Before my trip to Hong Kong last month, my passport was less than six months valid. I had to call several travel agencies to check on their rates for passport renewal. Most would charge 1000 php and the processing would take 30 working days. To expedite it to 15- 20 working days, the charge would be 1500 php. I also called DFA Cebu. They charge 500 php for 14- day processing and 750 php for 7- day processing. I decided to just brave the DFA office since going through an agency would still require me to make an appearance. I expected the worst knowing how things usually work in a government office. But this is how it went:
1. I arrived at the DFA office at 6:30 AM on a Tuesday. There was already a line but with fewer people than I expected.
2. There were people in the area who provided passport application forms. There was also a photo booth for your convenience if you have not prepared your passport- sized photos. In my case, I downloaded the application form online and printed it in a legal- sized paper. I also had four pictures ready.
3. These are the things that I brought with me (aside from the application form and pictures):
* My old green passport and photocopies of its pages. Since there was no single stamp in it, I only photocopied the first three pages.
* Photocopy of my credit card statement. I am not originally from Region 7. My old passport was issued in Region 6. I thought this would cause a problem. However, I just provided them a proof of my residency and no questions were asked.
* A black pen. This came in handy when I realized I forgot to sign the application form the night before.
* Glue. Any adhesive will do. I used this to paste the pictures onto the form.
4. The office opened on time. 8:00 AM. Everyone with application forms were allowed inside. By this time, we were still forming a line. This was to pass the requirements to and get a priority number from a guy at a counter.
5. We had to wait before the employees started taking their posts. The wait was bearable since adequate seats were provided and the air conditioning system was actually working.
6. By 8:30 AM, they were ready. Nobody was putting on make up or talking nonsense to one another. Numbers were called. This was where I had problems. The photos that I brought with me didn’t show my ears. Apparently, the photos should have your ears showing. The good thing was that the photo booth inside the DFA office was not busy. I was able to have my pictures taken (150 php) and got it in 10 minutes.
7. The lady approved of it and told me to proceed. This time it was for the encoding of information. This was fast since there were a lot of practicumers tasked to do the job.
8. Next, I had to sign some documents and put my fingerprints on them.
9. I waited for my name to be called at the cashier and paid.
10. I gave my receipt to the representative of LBC. Their table was near the photo booth. I paid 100 php for them to just send me my new passport once it was released.
11. And I was out of the DFA office by 10:00 AM.
Had I provided photos that were in accordance to their guidelines, the length of my stay would have been shortened by 30 minutes. But it’s okay. I was still impressed that finally a government office has a proper system to effectively and efficiently get things done in the shortest time possible.
Note: My passport was delivered to me a day after its scheduled release. Yes, there were no delays.
Disclaimer: This entry was based on my own personal experience. I have read from other blogs that DFA had stopped issuing Machine Readable Passports (which is what I have) in March 2010. They are now issuing e- passports. I am not certain if this is also the case for DFA offices outside Manila.
UPDATE: I just called DFA. MRPs are no longer issued. For e- passports, regular processing (22 days) is 950 php while overtime processing (12 days) is 1200 php. Only the old passport and the photocopy of the first three pages will be needed.
If you are from Cebu, it would be better to contact DFA Cebu first.
Causing Lozada Building
Osmena Blvd. cor Lapu-lapu Street
Cebu City, Cebu 6000