The moment I got my UMID, I was really determined to get a passport. The problem was I didn’t know it was really difficult to set an online appointment with DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). The next available slot was in the third week of December 2017. I thought I’ll just sign up online and that’s it.
First Option: Fly to Puerto Princesa and be a Walk-in Applicant
Definitely, this wasn’t a good idea. It’s not possible because I have a job and I don’t have extra money for airfare and accommodation.
Second Option: Look for a travel agency offering early DFA appointment
Bad idea again because even before I talked to a travel agent, my colleague warned me that it’s going to be pricey. I asked how much and she said as much as PHP 20,000. Huh? What? LOL.
Third Option: Pay a Facebook Fan Page to Set an Early DFA Appointment for Me
Worst idea ever! I got scammed!!! I was really stupid to trust that Facebook Fan Page. They always change their Facebook Fan Page name and URL address so even if I link up the page, it would be useless. I can still access the page but I can’t comment and I can’t send them a message.
After they received my payment of PHP 1200 via Gcash, they blocked me. I tried to contact them via my sister’s account but they blocked her as well.
The Facebook Passport Online Appointment Scam
First, the fan page has so many likes and positive reviews that’s why I was attracted to give it a try. Second, I admit I was really desperate to get a DFA appointment. Third, I am really at fault and I have no one to blame but myself because I shouldn’t have trusted that FB page.
I am writing this to hopefully warn people to never trust those Facebook fan pages promising to set an early DFA appointment for you. It’s up to you but based on my personal experience, they are scammers. If you really want to get a passport, there’s no other way but to go through the online appointment system of DFA.
But actually, there’s another way …
I met up with my high school friend for lunch. She just came back from Europe and has a lot of stories to share. By that time, I already gave up and I told myself that maybe it’s not the best time for me yet to get a passport. Then she dropped the bomb. LOL.
“I almost missed my flight because I had to renew my passport and the DFA online appointment system was fully booked. Good thing my brother told me that it’s possible to set an early appointment if you have an endorsement from a congressman.”
Life Saver: Endorsement from a Congressman
To make the long story short, I requested an endorsement from our congressman.
Step 1. I visited our congressman’s office
The staff talked to me and I told them I would like to request a DFA endorsement. They looked at each other and it seemed like they were clueless about what I was asking for. I looked them straight in the eye and told them again that I need an endorsement for a DFA appointment.
Step 2. I gathered the requirements
The staff told me to submit a barangay certificate and a signed passport application form.
Step 3. I submitted the requirements
I came back several days later and submitted the documents. The staff told me they will just send a text message once the endorsement is ready.
Step 4. I picked up the endorsement letter
One week later, I got a text message saying that my endorsement letter was already signed. I got it on that same day.
Step 5. I submitted the endorsement letter to DFA Aseana
I showed the endorsement letter to the guards and they let me pass through the Courtesy Lane. Once inside the DFA office, I went to the Information Desk and the lady told me I still need to bring my endorsement letter to DFA Main Office in Roxas Boulevard for verification.
Step 6. I went to DFA Main Office
The following day, I arrived at past 8:00 AM and the guard told me they can no longer accommodate me. They only accept 80 endorsement letters per day. Since the quota is filled/full, I need to come back another day. The guard told me to come as early as 5:00 AM to secure my slot.
Step 7. I went back to DFA Main Office
Next day, I arrived at 5:10 AM and I’m already #72! Before 6:00 AM there were already 100+ people and the guards were being scolded why they let too many people inside.
Step 8. My endorsement letter was verified
I waited until 10:00 AM for my turn. There was a short interview. The guy was very stern. He asked for documents like my baptismal and PSA birth certificate. He also asked if I personally know the congressman. I said no. He asked again if I am a registered voter in our district and I said yes. Then he stamped my endorsement letter and told me to sign in the log book.
Step 9. I brought back the endorsement letter to DFA Aseana
This time they accepted it. I was customer # 3231. While waiting, I photocopied my documents and made sure everything was well-arranged in my plastic envelope so I could easily find it when it’s my turn.
Step 10. It’s finally my turn!
The guy asked for my documents. I gave him two sets – first set was all photocopies and second set was all original copies. He gave back the photocopies and got all the original copies except for my UMID/SSS. No questions asked. He didn’t even ask if I want the express processing. He just gave me a receipt worth P1200 and told me to pay in the cashier.
Step 11. Photo capturing and other things
After paying the receipt, I waited again for my new number to be called. My photo and digital fingerprints were captured. I also saw the woman scanning my documents. After that, she said it’s done.
Step 12. Finish!
I didn’t want my passport to be delivered to my home address so I need to pick it up. November 24 was the release date but I got it on December 4th because of my busy work schedule.
Passport Application Requirements
You can easily see the list of accepted documents on the official DFA website. These are the documents that I submitted:
- PSA birth certificate
- High School Form 137
- College Transcript of Records
- Old NBI Clearance (year was 2014)
- Baptismal Certificate
- COMELEC Voter’s Certificate
They got all original copies and they didn’t return it to me except for my UMID.
Passport Application Time Frame
Steps 9 to 12 took three hours. Take note that I was in the courtesy lane.
Passport Application for Late Registered Birth Certificate
My PSA birth certificate was late registered so I had to submit more documents. I already researched about this before I went to DFA. I didn’t want to come back again and again so I wanted my documents to be complete before going to DFA. It will be a waste of time and pamasahe to be asked to come back just because of incomplete documents.
- High school form 137 – must have a readable seal of the school
- Baptismal certificate – with receipt and seal of the church
- Comelec voter’s certificate – invalid without the receipt so don’t throw that away. I requested mine from COMELEC Main Office in Intramuros. There are too many people requesting for this paper so it took more than two hours to get it. It’s worth 50 or 75 pesos.
My colleague also told me that DFA is no longer accepting NSO birth certificates. It must be PSA.
Passport Application Dress Code
I saw some applicants were not allowed entry because they wore shorts, sleeveless or slippers. Not sure if t-shirts are allowed but jeans are fine. I wore a knitted turtleneck top, jeans, and flat shoes.
Better wear something appropriate to avoid any inconvenience. There was a girl wearing a sleeveless top and she wasn’t allowed to get inside. The guard advised her to consider buying a cardigan in Baclaran which was a 5-minute jeepney ride away.
No Picturing-Taking Inside
I was taking selfies but then I clicked something on my phone and suddenly there was a flash. One of the employees called the guard to reprimand me. It was embarrassing. I had to show the content of my phone and they saw my selfies. The guard was very polite and explained that it is not allowed to take photos inside DFA. So again don’t be like me. Don’t take selfies, okay? 🙂
So anyway this is just my personal experience in applying for a Philippine Passport. Honestly, I don’t intend to teach anyone about the process but I hope you learn something from my experience especially the scamming incident.
Avoid Scammers. Please follow the official DFA online appointment system.
Also, I told my friend about the endorsement letter and she felt it was really unfair because she had to go through the regular process. Somehow I understand her point. I didn’t know about that as well but I guess I just got lucky or blessed. As my last hope, I prayed a novena to Saint Filomena and asked for her intercession. The help came when I already gave up. Can you imagine?
Good luck on your passport application. Let me know how it went. Cheers!