There have been changes and improvements in passport application and services recently; from the issuance of e-passport to the transfer of the consular office and the new passport appointment system. The changes have been made by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) so the country can keep up with the world standards and speed up passport applications.
However, a number of passport applicants complained that the new system actually made the process slower and tedious than before. It is mostly because of the appointment system in which an applicant usually has to wait for one to two months before they can file their application. As part of the DFA's effort to solve the problems in passport services, the agency releases the following guidelines for a hassle-free passport application.
1. Applicants should contact the DFA for the latest passport information. They could visit the DFA website (www.dfa.gov.ph) or call 834-4000.

2. They should apply for passports way ahead of their scheduled trip. Applicants should check the validity of their passports and update their documents accordingly.

A passport is valid for five years, but airlines and countries require passports with validity of six months prior to the expiry date.

3. Applicants should prepare their requirements before their appointment date. These include the completely filled-out application form, the old passport and photocopies of its pages for renewals, the National Statistics Office-certified birth certificate, and IDs and their photocopies for new applicants.

They do not need to bring ID photos, as their photographs and thumbprints will be taken on site.

4. Non-OFW and Metro Manila-based applicants should secure an appointment when applying for a passport. They can log on to www.passports.com.ph or call 737-1000, free of charge.  Applicants are also advised to come on time for their appointments.

5. Those in the provinces can apply at the nearest Regional Consular Office or check if there is a scheduled Mobile Passport Service (MPS) in their areas. The DFA RCOs are located in 19 cities and municipalities around the country, and MPS are being arranged in Metro Manila and in the provinces on a weekly basis.

6. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can apply at the Passport Extension Office located at the ground floor of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in Ortigas. The facility operates on a first-come-first-served basis and is exclusive for OFWs.

Shortened passport processing and releasing time for emergency cases is also being implemented.

7. The DFA advises applicants against dealing with fixers. They are also urged to report any passport fixing activities to the Passport Director's office at 836-7759.

8. The Philippine ePassport costs P950 for regular processing (20 working days) and P1,200 for expedited processing (10 working days).

9. Applicants are also encouraged to have their passports delivered. This is to avoid the hassle of coming back to the DFA.  Passport delivery charges a nominal fee of P120.

10. The DFA urges the public to take good care of their passports. They should avoid getting it wet and torn.  This is to protect the electronic chip and the other security features of the passport.

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