First: the basics.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs, where you'll be getting your passport, is at the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City, Cebu. (Pacific Mall used to be known as Metro [Gaisano] Mandaue.)
- You can get an application form from the DFA security guard.
- The documentary requirements are detailed in the DFA website: New Applications / Passport Renewal. Have everything photocopied.
- Minors (those below 8 years old, if I heard the guard correctly) and senior citizens (over 60 years old) are given priority, as are pregnant women and persons with disabilities AND the persons with whom they're processing their passports. If you've got any of these priority applicants in your family, strongly consider getting your passport at the same time they are. (For "strongly consider," read: "you'd be out of your mind if you don't.")
- Don't panic if you forget to photocopy something -- there's a photocopier inside the DFA itself (P3/page).
This is what the schedule at the DFA looks like:
As early as midnight
- People start queueing for priority numbers.
- The security guard gives out priority numbers to those in the queue.
- A DFA staff member collects the application forms of priority applicants: minors, seniors, pregnant women, PWD's, and members of their party. This early collection is done so that their information can be encoded ahead of time.
Shortly before 9:00 AM
- The guard admits all priority applicants and their companions to the building, where they proceed to the DFA office at the 4th floor.
- Another guard right outside the office doors will give instructions (sit down first, form a queue, et cetera).
- Once admitted to the office, those who were able to submit their forms at 7 AM can go straight in and are called first.
- Those who weren't able to submit their forms earlier should stop by the Information desk to hand their forms to the receptionist, who will then have these encoded.
- Everyone sits and waits for their names to be called.
- Another guard starts calling the names of priority applicants. When your name is called, you are told which counter to approach.
- At the counter, present all your documents.
- Once your documents are examined and approved, you proceed to the cashier. (It's P950 for regular processing, and you will make the cashier very happy if you bring the exact amount.)
- After paying, you get your photo taken and verify all your information. You then sign a form that says everything (spelling, dates, other info) is as it should be, and you are then told when to come back to get your passport.
- The rest of the [non-priority] applicants are admitted to the DFA office. Since they're given priority numbers, I suppose that's how they are called to the counters, instead of by their names. I'm not sure of this because by 10 AM we were already having our photos taken in another room.
My parents, my 10-month-old son, and I arrived at the DFA at around 8 AM, so we weren't able to submit our forms by 7 AM for encoding, but we still managed to get everything done before 10:30 AM. Not bad for a government agency, huh?