Finally, there’s one major task for the month that we’ve accomplished last Friday.
First, let me rave how great, fast and easy it is now to undergo passport application and renewal. Big thanks to the DFA’s Online Appointment System, that is, for enabling us to process ours (mine, hubby’s and Asher’s) unbelievably in just 30 minutes. The husband’s passport has been more than a year expired while mine will expire on Feb 4th. The little one doesn’t have a passport still. We aren’t scheduled for any international travels soon but it’s not bad if we prepare for it this early, right? Besides, I don’t have any valid IDs since I’m not employed so it’s just imperative to have my passport renewed. The reason why we’ve been delaying this task for so long is because we dread the long queues and the unsystematic way we are accustomed to and we used to hear about the process wherein you have to get to the compound and line up as early as in the wee hours of the morning. Thanks to Trixie who commented on my post and it’s from her that I’ve first learned about the Online Appointment System wherein you can now request a schedule as to when you can go to the DFA office (applicable to DFA Manila only) for application or renewal of your passport without having to fall in long lines and wait for several number of hours. Personal appearance is required for all renewals now.
So I submitted our details last January 19 and requested 3 slots for a January 22 schedule: 2 renewal, 1 new application of Machine Readable Passports (MRP) through the MRP online appointment system. If you’re still unaware, there are two types of passports currently being issued by DFA. Check out the difference between the E-passport and the MRP at DFA’s site. Normally, the appointment day given is 2-3 working days after your online application. So before requesting a slot, it’s highly recommended to have all the requirements ready especially those original NSO certified documents (birth, marriage, etc).
Here’s a tip I stumbled upon one poster in a forum who has just renewed his passport. Although the schedule will be randomly assigned, you can actually indicate in the application your preferred date and time after your last name: Ex: DANGANAN (10AM JAN 22)
I received 3 acknowledgment emails for my request upon submission. The next day, the confirmation of our appointment was sent. I printed 3 copies of the email (1 for each applicant) and attached to our collated documents.
We arrived at the DFA compound at about 9:10 am. We had a tough time finding an available parking slot but thanks to a roadside assistance of a “barker”, we’re able to find one nearby.
As usual, a fixer with a seemingly DFA-issued ID, approached us pestering and trying to “assist” us. We just ignored him and went directly to the entrance at the side of Libertad St. We looked for Gate 2 then proceeded to Windows 1-4 as instructed in the email. This is the first step where all the documents will be reviewed, checked and received. Windows 1-4 are specially designated for Online Appointment Applicants while the rest of the windows (there are several of them) are for those who opt to apply passports the “regular” and “manual” way. Present the printed copy of the email confirmation of the appointment and the staff will check it on their list. There’s a bench allocated for every window so we were seated the whole time we were waiting for our turn. There were about 3 applicants before us at Window 1 who were all served fairly fast. After 10 minutes, it was our turn and our documents were received. Another tip is to make sure that your documents are correct and complete for a hassle-free transaction. DFA has a complete list and you can download the application form from their site. Mention to the attending staff if you’d like to avail the regular 14 working day or the expedite 7 working day processing. We were given back our documents (including the old, cancelled passports) plus a slip that we have to present to the cashier. Since we’re applying a new one for my 23 month old son, Asher, the staff requested to have my verified application form photocopied which will serve as a support document for Asher’s application. No need to get out of the area should you need to photocopy something because there’s one in the other side of the room at Php3/document.
Step 2: There are four lanes of Cashiers in the same room just beside Window 1. No long queues either so in less than 5 minutes we’ve paid for our passports.
Step 3: We proceeded to the Auditorium for the encoding of our data. Make sure to mention to the guard that you are an online appointment applicant so you will be led to Lanes 1-3. As opposed to the other lanes where the regular applicants’ lines were even encircling, there wasn’t any queue and we were served at Lane #1 right away. The staff encoded our data and asked us to check before he printed the forms. Then we proceeded to the stage to imprint our thumb marks and submit the documents which ends the application process.
Step 4: This is actually optional. We preferred to have our passports delivered to our home through an accredited courier instead of coming back to personal claim them on the release date so we proceeded to the basketball court. I believe all of them offer their shipping services for just Php 99/passport. We opted for 2Go’s services. We’re expecting the delivery a day after the scheduled release date from DFA.
In 30 minutes, we’re done with the process and we were home bound. We’re very satisfied and happy how fast the transaction was. It really pays if you research beforehand and come in very prepared. I feel for those applicants we left behind and endured long lines. Obviously, a lot isn’t informed still and are unaware of the easier way of passport application through the Online Appointment System.
I’m also glad that we were also able to save thousands. We were almost inclined to avail the guaranteed fast but more expensive services of Teleserv (Php 1300). Thankfully, everything went well without a hassle. Kudos to DFA for implementing such a fast and easy process. Here’s hoping that the other government offices and other customer-service oriented firms follow suit.