More than five years ago, the Urban Roamer wrote the ePassport Guide, one of the first entries written here which aims to share to the reader how to go about applying for the Philippine ePassport. At that time, it was a fairly new “product” which was only introduced months before it was written. It also coincided with the time I needed to renew my passport, so I decided to renew my passport with the ePassport one as I noted my experiences for the blog.
During those five years that I’ve gotten to travel with my passport, much has changed in the ePassport application system. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has opened a separate consular facility and a number of satellite offices to facilitate passport applications, making it convenient for people who live far from the DFA office. Even passports have changed as well during that timeframe with the “not valid for travel in Iraq” note no longer appearing in passports since 2011.
Fast forward to this year as it was the time once more for me to go through the process of renewing my passport.
As it was in my first ePassport application experience, online appointment is the first step. This time, you have an option to choose which facility you would like to go to in applying for your passport. Most of them are located within malls which makes it convenient. There is a catch there though. If you choose to set your appointment at one of the centers located in the malls on a Saturday, chances are you will be paying extra because having your passport application processed on a Saturday is considered “express” application, and that entails a bit more on the processing fee.
Another reminder is to take note of the scheduled date and time of the appointment as the DFA is strict on that one. Be on time or be early to avoid the inconvenience. Also note the requirements you need to bring for your application as the DFA is strict on that as well. Don’t forget to print out the application form and appointment slip as well as the old passport and required documents.
Before entering the office, the receptionist will check your appointment slip to make sure you are not coming in after the set appointment time. Once you are inside, the first step is to go to the processing section where you will submit your application form and passport. After verifying the documents submitted as well as if you will opt for regular or express processing, (unless you process your application on a weekend which as I mentioned is considered express processing already) the processor will punch holes in your old passport signifying it is no longer valid and you will be proceeding to the payment section for the next step.
After payment, the next step is the encoding where you will have your photo taken, have your information verified, encode your biometric data, and affix your digital signature. As before, it is recommended that you dress presentably for your passport photo.
You will be then given the option to have your new passport delivered to your doorstep or just pick it up at the same facility after the prescribed period. In my case, since I find myself frequenting the area around the facility, not to mention I don’t want to be bothered paying extra for door-to-door delivery, I opted to pick up the passport myself.
Regular processing takes about 20 working days (or roughly about a month) while express processing takes 10 working days. You will be given a note as to the estimated timeframe when your passport will be released.
If you opted to pick up your passport, you just proceed on releasing day to your facility where you processed your passport application and go straight to the releasing area.
All in all, the process itself is fairly smooth and quick, just aa I remember it when I went through this process the last time. I suppose ut also helps that I only go through this one just once every five years. Nevertheless, credit must be given to the DFA for implementing a system like this which gives less hassles for the public. It coukd use more improvement though, like having the same online system in place throughout the country and not just concentrate on Metro Manila alone.
For mote information as well as to apply for a passport, visit the website www.passport.com.ph.