Did you know that to enter most countries, your passport has to be valid for up to 6 months after the date you enter? Oh, you did? That’s great because I didn’t!
Our friends @unsettledown mentioned it at dinner one night while we were in Europe and I was like OH WHATEVER… and figured I’d look into it at a later date because my passport was expiring in about 9 months and SURELY Southeast Asia wouldn’t be strict about it.
Boy was I wrong. Most countries in SE Asia require 6 months of passport validity from arrival date into the country AND at least two full blank pages in your passport book. So, naturally, by the time I got around to researching this and found out these super fun details, I panicked.
Lucky for me, the process in Bali is pretty easy. The US embassy website is helpful, and the actual US Consulate is available to contact over email with a great response time (1 day).
So, here’s my journey. I’m typing this from the taxi on my way back from the consulate so that it’s all fresh in my mind.
I emailed the US embassy in Bali a week before getting to Bali to request an appointment. I also confirmed that I’d need to bring:
a current passport photo
1,650,000 IDR in cash
Copy of old passport
Completed DS-11 form
They actually told me I didn’t need the form or copy of my passport; they’d take care of that on-site. They also confirmed (this is awesome) that I would be able to KEEP MY OLD PASSPORT (!!!!) while the new one was being processed. Total processing time would be 2-3 working weeks. Cool, cause I was going to be in Bali for just over a month.
Fast forward to the night before my appointment. We had just arrived in Bali that morning (shortly after midnight) and had a meet up during the day with our friends @oureveryjlife (so cool, check them out on IG and YouTube).
On the way home from hanging out, I was reviewing the short list of things I needed for my appointment in the morning and realized I needed a passport photo. Facepalm. After some quick google mapping in the taxi, I found a place in our town (Canggu) that could do it. I asked the hotel concierge to call and confirm that (1) they would take AND print my photo, and (2) that they opened early enough for me to get the photo and make the appointment. I got super lucky. The opened at 8 and my appointment was at 10 so it gave me plenty of time the next morning to get the passport photo!!!!!
The next morning, I woke up early, did my hair and got all prettied up for my passport photo. I snuck out of the hotel room at 7:40 (don’t wake the sleeping and jet lagged baby!), got a coffee and a taxi at the hotel and was off!
The Lenza photo shop is a tiny little spot but there is a sign out front and the address on google maps is accurate. There, I got my passport photo taken and printed quickly (I was the only customer that early in the morning) and it was $55,000 IDR (about $4 usd). I was maybe in there for 10 minutes! Side note, getting “prettied up” was a waste of time. All passport photos are bad and they wouldn’t let me smile. My advice? Practice your passport face in the mirror.
The drive from the photo place to the US consulate felt like it took forever. My driver was awesome and friendly so we had a nice conversation, but if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, do yourself a favor and plan on 2 hours of driving from Canggu to the consulate. My driver told me that in high season, it can take 3-4 hours . Driving in Bali is a pain in the butt and you don’t want to risk missing your appointment because of traffic.
I got to the consulate at 9:30, and they actually brought me in right away! You have to turn off your cell phone and leave your purse/backpack with the security guard so make sure you write down your current address in Bali and emergency contact address/phone number (someone not traveling with you) before you go in. If you are nervous that you might forget other key info, I’d recommend reviewing the form online before you go and write down any other things you might forget.
Once I dropped off my backpack, I went in to the office, filled out the form and paid my money. All set. See you in 4 weeks. WAIT WHAT?! Apparently it’s 2-3 “working” weeks which means up to 4 real weeks. Lucky for me, it was only my second day here so 4 weeks would be cutting it close, but I’d still make it.
I received an email from the consulate just over 3 weeks later, notifying me that the passport was ready for pickup. Same process as before, I just emailed back to confirm an appointment time. I was actually an HOUR early for my appointment during pickup, but once again they brought me in right away. They stamped a couple holes in my current passport and gave me my new one, and I was on my way. Despite all the stress, it was actually a super easy process. Thank you, US Consulate in Bali!!
Summary of renewing your passport in Bali:
Step 1: make appointment by emailing the US Consulate (CABali@state.gov)
Step 2: get passport photo taken. If you are staying in Canggu, this place opens at 8 am and the cost was 55,000 IDR
Step 3: review form DS-11 online before your appointment and write down any info you may forget. Your “current address” is your current Bali hotel/Airbnb and your “departure date” is the date you need your passport by
Step 4: go to appointment. Make sure you plan for enough driving time! Don’t forget, you get to keep your passport (yay!) when you leave the appointment
Step 5: wait for them to email you that your passport is ready! Plan on 4 weeks even though the website says 2-3
Step 6: pick up your brand new passport and be on your merry way.
I really hope you are never in this situation but if you are, Bali is a pretty easy place to fix it! And as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.