"So what's new with the Philippine passport renewal application process?" That question never escaped my mind before applying for a new passport in November 2010. My old green passport would still be valid for more than a year. It would expire on December 29, 2011.
But I was planning to go to Europe the next year. The countries there might not accept a manual passport anymore. And my old passport would be less than six months valid during my last few months in Europe.
No, I would not be an Overseas Filipino Worker. A scholarship grant would make it possible. But that's another story.
The ePassport, that's what they call the new passport, has biometric features using facial recognition, fingerprints and iris scan. It stores your personal data on a machine readable chip in its front cover. It is high tech and more secure to prevent tampering of the data.
I used the online appointment system at the DFA website. You need to type the two words on the reCaptcha screen to start the process. For family application, click the link for Family Application Form. Otherwise, click the button for individual process.
This link sends you to the online application form. You can choose SM Megamall, Robinson's Galleria, SM Manila DFA Consular Offices or enter the reCaptcha at the bottom of the page for DFA Aseana. The process described here pertains to DFA Aseana.
You have the option to have your passport delivered and see the requirements before going to the next step.
Pick a date for your appointment. If there are no slots for your chosen date, pick another date. As I wrote this, I was able to set an appointment in 10 days. That was fast compared with more than a month in November 2010.
Check your email for the reference number, some reminders and a link to print your application form. Do not sign the form after printing. You need to sign it with the presence of a DFA officer in the processing window.
I did not try this but you may also call the DFA Appointment Hotline (02) 737-1000. Set an appointment for your Philippine passport renewal application with the help of an operator. You need to provide your personal data. The operator will advise you on the requirements. You will receive a reference number, and a print code to print your application form here.
The biometric nature of the ePassport requires physical appearance at the DFA for data and image capturing. This applies to all passport applicants regardless of age. No chaperone is allowed for applicants 18 years old and above.
On your appointment date, proceed to the DFA Consular Office at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City. The video below shows the location map and how to go there. Be there 30 minutes before your time.
Video credit: capac2008/youtube.com
There was no queue number when I applied in November 2010. I was there more than 30 minutes before my schedule.
There was a long queue even outside the building. Possibly two hundred applicants were waiting outside under two large make shift tents.
The same number of applicants were waiting inside in the processing area. One hour and 30 minutes later, next process was to the second floor for payment of fees and data capturing.
I chose rush processing, P1,200 for 15 working days at that time, and paid P120 for delivery of passport on the release date.
After one hour on the second floor, I was done. It took me 2 hours and a half to complete the application process.
Going abroad as an Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW requires you to prepare your papers as early as you can. This gives you much time to prepare for other things, including your Philippine passport renewal application.