Renewing a US passport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I've recently renewed my US passport while traveling in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I actually still had about 10 months left before expiration but I decided to renew it earlier as some countries require at least 6 months validity before they let you in. I didn't want to wait until the last minute.
Since Malaysia allows for up to a 90-day stay for tourists from the US, I figured this would be a good place to do it as this gives me plenty of time in case the processing takes longer than usual.
The renewal process is well documented at the embassy website but I'll try to provide more details in this blog post to hopefully help make things smoother for others looking to do the same and answer additional questions I was asking myself as well.
Let's start with an FAQ.
Please note that these are specific to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur. US embassies in other cities or countries might have different policies.
Do I get to keep my current passport while waiting for the new one?
Yes, you get it back after submitting the renewal application. It will still be valid until you get the new one.
How long does it take?
10-14 days according to the website but mine was ready exactly 7 days after I submitted the application. I submitted it on a Friday and got an email notification that it was ready the following Friday. However, pickup was only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm so I had to wait until the following week to get the new passport. If those days fall on a US holiday, then the embassy will be closed so plan for those as well.
Do I get to keep my old passport?
Yes, they'll give it back to you and punch two holes once you've confirmed everything is good with the new passport.
What about the entry stamp?
You'll have to go to the Malaysian Immigration Office in Putrajaya to get your new passport stamped and they'll staple a piece of paper to it called a "Special Pass" (more info here and I'll cover it in more details later in the article).
- Make an appointment here: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=KLL&appcode=1
- Print out and fill out the passport renewal form: https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds82.pdf (note that there's a checkbox to request a passport with more pages, it's the same price so I'd recommend it unless you rarely travel).
- 1 photocopy of the bio page of your current passport.
- 1 recent passport photo (I got a passport photo taken at a camera shop at the Pavilion mall, I think it was on the 6th floor, many shops that sell cameras probably offer this service).
- Payment ($110 USD or 473 RM, you can pay by credit card as well).
- Another form of ID (an expired driver's license will work, need this to exchange for a visitor badge when you enter the building, since you're the taking your passport with you, you need another ID).
The process is pretty straightforward. Take a Grab to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur near the city center before your appointed time.
376 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Make sure you don't bring a backpack with you as they can't check it in. They can only check in phones. You can bring an envelope with you to keep your documents organized.
When you enter, get a ticket with a number and wait for it to be called. My appointment was at 8:30am but I got there early at 8am and was the first one there, so they took care of me right away. Took like 5 minutes to submit and go over the documents. They then sent me to another counter to pay. And then I waited for about another 50 minutes or so before everything was ready.
You'll get a receipt for your payment which is needed to pick up your new passport. Make sure you don't lose this!
Pick Up Process
What to bring:
- Old passport
- Payment receipt
You don't need to make an appointment for this. You can go back to the embassy anytime between 1pm and 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick up your new passport.
They'll ask for your receipt and make you confirm that all info on the new passport is correct. They'll then go ahead and cancel the old one by punching holes in it.
Very quick process, I was in and out of there in probably less than 15 minutes.
Transferring Entry Stamp to the New Passport
This one's a bit of a hassle as you have to go to the Malaysian Immigration Department which is located in Putrajaya, about 40 minutes from Kuala Lumpur city center.
Since it's a different city, I don't think you can use Grab to go there. What I did was took a Grab to KL Sentral instead and then took the KL Transit line from there to Putrajaya/Cyberjaya station (make sure you take the KL Transit and not the KL Ekspres, the KL Espres goes straight to the airport and doesn't stop in Putrajaya) . Fare was 14 RM and took about 20 minutes (it's the second stop). I then took another Grab from the train station to the Immigration Department.
What to bring:
- Old passport
- New passport
- Photocopy of the bio page of both the old and the new passport
- Photocopy of the Malaysian entry stamp page on the old passport
- Proof of onward travel out of Malaysia (e.g. plane ticket, make sure the date is accurate as they will simply add a few days to this date and the new stamp will reflect this date)
- 100 RM fee
There are photocopy services in the building as well.
Malaysian Immigration Department Headquarters
No. 15, Floor 1-7 (Podium)
You don't need to make an appointment. You can check out the hours of operation here: https://www.imi.gov.my/index.php/en/contact-us/operation-hour.html
When you enter the building go to Level 4 - Enforcement Division (no English signs there, look for the sign "Bahagian Penguatkuasaan").
I got there around 1:30pm and it turned out they were on break so I had to wait until 2pm when the staff got back. Just go to the counter and tell them you need to transfer your entry stamp to your new passport and they'll ask for the photocopies and give you a number.
Wait for your number to be called and they'll call you a few times (document review, payment, pickup) so don't leave the area. Took roughly an hour to get everything sorted.
Overall, it's not so bad and only need to be done once every 9-10 years if you don't lose your passport or run out of pages. :)
Tags: howto, travel, digital nomad