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PCG to start sending new passports by post to applicants

13 May 2020

By The SUN

The passport-by-mail scheme will apply only to those who apply on or after May 25

Passport applicants need not go back to the Consulate to pick up their new travel document when they apply starting May 25, as this will be delivered to their homes by Hong Kong Post.

The start of the new scheme previously discussed by Consul General Raly Tejada in an interview with The SUN was announced in the Consulate’s Facebook page today, May 13.

Congen Tejada says the shift to mail delivery is part of the effort to decongest the Consulate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
It is also meant to spare applicants the trouble of going back and queuing up anew at the Consulate just to pick up their passports.

As part of the new rule, passport applicants need to bring along a prepaid courier envelope which they can buy at any Hong Kong Post Office branch for $32 each.

This particular envelope is emerald green and has the label “Local Courier Post” printed on the top left-hand corner. This ensures that the envelope containing the passport is delivered right at the doorstep of the applicant, who must sign a receipt confirming the delivery.
To resolve problems with securing the envelope on Sundays when post offices are closed, the Consulate is looking at asking Metrobank, which has its offices also in United Centre building, to supply it to applicants at cost (meaning $32) as a form of public service.

Passport application has been the principal cause of overcrowding at the Consulate, especially on Sundays, when up to 200 Filipinos line up for this service.

Previously, applicants needed to queue up thrice: first, to get an appointment; second, to complete the application process by filling up the data information sheet, have their passport photo taken, and pay the fee; and third, to pick up their passport.

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Congen Tejada has eliminated the first by introducing a no-contact appointment system. Applicants are now told to secure an appointment online (hk.passport.gov.ph), by telephone (2823 8508/ 5241 5464), or email (epass.app@gmailcom).
 
The drop-box was installed to stop people offering online appointments for a fee to OFWs
Later, after realizing that some unscrupulous groups were offering to make online appointments for overseas Filipino workers for a hefty fee, he clamped down on the practice by installing an application drop box at the Metrobank branch by the lifts leading up to the Consulate.

The drop-box, online and phone appointments have drastically reduced the number of Filipinos going to the PCG on Sundays for their application.

Postal delivery of the new passports is expected to decongest the Consulate further, especially on peak days. 


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Other measures the PCG introduced to reduce contagion risk include the rearrangement of the passport application processing system with the four biometrics desks moved to the public hall, and set about two meters apart.

For PCG staff and visitor protection, frontline desks and counters now have polypropylene panes to minimize the possibility of spreading the virus through droplets.

But with the Hong Kong government leading the way to restoring full service to the public, the Consulate has reverted to its usual work hours of 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 8am to 4pm every Sunday, starting on May 11.

Previously, the work hours were cut to 10am to 3pm Sunday to Thursday, as part of the Consulate’s anti-virus measures. Staff were also allowed to work from home on alternate days to promote social distancing.


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