It took me all of 41 minutes to renew my passport today.
My original passport was issued in 19999, applied for at the old DFA building in Pasay, by Roxas Boulevard. We were there early, before office hours, because it was on a first-come-first-serve basis. Once the cut-off was reached, those who couldn’t be accommodated had better try their luck another day. The line was long and it was outside. It got really hot specially near midday. Since we were there early, falling in line and waiting to get through the first window alone took more or less 3 hours. All-in-all, it took more than half-a-day.
I was in Texas when the expiration came up so I renewed it by mailing my requirements to the Philippine Consulate office in LA. No sweat.
When I was due to renew again last year, memories of my first passport application came back. I was not going out of the country anytime soon so I decided I wasn’t ready for another DFA experience. But since the Singapore symposium came up, I was forced to. Everybody kept telling me it was way easier and more pleasant now but I had my doubts. I thought, well, they might have a new building and all, but who knows?
I learned soon enough that there was a new system to the passport application, renewal and replacement.
The DFA Passport Appointment System lets you schedule your appointment online so you go to their office only at the specific time of your appointment. No more coming early in the hope of beating everyone else so you don’t get cut off, no more waiting in line together with other (whole day’s worth of ) applicants.
Also, you can now fill up your application form online. For people with chicken-scratch handwriting like yours truly, this is a gift. All you need to do is print it up and sign.
After submitting your application form, you get an email from the DFA asking you to click to a link to confirm your appointment. You should do this within 24 hours or else it’s as good as cancelled.
Here’s what happens when you get there.
Appointment counter– This table checks your appointment. They advise to be at the DFA 30 minutes before schedule. If you’re not there on time, you forfeit your appointment and you need to set another one. BIG hassle
Early comers will also not be entertained, so don’t bother.
Processing area – For document checking. This is where the wait is longest. But because the line is inside the building, with working A/C and enough seats, it’s comfortable. And because the number of applicants is carefully controlled by 30 minute increments in schedule, and there are about 20 windows to cater to the applicants, the line actually moves fast and smooth. And no line cutting too!
Total wait time for my turn – I’d say about 15 minutes, give or take.
Total time at Window 18- more or less 3 minutes.
Next stop- the Cashier.
Regular Processing (15 working days): Php 950.00
Rush Processing (7 working days): Php 1,200.00
Total time at Cashier #1-about 3 minutes. Might have been less if I had exact change.
Encoding section-Here, they process the application, take your picture (no teeth, no earrings, ears out and eyebrows visible). This is also where you sign and get thumbprinted, both electronically. No messyblue fingers 🙂
There were 4 numbers ahead of me…that’s how short the line was! Amazing, yeah?
Total wait time for #2749 to be called – 5 minutes, maybe less.
Total time at table 55 – hmmm…maybe about 7 minutes? Definitely less than 10.
This process, though, depends on how many takes you actually need to get the perfect picture 🙂 Me, I gave up at two. My passport and visa pics have always been ugly. Just takes getting used to. Haha!
Et viola! You’re done. Just pick up your new passport when it’s due. If you elect to have your passport delivered, you need to make one more stop – the delivery counter. Delivery charge: Php120.
Some friendly reminders: Sleeveless tops, shorts, sandals and flip-flops are not allowed.
Food and drinks are not allowed inside the building. Philhealth, BIR and voters ID are not accepted. For renewal, no other documents needed, just your old passport and the application form.
The staff are very nice too. They were all smiles and very friendly with their reminders and instructions. So there you have it. Thank you DFA for the pleasant experience.