Anyway, I decided to write this post in order to help anyone who would like to renew their passport the old-fashioned way, meaning lining up, hands-on, no fixer needed. It was my first time to handle this myself, and this time, passport renewal requires personal appearance. I used to have phobia while handling papers like these, but it turned out easier than I expected. All it took was research.
First of all, I gathered my materials. For application of my machine-readable passport, I needed:
- Present passport (in this case, the old green passport), with photocopies of inside and back cover plus photocopies of pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival tamps
- Original and photocopy of birth certificate (NSO-certified, which you could have delivered to you. Read details here. I found out how convenient this was, since all i needed was deposit the money in the bank and follow instructions, which were very self-explanatory.
- Pictures = the passport picture now is 4.5cm x 3.5 cm colored photo with Royal Blue background. With collar (white is always safe), and ears showing. no earrings/headpieces/glasses/colored contact lens. For the passport application, we would need three of these.
- Passport application form, which could be downloaded from the DFA website.
- Proof of existence, just for safety, like valid ID and photocopies of those as well
I also had my picture taken. There are specific requirements as to how the passport picture should look like. I just took an extra effort to make myself look presentable in the picture, meaning, I made sure my hair was fixed, I had a good shirt (with collar) on, plus makeup was kept light and prime look. No smoky eyes, heavy lashes, or deep lipstick.
After I got my materials right, I scheduled an appointment to make my life easier. Appointments can be made online through the DFA website. However, I don't get to choose my appointment schedule so once I got the email of my appointment date, I had to clear everything for that day. I also had to print that email out since I'll be showing that when I apply.
On The Day Itself:
My appointment was supposed to be 9 AM, but I decided to go there earlier lest the line be long. The night before, I gathered all equipment necessary plus I armed myself with a book to read.
During the day, I made sure I looked decent but not overdressed and wore my favorite footwear: FLATS, since I'll be lining up and walking. I also was told that I won't be entering the DFA which was right smack on Roxas Blvd, but it would be on the side-street, the one in between Cuneta Astrodome and the Maritime School. I had my appointment so all was okay. I was told to go to Gate 2 Window 1-4 and wait for my turn. How I knew where Gate 2 was? I asked the security guard. No fixer needed!
When my turn came, the girl on Window 1 asked for the printout of my appointment email. I handed it to her and checked my requirements. After which, she issued a receipt (yes my dears the passport isn't free). So I lined up on the cashier and paid for my passport (I gave an exact amount). After which, I was told to proceed to the auditorium for biometrics.
At the auditorium, I was told to line up on the line that said email appointments. Now here's where I needed to have my eyes peeled: The dude on the computer encoded my information on this form. He let me double check and see if all the information is true, correct, and free of typos. Once done, he printed this out, pasted my pictures and let me sign on the box. I then proceded to have my fingerprints taken and then I was done for the day. FAST! Some had the option of having their passports delivered, but I opted for picking up my passport myself, so I had to go back on the date scheduled.
Picking Up My Passport:
On the receipt, there's a date and time as when the passport would be ready. On that scheduled appointment, I went back to the DFA and went to Gate 3. Since my appointment was in the afternoon, lines were longer and I did wait a bit long. When we get inside, we weretold to place our receipts face-down on this box on the window with the first letters of our last names (like in my case, the window for people with last names that start with A, B, C, and D). The guys behind the window would get the clump of receipts and then look for our passports. I then had to wait for my name to be called, meaning I had to strain my ears and filter out the one voice that called out my long, legal, baptismal name, which I refuse to reveal in my blog.
Once my name was called (I had a very common last name, so I waited quite long), I went to the counter and the dude handed out my new brown passport. I checked it again and made sure there was no error and signed that I have received it.
I left the vicinity without any hassle, save for waiting in line.
The trick really, is to do a lot of research. Before I renewed my passport, I asked around and went to the DFA website. As you can see, I did this the traditional way, without having a travel agent with me. The appointment really helped though, and so did the downloadable form, since it saved me time and effort of filling up my form there.
It's relatively easy, since all I did was renew. For special cases, it could be a different thing. However, research really is the key for this, so it pays to read the site first for requirements. It does cost a lot, but it's definitely worth it. Also, it pays to come early too. :)