The Philippine ePassport Renewal Experience

If you have previously applied for a Philippine passport personally without passing through travel agencies, you know how horrible it is to get an appointment at the Department of Foregin Affairs (DFA) and skipping through different fixers that linger in the premises of DFA. I was fortunate enough that during the process of my first passport processing, an old colleague of my mother was working in DFA and I got my passport processing expedited – processed today, claimed tomorrow. It was a sudden issuance as I am bound to leave for Singapore then on Saturday and was able to submit only on the immediate Thursday.

Fast forward, I learned through our internal company travel advisory that the green passport might not be allowed for entry in certain countries even if there are previous advisories from DFA that they would still be valid. Since I don’t want to be inconvenienced of travelling and getting denied at my destination because of an old passport, I renewed my passport even if it is due for next year.

Following the guidelines, in our intranet, I scheduled an appointment via this site. All the necessary requirements for renewal is stated there in a straightforward manner. Good thing with this system is that there shouldn’t be any more confusion on what to bring and what to prepare. Disturbances from fixers as well are prevented thus reducing the illegal acts that happen outside the office (like the ones in the old building before). Likewise, the map to the new consular office is indicated there. I scheduled my appointment two weeks ago for today at the 0730H schedule.

DFA Office

I arrived at the new DFA Consular office just right before the required 30 minutes leeway time for my appointment. There were people already inside the area even if the office is still closed. The early appointments were just readied by the entrance where you would get your renewal form with reference number pre-filled up with the information that you have provided in the appointment system.  No need to bring a print-out of the application form unless they misplaced your pre-filledup form. Just be sure you have your appointment confirmation details when you come in.

DFA Office

DFA Office

The cause of the traffic inside is because some people are trying to get in even if their appointment schedule is still isn’t called yet for processing.  I remember bumping into a woman who insists on going to the area even if her appointment is 0900H and I even saw someone in the compound who doesn’t have prior appointment. I guess this is one area that DFA should look into. Though, queueing people is quite a breeze. In fact, 0700H and 0730H appointments were called inside together in the processing room. We were given priority numbers however processing would depend if you have the necessary documents at hand. No worries, there’s a photocopier outside if you have missed something photcopied but it would be better to be there prepared and complete with the necessary documents. After all, it is not hard to understand bullet points indicating what are the possible documents needed.

DFA Office

Inside is perhaps a hundred plus seater air-conditioned waiting room with 23 counters to facilitate applicants. While they were not open altogether, they gradually open counters.

DFA Office

DFA Office

DFA Office

My number was generated 0705H but I got inside around 0712H. I started my processing tracker by this time.

My queue number

I got accommodated in 23 minutes and my stay in the counter lasted for less than 5 minutes. Since mine is renewal only, the necessary documents were minimal though I brought my form 2316, driver’s license, and old passport. Make sure you have photocopies and the originals. After which, I was given my invoice slip and off to go to the cashier going to the second floor.

My invoice

Going to the second floor exposed me to the interiors of the building. They look nice and modern. Parang di Pinas. Ha ha ha! Normal processing of passport costs 950 while expedited costs 1200. Currently, the system is experiencing some difficulty and the old 7 day processing for expedited takes 10 working days while the normal takes 20 working days. Hope they’ll get this resolved sooner. Though for me, it won’t be much of a deal breaker since I don’t have any scheduled trips outside the country though I hope we (me and my travel buddies) can plan for another. He he he!

My invoice

My invoice

Luckily, there weren’t much people in the cashier when I arrived so after paying, I got my priority number for passport encoding. I even forgot the change for my passport and luckily manong was honest enough to indicate that he hasn’t given me my change. I was in a hurry to complete the application that’s why I forgot that tapwe. He he he!

My invoice

There are 64 stations for passport encoding and this time, I found myself again at the last station (similar to the processing area). So as to prevent people bringing wrongly positioned/sized/proportioned pictures, they have set-up areas with cameras installed. Prior capturing your photo, the encoder would get pertinent details based on your application form, get your biometrics (fingerprints), and signature. After validating your information, they would print the summary, have it printed and signed by you to confirm it.

Voila, finished!

My invoice

My watch is advanced by 20 minutes and I was surprised I completed my renewal process under 1 hour, 48 minutes to be exact. 48 minutes for the actual passport processing though I stayed a little further for my passport delivery. During the appointment process, you have the option to have the passport delivered and if you opt to, you need to provide the delivery address. The delivery address is saved in their system and they’ll just have to validate your delivery address before confirming everything.

My  invoice

My invoice

Honestly, I was surprised with the whole experience. Knowing that government services have always been hounded by inefficiency and government facilities that seems neglected, this is truly a welcoming new experience. While the building has been inaugurated last 22 March 2010, I do hope that DFA would be able to sustain this and would be a good benchmark for other government agencies to follow suit. I think one factor why I was able to complete it fast was that my documents were complete and I took the early appointment schedule. I guess you should make that one too should you want to complete it fast. :P

My passport is yet to arrive though I am quite happy that government services do change for the better. :)

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30 comments

  1. Did they take your old passport? I have my US Visa still on the green passport and not sure if they would return it.

  2. They just punched the first 3 pages and the last page just to siginify that the passport has been cancelled. I got mine back as well. We share the same issue where my US visa is placed.

  3. @incus: They give you back your old passport whether or not you still have a valid visa in there. Usually inaattach yung old sa bagong passport kung may valid visa ka pa dun.

    Anyway, I was just wondering if you need to wait for a confirmation email after setting up an appointment through epassport.com.ph. It didn’t say anything about a confirmation email, but news advisories say “only confirmed appointments will be entertained.” Wha? Sorry, just a bit confused.

  4. No confirmation arrived on my part. However, it is important to note to print the confirmation number at the end of your appointment booking. As far as I know, there’s no way for you to retrieve back that number. The new booking system though allows you have to have the PDF of your application but with no indication of your scheduled appointment.

  5. i also forgot to take down notes my schedule, because I thought it is also indicated to the PDF that I have. Is the number located in the upper right of my PDF also my reference number.?HOPE YOU answer my question tnx patrick.

  6. I forgot my reference number and also i lost my printed application? what can i do to retrieve my reference number and have a printed application. by the way my scheduled to go on DFA on July 28. I am worried if they dont entertain me. without printed form. help me

    1. ambett,

      try calling 737-1000 to verify your appointment. This is a call center and they will help you in retrieving your reference number.

      1. arnaldo,

        you were a big help. I tried calling 737-1000 to retrieve my reference number and i was successful in retrieving it. they e-mailed it again to me immediately. I’m for a while worried because my schedule of appointment is tomorrow. Thanks and God Bless!

  7. wow! i’m amazed ! good thing they allowed you to get pictures….i wouldn’t mind paying higher taxes and higher fees if the gov’t offices and services are like this..efficient..i’m really amazed….thanks for sharing your experience…at least i have an idea on what to expect and do when i go and get mine :D

  8. Maraming salamat sa information na nka post dito sa blog! I have my appointment on November 16. My concern is I need to be out of the country on December 07…i have 16 working days to wait. Is it possible to get the passport in 16 days getting it rushed? thank you po

  9. How to preview my DFA passport appointment System and I forgot to get my reference number..But, I already got a schedule of my application?Please reply ASAP….

  10. NKALIMUTAN KO PONG PUMUNTA SA DFA ON THE SAID DATE SA APPOINTMENT DO I HAVE TO SET UP A NEW APPOINTMENT. OR THERES ANOTHER WAY TO USE MY APPOINTMNET NA NASET UP NUNG UNA… ANG HIRAP PO KASI MAGAANTAY N NMN AKO NG MATAGAL EH 2 MONTHS LANG BINIGAY SAKIN FOR ME TO HAVE MY PASSSPORT PLS HELP ME

  11. Just want to inquire how long it will take for an epassport renewal?Im currently holding epassport issued last Jan 04, 2010 but I only have 3 pages left and need to apply for a new working visa here in my current country where I work. Please help and let me know how long is the processing days of epassport to epassport renewal. Thanks in advance.

  12. Pwede po bang magtanong sa mga nakakaalam tungkol sa pagRerenew ko ng Passport. nakatanggap ako ng mensahe galing sa DFA at binigyan nila ako ng schedule ngayon April,28,20011 sa oras na 10am. Ngayon po di ko naprint ang FORM na kelangan kong dalin bukas. Sinubukan ko pong pumasok na sa LINK na binigay nila pero wala ng lumalabas. may binigay silang REF No. Saken kaso wala yun form, may pagasa pa po ba akong makakuwa bukas?? Ano ano po ba ang mga dapat kong gawin??

  13. Good day! I would just like to ask if DFA (online system) can send me my & my nephew’s application form of passport renewal. I already had my schedule and it will be tomorrow ( May 4, 2011) at 9am, the problem is I lost my USB where I saved the PDF file of our application form with the reference number. I kept only the reference number listed on the form but I lost the form itself.

  14. @rolando, it takes up to 30 working days for non-rush and 10 working days for rush (last time I have checked). One of the reasons for the delay is the production time of the passport. Remember that this is an e-passport and it contains a chip that holds your information. It’s not just a simple encode and release passport like the green ones.

    @paul, danice : when I took my renewal, I got a pre-filled up form on my arrival inside the compound. meaning, the one that the reservation site would give is a ‘draft’ of what they will be releasing to you when you get in their premises. The only dilemma that I see is how would would convince the guard that you indeed have a reservation at that day and time.

  15. WOW!! this is really helpful… Well tomorrow is my schedule. But funny thing is that I have to fly to Manila from Iloilo to process my e-passport. How I wish Iloilo DFA can process that fast for the expedited passports. Since I’m scheduled for a trip next month, I have no choice but to fly to Manila for my passport to be expedited. Here in Iloilo for an expedited passport it takes about a month. But again thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. denn lorn nebril on november 19,2012…pwede po bang mag tanong..kasi po nag renew po ako ng passport ko nung sept.10,2012 po sa dfa la union pero hanggang ngayun hndi pa po naiireles..sbi po sa dfa la union i follow up na lng dw po sa dfa mla..yung sa akin dw po eh e passport po.pwede po ba nyo akong matulungan kung bat ganun na lang po katagal?salamat po.

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