Travel Tips

e-Passport Hell

“Wow, that was hell!”

I overheard a girl say as I was freshening up in the restroom.  We just came from a  5-hour ordeal inside the DFA building– she a few minutes ahead of me– so I could certainly relate to what she said.

Done properly using DFA’s new system, passport processing shouldn’t really take more than an hour. But it was the long queues that made the whole thing so… frustrating!  When I arrived 1 ½ hours early for my 2:30PM appointment a couple of days ago, I thought my life would be easier. But I realized that it wasn’t so as soon as I saw the queues snaking in and around the DFA grounds. Instead of ranting about it, let me just give you some tips on how to make your DFA visit more bearable.

The following are the DFA guidelines found on the DFA website (should you use their website service). I followed these to the letter, by the way.  Beside each item is my personal account  and  my own guideline.

  1. You will be asked to provide your personal information for the passport application on the online application form. Remember to fill in all the information slots correctly. – You have the option to print this out, but you don’t need to as they will give you the ‘official’ copy once you get there.
  2. Please take note of the requirements that you need to bring to the DFA Consular Office on your appointment date. – Click on this link to see the requirements:
  3. Choose an appointment DATE and TIME. – Make sure that this window appears. If you don’t see this window, then you’re in the wrong website.  I suggest you choose a morning schedule just to be ahead of everyone else.
  4. Please write down your reference number. This is relative to your appointment date and time. – You need this to prove that you DO have an appointment. If you don’t have this, you won’t be entertained. Remember that DFA appearance is STRICTLY by appointment.
  5. On your appointment date, proceed to the DFA Consular Office located at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City (see locator map). You must be at the DFA Consular Office 30 minutes before your scheduled time. Early/Late comers will not be entertained. – My appointment was at 2:30PM but I arrived early just in case. So imagine my surprise and frustration when I saw the long queues both inside and outside the building! So even if I arrived on time, I still had to wait.
  6. Proceed to the Appointment System counter to retrieve your printed application form. – This is where you’ll present your reference number. The staff will counter-check this with their list and  give you the application form. If you’re lucky, this should take just a few minutes. But my ‘kalbaryo’ began at this point. It took me about 30 minutes to get to this counter because of the long queue.
  7. Get your queue number at the Information Counter and sit on the waiting section of the Processing Area. Wait for your queue number to appear on the monitor indicating what processing window you will go to. – Easier said than done! To get to the Information Counter to GET my queue number, I had to fall in line again.  It took me about an hour to  get to the Info Counter. When I finally did, I was handed my  number:  2546.  When I looked at  the monitors to see what number was being served, I almost did a double-flip. They were just serving 2049!  I looked around me and marveled at all the people inside the hall. All seats were taken and people were standing, waiting around for their turn. I was the 503rd in line and there was no way I was going to wait for three hours inside the crowded hall.  So I decided to kill time with my hubby in Mall of Asia. When I finally went back after 3 hours, I still had to wait about 20 minutes before my number was called.  And when I finally  went to the counter, it took all of 5 minutes for the DFA officer to scan through my documents, write me an OR and shoo me away to the 2nd floor.
  8. After processing, proceed to the Passport Enrollment Section located at the 2nd Floor. Pay the applicable passport processing fees (see passport fees). – This is the easiest part of the whole process. But remember to get ANOTHER queue number right after you pay at the counter.
  9. After payment, proceed to the Encoding Section for data capturing. – Just when you think the hardest part of the whole thing is over, the real ‘action’ begins here. If there’s no queue, data capturing (picture-taking, giving your digital signature and thumbprints and personal data) should take you a little over 20 minutes.  But lining up will take more or less an hour.  When I got to this part, I was 150th on the line.
  10. After the Encoding Section, you can have your new passport released and delivered to your home without having to return to the DFA on the release date (optional). If availing of the delivery, proceed to the Delivery Counter to pay for delivery fee. – The delivery counter is just outside the passport processing area. Delivery within Metro Manila costs Php120.

By the way, processing fee for regular passport (20 days) is Php950, while for fast track it’s Php1,200.

I hope these will help you. Good luck!

You might also want to read: How to get e-Passport


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