Our DFA Experience

Dealing with Philippine government offices is always as hassle and I arrive at their offices expecting the worst. That way, when things turn out faster than they do, I'll be pleasantly surprised. That pretty much sums up my experience at the DFA when Big C and I went with J to get our passports.

It was our first time with the passport appointment system. Basically, all I did was to go to the DFA Passport Appointment System website and submitted the online applications for a new passport for J and renewals for me and Big C. We filed ours under the Family Appointment System, which is pretty much batch processing.

After I filled out the application forms, they provided me with a list of documentary requirements for each of us. For the renewals, all we needed were photocopies of the first three pages, last page and pages with the latest immigration stamps of your old passport. For J's new application, we needed to present his original birth certificate. There are more requirements depending on who's going with the child to the DFA, if the child is legitimate, etc. The website is pretty comprehensive and detailed when it comes to the requirements. Then they'll ask you to pick a date and a time for your appointment. After this, they'll email you the copy of your application forms, which you will need to print out and bring to the DFA. Along with this email is a confirmation link to confirm your appointment.

Our appointment was set for 2:00 pm, and we were required to be there by 1:30. To our dismay, when we got there, there was a whole crush of people standing outside the DFA waiting in line. Inside the gates were more people sitting in waiting areas under tents in the midday heat. Since we were with J, I was not looking forward to staying there and waiting, because J would surely get cranky in the heat.

The first stop upon entering the DFA gates was a station where they would recheck to see if you do have an appointment for the day, by scanning the bar code on your application forms. We were then sent to one of the waiting areas under the tents. I asked the person at the confirmation table and asked for the special lane for family application processing and said that we were with a child. She told me that was only for those with children under a year old. I sighed and settled in for a long wait.

Luckily, Big C flagged down a passing guard and asked again where to go for family appointments with children. The guard told us to go straight inside the building and ask for the courtesy lane. And so it goes. The rest of our appointment was spent inside the deliciously airconditioned building of the DFA.

We went straight to the second floor, to the courtesy lane. Be warned though. If you process through the courtesy lane, you'll be paying for rush processing (P1200) instead of regular processing (P950).

We presented our documents and we went to pay for the passports. The line for the payment took me about 5 minutes, which wasn't bad. We were sent to encoding, to get our data inputted and our pictures taken. Again, in the encoding area, there was a huge crowd seated on benches and I wondered what they were doing. Big C told me that those people were in line for encoding. We had lined up to get our numbers for encoding and because of the family appointment and the fact that we were applying with a child, we were in a special line and our wait was mercifully short. The last step was to pay for the delivery of our passports, which cost us P120 per passport. About 30 minutes later, we exited the DFA.

All in all, I'd have to say not a bad experience. Quick, easy and simple. But I think that's only because we were processing with a child as a family. I'm not really sure how it would go for people without kids. But hopefully, by the time Big C and I need to apply for our passports without the kids, they'll have streamlined it enough to make it more efficient.


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