After the release of the machine readable passport, here comes another version which is said to be better and more advanced- the Philippine Electronic Passport (or Philippine e-passport). The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) started issuing it form passport renewals via the online appointment system on August 26. The first Filipino to ever received it is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, given   during its launching ceremony that was held in the main office of the government agency.

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and any Filipino who wish to travel abroad need to  be familiar with this new kind of travel document because the manually scripted and machine readable passports will no longer be valid in time.

What is e-passport?
The Philippine e-passport uses microchip technology, meaning the pages of the passport has an integrated circuit (chip) that stores important information about the owner of the document. It contains personal information such as the biometrics, the unique chip identification number, and a digital signature that confirms that all the stored data are true and correct.

What is the meaning of biometrics?
The new travel document requires biometrics procedure to make sure that the person using the passport is not using or stealing other identities. This method checks identifiable physical characteristics of the passport holder such as the face, fingerprints, and iris scans.

The digital image in the e-passport picture is used to confirm the identity of the passport holder. The fingerprint of the document owner is also captured via the Automated Fingerprint Verification System (AFIS).

What makes the e-passport unique?
The Philippine e-passport has a number of unique and state-of-the-art features. For one, it utilizes contactless microchip technology so all the information that is stored in the embedded chip can be read and verified at a close distance.

An e-passport also contains the following: an integrated photograph of the holder, a digitized secondary photo, and an electronic print of the holder’s signature. It is also equipped with obvious and hidden security features such as Invisible Personal Information (IPI), letterscreen, microprinting, and UV reactive ink.

How is the e-passport different from other kind of passports?
With the machine readable passport, stored information can be read manually by using a machine. This is possible because it contains a machine-readable zone (MRZ) that is printed according to the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

On the other hand, the e-passport has a machine-readable zone and at the same time also contains an embedded IC chip. The IC chip stores the photograph and personal information of the owner. The information are also stored according to the standards set by ICAO and can be can be read by chip readers at close distance.

What advantages does the Philippine ePassport offer?
The problem of fake passports, tampering and identity theft are highly prevented with the e-passport because of its high security features. It also facilitates fast clearance of travellers at immigration checks. E-passports provide travellers benefits such as use of automated border clearance or “E-gates", automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangements with airlines. For countries, the use of electronic passport also provides better border protection and security.

Why do we have to use e-passports now?
The Philippines is using e-passport now because we want to keep up with the world standards of travel documents. Unlike the MRP which only has the minimum ICAO standards in travel documents, the ePassport is the world standard in travel documents. As an ICAO member, the Philippines is obligated to improve the security of its travel documents.

By issuing of e-passports, the Philippines is giving its citizens a world-class consular service. Other countries will also honor and accept this kind of passport because of the biometric technology. More than 60 countries all over the world are already using e-passports.

How much does one have to pay to be issued an e-Passport?
To be issued an e-passport, one needs to pay Php 950.

Why is the e-passport more expensive than the current passport?
The enhanced security features adds to the production cost of the e-passport thus making it more expensive. However, if compared with the fees charged in other countries, the Philippines e-passport are among the cheapest.

What happens to other older passport versions?
Manually scripted passports and the machine readable passports can be still be used for travel until its expiration date. The DFA reminds the public to make sure that their passports have a minimum of six months validity before they travel to avoid hassles.

What are the requirements needed for the processing of e-passports?
All of the documents that are required in the Machine Readable Passport is the same as the requirement needed for e-passport. The only difference is that for the e-passport, personal appearance is compulsory because of the biometrics procedure.

For more information about the e-passport, please visit

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