Errands for Idiots: Car insurance, Inspection, Road Tax (Brunei)

It’s that dreaded time of the year again – my road tax is due!

I mentioned in a couple of previous posts that I’ve been driving a little car I inherited since I got back a few years ago. It’s an oldie that my mom used to drive (I used to get sent to school in this car!), but she got a new model so this one was just sitting around in the garage waiting for me to come home. Since assuming the role as its new driver, I’ve had to take on all the responsibilities of car ownership (sans actual car payments since that was settled a long time ago). This includes paying for all the OPEX (OPerating EXpenses – remember this term, I may be talking about this more in the future) such as fuel, regular maintenance and servicing, spare parts (I just got the shock absorbers and a whole menu of things replaced), car washes (I should probably send my car for washing more often than I do haha), etc. This also means I have to get the car insurance renewed every year, take it for an annual inspection (applicable to cars older than 7 years), and renew the road tax.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not a car person – I’m a car idiot. And this guide (similar to my guide to getting your passport renewed) is for all you fake grown-ups who find themselves having to suddenly do adult things without a single clue of how to go about doing it. (Or maybe you’ve decided to be responsible and don’t want to get your dad/brother/adultier adult to do it for you anymore.)

STEP ONE: If you need to do your road tax, first step is to renew your car insurance

Don’t ask me where the best place to do your car insurance is. I can only tell you that I get mine done at Takaful Brunei Am (TBA) in Serusop/Delima, opposite HSBC. This isn’t a sponsored post (ha ha as if anyone sponsors me to say anything), and I can’t say I “recommend” TBA because I know jack poop about car insurance and where to find the best rates and who has the best services/plan/coverage. In a nutshell: I DUNNO! All I know is TBA does it and that’s where I get it done:

Ni nah, di sini. Image courtesy of The Brunei Times

Their business hours are also quite convenient since they do open at night too:

Business hours for Delima branch
Monday to Thursday: 8.15am – 6pm . 7pm – 8.30pm
Friday: 8.15am – 11am  .  2.30pm – 6pm . 7pm – 8.30pm
Saturday: 8.15am – 6pm . 7pm – 8.30pm

And the process is pretty simple, you have to bring your blue card, and I always bring my old insurance policy (the one that’s about to expire). You show up, there’s a little press-button-for-number machine on the left wall as you enter, just click the one that says TBA motor insurance or sumfink laiddat, take a seat and wait to get called.

When you’re at the counter, just give them your documents, sit back while they do some clickety-clackety on their computer, twiddle your thumbs, and attempt in vain to reach the Pokemon gym in Masjid Serusop. (Inda sampai, don’t bother).

I know you can either sign up for comprehensive insurance or third-party insurance (which is cheaper but has less coverage). If you’re not the owner of the car (and don’t want to bother changing the name of the owner on the insurance), make sure your name is listed as the secondary driver so you’re covered in case anything happens.

STEP TWO (if your car is older than 7 years): Book an appointment for a car inspection at JPD and get your car inspected.

Call (+673) 2448009 and tell them when you’d like to bring your car in. Normally I book a week in advance and have never had trouble getting the slot I’m aiming for. Since I work Mondays through Fridays, the most convenient time for me is Saturday morning. They’ll ask for your car registration (license) number, and they’ll tell me to come between 9 – 10am on Saturday morning, and they’ll give you a lane. From what I’ve seen, Lane (Lorong) 4 and 5 are for appointments. I think Lanes 6 and 7 are for either walk-in inspections or to book a slot in person. At any rate, I’d really just recommend calling the number and booking in advance.

a) Wake up early, head to the Land Transport Department (better known as Jabatan Pengangkutan Darat, JPD) in Beribi, drive your car into the lane you’ve been assigned. 

I have a feeling you can use either Lane 4 or Lane 5 despite what you’ve been assigned, especially if it seems like one queue is shorter than the other.

jpd

b) HUT 1: Hand over your bluecard.

Get out of your car – or if you’ve brought a friend, tell them to get out of the car – and take your blue card to the little hut next to the lane you’re driving into. Wait around and they’ll give it back with a blue form stapled to it.

c) HUT 2: Payment ($5)

Take your blue card and your insurance to the second hut, on the right… And pay $5. I think you have to bring your insurance. I always just bring it and give it to them just in case, but now that I think about it I’m not sure if it’s necessary. Maybe you could theoretically do the car inspection first, and then do your insurance. Either way you need to do both before you do your road tax.

The payment counter is the one with that wooden step you need to stand on. (Credit: The Brunei Times)

 

d) Drive through inspection lane and follow instructions.

 

Roll your windows down and listen closely to Mr Inspector

You will be asked to turn on your lights, signal right, signal left. The inspector will walk to the back of your car, tell you to brake, signal right, signal left. Basically he’s checking to make sure all your lights are in working order. You will then be asked to lift the front (what is this thing called?? not the boot but the one in front?? the HOOD! hood right? ya hood) so he can peer at your engine with his little torchlight. I think he’ll be trying to check your engine number – wherever that is. Basically he told me I should clean that bit at the bottom because it was dusty and he couldn’t read the number. So wherever your engine number is written… Clean it. Once he’s satisfied, he’ll make you shut the hood, he’ll scribble on your blue form, tell you everything’s okay and please drive down the lane towards the final hut.

e) There’s a final hut before you exit, just give the fellow inside your bluecard (with the blue form stapled onto it).

He will scribble more things onto the card and take out a rubber stamp and stamp something onto your form. And then he will say okay, give it back to you and you’re free to go!

STEP THREE: Get your roadtax done.

You can do it at the post office. I do mine in the Bandar branch and I think the Old Airport branch offers the service too. According to this article from 2015, the post offices at Bandar Seri Begawan, Sengkurong, Menglait, Seri Kompleks Batu Satu, Muara, Tutong, Seria, Kuala Belait and the Mail Processing Centre on Old Airport Road are currently open for vehicle and licence renewal and “the other 17 post offices” are scheduled to also offer the service by August. Seeing as it’s 2016 now, I think it’s safe to say that’s all probably been completed so most (if not all) post offices should have the service now.

Bring your insurance, bring your blue card with the stamped blue form confirming you’ve done your inspection, go to a post office, take a number, wait in line, pay up, and you’ve got a nice new sticker to put on your windscreen.

I haven’t done my road tax yet… I intend to do it tomorrow so I’ll have an update on how much it cost after.

The entire process is tedious but thankfully it doesn’t take up too much time. Usually there aren’t too many people waiting around at the insurance counter so I’d say wait time is maybe 15-20 mins if there are a number of people in front of you, but one time I literally just walked in and was served immediately. The inspection queue at JPD is also short and moves quickly. The few times I’ve had it done, I joined a queue of maybe 5-6 cars but because I had to switch into Park to dash out and hand in my blue card, run back to my car to move it forward a little bit, run back out to pay $5… I was at the head of the queue before I knew it and the inspection is over in a few minutes. I’m also betting the queue at the post office will be non-existent especially because I intend to go early before work.

Hope this has helped! Oh, and this post was more for me than anything else if I’m being honest with you. I’ve been doing this for three years now but every single year without fail: I forget what I’m supposed to do and I end up walking around the JPD inspection area like a lost chicken, constantly apologizing for not knowing I was supposed to pay first, send my bluecard in first, etc. etc.

Good luck doing your own boring errands!

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