Malaysia/Legislation/Certificate of Presumed Death

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Certificate of Presumed Death

Following the two incident involving Malaysian aircraft - MH370 went missing, and MH17 was shot down - the Malaysian Government amended the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1957 (Act 299), as explained below.


Birth Registration and Death (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act A1524)


The Births and Deaths Registration Act (Amendment) 2017 (Act A1524), enacted in January 2017, is a government effort to improve services to better address public needs and strengthen the law taking into account advancement in technology. The changes were set in motion in 2015, with discussions on the amendments to the Registration of births and deaths, 1957 (Act 299) in Peninsular Malaysia and the decision to amend it was considered a starting point and the amendment may be used as a guide for future amendments to the law in Sabah Sarawak.

Among the events that had a great influence in the amendment was the tragedy of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 on March 8, 2014 and flight MH17 which was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014. These tragic events prompted the government to revise and improve the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1957 (Act 299). The amendments of the Act by the Ministry of Home Affairs, were meant to support the government’s transformation aspiration to ensure the public’s welfare is safeguarded and they are provided with the best facilities to improve their well-being.

Among key changes made to the Act were to expand the area or areas covered and relaxing the time frame for the registration of births and deaths and this move is in conformity with government policy on maternity leave period which was extended to 90 days for state employees and 60 days for private sector employees. These improvements will enable parents to have time to manage their child-related matters before making necessary registration process at the National Registration Department (NRD). In the case of death, the registration period is extended from 24 hours to seven days so that the deceased’s family would have time to manage funeral arrangements and carry out their religious and customary rites before registering the death.


Following the incidents of the missing and shooting down of MH aircrafts three years ago, a new provision is included in Act A1524 regarding the registration and issuance of certificate of Presumption of Death and death on the aircraft or vessels registered in Malaysia. Under the new rules, heirs or family of the deceased could apply to the High court for an Order for the Assumption of Death. If the order is granted they could then register the said presumption of death at any NRD office.

The amendments to the Act also take into account the prosperity and well-being of the people by strengthening and empowering enforcement for offenses under Act 299. The move is also to ensure that the system of registration of births and deaths is under control while simultaneously ensuring the integrity of data is maintained at its optimum standard to be adopted for the purpose of policy and economic planning and development of the country which is the official business of the government. This is because the business involves the production of security and confidential documents such as birth certificates, death certificates and more. To better enforce these laws, the Act empowered the Registrar to investigate, detain, seize and search without warrant for any offense under this act.

Under the amendments, penalty for offences under Act 299 was increased from RM250 to RM20,000 maximum fine while the jail term of 12 months was raised to three years. The implementation and enforcement of the amendments to the Act enables the government to take appropriate actions following several incidents, abuses and other aspects of birth and death registration as well as to improve services to the people as well as to enforce laws relating to the enforcement of birth and death registration in Peninsular Malaysia.



  1. The Birth Registration and Death (Amendment) Act 2017 (Act A1524) can be located by

  2. A key section of the Birth Registration and Death (Amendment) Act 2017 is shown as an extract below:-

    ...The principal Act is amended by inserting after Section 24 the following sections:

    Registration of presumed death

    24A. (1) When an order from a Court has been granted pertaining to a missing person’s presumed death under any written law, the person who has been granted the order may forward the order to the Registrar for the purpose of registering the particulars of the missing person’s presumed death.

    (2) On receipt of the order under subsection (1), the Registrar shall make an entry in a register containing the name of the missing person and such other information as may be necessary in relation to the missing person’s presumed death.

    Certificate of Presumed Death

    24B. The Registrar, upon registering a missing person’s presumed death, shall issue a Certificate of Presumed Death to the person forwarding the Court order under section 24A.