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Passports In General

1. What is an electronic passport or ePassport? Biometric? Special features of the ePassport?

What is an ePassport?

An electronic passport or ePassport is a passport with an added integrated circuit or chip embedded in one of the passport pages. Such chip contains the data essential in verifying the identity of the passport which include the personal data found on the data page of the passport, the biometrics of the passport holder, the unique chip identification number, and a digital signature to verify the authenticity of the data stored of the chip. This chip is highly interoperable; meaning, it can be read by any standard border control machine worldwide. It is integrated with high security mechanisms in order to prevent any forceful scheming of data it contains, any cloning, and any remote reading.

What is a biometric?

A biometric is a unique and measurable physical characteristic of an individual that includes face recognition, fingerprints, and iris scan.

The Philippine ePassport utilizes the digital image of the passport photograph that can be used with face recognition technology to verify the identity of the passport holder. It also makes use of the fingerprints of the passport holder for identification using the Automated Fingerprint Verification System (AFIS).

What are the special features of the Philippine ePassport?

The Philippine ePassport allows information stored on the chip to be verified with the information visually displayed on the passport. It also uses microchip technology.

The Philippine ePassport also contains an integrated photograph of the holder, a digitized secondary photo, and an electronic print of the holder's signature. It also features overt and hidden security features such as: Invisible Personal Information (IPI), letterscreen, microtext ghost image, and UV reactive ink, among others.

2. What are the advantages of having an electronic passport?

The ePassport is highly-secure, hence avoids passport reproduction and tampering. The ePassport database is enhanced with Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). That guards against multiple passport issuances to the same person and enhances imposter detection. It facilitates fast clearance of travelers at immigration checks. ePassports provide travelers benefits such as use of automated border clearance or "e-gates", automated issuance of boarding passes, and faster travel arrangement with airlines. For countries, the use of electronic passport also provides better border protection and security.

3. What is the difference between the existing maroon machine-readable passport (MRP) and the ePassport? Why do we have to use ePassports now?

What is the difference between the existing maroon machine-readable passport (MRP) and the ePassport?

An MRP is a passport which has a machine readable zone (MRZ) printed in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard. It can be read manually and with the use of a machine. An ePassport, on the other hand, has an embedded Integrated Circuit (IC) chip where the photograph and personal information of the bearer are stored in accordance with ICAO specifications. These information can be read by chip readers at a close distance. The ePassport also has an MRZ.

Why do we have to use ePassports now?

The machine-readable passports or MRP is only the minimum ICAO standard in travel documents. The ePassport is now the world standard in travel documents. As member of ICAO, the Philippines has an international obligation to enhance the security of its travel documents. The issuance of ePassports will allow the Philippines to offer world-class consular services to its nationals. Countries have greater confidence and acceptance of the ePassport since it is enhanced with biometric technology.

4. What countries use ePassports?

ePassports are already being used in more than 60 countries worldwide. In ASEAN, five countries have already issued electronic passports (Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia). In the future, all countries are seen to switch to the ePassport due to the increasing need for efficient and better border security.

5. What is the ePassport logo and what does it mean?

The ePassport logo which appears on the cover of the ePassport is the international symbol for an electronic passport. This means that the passport has an integrated circuit or chip on which data on passport and passport holder is stored. The logo will alert border inspection lanes at all airports and transit ports with special data readers for ePassports that the passport is an ePassport.

6. Who is entitled to a Philippine passport?

All Philippine citizens are entitled to a Philippine passport. This right can only be abridged for reasons of national security and the public good. Those who have acquired foreign citizenships, i.e. Filipinos who were naturalized in foreign countries, are no longer entitled to Philippine passports as they are considered to have renounced their Philippine citizenship.

7. I am an undocumented Philippine citizen (TNT). Can I apply for a passport? Will the Consulate help me?

The Consulate helps and protects ALL Filipinos, regardless of their immigration status. A Filipino who has no legal immigration status in the United States deserves the same assistance as that accorded to a legal resident.

8. Does the Consulate require the payment of taxes before it issues a passport?

The Consulate General no longer collects taxes from Filipino citizens residing abroad in accordance with the Comprehensive Tax Reform Code passed by Congress in 1997. Under the said law, income earned by Filipino citizens outside the Philippines are exempt from taxation.

First-Time Applicants

1. What are the requirements for an applicant wishing to obtain a passport for the first time?

In order for an individual to qualify for a Philippine passport, the Consulate General must determine two things: the true identity of the individual and that the individual is a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines. For a detailed information on requirements and procedures that must be complied with by first-time applicants, see Passport Requirements and Procedures: First-Time Applicants.

2. How long does it take to process a new passport?

If all documents required are submitted, the new passport may be released within eight (8) to ten (10) weeks from the receipt of application.

Passport Renewals

1. What are the requirements for the renewal of passports?

Personal appearance is required for those who wish to renew their passports. Application sent by mail are no longer accepted. In addition, individuals would not have to pay additional fees, other than the consular fees prescribed by Philippine law. A comprehensive list of requirements is included in the downloadable passport application form found in this site.

2. How long does it take to renew a passport?

If all documents required are submitted, the new passport may be released within eight (8) to ten (10) weeks from the receipt of application.

Extension of Validity of Passports

In view of the longer period required for the processing and issuance of the machine-readable passport (MRP) or e-Passport, the following guidelines shall be observed in the application for extension of the validity of Philippine passports:

1. The passport holder must personally file for the extension of his/her passport with the Consulate;

2. The passport to be amended has a validity of less than six months;

3. The extension of the validity is a measure to address emergency or meritorious cases;

4. The extension of the validity of passport should not be considered as an alternative in lieu of a renewal of the passport;

5. The passport holder must submit an application form for the amendment of the validity of the passport, with the affidavit and passport to the Consular Officer. In the affidavit, he/she must state:

a. The reason/s for the urgency of having the validity of the passport extended for one (1) year and that he/she cannot wait for the issuance of the MRP or e-Passport;

b. The affiant undertakes to apply for a new passport within the extended period of validity; and,

c. The affidavit must be duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate where a person is applying for the renewal of the said passport.

6. If the Consulate finds the applicant's stated reason/s for extension to be meritorious, the validity of the passport may be extended for a period of not more than one (1) year from the date of the application;

7. In the application for the extension of the validity of his/her passport, the fee for affidavit required is waived as it addresses an emergency situation and is considered to be done gratis or free of charge. The applicant should only be charged with a flat fee of $20 for amendment of passport and shall be paid prior to any extension.

Lost Passports

1. I just lost my passport. What should I do?

You must first immediately file a police report and execute an Affidavit/Sworn Statement stating the circumstances surrounding the loss of the passport. Second, apply for a replacement passport at the Consulate with as many of the documentary requirements as you can gather. While it is a good idea to apply immediately, you will eventually have to produce all of the required documents.

2. What are the requirements for the replacement of a lost passport?

Lost passports can only be replaced when the consular officer can determine that, in addition to meeting the minimum requirements for a Philippine passport, that the applicant has actually lost his or her passport.

The documentary requirements for the replacement of a lost passport are essentially the same as for a first time application. Additional supporting documents may also be required to establish the applicant's identity, Philippine citizenship, and the circumstances surrounding the loss of the passport.

In addition to the documentary requirements, the Consulate General has to receive clearance from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila to replace a lost passport. Due to the significant volume of such cases, the mandatory waiting period for the clearance normally takes 15 working days (3 to 4 weeks - do not count Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) plus the processing time for the issuance of the new passport.

A comprehensive list of requirements may be found in this site.

3. How does the Consulate deal with cases involving assumed names, or in the case of seamen who jump ship?

Cases involving assumed names, and cases involving seamen who jump ship, are treated in the same way as lost passport.

4. How long does it take to replace a lost passport?

The mandatory waiting period for the clearance normally takes 15 working days (3 to 4 weeks - do not count Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) plus the processing time for the issuance of the new passport.

5. Why are there so many documents required to replace a lost passport?

The Consulate must be able to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of an applicant's passport. To do this, substantial documentation is needed. Such thoroughness is necessary to protect the integrity of the Philippine passport.

6. Why does the Consulate require National Statistics Office (NSO) certified birth certificates? Why can't I use my old one?

The Consulate must clearly establish the identity of the applicant. To do so, it must be confident that the documents submitted are authentic. Only the new NSO-certified birth certificates provide the required level of security.

The Consulate is also required by law to ensure that all of the particulars that appear in the passport are the same as those that appear in the birth certificate.

Please click here to secure an NSO-certified birth certificate.

7. I applied for a replacement for my lost passport and I was asked to submit a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance. Why was this so?

In some cases, the Consul may require an NBI clearance to aid in establishing an applicant's identity. An NBI clearance is usually required in complicated lost passport cases and in situations in which the applicant does not have any form of photo ID.

8. How do I apply for an NBI clearance?

Please click here for complete information on how to apply for an NBI clearance.

9. I have an INS appointment but I can only produce some of the requirements for my replacement passport. How can the Consulate help me?

In very limited cases, the Consulate can issue a passport with a limited validity, provided that most of the requirements have been met, and that there is substantial proof of the applicant's citizenship and identity.

Travel Documents

1. What is a Travel Document?

A travel document allows the bearer only a direct, one-way trip to the Philippines. It is only issued in critical instances, usually in life or death situations. A travel document is not intended as a short cut in complying with the requirements for the renewal of a passport or the replacement of a lost passport.

2. How can I apply for a Travel Document?

You cannot apply for a travel document. Travel documents can only be resorted to when the consular officer determines that its use is warranted.

3. I have a ticket to return to the Philippines but my passport application will not be processed before I'm supposed to leave. Can I travel on a Travel Document?

It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure that a passport will be available at the planned date of travel. Again, a travel document is not intended as a short cut in complying with the requirements for the renewal of a passport or the replacement of a lost passport. Therefore, it is probable that unless you have valid proof of a serious emergency, you will not be issued a travel document solely on the basis of your ticket.

4. What constitutes valid proof of an emergency?

If you urgently need a travel document because of a serious emergency, such as a death in the family, then the particulars of the emergency should be faxed directly to the Consulate. In the case of a death in the family, for instance, the hospital should fax the death certificate directly to the Consulate.