Last Saturday (September 17, 2016), I was able to process the renewal of my passport at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Cebu office. I had to go through the online appointment system as this is supposed to be how it should be done these days. Overall, I found it convenient and less of a pain in the arse. Processing time is less than 30 minutes, I was out of there in a flash! Highly recommended! So here are the nitty gritty details.
For those looking for the quick and short, this handy image from the DFA website is for you:
For those of you who want to read the blow-by-blow, please proceed below.
How to Set an Online Appointment with the DFA
PRO TIP 1: Set an online appointment as early as possible because slots are easily filled and you might end up getting a schedule very, very near to your travel date, which would be stressful on your part and risky considering that the delivery of your passport might get delayed. This is the only drawback, so better book an appointment early!
PRO TIP 2: As mentioned above, I was able to process the renewal on a Saturday because DFA Cebu opens on Saturdays from around 9AM to 5PM. Yehey! I suppose other DFA branches do the same. This is a boon to us all office workers who have to be in the office during weekdays. BUT, if you aim for a Saturday schedule, slots get filled even faster, so all the more reason to book early.
PRO TIP 3: The DFA’s website might become “Service Unavailable” in the middle of you setting an appointment. Don’t lose patience. Just accept this is what it is like to be in a 3rd world country, with the government super behind when it comes to technology (and mostly everything else, to be honest). Just try again later. This still beats queuing up with uncertainty and who knows for how long if you just walk in.
Online Appointment Setting Steps:
- Make sure that you have a Gmail account because emails such as Hotmail, Outlook, MSN, and Live will not receive emailed confirmation from the DFA, which you will definitely need. Actually, your Yahoo! mail also works but is Yahoo even still alive? 😀
- Have a computer with internet access. This is a no-brainer.
- Open Mozilla Firefox ver. 4.5 or higher, OR Internet Explorer ver. 11 or higher. Sorry Chrome users, the DFA website doesn’t work with that browser at the moment.
- Open the new DFA website: https://www.passport.gov.ph/
- Up top, on the gray bar, click “Schedule an Appointment” as seen in this image
- On the next page, you will be asked to read the Terms and Conditions. Don’t forget to check the box beside the red text saying, “I have read and understood the instructions and information on this page, and agree to the Terms and Conditions on the use of this online appointment and scheduling system.”
- Beneath that red text are are 2 choices, click whichever is appropriate: “Start Individual Appointment” (if you are just scheduling for yourself) or “Start Group Appointment” (if you are scheduling for multiple people). Since I scheduled for myself only, I chose the individual button.
- Select the location of the DFA office you will be going to.
- You will then be asked to choose your schedule by choosing the date on the calendar and then your preferred time. If it says that slots are “Not Available,” then move on to another date until you are able to select an open time/Available slot. Every time you select a date, the page will take a little bit longer to load the time slots and their status. Have patience.
- Next, fill up the Personal Information form provided. Read the instructions and make sure every detail you input is accurate.
- After that, fill up the Family Information form. Make sure you know your mother’s maiden name, including her middle name when she was still a maiden.
- Once done, you might get a notification that your chosen time slot is filled. Don’t panic as this is normal since other people out there might be setting appointments too. So, just choose once again the date and time that is open. No need to fill out the forms once again as fortunately, the details will be there where you left them. But this is the reason why you need to book as early as possible, slots really get filled super fast.
- After you finished all of the steps, you will be emailed a confirmation, which might take a bit of time to arrive. Once you get it, make sure to confirm the appointment by following the link provided in the email. If you don’t confirm within 5 days after receiving the email, you will lose your slot.
- An appointment code will also be provided in the email, which you can use to review your appointment details on the DFA website, download the form, or change the appointment dates.
- Speaking of downloading the form (the one you completed using the steps above), you will have to do that. Just find the “Download Form” button. It will be filled up already with every detail you put in, meaning you will be submitting a clear, not handwritten copy to the DFA. Make sure you have a PDF reader installed to view it.
What Requirements to Prepare
For passport renewal, listed are these requirements:
- printed form on A4 paper (I actually did not have an A4 bondpaper at home and it was midnight when I decided to ready my documents. There was nowhere for me to buy A4 bondpaper that time and my appointment was the next day. Thankfully, we had an A4-sized photo paper, so what I did was very carefully cut a long bondpaper into A4 size using the photo paper as guide #resourcefulness 😀 )
- old passport
- photocopy of the personal details page of your old passport
- any government-issued ID (SSS, digitized BIR Card, Driver’s License, Voter’s ID, new Postal ID, etc.) – original and photocopy
- 2 supporting photo IDs (could be a company ID or another of the government IDs listed above) – original and photocopy
NOTE: In my case, I just showed my old passport, photocopy of the personal details page of the old passport, and photocopy of my company ID. That’s it! These were accepted, no questions asked. Although to be safe, I brought with me digitized BIR ID and PhilHealth ID.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have a printer or copy machine at home, just arrive at Pacific Mall early enough. There is a Netopia there where you can print your stuff. Right across the DFA, there is also a photo copy shop.
What to Do On the Day of the Appointment
- Be there at least 30 minutes before your appointment. PRO TIP: Never, ever be late or your slot might go to other people.
- Bring all of the requirements needed.
- If you will be processing your passport renewal at DFA Cebu like me, go to Pacific Mall in Mandaue (used to be Super Metro).
- Go to the 4th floor. Ask a guard for directions if you get lost (like I did, as always).
- Submit your form to the DFA office guard. He will check your name on his list. If you confirmed the appointment, your name should be there. (The funny thing for me was I was initially told my name was not on the list. I stared at the guy in the eyes and with my sternest face, I said: Yes, BUT??? I kept staring at him after that. He might have felt uncomfortable, he decided to recheck the list. My name was there. Don’t me!)
- The guard will let you in for Step 1 – Submit your form to the counter. You will be asked if you prefer the Regular (Php 950.00 = around 20 to 30 working days) or Express (Php 1,200 = around 10 to 15 working days) processing. Since I actually need my passport soon, I opted for the Express.
- Go to the counter for Step 2 – payment. You will be handed a claim stub, make sure you don’t lose that! You need that to claim your new passport later.
- For Step 3, line up for the photo capture booths. If you wear earrings, you have to take them off. No need to wear collared shirts since I saw people there who were even wearing sleeveless blouses.
- Once done, head to the exit and you are done!
The processing time at the DFA office was just less than 30 minutes for me. My appointment was 12:30 PM but they actually let me in at 12NN. Everything was so smooth and there wasn’t much of a crowd. I say it is definitely worth it to set an online appointment.
There were still walk-in applicants there though. What is it with some Filipinos and failing to follow instructions? Anyway, they were told to go to the “Director’s Office.” I have no idea where that is or what happened to them so can’t tell you anything else about this.
That’s it folks. I hope you find this post helpful. If you have any questions related to this, please feel free to comment below and I will do my best to answer.