(Documentation of my personal experience in Passport Application)
4th of March. First destination, Department of Foreign Affairs. For those who didn’t know, the new office of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is now located at Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard corner Bradco Street, Pasay City. And before going for the interview, make sure you have with you your complete set of requirements, and of course, you must have already set an appointment earlier. You haven’t yet? Here are the steps:
Preliminaries: Setting an Appointment
You have two options in setting up an appointment: (a) Via online application. Visit the DFA Passport Appointment System and follow instructions indicated; or (b) call (02) 737-1000, and a friendly service agent will gladly assist you. Be sure to set your appointment as soon as you can, even if you still lack the requirements, as the next open schedule might not be in the next one to two months.
On the day of the interview, make sure to be there 30 minutes earlier, and bring EVERYTHING. If you don’t know how to get there, just go to Pasay Rotonda, take a bus heading to MIA-611, and get off right in front of DFA.
As for the requirements, double-check everything, and make sure to have a photocopy of them. Requirements vary from person to person. Mine were:
– printout of Application Form from online appointment
– Original Birth certificate from NSO
– Valid ID (my laminated BIR ID = trash; my old university ID = good)
– Supporting documents (I brought my TOR with dry seal, NBI clearance, and BIR Form 2316)
– NSO-certified Marriage Certificate of my parents <– required since my family name is foreign sounding
– DOST Letter of Clearance <– necessary to clear me from the "watchlist"
– Passport Fee: Php950
And so my journey began:
8:26AM. Just the right arrival for my 9:00AM appointment. Before you can go inside the building, you will have to present your application form at the Verification Counter right by the entrance. This part makes sure that you indeed have an appointment and other forms of verification.
STEP 1. CHECKING OF DOCUMENTS FOR PROCESSING
They have (I think) more than twenty windows that serve applicants simultaneously, but still I spent almost an hour here as the queue was really long. At this part, you could check your documents for the nth time like what I did, or bring out your novel/magazine/crossword/sudoku/etc. If you don’t have any, the overhead monitors showing Just For Laughs: Gags (and the full trailer of the final Harry Potter movie… Neat!) will surely alleviate your boredom. And don’t worry, you’ll be seated while in the queue.
And then my turn came. Window # 19. Before the serviceman could actually process my documents, he had to send me to the Director’s Office for clearing of my DOST status. (NOTE: Only DOST Scholars who have not cleared their status yet will undergo this stage. I would assume that anyone whose name is being watchlisted for whatever purposes would have to undergo this step).
STEP 1.5 (not applicable to all). INTERVIEW / INVESTIGATION UNIT at the DIRECTOR’S OFFICE
I was sent from Window #19 to the Director’s Office to have my name cleared. In the D.O., they took my documents and had me wait as they cross-checked my records. some of us were called in cubicles for interview. In my case, they just gave me back my documents, with my application form now stamped with something that says I have no obligations in the DOST anymore.
STEP 1. (Continued)
I went back to Window #19 for processing of my documents. They took most of it and returned some. I’m sorry, everything happened relatively fast and I wasn’t able to keep track of which documents were left on my hand. Anyhow, the serviceman said my records and requirements are good. So now I have to proceed to the Cashier for Payment.
STEP 2. CASHIER / PAYMENT
The Cashier was located at the second floor, as well as the other remaining steps. The queue was short, and the whole process was quick. You will be given a queue number that you will use in the next and final step.
STEP 3. ENCODING / ENROLMENT
Here, you will see a network of micro-cubicles, each servicing the last step of the whole application process. Once your number is flashed in the monitor, you will have to go to the corresponding counter assigned to you. The staff will scan your documents, have you verify the details they encoded, get your digital thumbmark, get your digital signature, and Voila! You’re done.
Passport Delivery/Courier Service
You have the option to come back for your passport once ready, or have them delivered to you. While waiting in Step 3, I saw girls roaming around, issuing receipts for those who want to avail the courier service. You will have to go to their stations (right beside the Step 3 stations) and have them encode your mailing address. You can do this step before or after Step 3.
10:20AM. I had the whole process COMPLETED.
DFA Passport Application. Check.
Duration. Two hours.
Next stop. Bureau of Immigration.