As mentioned in my previous post, we went to Canberra just before the Easter break to register for Little J’s birth and to apply for his Malaysian passport. There were a lot of planning involved in that trip, not only logistics (Little J’s food, clothes, nappies, timing the trip with his nap/sleep time, etc) but also preparation in terms of the documents we needed. The last thing we wanted was to drive all the way there after making an appointment a month in advance, to find that we forgot to bring an important document needed to register his birth! That would really be a disaster and a waste of all the effort we (I) had put in.
Nothing like a sleeping child on a road trip
Anyway, as with everyone else in Sydney, our nearest option to register for our child(ren)’s birth with the Malaysian Consulate would be in Canberra. All the information you need really is in their website. One key point to note is that to register for your child’s birth, it is highly recommended to do so before he turns 1 year old, because after that period, you would need more documents and have to wait for a longer application time (more than 6 months according to the website).
- Make an appointment as soon as possible. Note that appointment times available are only from 9am to 10am, Monday to Thursday. So if you are making a day trip there, it means starting your journey from Sydney at 5.30am the latest. Or if you are planning to stay the weekend there, you might want to book a Monday morning appointment. For us, we managed to get the appointment on the Thursday before Good Friday, so we got to stay a night there after our official business.
- Take passport photos of your child beforehand (if you want to save money). If you are like me, trying to save the AUD$15 for photos, you could take the photos of your child beforehand at home. It’s actually not too hard especially for babies who are not that mobile yet. Just lay them on a piece of white cloth and snap the picture with his/her eyes looking at the camera, mouth closed and head straight (not tilted). We did this and the officer accepted our photos! Printing the photos ourselves at the photo shop only cost us AUD$0.15 by the way.
- Double and triple check all the documents required for the application. Most importantly, make sure all the original documents are with you. If you don’t/forget to make enough copies, as long as you have the originals, you could still make the copies there. But without the originals, your application might have to be put on hold.
- Parking off-street in front of the consulate. Since it was our first time there, we were not sure where to park and tried to enter via the gates which were closed. After several attempts at the intercom, we then found out that public cars were not allowed inside the building. We had to park outside by the road or across the building. Entering the building was via a side gate which was unlocked.
- Child registration and passport application are two different processes. Read more about this in my experience below.
Posing in front of the Malaysian Consulate
We reached there right at 10am on the dot. We were worried about being late but there was actually another family in front of us still in the process of renewing their passports so we sat down and waited. There were 3 counters but only one with an officer. There was no numbering system so we thought we just had to wait until the family was done to get to our turn. That family actually took more than 30 minutes (3 adults and 2 kids) to renew all their passports and by the time the officer was available, it was about 10.45am. So we quickly went over to the counter, ready with documents. When the officer asked for Little J’s Malaysian birth cert/Borang W, I said I didn’t have it and that I was supposed to apply for it then. Little did we know that the officer that we were waiting for was actually in charge of passports ONLY, while registration of birth was handled by another officer who was freely roaming around in the office behind the counters. When he came out, he said “Oh I saw you waiting earlier. Why didn’t you call me?” I felt so stupid for waiting for 45 minutes with a hungry Little J for no reason. Stupid for assuming that everyone was supposed to wait for that one operating counter. Anyway, to cut the story short, we had all our documents ready, Little J did some thumb prints, we paid the fees and proceeded to the next counter for passport application. Thankfully, the officers were quite nice and fast, so we managed to submit everything within half an hour.
Malaysian Consulate in Canberra
On another note, we kept hearing about the famous nasi lemak that was sold at the Malaysian Consulate before and I asked the officer about it. Unfortunately, since the processing of passports moved from Canberra to Melbourne, there were less applicants at the Canberra office, which resulted in declined market for the nasi lemak. Apparently, the nasi lemak was made by one of the staff in the office to sell to people who had to endure long waits for the passport processing back in the time where you could collect them within the same day. Now that passport processing is done in Melbourne (or Perth), we could only submit our application in Canberra and wait for a month for the passport to be ready.
Are we done yet?
By 3pm on the same day, we were able to collect the Borang W (Malaysian birth registration certificate) from the office. For the passport, we had the option of providing an Express self-addressed envelope to the officer to mail it to us when it’s ready, or to go back to the office and collect by hand. We opted for the postage and within a month or so, Little J’s passport arrived in the mail! I have to say I’m quite impressed with the efficiency of the Malaysian Consulate.
Little J’s Malaysian passport!