DFA to open 177,500 passport appointment slots until end-September

The Department of Foreign Affairs is opening an additional 177,500 slots in its passport appointment system until the end of September 2021, undersecretary for consular affairs Brigido Dulay announced on Monday, July 5.

In a press conference, Dulay said the slots were made available after the department opened temporary offsite passport services in five locations to meet increased public demand for consular services. 

Dulay said the sites were opened to the public on July 5, in the following locations:

  • SM Mall of Asia
  • SM City North Edsa
  • SM Aura
  • Robinsons Place Las Piñas
  • Robinsons Place Magnolia 

Dulay said each site had a capacity of 500 slots daily, and would be operational from Monday to Saturday.

Appointments may be scheduled through the DFA’s online passport appointment system. Eligible courtesy lane applicants – including overseas Filipino workers with valid contracts, senior citizens, pregnant women, solo parents, persons with disabilities, and children below seven years old – may email the DFA at oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph

Dulay advised the public to wait to renew their passports if they have no immediate travel plans, especially since there is no penalty for renewals after expiration. Those with urgent travel plans, however, could reach out to the DFA at oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph for assistance. 

Dulay said the additional sites were opened to address public clamor for passport appointment slots, particularly in the NCR (National Capital Region) Plus area, where demand is highest. 

“This is a resolve really for more appointment slots and we know, and we admit, that the demand for passport appointments are higher than what we could have given out previously,” he said. 

With the temporary sites, Dulay said 52,500 more slots will be made available in July, 60,000 in August, and another 65,000 in September. He added that the DFA would open more slots beyond September, if needed.

Before the pandemic, Dulay said the DFA’s Aseana site and its 37 consular offices nationwide could process 13,074 slots daily. This was reduced to an average of 6,167 slots during the pandemic to comply with quarantine protocols and minimum public health standards.

Aside from the five newly opened sites, Dulay said the DFA is also reviewing the possibility of opening more temporary passport services in locations outside Metro Manila in the coming months. 

Meanwhile, the DFA reminded the public there would be no "expedite services" for now as the department prioritizes clearing its backlog and serving those whose previous passport appointments were affected by community quarantine classifications.

Dulay also reminded the public to book appointments only through the DFA’s online appointment system. It warned against groups or individuals selling passport appointments. 

Passport services have a turnaround time of a maximum 12 days, he added, but this could be delayed if courier providers encounter difficulties. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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