Monday, September 21, 2015

Passport Renewal - Challenge Accepted!

Renewing a Philippine passport on Thursday afternoon is almost next to mission impossible. Mind you, there is a system now in The Consulate. Kudos to them, they are more efficient and reliable and completely different compared from what I experienced 4-and-a-half years ago...

If you are a Filipino and wanting to renew a passport in the Consulate in Dubai: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT book an appointment on Thursday afternoon.

As you know, pregnant women, senior citizens, infants, and toddlers (5 years old below) as well as those with lost passports, do not require appointments and Thursday afternoon seems to be "their" chosen day/time. 

Normally - according to those I know who recently renewed their passport, it takes an hour or two for renewing a passport but last Thursday I spent 4 hours in the Consulate. I was there at the Processing Area too early (1:20 pm), my fault. Though my appointment was 2:30, my name was called at 2:50 pm. No queue at the Cashier but it took ages in the Encoding Section for both Absentee Voting and Biometric Enrollment. I finished the whole thing at 5:20 pm. In all fairness, it's not The Consulate's fault. They work fast, it's just that too many passport applicants that time.

There are only 5 steps to renew a passport: 

Step 1:  Book an appointment on the Passport Appointment Portal. If you are yet to book an appointment, schedule it in the morning and avoid Thursday or afternoon. Confirmation of the appointment will be emailed to you.
Step 2:  On the date of appointment, go to The Consulate at least 15 minutes early with the following along with your Appointment copy:
  1. Original Passport 
  2. Filled out E-passport application form. This form is also available/can be filled in at the Passport Processing Area.
  3. Filled out Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) form. This form is only available at the Passport Procesing Area. It is important to know the birthplace of your mother - the city/town and municipality, as it is required in the form.
  4. Photocopy of Data Page (the front page of your passport with your photo on it) - 2 copies.
  5. Photocopy of Visa Page  - 1 copy.
Step 3:  At the Passport Processing Area, place your original passport in a tray indicating your appointment time. There are 2 trays labeled with appointment timings so ensure you placed it in the right tray. Take a seat and wait for your name to be called. 
While waiting, get E-passport form (if you don't have it yet) and OAV form in the designated boxes next to the "tray" and fill them out. Make sure you have completed and signed both forms, have 2 photocopies of your data page and 1 photocopy of your visa page. Photocopier/xerox machine is also available at the back of the Processing area/portacabin. Read instructions/signages posted all over there, they are all written in Tagalog. Wear your eyeglasses or contact lenses to see them clearly. Believe me, these simple things will ease up the process for everyone.
Once your name has been called and your requirements are checked, the guys in the Passport Processing Area will issue you a receipt (1 original in white plus 2 copies - pink & yellow) and direct you to Cashier. They will tell you where to go exactly.
Step 4:  At the Cashier, ready your 240 dirhams. Be sure to bring exact change as this, again, will speed the process along. Note that they closed at 4 pm. Cashier will return the original receipt and the yellow copy to you. 
Step 5:  After paying, go to the Encoding Section, get inside the room even if there are people outside. Submit your completed OAV form inside, there is someone at the door who will accept it and instruct you where to wait/sit. Again wait for your name to be called at the designated waiting area.
Then you will be called at the Encoding Section to have your photo/finger prints/signature taken for OAV ID. They will give you a piece of paper as an acknowledgement receipt of your Absentee Voting Registration.
Then another queue at the same room for Biometric Enrollment- the final step. Submit your E-passport form, passport and the receipt (original-white & copy-yellow). Then they will take your digital photo, finger prints and signature. The original receipt (white color) will be given to you when you are done with everything. Keep the original receipt as it is required along with your old passport when claiming your new passport at the Releasing Section.
As per the receipt, the date of release is in 8 weeks. But it is advised to start tracking your passport 2-3 weeks from the date of application here.