I have just renewed my Philippine passport last Monday at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Manila and I’m happy to report that the whole thing just took about two (2) hours. Yes, you read that right—2 hours! For me, that’s quite amazing considering that the last time I had my passport renewed back in 2008, it took me two freaking harassing visits to the DFA, with each visit taking me about half a day so that was a total of 1 whole day of my life (plus the hassle of going there twice)! This time, I step foot in the DFA building at 7 AM and I was done by 9 AM!!
While the DFA website outlines the process so simply in its “What to Expect” section, it actually involves more instructions, tips, preparation, and strategies than just 10 steps, ESPECIALLY if you want to maximize the system and get your passport in 2 hours or less. So while the system is designed to be efficient, you can still end up wasting a day of your life in the DFA building or having a bad experience (like this blogger) if you don’t prepare well!
This post specifically applies to those who will renew their passport through DFA Manila and not through any other consular office, whether in the Philippines or abroad. This post does not tackle applications involving lost passports and to applications deemed by the DFA as “emergency cases”, which may or may not result in a shorter processing time.
The information contained in this post is accurate as of the date of publication and based on the DFA’s website specifically dedicated for passport applications at http://www.passport.com.ph/ (“DFA website”). Thus, the information herein can change without prior notice or updates. Please be sure to confirm all details and information directly with the DFA and/or the DFA website before applying for or renewing your passport.)
I’ve divided the whole passport renewal process into three parts:
Part 1) passport appointment system;
Part 2) preparation of documents; and
Part 3) personal appearance.
A. APPOINTMENT OPTIONS
The general rule is that you have to set an appointment for your passport renewal (unless you fall under those exempted under the courtesy lane, which I will not discuss in this post).
How to set your appointment using DFA’s online passport appointment system through http://www.passport.com.ph/set-appointment:
*Take note that the earliest time you can set an appointment for renewal is at most 1 year before the expiration date of your current passport. My passport was only valid until April 17, 2013. I went on the online appointment system on March 15, 2012 and set my appointment on May 21, 2012. The Bureau of Immigration requires a passport with at least 6 months validity for us to travel abroad. Since I also need to obtain a visa for my next international destination, I had to renew my passport way before the 6 months prior to my current passport’s expiry date.
Do not wait until you’re about to leave for a trip before renewing your passport. I’ve encountered so many applicants desperately pleading and finding ways to have their passports issued or renewed because of an upcoming trip. This will only stress you out and make you prone to mistakes. Again, the earlier the better. As soon as you reach the 1 year period before your passport expires, renew it. Remember, you cannot renew your passport before the 1 year period. Extension of the validity of present passport is a different application which can only be availed of in certain circumstances (for more information on that process, click here or here).
*There are blog posts that indicate that there are applicants who were still able to get an earlier slot. Some may cancel or reset their appointments. Try refreshing the web page and/or relogging (going back to “Set An Appointment” page). Just in case you missed it, check also if you fall under those eligible for courtesy lane or emergency cases.
3. Photocopy of pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival stamps
4. Original E-Passport Application Form (do not affix your signature on the application yet)
*If you have an MRP but the birth place stated on your passport is not specific (for example, “NCR” instead of “Quezon City”, then you also need to bring your original birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) and its photocopy. Mine was already specific so I didn’t need this anymore.*For minor applicants who are MRP holders, photocopy of birth certificate is also required.
Here are the essential documents required for other types of passports aside from the original & photocopy of your E-Passport Application Form:
- Old passport and photocopy of passport pages 1,2,3, 4
(amendment). The pages showing latest Bureau of
Immigration departure and arrival stamps.
- Original valid ID.
- Birth Certificate from NSO in Security Paper (SECPA)
- Negative Birth Record from NSO if born 1950 & below and
Joint Birth Affidavit from Two Disinterested Persons;
and supporting document showing complete Middle Name
- Present passport and photocopy of pages 1,2,3 (amendment) and last page.
- The pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival stamps.
- Photocopy of Birth Certificate for minor applicants.
- For illegitimate minor, personal appearance of mother is required.
B. SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
- Marriage Contract
- PRC / IBP ID
- Land Title
- Driver’s License
- Government Service Record
- Digitized SSS-ID
- School Form 137 or Transcript of Records with Dry Seal
- Other documents that show full name and birth details of applicant and/or citizenship
- Voter’s Registration Record from COMELEC Intramuros
- Baptismal Certificate w/ Dry Seal
- Seaman’s Book
- Income Tax Return (Old)
As a general rule (and if you are undergoing the “ordinary” passport application being detailed in this post), personal appearance is required for all passport applicants.
So that you will not get confused with the numbering, I have designated the steps in the application proper below according to the numbering as designated by the DFA of its own process (so that Step 1 is Verification and the “last” step is Step 3 for Encoding/Enrolment). Anything that comes before these steps, I have designated as “Preliminaries” and the Passport Delivery Service still comes after Step 3.
WHAT TO BRING:
1. Essential documents
2. Supporting documents
3. Cash for passport fees: P950.00 for regular processing (15 working days) or P1,200.00 for rush processing (7 working days). This processing fee already includes your passport photo (unlike in previous passports where you had to have your picture taken in studios and incur added expense)
4. Cash for courier service: P120.00 (if you will avail of this service, which I suggest you do!)
6. Fan (because it can get hot in the outside waiting area)
7. Cash for miscellaneous/emergency stuff, like photocopying (available at the compound/outside waiting area) or for affidavits (there are affidavit and notarial services in the building but ideally, you should already have prepared these documents if they’re required!).
*Food and drinks are not allowed inside the DFA building
|DFA Counter for Affidavit and Notarial Services. Located at the back, near the processing windows for agencies|
WHAT TO WEAR:
You don’t need to wear blazers or even collared shirts or look too formal (unlike in previous passports where they had specifications on the collar and the color of the shirt). I saw girls wearing high heels and closed shoes, which I thought were really not a good idea since there will be some standing up and walking around involved.
If you are wearing contact lenses, be sure they’re clear and not the colored ones or else you will be asked to remove them during the photo taking. If you are wearing earrings, you will also be asked to remove them.
Please be guided by this photo posted at the DFA entrance. No sleeveless shirts, shorts, and mini skirts.
What I wore:
HOW TO GET THERE:
The DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs (dedicated solely for passport application processing) is located at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City.
It is easy enough to find. Coming from EDSA Pasay, cross Roxas Boulevard then turn left on the first corner.The DFA building is located to your left.
Directly in front of the DFA is a Shell station with a McDonald’s.
The email sent to me by DFA after I set my appointment stated:
“Your appointment is on Mon, May 21, 2012 from 08:00 am to 08:30 am.
Please make sure you arrive at the DFA at 07:30 am.
You will be expected to arrive for your appointment at exactly 30 minutes before your schedule.
Even if you arrive early, you will not be entertained until 30 minutes before your appointment.
If you arrive late, you will need to secure another appointment for another day.”
Note that the email stated that “even if you arrive early, you will not be entertained until 30 minutes before your appointment.” THIS IS NOT TRUE. Once again, I will emphasize: THE EARLIER, THE BETTER. My appointment was at 8 AM. I was in the area by 6:30 AM, had breakfast in McDonald’s and entered the DFA gate at 7 AM so I was able to start my application even if I was 1 hour early. There were already more than 30 people ahead of me in the 8 AM line located at the tented waiting area (within the compound but outside the main, airconditioned building). And there were even already people lined up for the 8:30 AM appointments!
So it’s not completely accurate that if you arrive early, you will not be entertained. This will really depend on the number of people already inside the main building. Since the main building can still accommodate more applicants aside from those with 7 AM slots, then the applicants already in line (even if they have later slots like 8 AM or 8:30 AM) will already be permitted to go inside to start the application process.Again, this is the advantage of setting your appointment early.
I really regretted not picking the 7 AM slot, which was still available when I set my appointment online (I thought then that it was too early for me). If I had done so, I would have been there at 6 AM and I’m pretty sure that it will take me just 1 hour tops to complete the whole process. Since my appointment was at 8 AM, it took me 2 hours. So, you can do the math and most likely, each hour later than 7 AM will also add another hour to your processing time.
UPON ENTERING THE GATE:
Only those with confirmed appointments will be allowed to enter the DFA gate.
Upon entering Gate 2 of the DFA building, expect the following:
1. The security guard will check the date and time of your appointment printed on the top portion of your application form.
2.You will be led to the Verification and Validation counter, where DFA personnel will verify your appointment by scanning the bar code on the top right portion of your application form. You may also be asked to present a valid ID at this counter.
3. Sit at the waiting area designated for your time slot located under the tents right outside the main building.
DFA personnel selects the batch that will be allowed to go inside the main building to start Step 1 according to the number of benches. For example, in my 8 AM slot, the first 4 benches were the first ones allowed inside while the next batch was the next 3 benches. So if you’re in the leftmost side of your bench, check if you can still squeeze yourself in at the previous bench because sitting on a bench further back may increase your waiting time!
B. APPLICATION PROPER
Step 1. Processing
Since the main processing area seemed full already, I was led towards the back of the building towards another area, where processing of applications done through travel agencies are usually done (processing for travel agencies is done in the afternoons, I think but there are news reports that this has been discontinued? Not sure about this). This was a good thing I guess since this was a smaller area and so there were less people ahead of me in line.
The “first step” in the application proper is called “processing”, where you will proceed to a window and DFA staff will check your application form and the completeness of your documents. As I mentioned above, I was only asked to give my essential documents (photocopies of certain passport pages) and there was no need for me to give supporting documents. I was assigned to the guy at Window 6.
After checking my documents, the DFA staff filled in details in my official receipt and asked me if I was availing of regular or rush processing. I chose rush processing which means my passport will be ready by May 30. He asked me if I have any flight scheduled prior to May 30 and since I have none, he then punctured the cover of my passport as well as the main page with the picture/details and rendered it void.
He then handed me back my application form, essential documents, and the filled-up official receipt.
Step 2. Payment
After processing, proceed to the 2nd floor for payment. This is the fastest step in the process.
After paying, be sure to proceed right away to this counter. Show your application form to get your queue number. The encoding/enrolment step usually involves the longest waiting time in the process so it’s important to get your number right away. My number was 1184 and I waited about 40 minutes for my number to be flashed on the screen (the numbers in yellow on the screen correspond to the queue numbers ready for enrolment while those numbers in red are the corresponding booth numbers).
This is the step where data from your application form will be scanned, certain details will be manually encoded by the staff, your right and left thumb mark will be scanned, your digital signature captured, and where your picture will be taken.
While waiting, you can read a book, tinker with your smartphone, or retouch your makeup (at least take off shine and powder your face).
SHORTCUT TIP: Another great idea to shorten your whole processing time is to proceed to the PASSPORT DELIVERY SERVICE area (to the left of the enrolment/encoding area) and pay for your courier service already so that you don’t have to go through this after you’re done with step 3 (see letter C below for details). When the DFA staff announced that it was alright to do this before actually doing step 3, my number was already nearly up so I decided to just wait for my step 3 to finish.
Even if there are so many enrolment/ encoding counters, applicants tend to be “bottle necked” in this process since some applicants take their time with their photo taking and some even request for another shot. I didn’t bother to have my picture retaken since the harsh, fluorescent lighting in that area was hopeless. Unlike previous passport pictures, the e-Passport’s picture is quite “cropped” which will result in a very tight, close-up shot of your head.
Here are the DFA’s guidelines for photo capturing:
Your frontal pose looking directly at the camera lens and
showing your full face must be used. Rotation or tilting of the head
either in an up/down or left/right direction must be avoided. The mid
points of the mouth and the bridge of the nose should lie on an
imaginary vertical line in the center of the image.
Your expression should be neutral with both eyes open and mouth
closed. There should be no hair covering the eyes. Contrived
expressions such as raised eyebrows, squirting or frowning are not
When having their photos captured, applicant may smile, but
without showing their teeth and gums. The ‘Mona Lisa’ smile is
Eyeglasses/ Contact Lenses
Eyeglasses should always be removed before capturing the applicant’s photo.
The use of contact lenses for medical reasons is accepted,
provided that the contact lenses do not change the applicant’s true eye
color. Therefore, applicants are advised to take off their contact
lenses before having their photos captured.
Ears Should Be Visible
As much as possible, both ears of the applicant should be visible.
Earrings/ Hair Accessories
As much as possible, both ears of the applicant should be visible.
Infants or very small children who are unable to support
themselves should be assisted by either parent or their guardians.
Hands, arms, etc., used to support the child should not be visible.
High-chair for minor applicants may be used, if needed.”
The DFA staff will then print out a paper with some of your details and will ask you to go over the sheet for final correction. Once she gives you your official receipt, you’re done!
C. PASSPORT DELIVERY SERVICE
The passport delivery service area is located next to the encoding/enrolment area and right before the exit so you won’t miss it. Pay the P120 delivery fee at one table then proceed to the “encoding” area where they will get your official receipt, scan it, ask you if you want your passport to be delivered to your office or residence, then finally, issue you your shipper’s receipt. I guess they will return your official receipt when they deliver the passport. Since my issue date is May 30, I was told I can expect my passport to be delivered 1 day later, on May 31. (I will post the pictures of my e-Passport here as soon as I receive it). (UPDATE: Delivery fee is now P150.00)
If you don’t want your passport delivered, you can pick it up at the DFA. But for P120, why even go back? I don’t even know how to do it and didn’t even ask since it’s just more convenient to have it delivered. I’ve had my previous passport delivered by courier and it was safe and reliable that way. But I guess for some who can’t wait the extra day (like for those with rush trips), picking their passports up personally at the DFA may be their only option.
After this step, IT’S FINALLY DONE.
UPDATE: Some of the commenters to this post have asked about damaged/mutilated or lost passports. If you need to submit affidavits, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and I will send you sample affidavits for your reference.