|Goodbye green passport. Had good times with you. :)|
So I went to DFA the other day to have my old green passport renewed, which is not supposed to expire until August but I have a Singapore trip planned by month-end and entry to that city/country has a six-month-passport-validity-upon-arrival rule for tourists.
No choice there.
The first time I processed my passport, I got assistance from my former company coz I also had to process my US visa at the same time for business travel. The only hazy memory I had from 5 years ago was showing my face to the old DFA office with a company-accredited travel agency and then 2 weeks later, I had my passport delivered at work.
This time, I had to book an appointment online (http://www.epassport.com.ph/) in late January and the earliest opening was 2-March. I chose the 1100 schedule and armed with the needed documents plus cash, I arrived at the new DFA office in Macapagal Ave. in Pasay around 1000.
There are basically 3 steps for the passport renewal processing. I think it's the same for new and lost passports but there might be some differences in the required documents and fees.
Step 1: Documents Verification
So I had my old passport, photocopies of the pages off the old passport, photocopy of valid IDs and the accomplished passport application form. Then you'd be given a slip which will have the payment amount. I opted for the rush processing (15 business days) since I need the new passport before our Singapore trip.
Step 2: Payment
I then proceeded to the second floor and was a little impressed with the floor layout. I guess since the building's new and everything's in place, it looked impressive for a government office building. :) I proceeded to the cashier window and since there wasn't a queue, I was able to pay in 5 minutes. The rush processing fee was PhP 1200.00.
A woman was going around collecting PhP120.00 for the courier fee. There was a bay of LBC employees on the far left collecting mailing addresses for those who wished to avail of the passport delivery service.
Step 3: Passport Information Verification and Photo-taking
The last step was to get my queue number for the photo-taking and verification of my passport details. There were about 80 cubicles for this purpose. Some pointers to remember for this step - remove all accessories like headbands, eyeglasses, earrings or any facial piercings, contact lenses (clear or colored) and its advisable for females to tie back their hair in a ponytail. Your ears have to be visible in the photo. Make sure to double check the information encoded to your passport details as well, to avoid any inaccuracies.
The whole process was fairly easy and the queues were organized but I guess there was just too many scheduled people that day that it that took me about 2.5 hours to complete the process. Good thing monoblock and steel chairs were everywhere so it made the wait bearable and less tiring.
I just wished DFA (and all government) employees would start smiling and answer questions politely. After all, a huge chunk of my salary goes to my withheld tax which then goes to their salaries.
Oh well, wishful thinking. Hope my renewed passport gets here on time or else, my only international travel scheduled for this year is bust. Fingers-crossed. :)
PS: I got my new brown e-passport on 23-March, a day earlier than anticipated. Thumbs up for DFA! :D