The (Painful) Process of Renewing Your Malaysian Passport Online

Do it online, they said. It’s faster, they said.

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The (Painful) Process of Renewing Your Malaysian Passport Online
While it mostly occurs only every five years, fear and dread still engulf Malaysians when it comes to renewing our passports.

It’s a valid fear, really because we all know how prone our immigration department is to unwanted hiccups… or as they like to call it, the ever-lingering “masalah dengan sistem” (problem with the system). 

But we're an advanced nation, don't you know? In September 2016, the ‘MyOnline Passport’ system was introduced aimed at forever wiping out the need of early morning queuing up and hours of waiting.

"With the system, the public can submit their applications online and pick up their passports later the same day" was the promise. How could we resist? 

Off to a good start...

We recently attempted to renew our passport online because logically, the assumption was that it would speed up the entire process as stated above. So here’s what we did:
We logged on to the Immigration Department's official website.

Many victims have been claimed
We tried to shrug off all the grammatical mistakes and proceed without much judgement. 

Based on what was written, we’d need to get our passport photo taken based on the stated specifications, ensure all our details and information are accurate and upon confirmation, submit a payment of RM200.

We got our passport photo taken – white background, ugly mug, dark clothing and all. We paid RM30 for it. We filled in our passport number, IC number and selected our desired collection branch.

We double confirmed all of our details and eagerly proceeded to the payment page.

So far, everything is going according to plan and we thought for once, there's no drama involving a government website.

... then tragedy strikes

Error Message
Upon keying in our card details and having the sum deducted, an error message pops up on the page.

Panic ensues. We check our bank account and the amount was successfully deducted. Then why…

We decide to call the hardworking folk at the immigration office and inquire.

“Hai, we just renewed my passport online and upon making the payment, an error popped up. *reads the error message* May we check on the status of our online application?” (this was all said in broken BM, mind you)

“I… uh… tunggu jap. *starts talking to the person beside her* You kena talipon pejabat imigresen yang you pilih nak buat kutipan, mereka yang boleh bantu encik (You need to call the immigration department you selected to collect your passport from, they can help you).”

So, the next day we do just that. They don’t know what the error is and ask us to call their HQ, which is in Putrajaya. We also ask them to just check on the status since the money was already deducted.

We find out they’re unable to check on that. And if we wanted to, we would have to head over to the immigration office to… check on the status of our online application.

That’s like making a delivery order from McDonalds and then heading to the outlet physically to check on the status of our McNuggets – and then driving home to wait for the delivery.

Okay… we later just conclude that everything’s okay, and the error message was merely the website acting up. It’s nothing new for a Malaysian website, ain’t it?

We find out that we can make the collection and we’d just need to bring along our IC, receipt and old passport. The person from the immigration office also mentions that we’d need to take another photo once we’re there.

We ask her what’s the point of taking our own passport photo (and paying for it) if we need to take another one at the immigration office. That’s just how the process is, apparently.

We also ask her what the benefits are of applying for a passport online. She says it reduces the time spent waiting and we’d just need to go “Kaunter 1 dengan IC, resit dan passport lama. 20 minit dah boleh siap semua (Go to Counter 1 with your IC, receipt and your old passport. It will be done in 20 minutes).”

20 minutes?! Hells yeah! Best decision of 2018 thus far, we say as we celebrate. By ourselves. With some stale Shandy and a sock puppet named Mathilda.  

Let's play the waiting game

It’s the big day! Being really dedicated and happy employees of Astro, we decide to head to the immigration as early as possibru so we could head to the office after.

We were there by 7.17AM and there was already a line. Oh well, we were 15th in line, plus, we’re pretty sure there’d be a separate counter for online applicants.

Right? Wrong.

But..uh...never mind.
You queue up, you get to the counter like everyone else. But you don’t have to take a number. We feel a little more privileged than the rest of the people there.

We imagine this is how it feels to be like one of those fellas who purchase Hot Seats on AirAsia.

Our name gets called – after half an hour. So much for that 20-minute promise. We are asked to have our photo taken again. We hate taking photos. They ask if we’re okay with the photo, we say we couldn’t really be arsed, we just want our passport.

They say they’d call our name. We wait. And wait. A little more waiting is done and at this point, already more than an hour has passed.

Our name is finally called (with some effort in pronouncing it right). We’re told that there is a “masalah sistem” and they’re trying to rectify it. No further elaboration was provided apart from some mumbling saying that “buat online ada masalah cam ni.”

We ask how long more we would have to wait. They aren’t able to provide an answer.

Something smells fishy.
We’re asked to give them our phone number and to consider having our breakfast at any of the fine mamaks available outside. None of which have effing roti canai, mind you!

Doesn't that go against the 1960 Mamak Outlet Agreement which states every mamak must and should sell roti canai to patrons at any hour of the day? 

We wash down our anger with some watered-down Milo and some diarrhea-inducing nasi lemak.

We wait for another 40 minutes. Finally, a phone call! But it’s not good news. Apparently we have to take our photo AGAIN. We do so. We hate taking photos.

This time, the wait was only about 15 minutes before our name was called for the last time. We collect our new passport, cringe a little at the photo and walk out pissed off yet super relieved that we’d only have to endure all this in another five years.

Hopefully by then, the system’s a little better. HAH!

Us after the whole ordeal.
What does this tell us? Would we recommend renewing your passport online?

Let's look at it this way - the online process is supposed to smoothen and quicken the whole procedure. So if even that took a while what with the constant "masalah dengan sistem", imagine doing it entirely at the immigration office itself. At least with our online application, we skipped a few steps. 

The reason we even went ahead with an online application was because we read some positive reviews online. So perhaps the system isn't fully flawed, but for something that has been implemented for a while now, we feel it should be a little more stable at this point. 

Was this just pure bad luck on our end? What was your online passport renewal experience like? Share with us in the comments section below.

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