Getting a government document in the Philippines is not an easy thing, I think you know what I mean by this. There are other ways to get a Philippine passport, but this is how I get mine and it’s easy for me; you can share at the comments if you have one. I’m sharing this experience I consider an adventure and a challenge. I’ll try to keep it short as I can, but I think this would be a long post.
Teleserv and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) forged an agreement to give this online service to millions of Filipinos who are dying to leave the country every minute. I like the power of business process outsourcing (BPO) of Teleserv tapped by the government to make a quality service.
For a new passport application,the first on the list that I chose to accomplish is the NSO birth certificate since it does not require any valid ID. Make sure all the entries are clear and readable; mine was in old handwritten format which is not accepted by the DFA. Now what? Go to your local civil registrar and make a request for endorsement letter to the regional NSO. It took me years to have the electronic version of it, I even had a heated argument with the regional NSO staff asking if it’s already endorsed by the local registrar. She told me about the Presidential Decree that no one can view the endorsement which I’m not aware of. My point is, I don’t want to pay again for the handwritten version, just a waste of money. It’s a long story that I have to make another post for that. Try to have the documents listed in the requirements , a bunch of valid ID will get you going: a TIN card from the Bureau of Internal Revenue is the surest valid ID you can have, printed on a cheap paper then laminated and my company ID which is considered valid, too. This completes all my documentary requirements. Sum it up, I have 3 documents the NSO birth certificate, TIN card ID, and my company ID.
Set an Appointment
Here is the only online part. Set an appointment to DFA Online Passport Application, and read all the never ending notes there. Fill up all the required entries, avoid or make no errors and make sure it matches with the other documents to save time from going back again to the DFA. Choose your preferred date and time slot, that is, morning or afternoon slot. I would recommend a morning slot; I’ll let you know why on the next step so keep reading. A confirmation email will be sent to you,and be sure to click it within 24 hours. If not, the link will expire and cancel your appointment. You need to have a PDF reader installed in your computer such as Foxit Reader or Adobe Reader to be able to read the electronic forms. The process is automated, so don’t try to fool the system: cancel your appointment if you can’t come on the set date by using the appointment cancellation. This is to avoid problems in the future applications. My personal appearance was set in the DFA Consular Office – Manila at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City.
Going there by public transport is easy, buses have DFA signs and will drop you next to ASEANA building. If you have your own vehicle, a big parking space is on the next block with security guards.The adventure begins here after a long wait along EDSA for buses going to the DFA. This time, by the way, I was accompanied by Joel and his brother. When we alighted from the bus, some people told us where to set an appointment. To our surprise, we were directed to go the Shell gas station right across the DFA. Don’t be fooled by this. Fixers are not an option in getting any government documents. Also you won’t be needing any of the ball pen or passport sleeve jackets, sold by peddlers. Aside from selling it forcibly ( yes, forcibly ), the prices are astromonical.
Be there at least 1 hour before your appointment. There’s no need to be there by 1 A:M just to be the first on queue. The system implemented is by batch, so you don’t have to worry about that. Hundreds of applicants swarm the building a day that they have 3 holding area. This is why you have to pick the morning schedule; everyone is being held a box like perimeter line outside the building, literally on the streets. A bottled water and something to cover you from the heat of the sun are must-haves. There are no chairs to sit on, and you can’t even lean on the wall of the adjacent S&R shopping center. The guard will surely aim his shotgun at you for doing so. You should have all your printed and photocopied documents with you, incomplete documents will lead you nowhere but home. The guard will check your schedule in the printed appointment form. Don’t bring anyone who doesn’t have any transaction at the DFA since that person will not be allowed to enter the gates. My appointment was scheduled at 11 A:M, but we were lining up by 10 A:M. Finish your food and water before entering the gate. No food is allowed inside, or you’ll be asked to leave it at the counter.
I was with Joell and his brother who is a government employee. Here’s the catch. Government employees have a courtesy lane, so they don’t need to battle the long line. I phoned the 737-1000 Pilipinas Teleserv customer service if one whose parents or brother are government employees can use the courtesy lane. I was told that I could only use it if my parents are with me and is also applying for a passport. Also, I should be single if I will use my brother’s privilege, but he must be with me,too! I can’t use the courtesy lane because all of those government employees in my family are not available. This is a great news for Joell, so along with his brother, they happily entered the building and I waited outside. Here comes the bad news. He was not accepted at the courtesy lane since the staff told him only the parents and not his brother privilege is being honored. Joell insisted that he had the privilege to use the courtesy lane based on the information given to him by the customer service about the issue. The staff handed him a piece of paper saying that only applicants whose parents are present are honored at the courtesy lane. Knowing this, he left his brother and joined me in the morning heat outside. Though it also happens in other companies, the lesson here is that customer service on the phone and the staff in front of you are totally in a different world. It only took an hour for Joell’s brother to finish all the entire process.
The next holding area is a big tent inside the DFA compound, with chairs enough to accommodate the whole batch. Having a seat is such a relief, but one annoying guy playing loud music from his mp3 player added to the noise from the applicants.We moved like a train going to main building,
Patiently, I waited for the chance to be in the air-conditioned holding area before reaching the teller window where I submitted the requirements. When I was near the window, I overheard the lady telling the officer that she already paid for the passport for Php 3000 to a person who promised her to process her documents the soonest. She was told that it must be a FIXER .This time, we moved at turtle pace though at last I was able to submit the documents; this time I was done in minutes and ready for the next step at the second floor.
I got a transaction number, and this step is the fastest in the whole process. At the second floor, a decent number of cubicles that can accommodate a large volume of applicants can be found. Each cubicle has its own digital camera, fingerprint scanner, and digital pen for signature. The E-passport saves time in terms of processing and offers a lot of security. It took 5 hours just to get a new passport, a big “time-waster” is the long line of applicants.
You don’t have to pay for or spend on anything than the passport itself, depending on the processing days. If you want to save some cash go for the regular processing at Php 950.00 for 20 working days. When the need arises and circumstances require you to have a passport immediately then go for the rush processing at Php 1,200.00 and have it after 10 working days. Now, fees are rather cheaper that it used to be years ago.
I don’t want to go back to the DFA and to undergo the same process of standing on a long line just to get the passport. So, I wanted it to be delivered, but an additional Php 200 for the delivery of the courier company of your choice like 2Go and LBC was an extra. I was expecting the delivery of the passport by October 17 through 2Go; I’ve waited till noon but no luck. With the Air Waybill (AWB) and Consignment Note (CN) numbers in hand, I tried tracking it using my mobile phone, but I got no confirmation or response. The online tracking feature on their website is not really tracking, it’s just a detail of the package, I’m expecting something like this. I contacted the branches of 2Go Laguna hub for a follow up in San Pedro ,but they redirected me to Sta. Rosa where the phone was not even ringing.I rang the customer service in Manila (+632) 5287-136 that gave me a repetitive message ” your call is important to us” for 6 minutes and it’s not a toll free number! The last resort I did was to email the Laguna hub guys. The next morning I received a reply saying they got the passport at DFA on October 17 in the evening. I think I will blame the DFA for the delays not 2Go. With all the labors I undertook and hassles I underwent, I was ecstatic to finally receive my passport on the 18th of October. Such a labor. Below is the preview of the inside pages of the new electronic passport.
WORDS OF CAUTION : The passport contains sensitive electronics. Do not bend, perforate, or expose this to extreme temperature or excess moisture.
Here are some tips to enjoy your adventure in Getting Philippine Passport Through DFA Online Passport Application.
- Don’t deal with fixers.
- Don’t buy anything from the peddlers.
- Bring anything that will shield you form the heat of the sun.
- A bottled water.
- Remember the old adage: Patience is a virtue. Have lots of them with you.