We just endured more than four hours of processing and waiting at the DFA Consular’s Office, had a really late lunch, but glad that it is finished and we just have to wait for our renewed passports to be delivered.
The facility and interior is nice, but I think it would be very much helpful if there were directions posted while the applicants are waiting (which they can study since the wait is quite long). They could provide more information on what steps the applicant is going to go through. We were briefed then by the security guard at the waiting area (tent) outside the DFA building where you will be seated according to the appointment time you scheduled. It was unclear because the security didn’t have a megaphone or microphone so what he’s saying is not that audible.
After this application, it was again stressed to me how one should learn everything on your own in this country. There were no clear instructions as to how the processing would go, but you’ll get the picture once your inside. There is plenty of time for figuring things out. I regretted leaving my book though, because I wasn’t able to make good use of the waiting time. I observed that some did bring a PSP or a newspaper to read, some playing with their phones but most just stare blankly (probably thinking that the application would finish quickly before leaving the house because of the e-passport processing), some making a lot of phone calls (informing people that they just had to wait for 200 more to get to their number), some chatted with the one beside them, and others doze off. When you arrive at the second floor after paying the cashier the passport fee, you’d think that things would be real quick because of the plenty counters set up for the applicants, but you also wonder why many people are sitting at the waiting area and all your hopes dissolve. There was no sign or directions that you need to get a number, but just the Step 3 sign saying Encoding/Enrolment (British spelling, we did wonder why this was spelled this way, because our country often uses the American spelling). It turns out you have to get a number and when we looked up and saw the numbers currently being entertained, we were really surprised because we’re 300 plus behind. My brother computed that at the time, approximately 120 applicants can be processed in an hour.
I think we could’ve finished earlier if we didn’t had to go through the step where we were asked to go to the Interview/Investigative unit at the passport division. Our hunch is we were directed there because of our surname, but we acquired our citizenship by birth. Dad said that they just have to look at the date of birth and should know that. It’s a good thing that we have the supporting documents so didn’t take that long. We had to head back to the Document Evaluation counter – the same one that entertained us a while ago (he told us to come back).
Regarding the cue, it would be helpful if they security guard would assign the newcomers the seats to prevent cutting through the line that would be unfair to those who arrived earlier.
Comfort rooms are located outside of the building so you had to go out if you needed to visit the restrooms then go all the way around to get back inside where the escalator is located. I don’t know if there are any inside the premises but I didn’t find one that is accessible to the public. Even the restroom had a long queue.
Food and drinks are not allowed inside the building. This is okay to preserve the cleanliness and orderliness of the place. But they can put up a canteen outside the DFA office and still prohibit people from bringing in food inside the building.
There are just three steps in applying:
1. Document Evaluation
But I want to list them in detail:
Step 1: Enter the gates, the security guard on post would inspect you. Have your application form ready for verification. The bar code on the top right corner will be scanned and the personnel would stamp his signature as a proof that it has been verified.
Step 2: You can now proceed to the waiting area (tent) where the time of your appointment is indicated. The applicants will be called to go in following the front rows to back. The security guard will hand a piece of paper to the last person going to enter for that batch, marking the end of the number of people to proceed inside at the time. The
Step 3: Follow the very long queue, which thankfully moves quickly. Posted on the counter are the passport fee and the date of release for regular and rush processing. The fees are: php950 for regular processing, php1200 for rush processing; and php120 if you want it delivered to you.
When it’s your turn, a DFA personnel would tell you what counter you should proceed to. If you are going as family/group, inform the person in charge and likewise, he will direct you to the counter you should go to. I think the ideal here is they review the required documents then let you sign, see your old passport, let you sign to confirm cancellation of the old one and punch holes so that you won’t be able to use it anymore. Some people are being asked to go to the passport division for interview or to verify some documents.
Step 4: Take the escalator to the second floor, there would be an area for the senior citizens, infants, and government workers, go past that and there’s another room where the cashier is found right after you enter. Pay the fees at the cashier.
Step 5: Proceed to the Encoding/Enrolment section where assigned personnels would give out control numbers that you must take note not to miss. They said that if you miss that you have to take another number and wait some more. Although, you’d find that your number might be far from the current number being processed. The first four numbers would be the number they are processing, the last two numbers (color red) would be the number of the counter.
Step 6: Sit (if there’s a vacant seat) and wait. A lady is going around asking if people want their passports delivered to their homes. She would give you a receipt and pay her instantly. Then she would ask you to have your address encoded at the Courier’s counter located at the side of the Encoding/Enrolment section. Then, wait some more.
Step 7: After waiting for about 1 1/2 hours or more (in our case I think about 2 1/2 hours in that section alone), once your number flashes proceed to the counter (numbers in red). The personnel would attend to you. Hand him the application form with the attached documents and the receipt from the payment. He/she will scan some documents, encode the information, let you check the one on the monitor, take your photo (remove the earrings, necklace, and other accessories on the face, you can smile but no teeth can be seen), after that he/she will show you the printed copy to let you verify that the information is correct. Then you are free to go. The person before me asked if after this step, is there anything else that she has to do? The personnel said, follow the way to the exit, go out and hail a taxi and go home.
You’ll just have to wait for your passports, or if you wish to pick it up, I think you have to go back to DFA and go to the releasing counter. I’m not particular with the details here anymore.
Apparently, it isn’t required to wear a collared shirt. We were even told by our parents to be wary of what we wear. My sister was asked to change because hers had slits on the shoulders but had short sleeves on it. When we arrived there, people came in sleeveless, round-neck T-shirts, earrings, and necklace. People were removing their earrings on the spot before taking the picture. It looks like the rules are stricter then when you have to mind your appearance when applying for a passport. Now, the important thing is you show your ears during the picture taking (removing the earrings if you are wearing one), and what you wear doesn’t matter.
There was a suggestion box there but there were no pen and paper that one can write to.
Photocopy all your requirements before going there, also back-up documents like NSO certificates (even if it was stated in the guidelines of the passport renewal that you don’t need to bring one if you possess the green passport). We’ve read the guidelines thoroughly, but it turns out you have to prepare extra documents so that you can pass to the next step faster. Fill-out the form. Also, they would remind you that if you happen to miss one requirement, you might be asked to go out and queue again when you have completed all the documents. They have a photocopying facility there so make sure to check all the requirements when you arrive for last-minute copying needs.
Another option you can take is apply through a travel agency. They would guide you through the process, an agent will help in talking with the DFA personnel contacts. We saw a few groups who arrived later than us and got in the encoding and enrolment section before us. You also have to wait in this case, for your group members to finish before you proceed to the next step. This might generally save time, but also comes with additional fees.
Generally, the experience was not that bad, except for the long wait. The process was quite fluid except for the last part.
The DFA Consular Office is located in Aseana Business Park, Bradco Avenue, Macapagal Boulevard, Parañaque City. There’s a map on their website.