Ohmaghaaad. I cannot count the number of Facebook statuses or the number of people who have expressed a great deal of frustration they go through trying to renew their passports here in the Philippines. The one big issue? The DFA Website seems to have some sort of glitch with their appointment scheduler. One minute there’s an available schedule and in a blink of an eye it’s gone. Yep, that happened to me several times. I considered the fact that I was using my mobile phone while refreshing the site every 2 minutes or so. Once I clicked on the schedule, the next page says it doesn’t have ANY available appointments in the next 6 months… AT ALL. It was extremely frustrating. So, from this experience, tip #1 is:
1. Use a laptop / desktop to browse through for available appointments online.
I mean, you can go ahead an use your phone to try your luck. Maybe there was something wrong with my phone or the universe was upset at me and wanted to rile up my frustrations. Click here to start the search for the next available appointment.
2. Live in the big cities like Manila and Cebu? Don’t book an appointment there.
It’s really no surprise that big cities will fail you. There are SO many people trying to renew their passports in the city because it’s convenient. But what if you’re in a hurry? What if you don’t have the luxury of time? Well, the secret is to book an appointment in the closest DFA in the neighborhood. I currently live in Cebu so I tried for Dumaguete! Initially I had a hard time and decided, hey, I can just book Butuan. Flights aren’t THAT expensive and I needed to explore place more other than Robinsons Mall, where I had waited for my “connecting” flight before (another story to tell!).
But man, I didn’t want to spend that much so soon. So I waited for a couple of days more and decided to try again and reschedule.
3. Have patience
If you really want this to happen. Just be patient and persistent in getting back to the website daily or every few hours, depending on how much free time you have in between work, school, or a binge session of Game of Thrones.
I went back to try my luck and rescheduled from Butuan to Dumaguete and voila! There it was. Those beautiful green letters that indicate the earliest available appointment. Don’t get me wrong, I went in that website EVERY DAY. I pressed that refresh button a million times (okay, maybe just hundreds of times).
4. Go online between 5 – 9 PM
Now, this isn’t 100% true because I can’t back it by any algorithm or proof whatsoever… but it could help. It’s really just from experience. Whenever I would try to check schedules within the day, nothing worked out. When I tried late at night (11 PM onward, thinking that since not everyone’s online), it didn’t work.
Somehow between the hours of 5 PM and 9 PM, I always get available appointments. Yes, I did have plenty of options with my regular hunting of available appointment. Many times I saw a lot of green-lettered days but I needed to get my schedule on an earlier date so I had to keep trying my luck a few times hence the experiment with hours of the day.
So maybe, just maybe searching for appointments within these hours will help you. Maybe.
That’s it! Four simple tips that I hope can help you get through this ordeal. If you want to know a detailed report on how much I spent for when I renewed my passport, check out this other article: Cebu to Dumaguete (Passport Renewal) Budget and Itinerary.
PASSPORT RENEWAL REQUIREMENTS
If you haven’t seen the list yet on the DFA website, check the list below to see if you’ve got everything you need!
- Confirmed Online Appointment
- Personal appearance
- Accomplished Application Form (the one they send you in your email)
- Current Passport
- Photocopy of current passport’s data page
- Original PSA authenticated documents that will support the change of name (if applicable)
- Marriage Contract
- Annotated Birth Certificate
- Annotated Marriage Contract to show annulment/divorce/court ordered instruction
- Death Certificate of Spouse
For more details, kindly visit their website!
HUGE TIP: Bring your NSO birth certificate just in case. I didn’t have to present mine but maybe they’ll decide to give you a hard time (like they did to a few people I know) and ask for it anyway. At least you’re prepared!