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Can a security guard keep your driver's license or IC in Malaysia?


This common request at housing neighbourhoods is actually illegal. Find out what your rights are when it comes to providing personal identification documents to security personnel. We also detail what security guards can or cannot do legally.

© ThamKC | Getty Images

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We can all probably agree that the major bane of entering gated and guarded communities or high rise developments like condominiums and apartments as visitors is the inconvenience of being asked to produce our IC or MyKad or driving licenses by security. Sometimes, the security guard may hold onto our IC or driver’s licenses in exchange for visitor passes.

This is such a common practice that very few of us question if security guards even have the right to inspect and retain our identification documents in the first place. Instead, we just give them our license and IDs without giving it much thought.

What does the law have to say?

The law cannot be clearer concerning security guards holding onto our IC and only returning them upon a visitor exiting the premises: security guards do NOT have the right to withhold visitors’ IC under any circumstances (we will talk about driver’s licenses later in the article). It’s a big no-no.

The law can be found in the National Registration Regulations 1990 (Amendment 2007). Unfortunately, we can’t link you to the latest version of the Regulations as it is not available online. You will need to have a subscription to a legal database to access the latest version. So note that what you see in the linked document may differ from the Regulations discussed in this article (shown below):

8A: Detaining an identity card of another person is an offence

“It shall be an offence punishable under regulation 25, for any person, not being an officer referred under sub-regulation 7(1) to unreasonably detain an identity card other than his own.”

Regulation 8A makes it an offence for unauthorised personnel to hold onto your IC. Anyone found guilty of this offence can potentially face up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of up to RM 20,000.

Meanwhile, Regulation 7 explicitly states that only certain officers are allowed to inspect a person’s identity and request the person to produce his/her IC for inspection. These officers include:

  • registration officers (of the National Registration Department of Malaysia aka JPN)
  • police officers
  • customs officers
  • members of the Armed Forces on duty
  • public officers authorised by the Director-General

So this means that only officers in the list above are allowed to detain a person’s MyKad. Even so, they can only do this if they have a reason to suspect that the person’s identity is false.

On 16 November 2018, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) issued a Facebook statement confirming that security guards do not have the right to retain your IC.

READ: The Complete Guide to Gated & Guarded Communities in Malaysia

Can security guards record your MyKad details?

Most of us would be familiar with the process where security guards of gated and guarded communities or high-rise strata buildings would ask to see our MyKad’s and take down our details in a logbook. As explained above, under Regulation 7 security guards are not even allowed to conduct checks on your identity, let alone request for any kind of identification documents.

However, in the broader interest of security, the Ministry of Home Affairs released a circular back in 2007 authorising security guards to request visitors’ identification documents for inspection and record purposes. So yes, guards are allowed to record your Mykad details before granting you access to the housing development/condo etc.

That being said, they must return the identification documents to you immediately. The ban on withholding IC remains absolute.

Asking for IC for inspection/ to record details = OKAY

Retaining IC = NOT okay

What about driving licenses?

We asked the PDRM about driving licenses, but we have not received a response. However, with reference to the circular released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it seems like your driving license is also considered to be an identification document. Therefore, it may be safe to assume from the circular that just like IC, security guards are only allowed to ask for your license in order to record your details, but they must return your license immediately after. 

What if security insists on holding onto my IC?

If a security guard attempts to withhold your identification documents from you (be it your IC, driving license or passport), you should explain to them that they cannot do so under the law. However, it is worth considering that there really is no point kicking up a fuss as security guards are just carrying out instructions. Whatever the situation, always know that you have a right to refuse to let security hold onto your IC, or anyone else for that matter.

If they still insist, you should ask to speak to a person in charge such as the security supervisor, residents’ committee or the condominium joint management body (JMB). As a last resort, you can always make a police report.

MORE: 6 tips for choosing the right CCTV camera for your home

What can security guards do legally anyway?

Besides being allowed to check your identity and record your details, here are the 4 other security guard rights which are permissible by law:

© Pavel Sipachev | 123rf

Security guards can hit suspects to prevent harm

According to Bryan Ng Yih Miin, a partner from law firm Dee, Netto, Fatimah & Ng – The Ministry of Home Affairs can grant special powers for guards to do their duty. Otherwise, security guards are regarded as common citizens and are governed under the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code just like you and me.

Whether the guards can hit someone will depend on whether the force is needed. Was someone or something under threat? Protection of people and property is allowed under Section 97 of the Penal Code, though subject to Section 99(4), that no more harm should be done than necessary to stop the threat. So a guard is allowed to hit a suspect to stop them, but he cannot continue beating the suspect up after that.

Security guards can restrain trespassers and bar entry to private property

If someone trespasses on private property that security guards are guarding, they may perform a “citizen’s arrest” under Section 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code and restrain the trespasser. They must then without unnecessary delay hand over that person to the police.

Security guards are also allowed to bar unauthorised persons from entering the private property they are in charge of. Note that this does not include the roads in most housing areas unlike in high-rise buildings and gated and guarded communities that are privately owned.

In the event of high rise buildings, barring of a resident could happen when the resident does not pay the sinking fund. The management corporation of the high rise building may deactivate the electromagnetic access device under the Third Schedule of the Strata Management Act 2013.” – Bryan Ng in e-mail interview with AskLegal-

If someone forces their way through, especially if using a vehicle, Bryan Ng suggests that guards call the police immediately as it is dangerous to try and stop them.

CHECK OUT: How much does it cost to move to a new house in Malaysia?

Security guards can arrest perpetrators

Like ordinary citizens, guards are also allowed to arrest criminals who commit “seizable offences”, which are offences where the police may arrest someone without a warrant according to Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code. These are usually offences that involve life, serious injuries, break-ins, and drugs. If you need to inform any security guards of what this list includes, you can find it in the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code. The third column states whether a warrant is required for an arrest.

Security guards need two licenses to carry firearms

You would have noticed that some key locations like banks and jewellery stores have armed guards stationed. They are governed under the Arms Act 1960 whereby armed guards must be individually issued an arms license and permit. They are only allowed to discharge their weapon for the protection of life or property under Section 39 of the Arms Act.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs rules, security firms must have a License A for firearms that are issued to the company by the PDRM, and each armed security guard must have their own Carry & Use License.

At the end of the day, security guards already have the same right as anyone else to perform their duties. They just use it a lot more often than most of us. Should you run into any disputes with them, exercise any rights you may have but don’t attack them as they are just doing their job of protecting others.

*This article was repurposed from “Can security guards keep your MyKad or driving license? and “What (legal) powers do security guards in Malaysia have?”, first published on|

Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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