How to Wisely Use DFA Passport Appointment System

\"\"For all Filipinos out there who are interested in applying for ePassport, renewing their expiring passport or replacing their missing passport, Department of Foreign Affairs is already imposing the appointment system for a while now. For readers who are not familiar or confused with this relatively new appointment system, continue reading.

Basically, the appointment system is supposed to make passport application and renewal more efficient using the website www.passport.com.ph or by DFA hotline 737-1000. Placing an appointment online or by phone is FREE but there are passport fees which are payable later.

Regular Processing: P950.00 (25 working days)
Rush Processing: P1,200.00 (15 working days)
Additional fee for lost passports that is still valid: P200.00
Delivery: P120 (optional)

With the new system, it eliminates long queue because only applicants who have appointments can be admitted during the allotted time. If you applied for a Philippines passport before without the aid of travel agencies, you probably know how long the queue could be at the old DFA office. It saves time and keeps you away from enterprising fixers.

To start with your appointment, it\’s always recommended to carefully read the expectations. You should carefully read the procedures before proceeding and take note of these reminders:

  • Fill-out the online forms and make sure all information are complete and correct, specially your email address because you will receive the printable form and reference number in your email.
  • Please READ all information. Do not overlook a single  requirement detail because it might cause inconvenience later on.
  • Applicants will not be admitted at the entrance gate without valid appointment and application forms.
  • Photocopy all the necessary documents before proceeding to DFA Aseana.
  • Applicants will not be processed if they do not have complete set of photocopies of their documents.

Moving forward, the following is my personal experience on online appointment but the DFA hotline should give similar experience as they are using the same system.

My passport is expiring on March 31, 2011 and I need to renew my passport for a potential business or work-related trip for the next few weeks. Yesterday (March 26, 2011) I set an appointment for my passport renewal and to my dismay, the appointment system schedule is very much off my expectation. The earliest schedule I could get was May 26, 2011. That is two months waiting for an appointment and another 15 workings days for rush processing.

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Two months ago my sister-in-law applied for her ePassport and it only took her 1 month to get an appointment but on my case I have to wait for 2 months. I cannot wait that long because I could miss out an opportunity. I started to get frustrated because I could not find a sooner schedule; I repeatedly hit F5 to refresh the available schedule but I could only get May 26. Waiting much longer is pointless so I was forced to choose this schedule.  However, I know that whenever you apply for a new appointment, the previous appointment will be replaced. Knowing this, I tried getting sooner appointment dates. From May 26, I got May 25, then May 11 and then May 10 — which is still unacceptable.

To help me with my quest to get sooner appointment, I set my browser to auto-refresh the schedule page. I waited for almost 2 hours staring at my monitor but I could not get a sooner appointment. It was 3AM already. I decided to sleep.

I woke up late at around 11AM and the first thing I checked was my computer. To my surprise, there were several slots available on March 31, 2011!  It is a big leap from my previous schedule. Now I only have to wait for 4 days.

If you are struggling on getting an earlier appointment I hope this technique will get you a sooner schedule. I didn\’t try calling DFA hotline but it should give you similar result. If you do not want to pester the call center agents then this method is recommended. This is probably a limitation of the system. The slot is simply made available if someone cancels an appointment and anyone can snatch the freed up slot. Paunahan na lang makasingit.

The new Philippine ePassport is a biometric passport and it has security features including a hidden encoded image, an ultra-thin holographic laminate, and a tamper-proof electronic microchip. For more information about the Philippine passport, go to http://www.passport.com.ph or http://www.epassport.com.ph.

If you have a tip on getting your ePassport (new application, renewal, re-issue of lost passport, extension, etc) or you just want to share your experience, don\’t hesitate to write your comments below.

Update: Just got my passport on May 9, 2011…. so it seems that I paid rush processing (15 working days) and got my passport after 25 working days.

 

P.S. I am not connected to DFA so I cannot answer all your questions. I will try but I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Also, please use some common sense before asking a question. You may want to read the comments because it might have been asked and answered already.

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