Applying for our Passports at the DFA (Dept. of Foreign Affairs) Part 2: Actual Appointment Day

Like I mentioned in the previous post, we were scheduled to be at the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Aseana Business Park in Paranaque, yesterday, May 16th. Our scheduled time was 1130AM but we were there around 10:45 AM just to be safe since we needed to be there at 11AM as was mentioned in the "Important Reminders".

Step 1: Appointment Verification
We initially went to Gate 1, but we found out that it was reserved for those who made their appointments via the DFA Appointment Call Center.  Gate 2 was for those who made their appointments online and so we proceeded to enter.  The guard at the gate will ask to see your "Important Reminders" notice as well as those application forms which you were supposed to print out.  They don't allow chaperones to go inside, so take note, only applicants are allowed to go in.  Once inside, your first step will be at the Online Appointment Verification Tables.   You can't miss them because as soon as they check your bags, they're to your right.  You will then present your application forms for them to scan the barcodes.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a picture of this area.

Step 2: Screening of Documents

While waiting in the "screening room"
After they have verified your appointments, you will then proceed to the Screening Room (I just call it that because this is where they'll screen your papers).  Mind you, the guards/employees guarding the gates can be quite harsh, cranky and intimidating so just be calm and keep your documents within easy reach.  This area is very much like the NSO Serbilis Center in Pasay.  Rows and rows of chairs on which people sit and move as soon as the counters are available.  Don't worry, it's airconditioned and even have TV screens to keep you occupied until it's your turn.

Justin Bieber entertaining you
 while waiting
There are also as many as 30+ counters so time will pass quickly.  It was around 11AM when we finally arrived at our counter.  My application as well as Den's was quickly approved for payment while they asked me to photocopy my original application form to be attached to Dana's and Dylan's since I'm applying on their behalf.  Warning:  Photocopying within the DFA costs P3 per page!!! So, to those whose parents will be applying on behalf of their children, just make extra copies of your own application forms to save you on photocopying costs ;)  The good thing about the system though is that you don't have to fall in line again.  You can tell the guards that you were asked to photocopy something and they will let you go to the first available counter.  Employees at this section were rather pleasant, must be because it's a pretty simple system.  Some of the documents I brought were returned to me, like the photocopies of the kids' birth certificates (they kept the originals of course) and some other supporting documents.  Once they're satisfied with the primary documents they don't need to ask for more.  But bring them still just in case.

Step 3:  Payment

Dylan obviously getting
bored with waiting 
The next step is payment of your passports.  The regular passport costs P950 each.  This isn't the expedited version which I think costs P1200.  The date stamped on our receipt was for claiming on June 21, so that's roughly a month's waiting time.  They have affixed notices around the building about how they're experiencing some technical difficulties etc so passports may experience a delay in releasing.  Anyway, once you exit this "Screening Room", you need to proceed to the 2nd level where the payment centers are located.  In our experience, there was a waiting section beside the escalators and guards will prevent you from going to the 2nd floor directly.   This was because there was an inordinate amount of people that day.

When we got up, there were more people!  There's a different room called "Passport Section Area 2" which I assumed to be the courtesy lane for senior citizens, infants and goverment employees.  In front of it is more rows of chairs like another waiting section.  At that time, I didn't know what they were waiting for.  Once you get past this area, you'll enter a different room.  Here, you'll find the payment area, the encoding and photo capture section and the courier handling service section.  You can hardly see the payment area.  There were 4 windows, but when we were paying, only 2 were open, must be because it was almost lunch time.

Step 4: Encoding/Enrollment
After payment, you'll proceed to the "Encoding/Enrollment" section where you're going to get your queue number and wait for your turn.  This is where your information will be encoded and your pictures taken for the new e-passport.  There are about 80+ tables there to handle the demand.  There are TV screens which show the current numbers being assisted.  Imagine our surprise when we got our number: 2311 and then we checked the screen for the latest number being processed: 1645.  It doesn't take a genius to see that there's roughly 700 people ahead of you waiting for their turn!! Oh My Gosh!!! That was like being sucker punched!! LOL  Now I understood what all the people are waiting for.  We actually tried waiting a while just to see how fast things are going.  It wasn't fast going at all most likely because it was lunch break already.

While we were waiting, there were employees going around asking people if they were going to opt for the home delivery option.  It was like multi-tasking since they know it takes a while before you get to the encoding part so it's like you're being proactive about waiting LOL  Home delivery costs P120 per passport.

By this time, we took our lunch at McDonald's across the street figuring we have at least 1 hour to get back in line.  So we left around 1230 and were back at the DFA by 130PM.  When we left, the queue was at the 1700 count and when we returned it was at the 1800 count.  So, it's like 100 people every hour were being processed.  See, we had so much time on our hands we actually deduced the math! LOL  This was the reason we brought our laptop along so the kids won't be bored.  Honestly, they need to include kids below 7 years old in the courtesy lane.  Kids this age get bored so easily it's a pain to their parents and guardians to make them sit still for hours!!

We were finally able to make it to the inner sanctum by 3:00.  Things were faster this time around, since the people manning the desks were done with lunch break and were seemingly more energized to work faster :)  When it was our turn for the encoding, it took about 15 minutes to take our pictures and encode our infos and to be reminded when we can pick up our passports!! hahaha so yeah, if there weren't so many people, you can get your processing done in about an hour's time LOL  Here's proof about all this adventure! LOL

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