Indonesia

How to get a new emergency American passport in Bali in one week

The last week of my incredible month in Bali (October 2017), my wallet and passport went missing. I searching the web to understand the process to get a new emergency passport, but couldn't find much information. Thus, I thought I'd put together an overview of how I got an emergency American passport in a week.

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I'll set the scene. 

I had received the free Visa On Arrival while I landed at the Denpasar airport, which allows you to stay in Bali for up to 30 days. Not expecting anything would go wrong, I booked my flight for the 30th day (Tuesday, Nov. 21). This gave me no wiggle room when it came to leaving the country if I didn't get my passport on time (spoiler alert, I did!).

My wallet and passport went missing in Ubud, Bali, on Sunday, Nov. 12, giving me exactly 10 days to get a new passport. Plenty of time, right? HA! Barely. Luckily I had a photocopy of my old passport -- and I ended up showing it to everyone as my "proof of ID."

STEP 1: POLICE REPORT

If your passport goes missing, the first thing you need to do is go to the police station. Since I was staying in Ubud, I went to the police station that's east of the downtown area. It was quiet and there were only two officers working. They took me in right away and had me fill out a form. Then, they inputted in my info into the computer and printed, signed and stamped an official police report. KEEP THIS WITH YOU and maybe get a copy of this, as you'll need to reference this until you get home. 

STEP 2: PASSPORT PHOTO

In order to get an emergency, temporary passport, you'll need to bring a new passport photo. There are a few places in Ubud that offer them -- I can't remember what it cost, but it was way less than it would have cost in America. Less than $10 for sure, and I got 6, just in case. I ended up only using 2.

STEP 3: U.S. CONSULATE AGENCY IN DENPASAR

*Please refer to this link for the most updated process info, I'm only writing about my personal experience which could be different than your experience or the official process.

Hire a driver (driving there by scooter is quite the endeavor) and get your butt as fast as you can to the Consulate Agency in Denpasar. You're supposed to make an appointment, but if it's an emergency (which this was), you can just show up. I got there at 8:45 a.m., and they opened at 9 a.m. I was the only one there. They did a security scan and then had me fill out paperwork. When you get into the office, you'll have to provide your passport photo, money for the passport ($135, payable in Indonesian Rupiah cash or by credit card), and fill out two forms in advance: DS-11 and DS-64. You'll also need to provide your police report (you still have it, right?).

They will tell you that they can't actually process passports and that they will need to send everything by mail to the U.S. Consulate office in Surabaya on the island of Java. If you have a photo ID, you could fly there and get it processed and picked up same-day. However, since I didn't have a photo ID since my wallet also went missing, I couldn't fly anywhere. It takes up to a week to receive your passport.

Submitted Monday. It would arrive in Surabaya by Wednesday. They would process and send back on Thursday. Then, it could arrive by either Friday or Monday (since the agency office is closed on the weekend.) 

Even if it arrived on Monday, it'd be fine right?! NO. 

After you have your emergency passport in your hot little hands, you then have to go to the immigration office that's 45 minutes to an hour away (south of the airport) to get an entrance stamp, since your new passport doesn't show record that you entered the country. That office closes at 4. If you get your passport on Monday at 2, that gives you only two hours to get to the office and get the stamp before they close. And with Bali infrastructure, the mail could be delayed or the immigration office could close early -- you never know. 

STEP 4: THE IMMIGRATION OFFICE

Luckily, my passport arrived on Friday afternoon. But, it was right before they closed the agency office, meaning I would have to pick it up bright and early Monday morning. 

I arrived at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 20. I signed for the passport and the agency staff also gave me an official letter to give to the immigration office. I then hitched an uber from the mall next door and arrived at the immigration office at 10:30.

If you can get a copy of both your flight itinerary in - and out - of the country, your new passport, and the police report, do so before going to the immigration office. Otherwise, they'll have you go get it copied. It's just pass the office - the next building over, and cost about $2 to get it all copied. 

The office you're looking for is on the second floor in the back. 

Then, of course, typical government, they closed for lunch at noon, so there I sat. I finally got my passport and stamp at 2:30 p.m. and was on my way.

STEP 5: GETTING HOME

My experience added a bit more stress, since I had a week trip planned to Japan on my way home from Bali. In talking to many officials on the phone in both the U.S. and Japan, nobody knew if I could use my emergency passport to enter Japan, even though it had a full year validity.

I just winged it. 

At the Denpasar airport, I had to show my police report, the letter from the consolate agency and my passport to get through security. I had to do the same during my layover in KL.

When I arrived in Japan, they asked about my passport (since it's smaller than a regular passport.) I just said my original one was stolen in Bali, and that it was an emergency passport. 

They just looked at it a bit, and let me in.

Getting back into America, I had the same process getting through immigration and I was home!

Hopefully, if you're reading this because your passport was lost or stolen in Bali, this gives you hope that you can get home. It's a lot of hoops to jump through, but it's relatively painless.

Good luck, and make sure to keep an eye on that passport better next time!

Top 3 places to eat/drink in Bali

Ubud a small town toward the center of the island of Bali, Indonesia. It’s about an hour from the Denpasar airport - not because of distance but because of the narrow roads and excessive traffic. 

But if you make it through the dusty streets to this tropical Garden of Eden, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas of lush rice terraces cascading down the highlands. The aroma of sweet frangipani and hibiscus saturates the air — but don’t stop to smell the flowers for too long, you’ll likely have to dodge a poor American learning how to drive his scooter.

Ubud is a city that seems hang in a delicate balance between the eastern and western worlds.

Largely untouched by big brands (in town, you’ll only find a Starbucks and DQ) it’s peppered with warungs (small, family-owned restaurants), local herb shops and boutiques flaunting hand-made wares. But, 10+ years after Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” and Bali has been officially ’discovered.’ Expect to see an abundance of Australians with yoga mats strapped to the backs and European digital nomads hunched over laptops at craft coffee shops across town. 

You’ll revel in beautiful Bali-style villas with open-air bathroom and kitchen while still appreciating abundant wifi, plumbing and swanky pools. Dine on traditional Balinese dishes like sate, nasi campur and gado-gado, while knowing alternative tastes of home are also available (like hamburgers, pasta, burritos and pizza).

Try to learn a few words of Bahasah Bali (like the greeting “Om Swastiastu”) -- the locals love it. But, it’s not necessary to know the language. Nearly everyone speaks English and all signs and menus are in English as well. 

So, if you venture to this island paradise, you’ll likely hit the I highly recommend you check out the six things below. 

Indulge in a gastronomic experience at Kubu at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

While you can snap up a fabulous meal for under $10 most places in Bali, the prix fixe multi-course menu at the Ritz Carlton Ubud is worth the price tag; the same meal in the U.S. likely would cost at least double. Reservations are required, and I’m told they fill up far in advance. You immediate feel like an A-lister, as your name has to be on *the list* to enter the giant gates at the front of the hotel. From the front outdoor foyer, you’re whisked away on a private golf cart down the hillside villa complex. The staff know your name before you arrive, and you’re quickly nestled in a private cocoon overlooking the Ayung River. You didn’t travel all this way for the ordinary. The 7- or 9-course degustation menu features small bites packed with flavor, like their lobster and fennel ravioli and melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef. Add a wine paring to accompany each course for an extra 400,000 rupiah (~$30). They also have a tasty menu for vegetarians. $56-$85

Sip a cocktail overlooking the Indian Ocean at the Single Fin

Step into the Single Fin, and you’re transported to somewhere reminiscent of boho beach towns in SoCal. Sip an ice-cold beer overlooking the Indian Ocean speckled with surfers. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sun set, and there is live music upstairs. Take the stairs to the bottom of the cliff and enjoy one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches. As the sun sinks below the horizon, it’s a scene that can only be described as magical.

Eat dessert first at Room4Dessert

Will Goldfarb isn’t native Balinese, but he’s well-known around Ubud. Everyone I talked to seemed to know the accomplished pastry chef. He earned a nomination from the James Beard Foundation for Best Pastry Chef in America. And he’s likely the best pastry chef in Indonesia, too. The Space is all created custom, from the beautiful custom bar to the lush canteen in the back. Even the plates are custom-made for each dessert by Gaya Ceramics. Snack on their delightful aperitivi collection of cheeses and meats, accompanied with toasted house-made bread. But the real star of the show is dessert. Opt for the BIG dessert tasting menu ($825) to get a full-sized portion of the nine out-of-this-world desserts. Dragon fruit dances with beetroot cake while cookies, kluwak, nibs nougatine and warm mousse from a deep, rich chocolate sensation. This isn’t your average dessert menu - so prepare to try the new and unusual, like jackfruit, kemangi and salak.