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How We Applied for Our Philippine Passport

We’re finally saying yes to travel abroad! We’re looking at the time horizon of two years from this date. At least it would give us some ample time to plan and save.

 

The first step of the planning is of course securing the most basic travel document — the passport. I’ve been contemplating on getting one two years ago, but, I told myself I’d wait for the right time until Olive gets a bit older.

 

I heard from some people that getting an appointment with the Department of Foreign Affairs is pretty challenging this year. However, we were able to find an open slot on a weekend at SM Manila. It was also stated as fact that DFA is continuously opening up more slots for October to December.

 

What Are The Requirements for Passport Application?

 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) website enumerates all the needed requirement for a new passport application.

 

For Adult:

  • Confirmed online appointment
  • Personal appearance
  • Application form to be sent via email after confirmation and payment of the appointment slot
  • Original and photocopy of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA formerly NSO) authenticated birth certificate on security paper
  • For married female, original and photocopy of PSA authenticated marriage contract on security paper
  • Valid IDs such us SSS or UMID, driver’s license, PRC, Voter’s ID with photocopy

 

For Minor:

Kids who are 7 years old and below are entitled to use the courtesy lane together with their parents.

  • Confirmed online appointment
  • Personal appearance
  • Original and photocopy of Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA formerly NSO) authenticated birth certificate on security paper
  • Marriage certificate (if only one parent accompanies the child)
  • Photocopy of valid ID of either parent

 

Sometimes, DFA may require other supporting documents for certain cases. All of these are specified on their website. In my case, I brought along my local copy of my birth certificate because the PSA copy is a bit illegible.

 

Online Application

 

Online application for Philippine passport is free. You could create an appointment as an individual or family. There’s an advisory that they recommend your email address be in either Yahoo or Gmail.

 

All applications are on first come-first served basis.

 

The process of application will let you supply the following information:

  • Your preferred site location —— these are the DFA offices near your area
  • Date and time — again this is a first come-first served basis, so make sure you don’t have other important plans coinciding your appointment date
  • Personal information — name, address, contact information etc.
  • Family information — your parents’ information
  • Application information
  • Contact information

 

Once all were properly filled up, you will receive an email indicating your provisional appointment schedule and payment process in order to confirm your appointment.

 

No payment, no appointment rule will apply. Payment must be settled within 24 hours to confirm your appointment. Likewise, once paid, you can no longer refund this if you were not able to show up on your appointment date.

 

The accredited payment centers are:

  • Bayad Center
  • 7-11
  • Pera Hub
  • ECPay
  • Robinson’s Business Center and Department Stores
  • Waltermart Department Store (the one in WMall Macapagal does not accept this yet during the time I paid last August, I’m not sure if they are accepting now)
  • USSC or Western Union
  • Villarica Pawnshop

 

Credit card and bank over-the-counter payment in some banks are being considered in the future.

 

I paid in Bayad Center. The breakdown of amount per head was as follows:

 

E—Passport fee = 950 pesos

Expedite fee = 250 pesos

Convenience fee (for paying in Bayad Center) = 50 pesos

Total = 1,250 pesos

 

(I really did not choose the rushed/expedite fee. I’m not sure if this is already automatic in their system if you apply online.)

 

Once payment is confirmed, you will receive a confirmation notification email. There’s also a link where you can download your application form and E-receipt to be printed on A4 sized paper. You need to print these out and bring them along with the other requirements during your appointment date.

 

During the Appointment Date

 

We took our lunch before going up at the 5th level of SM Manila. The appointment letter mentioned to be there at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time. But we decided to line up since we saw that it was quite packed already.

 

I asked the guard where the courtesy lane for minor with parents. The guard mentioned that the cut-off time for the courtesy lane was 1PM, and we have to go back on Monday.

 

Wait, what ?

 

I told her that we have an appointment. And then, she sheepishly said, “Ay, Ma’am may appointment po ba? Ah akala ko po walk-in po kayo.” Oh, that cleared it. So, they were still accepting walk-in applicants until 1PM.

 

So, they checked our bags and told us to turn off our mobile phones and let us in.

 

Steps To Be Taken At The Data Capturing Site

 

  • Verification section

The person in charge checked our application form, E-receipt and ID photocopy. She stamped it and attached a note indicating that the passport may sometimes not be released on time. Then, the verifier told us to proceed to Window 8 (which was probably meant for those entitled to use the courtesy lane).

 

  • Processing section

The processor checked each of the documents we brought. Again, good thing I brought the local copy of my birth certificate because he did ask for it. Otherwise, there would be a chance that my application might be put on hold.

 

In the case of my husband, since his very old and expired passport can no longer be located, we furnished a notarized affidavit of loss. He also took it as a supporting document.

 

He signed on our forms and told us to proceed to the next step.

 

  • Encoding section

Ah, this was where the long wait happened. Who would have thought that there were a lot of families with children during that day?

 

Basically, this process was where they would input the basic information which would eventually appear on your passport. This was also the step of taking your photograph.

 

Make sure to double check all the information encoded.

 

After checking, the encoder handed our E-receipt copy and stamped the release date of our passport. It will serve as our claim stub two weeks from now.

 

  • Pick Up or Mail

The encoder asked if we’d like to pick up our passport or have it mailed via courier. We chose pick up since the transportation fee going to SM Manila is still cheaper. Courier fee is optional and it costs 150 pesos.

 

Our Experience During the Appointment Date

 

In spite of the minor boo-boo with the security guard at the entrance, the whole process was pretty smooth.

 

The waiting time in the processing section took us like, less than 15 minutes. It was because there were around four windows accommodating the courtesy lane. Most applicants in the courtesy lane were families with kids. I just saw one senior citizen.

 

For the encoding section, we waited for almost an hour. Since mobile phones or any gadgets were not allowed, Olive was getting pretty bored. She was almost dragging us from our seats and raring to go to the playground. We just told her to wait for a while because we still need to have our picture taken.

 

I let her doodle on a spare paper, but she was still thinking about her playtime. So, I told her to take a nap instead. I swayed her on my arms until she fell asleep.

 

When it was almost our turn in the encoding section, I woke her up, but she was still groggy. The guy behind the counter remarked “Naku, tulog pa.” Well, I think his patience was being tested because the family prior us had a daughter who refused to have her picture taken. Maybe he was thinking the same could happen to us.

 

My husband took his photograph first. Then came Olive’s turn. We defied the rule a bit. We brought out my husband’s phone, turned on the Vampirina video, and placed it on top of the camera, so her attention will be diverted to it.

 

She was refusing to sit on the chair at first. But, after a few coaxing, she relented. She was actually looking at the monitor rather than on the camera. After looking on her profile, I felt guilty of not fixing her hair! 😕

 

We entered the vicinity at 1:15 PM and left at 3 PM.

 

Tips During Your Appointment Date

 

  • Always double check all your documents prior to appointment date.

Be sure you have the original and photocopy of each item. Bring supporting documents also, for example, local copies of your birth certificate or marriage contract in case the PSA copy is unclear. Other list of supporting documents can be found on DFA’s website.

 

  • Have a hearty meal before your appointment time.

Eating is not allowed inside, so make sure you had your fill before your schedule.

 

  • Anticipate a long queue ; bring something to read or activity books/toys for kids.

Gadgets of any kind are requested to be turned off. Therefore, it would be advisable to bring a book or any reading material with you. For kids, bring activity books or toys to keep them entertained.

 

  • Bring a fan.

The place can become pretty humid especially if crowded.

 

  • Dress appropriately and comfortably.

Since it’s still a government office, DFA is requiring everyone to wear proper clothing and closed shoes.

 

  • Remove jewelries and avoid heavy make up.

Earrings, necklaces and even hair accessories are requested to be taken off during data capturing. Light makeup is acceptable.

 

  • If you bring along a toddler, make sure he is not hungry or tired to minimize the crankiness.

Let your toddler take a nap while waiting, or keep him entertained with toys. And, do have a lot of patience.

 

Final Remarks

 

I think our government is trying its best to improve the system. Hopefully, paying online via credit card or via bank transfer will not be too far to happen, as it is really more convenient.

 

In addition, I hope there will be more DFA satellite offices to be opened. For the offices itself, I wish there were one or two big monitor screens displaying a movie or any entertaining program in order to manage the patience of people who are waiting in line.

 

Overall, the process was systematic and I do look forward to more and better improvements in the future.

I am a wife to Francis and a mother to Olivia. I am an avid reader, but a frustrated writer. Maybe considered a millennial, but very much of a "manang".

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