Sunday, May 20, 2012

Renewing a Malaysian passport

One Friday a few weeks back, C and I went to the immigration office to renew our passports. The entire process was luckily not a tiresome experience although we got there in the late morning. I recall those days of yore where I had to get my passport photos ahead of time and on the day I intended to visit the immigration office, I'd have to wake up super-early and be there to queue before the doors open at 8.30am! Then after all the paperwork is done, we'd have to go back again two weeks later to collect the passport.

It was an ad hoc decision to renew our passports that day, so after checking out the immigration website for some info, I decided to go to one of the newer branches in Puchong. I had no idea where it was so after some research via Google Maps and using our GPS, we got there without a hitch, arriving at around 10.30am. Actually, you can also renew your passport online these days. You need to fill in their online form, submit a scanned photo and make your payment online. Then you need to collect your new passport at the immigration office of your choice later.

C had already got her photos ready but I hadn't. Before leaving the house, I made a call to the office to enquire about their Friday office hours to be sure I could get it done within the day since they usually have a longer lunch break for Friday prayers. I also asked if they had any photography services. They told me there was a shop right next door that offered it.

Upon arrival, I went straight to the shop to have my photo taken. It took only 10 minutes since with digital photography, you can get your pictures printed instantly. Then we went into the office. It was pretty crowded but there was no turning back since I was already there. Got the necessary forms, filled them up, and went to get our queue numbers. The officer checked and collected our forms and photographs, gave us our numbers and thus, the wait began. There were over 20 people before us and I started wondering how long we had to wait. Luckily I got C, who is usually very impatient and would complain of boredom, to bring a ton of books along to keep her occupied. We waited for about 40 minutes before our turn came. That meant they were rather efficient, averaging about 2 minutes per number. All they did was check our forms, took our identification (my MyKad and C's birth cert), and gave us another number.

The new number was for the next waiting 'phase' to make payment. That wait took another 20 minutes. After paying RM300 for mine and RM150 for C's, they gave us a receipt stating the time we had to return to collect our passports. Because we got 'processed' just before their lunch break at noon, we were told to return to collect our new passports after 3.00pm. So off we went to a nearby mall for lunch. Then we decided to head home for a short rest.

Shortly before 3.00pm, we drove out again to the office, took a number and waited for 15 minutes before getting called. Before handing over the passports, they required our thumbprints. There was no problem scanning mine using their fingerprint scanner but for C, the officer had to make numerous tries. Luckily he was patient enough as C was one fidgety kid. Sometimes she didn't place her thumb properly on the scanner. Other times, she kept moving her thumb and the scanner couldn't do its job because of the movements. Finally, her thumbprint was successfully recorded and we got out of that place slightly after 3.30pm.

In total, we spent about 80 minutes of waiting time to get two passports done simultaneously. Not too bad compared to the past. While we were waiting, I noticed that this Puchong branch also houses the Registration Department where you can apply for your MyKad or birth certificate and other related documents. So that's why that place was quite crowded.

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