and certified domestic helpers

-Replacement policy and counselling for employers and employees

-Refund of fees

-Specialized helpers for sick patients, children and elderly

-High cost

-Additional fees

-Long process

Through direct hiring RM1,600 up to RM2,500, including levies, deposit fee, and other processing fees 5-7 days -Short process
-Lower cost
-Difficulty in doing all the legwork, searching for helpers and processing of documents

-Risk of being scammed

-Lack of training

Other Alternatives

Apart from hiring a full-time live-in helper, you may wish to consider looking for part-time domestic help.

While local Amahs are not so easy to find nowadays, there are still part-time domestic helpers who are willing to come in a couple of hours every day to help with chores such as cleaning, cooking and laundry. Local live-in amahs can command salaries of up to RM2,500 to RMR3,500 a month in the Klang Valley area.  

If you have kids, opting for a daycare center may also be another option, coupled with family members who can help you with the school drop-off and pick-up.

The key here is to weigh your options against your individual circumstances and requirements. Whether you’re going through a maid agency, opting for a direct hire or a combination of direct hire - agency to help with the documentation, always go the extra mile to ensure each option satisfies your requirements with respect to convenience, time and budget.

Written by the I Want Helper team.

I Want Helper helps employers connect with domestic helpers and agencies. Find a domestic helper by posting a job or browse candidate profiles. The employment agencies on our platform are verified and personally visited by the I Want Helper team.

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Ida Thang

Hi.. I'm looking for a way to direct hire 2nd maid by myself to take care my mother who is almost 80 years old. Currently, I have a maid who do the house chores as well as taking care of my 3 kids aged 4, 8 & 10 years old. Could you please let me know whether it is possible to hire this 2nd maid by myself (without going through Agency services)? As I already have found a worker in Indonesia currently who can come in to work.

Thank you in advance for your help! Greatly appreciated!

Dec 14 , 2019, 11:06 am 

Admin Support

Hi May,
You may refer to the steps on hiring a foreign domestic helper in our article. The steps are summarised in this section 'Steps on applying for admission of a foreign domestic helper in Malaysia'. For further details, visit the official Maid Online site at You may choose to contact the Jabatan Imigresen if you need guidance on how to use the online portal via their hotline at 03-88801468 (call centre Unit Pembantu Rumah Asing) / Email :

Your candidate can enter Malaysia as a tourist or under a social visit visa. You can then start the application process.

Dec 17 , 2019, 01:42 pm 

Admin Support

Hi Ida,
Based on the Jabatan Imigresen guidelines, each couple is only allowed to employ 1 helper.
You may wish to enquire directly with them through their contact form:

Dec 17 , 2019, 02:05 pm 


hi. can a maid be xferred to anothr emplyr on grounds dat d current emplyr has passed away

Dec 26 , 2019, 08:55 pm 

Feby Rodrigues

Hi, I am an expat . can you share the process for hiring maid directly not through agent . Also the process to hire a Filipino maid who already is in Malaysia

Jan 03 , 2020, 10:35 am