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Passport applications shoot up with launch of 10-year travel document

17 January 2018

ConGen Morales has shuffled staff to cope with
surge in new passport applications 
By Vir B. Lumicao

The expected launch of the new 10-year passport has caused the number of applicants at the Consulate to more than double since the start of the year.

Consul General Antonio Morales told The SUN in an interview on Jan. 16 that the Consulate has coped with the deluge by shuffling staff assignments on Sundays, the heaviest day for applicants.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of passport applicants, probably because those whose passports were expiring did not renew in November or December,” Morales said.

“Ini-expect nila sa January because it was officially announced that the 10-year validity would be issued starting January. So, they already started applying in January,” he said.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano led the launch of the 10-year-validity passport in a ceremony at the office of consular affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila on Jan. 12.

An appointment is needed to apply for a passport on Sundays

The jump in the number of applicants had called for adjustments in the Consulate’s personnel deployment.

“We have asked our people from the other sections, the economic section, the political section, to help out in the consular on Sundays to enable us to cope with the volume of applicants,” the consul general said.

ConGen Morales said no one in Hong Kong has received the new passport, but added that this would happen in the first quarter, given that it takes two months to process the travel document.

The Consulate has recorded an average of more than 300 passport applicants since the start of January, up from about 150 last year, Morales said.

The figures for each of the past two Sundays reached 700, double the 350 average for the same day in November and December last year, he added.

But ConGen Morales said that in the long run, the 10-year passport would help decongest the consular services area, as people would wait for a decade before they return to renew their passports.

“In three to four years, we expect a reduction in the number, but in the short to medium term, we expect an increase in the volume of applicants,” ConGen Morales.

He said the price and the number of pages of the passport remain the same, as well as the requirements.

“To address the congestion in the consular area we have instituted an appointments system on Sundays,” he said, adding that, for weekdays, they consulate will accommodate those with or without appointments.  

Cayetano signed on Oct 25 the implementing rules and regulations of the new Philippine Passport Act, which extends the validity of passports to 10 years from five.

But the IRR took effect on Jan 1, 2018 to give sufficient time to Philippine embassies and consulates abroad as well as foreign governments about the changes of the passport validity.

Under the IRR passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Duterte in October, regular passports will be valid for 10 years for Filipino travelers 18 years old and above. Those under 18 will still be issued passports that are valid for five years.

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