How many travellers does it take to renew a passport?

New passport, expires 2018

Extra: How to renew your Malaysian passport online
1. Sign into MyOnline Passport using Chrome.
2. Fill in correct information and upload a photo of the right format.
3. Pay using credit card.
4. Save the receipt onto your computer.
5. The passport should be ready at where you said you will pickup in 2 hours time.

How many travellers does it take to renew a passport?

The answer is one. But when the traveller is well-known for being a scatter-brain procrastinator, it might take a lot more than that.

My passport with the number H180XXXXX was expiring on Jan 30, 2013. But we need at least 6 months of validity for our passports if we want to travel overseas.

I’m working in Singapore with a Malaysian passport, I don’t think having an “expired” passport will sit well with the authorities.

While I was determined to get a new passport when I head home during the end of June, I only successfully retrieved the new passport on July 28, in Johor Bahru which is 8,000++km away from home.

Here’s the story of how I finally renewed my passport.

Pre-June 29. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 30+ days + 6 months)

At the office

More than month till my passport expires. No worries.

I keep announcing to my colleagues that I will renew my passport when I am back home at the end of the month for my classmate’s wedding.

I even make sure to place my passport in my handbag (which is really redundant because I need it to travel home anyway.)

June 30. Location: Kota Kinabalu

(Countdown to expiry 30 days + 6 months)

Home sweet home. No, that's not my house

I am supposed to renew my passport today. I have even planned out the day’s schedule: renew passport in morning, go to mall nearby while waiting for the passport to be churned out in two hours, collect passport.

But it didn’t happen. Why? Because I’ve forgotten to bring my Identification Card (IC) back home.
It did cross my mind that I should bring my IC back. But being me, I didn’t heed that small warning.
My parents grumbled. I told them to relax.

Instead of a new passport, I had passport photos taken.

July 2. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 27 days + 6 months)
Back in Singapore, maybe I can renew my passport at the High Commission of Malaysia here.

Oh no, Sabah/Sarawak passports need two extra months of processing since they need to send it back. This is ridiculous.

July 11-15. Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

(Countdown to expiry 15 days + 6 months)
Well, since I’m overseas having fun. It’s not possible to renew my passport.

Let’s not worry and eat this bowl of pho. Nom nom nom.

July 19. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 10 days + 6 months)
Only 10 days weeks till I’m considered an illegal alien. Gaa! Let me drink this cup of tea to calm my nerves.

Boss asks when my passport is expiring, gives hint of an upcoming trip.

I call up the Johor immigration office to ask if Sabah passports take a longer time to process. It doesn’t. (Phew.)

But the immigration office will be closed during the 21st and 22nd weekend because of the beginning of the fasting month.

Panic starts to creep in.

July 23. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 7 days + 6 months)
OK, do not panic. D suggests I sleepover in Johor and run to the immigration office as soon as the door opens.

Sounds like a plan.

July 24. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 6 days + 6 months)
I decide I should get the online passport renewal system, MyOnline Passport, a try.

I use Firefox which has always been more stable for important sites. After filling in all my details, I find out that I cannot upload my photo.

Panic.

I decide to use Chrome. Oh! Photo upload works. Let me fill in my credit card details, select Johor as my pickup point, and sent everything over. A Web page gives me the receipt for the transaction and says I can pick up my passport after 2 hours.

July 25, 26, 27. Location: Singapore

(Countdown to expiry 5, 4, 3 days + 6 months)
I keep worrying that MyOnline Passport doesn’t really work, while reassuring my boss my passport will be collected on Saturday.

July 28. Location: Johor Bahru

(Countdown to expiry 2 days + 6 months)
Today’s the day of passport collecting, if I don’t get it done, I will be stranded in Johor until I get it sorted out.

I wake up at 7am, take the bus to Woodlands, switched to a bus to the checkpoint. A cab drives slowly pass the lobby after the checkpoint, I jump in.

After a RM16 cab ride, I am at the Johor Bahru immigration center at 9.40a.m. I don’t know which of the four buildings houses the passport office. I sprint from the car park to the center of the buildings–if my online passport application hasn’t been successful, I will need to get the paperwork done before 10am as the office closes at noon on weekends.

The employees at the carpark stopped me.
-Where are you going?
-To get my passport renewed.
-Oh! I thought you dropped your passport or something. Take that lift to the third floor.
-Thank you!

I reach the office. The queue is crazy. I am going crazy. I ask the lady for a queue number. She sees that I am collecting my passport so send me to counter 11.

OK, not as many people here. I hand over my passport pickup slip, telling the person I renewed it online. He tells me to take a seat and they will call out my name.

I stand in the corner and send an SMS to mom to tell her that I am waiting to collect my passport. I see a man with a stack of passport coming from behind the office.

My name is called. I take a seat, sign my passport and give them my right thumbprint.

I’m in the office for less than 10 minutes and my brand spanking new passport is in my hands.

My photo’s not flattering but whose is?
New passport, expires 2018

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