How to Process Philippine Passport through a Travel Agency Part 1
If you are like me, often busy with all sorts of commitments, then processing a Filipino passport the normal way will surely be like a trial by fire. You have to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA (located in Osmeña Boulevard, San Roque, Cebu City) very early in the morning and join the existing long queue to the universe knows where. Arrive later than 8AM and you will not probably obtain a priority number anymore. In fact, arriving at 6AM might already be too late. You will then have to come back the next day to start the ordeal all over again.
I’m really not sure up to how many people this government office serves per day, but if you are lucky to obtain a priority number, then you will have to line up there until noon or beyond. Yes there are seats and there are fans constantly turning. Unfortunately, the last time I was there, the air conditioning units were barely functioning and the rundown DFA office was filled to the brim with hopefuls trying to jumpstart their adventures abroad. Since it is a fact of life that the Philippines is a tropical country, then it goes without saying that the claustrophobia-inducing DFA office would be hot and humid. Being inside it for hours on end will definitely get you wondering whether you were indeed lucky to have that priority number or some karmic powers are seriously working against you.
Suffice it to say, processing your passport the normal way is not recommended. Yes, you could save a lot of money, but you have to ask yourself if all the aggravation you are bound to experience there are worth it.
I thought I could do better with my time, particularly because I only took one day off from work, so I decided to go the relatively easier way – process a Philippine passport by way of a travel agency. I contacted Destination Specialists located in C174 Upper Ground Level, SM City Cebu. They also have branches at Elizabeth Mall and Banilad Town Center (BTC) for your convenience. Aside from assisting with passport matters, they also offer tour packages and visa assistance for select countries.
Why Destination Specialists?
The reasons why I chose this travel agency are really nothing special. It’s just that:
- My father knows someone there
- A friend has already used their services and had nothing to say against them
- They’re in SM, a very comfortable location for me
- I thought their prices were reasonable
- For some reason, I had a feeling they are professional and reliable
So, I went to SM early last November and made some enquiries. I arrived at the mall, I think, beyond 6PM already. Unfortunately, this was already after office hours of the travel agency. The sign on the door said Closed but I could still see people inside. Since I was already there, I turned on my thick face mode and decided to chance it. I did not even plead that much when one of the ladies at the counter (she was pregnant and badly needed to go to the toilet) graciously accommodated me! I was so happy and my hopes that the agency would provide great service started to become true.
The process was pretty straightforward. The lady gave me a form to complete at home, a list of requirements, and easily understandable instructions. After accepting my payment, I was asked to schedule my appearance at my most convenient time. After blocking my chosen date, I was given the name and contact number of their representative or liaison who will take care of me at the DFA office. First step done on a Saturday evening!
Now, before I describe my appearance at the Department of Foreign Affairs here in Cebu, here is the list of requirements for first time applicants.
1. Application form (for below 18 applicants, must be filled up and signed by parents)
2. 3 pcs. recent passport size pictures, colored with white/blue background (shirt with collar) – 1 pc attached to the form would do. The actual photo for your passport will be taken at the DFA.
3. Original authenticated birth certificate from NSO
4. Original authenticated marriage certificate from NSO – for married women
5. Valid I.D. (driver’s license, school I.D., voter’s I.D, office I.D.) – EXCEPT POSTAL ID
6. Original baptismal certificate/voter’s affidavit/transcript of records/NBI clearance – ANY 2
7. Notarized joint affidavit of two disinterested persons (for destroyed birth record)
8. Passports of both parents ( for below 18 applicants )
9. Personal appearance (with both parents for minors 7-17 years old)
10. CFO certificate (if fiancée or if married to foreigner)
11. Original marriage certificate of parents (if no entry of date and place of marriage of parents in the birth certificate)
12. Original proof of residency/must be at least 6 months stay in Cebu (proof of billing, voter’s registration record, employment certificate and ID, etc.)
NOTE: THUMB PRINTING SHOULD BE DONE AT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICE DURING APPEARANCE
What I actually submitted were the following and they were okay:
- NSO (original) – can be obtained online at eCensus
- Civil Registrar Birth Certificate (original)
- Baptismal Certificate (photocopy; bring the original during appearance)
- NBI for Travel (original; colored Green) – must be obtained beforehand at the NBI office
- Company ID (photocopy; bring the original during appearance)
- Completed form with one passport photo attached
Note: Make sure your name (first, family, and middle names), place of birth, date of birth, and parents’ names match in all these documents. Also, make sure they are clearly written. A human, in my case an old guy whose eyes seemed to be failing, will check these at the DFA. Illegible or inaccurate data on your documents can lead to a rejected application, so be careful.
Asking a travel agency to help process your passport will require higher than normal fees. For comparison, here are the costs you can expect to pay when you go there very early morning to line up:
Regular Processing: Php 950.00
Rush Processing: Php 1,200.00
An additional fee of Php 200.00 will be charged for processing of Lost Passports if still valid.
Destination Specialists charge these:
Regular Processing: Php 1800.00
Rush Processing: around Php 2,100.00 (can’t be certain for I chose Regular)
Yes, these might look a bit too expensive at first glance, but if you factor in lunch and snack costs while lining up on your own at the DFA plus the considerable time, effort, and patience you need to spend, then for me, the agency’s charges are just fair. And if I think about how great their people and how good their services are, then I’d even say I got a good bargain.
Now, since this has become another long post, I’d tell you about what happened during my personal appearance at the DFA later. The goal would be that after this 2-post series, all of you my dear readers will find processing a Philippine passport here in Cebu a breeze. So stay tuned!