Travel documents like passports and visa are the most important items when travelling abroad. Beyond the reward of amazing savings on duty-free goods at the airport and department stores, the documents provides security in case you are stopped by authorities.
Losing them can be nerve-wracking or worse if they’re stolen, your identity may be used for criminal activities that would land you in the local jail.
Getting a replacement passport once you’re back in Malaysia won’t be cheap. On 2 January 2019, a new decree under the Fees (Passports and Visas) (Amendment) Order 2019 of the Federal Government Gazette stated that Malaysians who lose or damage their passports can be fined up to MYR1,200.
Here’s the breakdown of the fines:
Children aged 12 and below; students aged 21 and below studying abroad: MYR300 (first time), MYR600 (second time), MYR1,100 (third time)
Age 21 and above: MYR400 (first time), MYR700 (second time), MYR1,200 (third time)
That’s when travel insurance comes in handy. Not only will the agents help you through the process of getting a replacement passport, they will also cover the damage. Tune Protect travel insurance, which starts at MYR35, covers up to MYR5,000 for loss of personal money, travel document and credit card due to robbery, burglary, theft or natural disaster and so much more.
If you are faced with such an unfortunate incident, keep calm and follow these steps:
1. Retrace Your Steps
More often than not, the documents are still in your possession. Double or triple check all pockets on clothes or pants as well as bags and luggage. Don’t just randomly check with your hands, clear all the content in the bags exactly like how the airport security would do in their searches. Then, comb every inch of the hotel room. Stay calm during the search because you will definitely miss things when rushing. If you are certain you travelled around with the passport, go back to the places you have visited and ask the reception if they found anything. If no, then search the place.
2. Lodge a Police Report
If you’re certain your passport is nowhere to be found, go to the nearest police station to lodge a report as soon as you can. Make sure to report within 24 hours or else insurance companies may not cover the costs of replacing the passport. A police report will serve as proof in case your identity is stolen for criminal activities after you’ve lost the documents. Make multiple copies of the report.
3. Contact Insurance Agent
This is when subscribing to travel insurance would make life a lot easier. Emergency hotlines operate 24/7 so you should not have trouble contacting them. From there, they will guide you on how to proceed. Tune Protect travel insurance, for instance, won’t only cover the expenses for passport/travel documents replacement, but also costs of travels at the place of loss (going to embassy, police station etc.), communications (cost of phone calls or Internet data throughout the process) as well as meals and/or accommodation. Remember to keep all receipts for claiming purposes.
4. Lodge a Report at the Malaysian Embassy
Go to the Malaysian Embassy or any mission like High Commission, Consulate General or Consulate offices at your destination. If your destination (country) does not have a Malaysian mission, contact one that is the closest to the destination (neighbouring country). They’ll be able to guide you through the process. Some embassies require appointment, so do a quick search and book an appointment to avoid disappointments. For a list of Malaysian embassies abroad, click here.
Generally, here are the documents needed to apply for an emergency certificate. Different countries may require other documents, so be sure to check before travelling.
- Copy of police report
- Completed passport application/travel documents Form IM.42
- Other documents that can be used as proof of citizenship like IC or driver’s licence
- Two passport photos
- Processing fees — subject to change according to exchange rate given by Malaysian Accountant General’s Department.
For children below 12 years old, please provide:
- Copy of MyKid or Borang W for child born abroad
- Copy of the parent or guardian’s IC
- Children under three years old is exempted from providing a thumb print
The embassy will provide a one-way emergency certificate that allows you to fly back to Malaysia. It can only be used once within a 12 months’ validity, so make sure to keep it safe before your flight. The process may take between three and five working days, but in case of emergency, you can speed up the process by paying the expediency fee.
Once you have the emergency certificate, you can return to Malaysia via all countries (in case of flight layovers or crossing different countries when travelling by train) except those that do not recognise a Malaysian emergency certificate such as Brunei, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Holland, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sudan, Switzerland, Turkey and UAE.
5. Apply for Replacement Passport Once Back in Malaysia
Visit any Malaysian Immigration Department office usually at UTC (Urban Transformation Centre) complexes to apply for a replacement. After settling the fine mentioned above, you should get a brand new passport.
They say prevention is better than cure, so here are a few ways to minimise the risk of losing your passport or travel documents:
- Keep your passport in a hotel safe
- Take note of the location of Malaysian embassy at your destination
- Carry several physical (photocopy) and digital (save picture on phone Dropbox or Google Drive) copies of your passport
- Never leave your passport in an unattended luggage
- Keep all important documents in one place (ziplock file)