You may or may not be planning to travel internationally in the near future. Either way, if your passport is expiring soon, you will have to face the dreaded process of passport renewal amid COVID-19.
It’s totally normal to feel worried about having to queue for hours when there’s a deadly virus going around. But for many of us, renewing our passports is essential — especially since most countries require a six-month gap between the passport expiration date and the travel date. Not to mention, reapplying for a new passport is a lot more stressful than merely renewing your expiring one!
To ease our worries, we reviewed the process of passport renewal during COVID-19. We also got in touch with a couple of Filipinos who have experienced the process firsthand. Read on to learn more.
How to renew your passport during COVID-19
What are the requirements?
If you are an adult with an existing e-Passport, these are the requirements:
- Confirmed online appointment
- Accomplished application form (printed on A4 paper)
- Current passport
- Photocopy of current passport
- Supporting document (i.e. birth certificate)*
- Photocopy of supporting document*
- E-receipt (2 copies)
*If you are renewing your passport and are not changing any information since your old application, you do not need to bring a supporting document.
For more information, you may check the official website of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Other than these, remember to bring the basic safety necessities: a bottle of alcohol or hand sanitiser, a face shield, and a face mask.
How long does it take to renew your passport during COVID-19?
Chastine Petines: I waited for 30 minutes before I was able to enter the DFA branch in SM Megamall, because there were a lot of people in line. I got the 85th slot for my 11am to 12nn schedule. I was already there by 11am; the verification process started at 11.30am. I was finished with the whole passport renewal process by 1pm.
Mark Cheng: I usually get the 11am slot for passport renewal; because, in my experience, there were fewer people at that time. But when I got my passport renewed during COVID-19, I had to line up for four hours. There were a lot of people. Then again, the processing itself took about 30 minutes. If not for the long queue, I would’ve finished renewing my passport in half an hour.
What are the safety protocols like?
Chastine: For the SM Megamall branch, they use the Mandaluyong Track application. They disinfect your documents for you, too. Mostly, people followed the COVID-19 protocols.
After the verification process, someone would sanitise the window desk. Compared to before, the place isn’t so crowded anymore. You just really have to follow the rules and line up properly. Photocopying machines are available inside; they use digital thumb marks and signatures now.
The only issue I saw was that there was no longer a priority lane. Mothers with infants lined up in the regular lane; one child insisted on taking his mask off.
Mark: In Robinsons Novaliches branch, not all windows were open to cater to social distancing. That’s also why the queues were so long. Overall, the passport renewal process seemed okay.
What is scheduling your appointment online like?
Chastine: Even if I’m from Novaliches, I decided to get my passport renewed in SM Megamall because the schedule for the DFA branch closest to me was full. I scheduled my appointment in Megamall last December, and got my passport renewed in early February.
Mark: I scheduled my appointment in Robinsons Novaliches late last year. Only the slots in the first week of February were available.
We hope this article was helpful for everyone needing to renew their passports during COVID-19! If you have any more questions, feel free to let us know in the comments section. Safe travels, everyone!
These quotes have been edited for grammar, clarity and flow. All images credited to Chastine Petines and Danielle Uy.