How strictly does Indonesia enforce passport validity rules?
November 3, 2014 8:44 AM   Subscribe

So I just bought a ticket to Indonesia for a couple weeks out to discover that there's a rule saying I need six months left on my passport, an American one. State Department website says that landing with less than six months could get one sent back or that airline could refuse boarding. I have five months left on my passport as an American living in China. Does anyone have any experience with this?

The embassy says it will take longer than I have to get a new passport. and I'm fairly certain the ticket is nonrefundable. What would you recommend? Does anyone know how this rule is enforced in practice? Do I run the risk of being stuck in a holding cell in Jakarta?
posted by chinabound to Travel & Transportation around Indonesia (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Indonesia through the Java airports has real passport controls. If the inspector notices, s/he will not let you through. You may try to negotiate just a "fine" if you're good at that. Indonesia has lots of, uh, social space for that sort of thing.

FYI, I renewed a US passport while residing in Asia once, late-2000s. I believe it took 3 days, which I was incredulous but happy about. Diplomatic pouches ftw, I suppose.
posted by migrantology at 9:03 AM on November 3, 2014

Best answer: Depending on the ticket counter and employees when you check in, the airline may also check to see if your passport is valid for six months. So, you'll have two places to try to pass through with your passport to get to Indonesia. I would do everything you can to see if you can get your ticket refunded, or rebooked, and see if you can rush the passport renewal.

Also, to get back in to China, your passport will have to be valid for six months. So, in short, you do not want to do this with your current passport.
posted by umwhat at 9:15 AM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Go to the American Citizens Service section of the embassy and apply for a new passport. I don't know if they can expedite it or not, but it generally takes less than two weeks. I did this several years ago in Shanghai, and I think I got my new passport in about five days. Remember to carry your old passport, too, if it has your current visa in it.

Also, to get back in to China, your passport will have to be valid for six months.

This only applies to new visas. If chinabound has a valid multiple entry visa, they should be able to get back in to China.
posted by bradf at 9:30 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Many airlines have computer systems that catch these kinds of things for them, especially because various countries can fine them for transporting passengers with unacceptable documents. Either you have to put in your passport details when you check-in online and/or the check-in agent at the airport will scan your passport electronically. I don't know whether that will apply to your airline and your flight, but there's a nontrivial chance you won't be able to board your flight.

I'd do my best to get a renewed passport from the embassy in time. Five months is an absurdly long time for them not to be able to handle a passport renewal, especially as their website says they normally take two weeks. Even if it somehow takes them two months, you'll still have plenty of time. If it somehow gets down to the wire, it might be possible to change the dates on your ticket by paying an extra fee, the details of which will vary with your airline and ticket.
posted by zachlipton at 11:20 AM on November 3, 2014

Yeah I've seen people turned away at the airport when trying to check in for flights to Indonesia with passports that only have a few months left. If you make it to Indonesia you may be able to negotiate, but chances are they won't let you on the flight.
posted by lollusc at 1:55 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do not try to board an international flight with less than 6 months on your passport. Most airlines catch this automatically at check in when the agent scans your passport, and they will not let you board. (I have a friend who was denied boarding today for this exact issue and is now spending a lot of money on an emergency passport renewal.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:57 PM on November 3, 2014

Best answer: I also had my passport renewed in Shanghai and it took less than 2 weeks.
posted by duoshao at 4:13 PM on November 3, 2014

zachlipton: he says his passport has five months left but his flight is in 'a couple weeks' from now.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:23 PM on November 3, 2014

More anecdata: a friend attempted this, unwittingly, from Istanbul. She was not allowed to board the flight from Istanbul. I think it is most likely that this is what would occur.
posted by jojobobo at 10:59 PM on November 3, 2014

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