My passport is expiring next year so while travelling is still difficult for the next few more months, I decided to renew it in time for a the possible re-opening of international tourism in hopefully – 2021.

I booked my appointment online in October 5 and picked DFA Ali Mall branch in Cubao, the same branch where I had my passport renewed in 2016. Slots are open as early as 2 weeks from the time that I was booking. I thought things will be easier in late November so I selected November 25.

Of course, nothing has change in the span of 7 weeks. But here are some tips in case you are also renewing your passport this 2020 or 2021.

  • Don’t be too early. Arriving 15-30 minutes before your appointment is good enough.

    My appointment was 11AM and I was there at around 10:15AM. Several people who were schedule for 10AM are still queuing at 10:45AM. They let us join the line at 10:55AM. Depending on the queue inside, only 3-5 people are allowed to enter at once.

  • Have your passport photocopied on an A4 bond paper, just the front page of your passport (the page containing your photo and personal details) is needed.

    I heard some branches also require a photocopy of the page of your emergency contact, I also prepared that but Ali Mall branch did not take it. Having this photocopies ready makes your transaction faster as you won’t have to fall in line in the photocopying area.

  • Print your appointment forms on an A4 bond paper. Make sure that you are printing two (2) copies of the electronic receipt, also in A4.

And here are the steps:

  1. The guard on duty will be distributing a health declaration form. You will have enough time to fill this out while falling in line. He/she will also be checking your documents to ensure that it’s complete.

  2. Upon entering, the Step 1 window is right next to the entrance. Present your documents for further checking. This is where you will be asked for the passport photocopy; she will direct you to the photocopy area if needed. Else, you’re ready for Step 2.

  3. Step 2 is just another round of verification. It will be quick and easy for as long as your documents and record have no discrepancies. I was done in a minute although I waited in line for around 10 minutes.

  4. Step 3, encoding, is the longest part. This is where your photo gets taken. Good luck if there are babies or toddlers before you; it would take some time before they could get a perfect shot. The waiting time is around 15-30 minutes.

    A piece of paper will be attached to your receipt. This contains the email address which you could contact for follow-ups. You will also be given a tentative date of the release of your passport.

  5. If you opt for a delivery, proceed to the courier window. I do not trust deliveries during this time so I preferred to pick it up myself.

    Overall, I was inside the DFA office for a good 45 minutes. I wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Social distancing is being observed although you’ll need to watch for people who still doesn’t understand the concept, and consciously keep your distance from them.

    Good luck on your passport renewal appointment. Just enjoy the experience!