Malaysian Birth Certificate Paperwork in Penang

Malaysian Birth Certificate Paperwork in Penang


Requirements list from the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara for a Malaysian birth certificate

Requirements list from the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara for a Malaysian birth certificate

While my wife was still checked in at the hospital, the staff at Island Hospital prepared a lot of the paperwork that I would need to take to the government office to register the baby for a Malaysian birth certificate.  We were given a detailed checklist (in Bahasa Melayu) of papers that I needed to get together and bring to the office.  Here it is in English.

  • Photocopy of Parents’ passport photo pages 
  • Photocopy of Parents’ marriage certificate
  • Photocopy of baby and mother’s appointment cards
  • Photocopy of baby’s birth record card


I spent an hour in my home office scanning what I was given, and copying what I needed to copy.  I put all my files in one folder and that folder in my backpack, the day before I went to the office.

The office is on Jalan Anson, close to the Tenaga Nasional building (where you go if you forget to pay your electric bill and need to pay it quick before they shut off your electricity).



Car Park across from the JPN building where you apply for a Malaysian birth certificate

Car Park across from the office building

Something you need to know about Penang, the malls and other retailers don’t open until 10 or 10:30.  Government, however, and other offices open earlier.  This particular office is open at 7:30am.  I wish I had known that because I arrived at 10, and the parking lot was full.  And the private parking lot across the street was full.  And the street parking was full.  I circled the parking lot 4 times before a spot emptied and I could go in.


Welcome to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara Negeri Pulau Pinang

Welcome to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara Negeri Pulau Pinang

The Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara office is on the third floor to the left.  As you go in, you are welcomed by this large blue sign, letting you know you are in the right place.

As you go in, to the right, there is this information desk.  I went there to see how to proceed.  The nice young lady went over my papers to make sure that I had everything I needed to apply for a Malaysian birth certificate.  I thought this was very handy; not needing to get a queue number and wait for an agent to open up.

My number came up in 15 minutes.  I handed over all the paperwork.

Funny anecdote

As I was being interviewed by the agent at the office, she looked over the forms and saw that I had left the baby’s race as blank.  This is legal to do in the US, but apparently it is not in Malaysia.  I’m fully of Chinese descent and my wife is completely Caucasian.  There’s no mixed race option in their check boxes.  Well she scratched her head and told me that the baby is Caucasian and that I am Caucasian too, and would I kindly change the form that I’ve submitted.  I blinked, and said “I’m Caucasian?”  “Of course you are, sir.  You carry an American passport, you must be Caucasian.”  Rather than take the time to wrestle with her logic, I changed the form.  So now, for the first time in my life, thanks to a low level staffer in the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negeri, I’m Caucasian.

Back to the waiting area

She had collected all the original forms, parents birth certificate, marriage license, etc.  And after less than 30 minutes, I was called again to another window where I picked up the baby’s Malaysian birth certificate and all our original documents.  That’s right, I spent less time in the office than I did circling the parking lot!  Awesome.

How much did it cost?  If you apply within 2 weeks of the baby’s birth, it is completely free.  If you apply later, or you want a second copy, there’s a charge of RM 10 per copy.

The Malaysian birth certificate for my son has a big (impossible to miss) mark that says “BUKAN WARGANEGARA”  which means “non citizen”.  He’ll be a man without a country until we get ourselves to the US Embassy to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and a passport.  But that’s a story for a different day.