Friday, January 11, 2019

Passport Renewal for me and my kids (DFA Alabang, January 2019)

If you aren't aware, there's a new system now in setting an appointment for your passport application/renewal. Now you have to pay first before your appointment can be confirmed. This new system was put in place to prevent scammers and fixers from getting all the available slots and then selling them for a much higher price which was the case last year.

Since I have two kids aged 7 years old below, we could have used the COURTESY LANE and walked-in without an appointment anytime. But since there were a lot of slots available, I figured getting an appointment would be easier since we wouldn't have to line up super early anymore. DFA Alabang has a 150 limit on walk-in applicants, so the guard said there is already a line as early as 8:00am.

Anyway, I set a group appointment for me and my 3 kids thru DFA's website. I wanted to get an appointment in January, before the kids went back to school from their Christmas break. I chose January 4 (Friday) and picked the 2pm time slot since I figured there wouldn't be that much people anymore in the afternoon compared to the morning.

I wasn't aware yet of the new system that time, so I was surprised when I received this email to settle my payment first.

I paid the next day in 7-11 (since you have to pay within 24 hours), the regular processing fee of P950 plus P50 convenience fee per application. See below for other payment centers.

Then finally, I got the email for our confirmed appointments.

Anyway, I just want to share that picking the first week in January wasn't such the best idea after all. We got to DFA Alabang in Metro Department Store past 1:30pm, and there was already a long line waiting for us! Usually I never see a line when I pass by here kasi, especially in the afternoon (Update: I was at Metro yesterday and decided to check if there was a queue out of curiosity... and nope, there wasn't). So wrong timing lang talaga kami lol!

When it was nearing 2pm and the line wasn't moving, I went to the guard and said my appointment was at 2pm. She said to just wait. I said I was with minors, and that's when she allowed me to go inside and ask in the Information Counter if I could use the priority lane.

However, the person at Information Counter told me to just wait (again!) since there was still a lot of people inside. Apparently, all the 1:00pm appointments still hadn't been called! Plus, there were a LOT of returning applicants from December pa (those with incomplete requirements, etc.).

Anyway, I was super frustrated at this point and was kicking myself for picking this day to renew! But at least we were inside a mall, with seats and aircon. To make the long story short, we were finally accommodated at 3:00pm. And once we were inside, I was made to use the priority windows since I had minors with me and it was a breeze. The whole renewal process took 30-40 minutes (since there were 4 of us). So really looking back, it wasn't that bad.

So anyway, here's some questions I can answer based from our most recent RENEWAL experience:

1. How soon can you renew your passport?

My passport together with Skyler's were expiring in October 2019. Miley and Sabre's passports were expiring in December 2020. I wanted to renew this January since we'll be applying for US visas next month. I decided to renew Miley and Sabre's passports as well so we'll all be sabay na lang.

I was nervous that they might say it was too early to apply for their renewal, but luckily it wasn't a problem. And besides, I paid for it na din right? ;p

2. What are the requirements needed for passport renewal?

For me, here were the requirements I brought:
- confirmed online appointment, printed application form, and e-receipt from the confirmation email
- current passport and photocopy of the data page (page 2)
- photocopy of my Driver's License (or any other valid ID)

For the kids, here were the requirements that were collected per child:
- confirmed online appointment, printed application form, and e-receipt from the confirmation email
- current passport and photocopy of the data page (page 2)
- Original NSO/PSA Birth Certificate (the photocopies were returned to me)
- photocopy of our Marriage Certificate (I had the original but they didn't ask for it) *Marriage Certificate is required if only one parent is accompanying the child.
- photocopy of my passport (data page) *Passport or Valid Government issued ID of EITHER parent

I also brought their school IDs just in case it was needed. The guy at the window asked me if I had them, but didn't ask for them to be photocopied na. Next time na lang daw, baka kasi he was rushing din since madaming tao? lol!

3. Are NSO documents still accepted?

When I was fixing the requirements the night before (not recommended lol! blame it on the holiday season!) I noticed my marriage certificate and Miley and Sabre's birth certificates were all PSA issued already. Only Skyler's was still NSO which I got when I first applied for his passport. I read in one of the mommy groups that NSO documents were still accepted as long as it was in good condition. But then other moms said that it should be PSA already.

I got a little nervous, but his NSO birth certificate was STILL accepted (as of this time). It may also depend on the DFA branch, so best to still inquire directly with DFA to be sure.

4. How long is the validity of the passports?

For adults, it's now 10 years. But for minors, still 5 years since their faces will change pa daw hehe. So the next time we renew, wala na talagang priority lane haha! ;p

5. Companions?

Our yaya was allowed to go inside with us since I had 3 kids with me aged 8, 7, and 4. But I believe it's really 1 companion per child.

6. Releasing

We chose REGULAR processing which now takes 12 working days.

Anyway, hope this helps you if you're planning to renew for yourself or your kids. These are all just based on my experience and I'm not an expert, so for any questions or clarifications just check out or call their hotline. Happy travels!

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