Security forces said Ravalomanana would be arrested on arrival, after he was sentenced to life in prison and hard labour for the death of 30 opposition protesters killed by his presidential guard in February 2009.
But the self-made millionaire, who was ousted with the army's blessing by disc jockey-turned-politician Andry Rajoelina, said he was confident of a safe return home.
Prime Minister Omer Beriziky, who took office in November, is heading a government
that was agreed by consensus among Madagascar's main political parties and is set to steer the nation toward elections this year.
A deal allows the return of political exiles, and fellow fallen leader Didier Ratsiraka recently returned from exile in France without incident.
The agreement explicitly called for Ravalomanana to be allowed to return and for the transitional parliament to ratify an amnesty for "all political events" between 2002 and 2009 except for war crimes, genocide or major human rights violations.
So far, other top leaders have remained silent over his return.
Madagascar has been isolated by the international community since Ravalomanana's ouster, with the African Union and the Southern African Development Community suspending its membership until a return to constitutional order.
Former colonial power France said political parties should put their attention to organising elections expected this year, which Ravalomanana plans to contest.
Many in Madagascar are eager to see an end to the crisis, which has taken a toll on the island's economy.
Income per capita has fallen from 998 dollars in 2008 to 943 dollars in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund