Traveling is amazing and increasingly popular among students, entrepreneurs, business people, young families, etc. Traveling and working at the same time is often called the future of work – working remotely from wherever you are in the world. Traveling will teach you a wide variety of things on a huge spectrum of fields and will give you experiences that you’d never had if you’d stayed at home. And the best thing of all; traveling is easier than ever, Europe took away his borders, countries that people like me are interested in such as North-Korea, China and Cuba are opening up, rules worldwide are loosened up, there are countless ways of fast transport to the other side of the world and there are many articles, books and stories on how to travel..
But not everything is going smooth and travelers around the world are hitting walls when they enter a certain country and try to extend their stay, try to work or try to enter other countries. The Visa and passport situation is not yet ready for the growing stream of travelers and digital nomads worldwide and rules are outdated.
I am currently in my own country, the Netherlands where I was born and raised and lived my whole life and where I was just denied when I applied for a Dutch passport.
Let’s back up for now. In my last article I wrote about why I had to apply for an emergency passport and how I got stuck in Kuala Lumpur for a while. I thought, when I got into the Netherlands that my problems were solved and I could just apply for a new passport and leave the country again after I received it. Little did I know that the problems were just about to start…
It wasn’t until 2 months later when I was in the Netherlands applying for a new passport at the municipality bureau in Utrecht that I found out that the problem was not completely solved. I was told to apply in the municipality in the Netherlands where I was registered in, but I was still registered in Indonesia since I was only staying in Utrecht for two months. So there I was, applying for a passport in my own country in the city where I lived my whole life which was denied because I wasn’t registered there and to register I had to stay for at least 4 months according to the rules. The woman at the desk told me to go to Indonesia and apply there for a new passport, which was not even possible because the emergency passport that I had was only valid to go to my home country one way and if I wanted to get a visa for Indonesia again, I had to have a valid passport.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and the woman seemed to be confused about the whole situation as well. Could it really be so difficult to apply for a passport in the country where you are from?!
She started to type and searched for a solution until she was on the phone with one of her supervisors who told me to go to the municipality of the Hague.
A few days later I called to the Hague to make an appointment and was told to get a document from the embassy of Indonesia. Of course they had never heard of such a document and I was told to contact the Hague again to send some kind of document for them to fill in.
Obviously I wasn’t keen on going back and forth to the Hague all the time and I decided to just try to register in Utrecht and see if I can do it that way. But of course, another loop hole. Apparently to register you need a digital ID number, and my digital ID account was blocked when I registered in Indonesia. However, to get a new account, I had to be registered in the Netherlands, or sign a lot of papers and wait for three weeks.
So my digital ID was gone, I couldn’t get a new passport and I wasn’t even registered in the Netherlands, was I still a Dutch citizen? I started to feel like they didn’t think so. Friends asked me what would happen if I got arrested, would they kick me out? Where would they send me? Could I use this to get a free ticket to Indonesia? Because that wouldn’t even be so bad.
Was my only option to just try to get out of the country with my emergency passport and try to apply for a new ‘normal’ passport in Jakarta, Indonesia?
Should I book a ticket and hope for the best? Quite risky since I can lose a lot of money spent on a ticket and a visa if I can’t get through.
I decided to go on a new rampage on the internet to get all the information that might be useful for my situation and check if I had any more options.
I kept ending up at the website of the Hague and since I already had an appointment I decided to just give it a go. I took all the documents with me and never went to the Indonesian embassy since they didn’t seem to know what they could do for me.
When I arrived at the desk, I was interviewed shortly by a woman who seemed to be the supervisor. She knew about the situation and told me that she’d seen many cases like this and that it was no problem to get a new passport. I was skeptical and I knew that she saw it on my face, I brought my laptop just in case that she needed more proof of me staying in Indonesia and China and I had all the contracts and everything with me. But she didn’t need any of that. She asked me questions about whom I spoke to on the phone when I made my appointment to see her and what this person asked me, what they said that I needed from the embassy and whether I made the appointment with them or with her bureau.
She explained, after she looked at me frowning, almost as if she didn’t believe what I said, that they gave me the wrong information and that I didn’t need anything from the Indonesian embassy. All I needed was proof that I stayed in Indonesia for the time that I was there and that was all in my old passport with holes in in. I was pretty sure that all the information in a passport that was made invalid was unusable which is what the KL border patrol guys told me (even though their actions proved otherwise) but she seemed to accept it. She gave me the form and I handed in a little picture that I saved from when I was in KL and a few minutes later I was on my way with a form in my hand stating that I could pick up a brand new passport, valid for 10 years in the Hague the week after.
Was it really over? I still couldn’t believe it myself but decided to celebrate. Just as in Kuala Lumpur a few months ago, I decided that I might as well make the best out of this trip to the Hague and treat myself with a celebrational late lunch in Chinatown a few block away, but not Chinese, I saw a place that drew me in from the moment I saw it from the tram window this lunch was celebrated with some delicious Indonesian food.