A study reveals that childhood memories made from family trips serve as happiness anchors when they grow up. This is why going on trips for a vacation, once thought to be a luxury, has become a part of young families' lifestyle. Thanks to more affordable airfares, it is so much easier now to explore the islands or see the sights abroad.
It is no surprise, then, that the volume of passport applications — even for kids and babies — has gone up over the last few years, prompting the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to modify the age limit for their courtesy lanes from 1 year old and below to 7 years old and below, in 2014.
There is no need for an appointment when you're applying for your baby's passport.
But we know that a crowded room and kilometric queues with a little one in tow is a recipe for disaster. Thus the thought of going to a government agency office is something we all dread. But is it as bad as we think it is?
The good news is parents with babies and kids up to 7 years old don't need an appointment, and may use the DFA courtesy lane for faster transactions, as may persons with disability (PWD), senior citizens, pregnant women, and solo parents.
Kim Cardenas-Monis, a mom from our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village, applied for a passport for her 8-month-old baby, and renewed her and her husband's passport at DFA's Ali Mall branch.
"Pumapayag sila na BOTH parents ang sasabay mag-renew ng passport. No appointment needed for the three of us," she shared to the group.
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"Magkahiwalay na yung pila for courtesy lane and regular lane. DFA opens at 10 a.m. pero at 9:15 a.m. pinapasok na kami."
Passport applications are automatically considered express processing on Saturdays.
Requirements for babies include 1) Philippine Statistics Authority-issued birth certificate, and 2) a photocopy of a valid ID of one of the parents.
This SP Village mom and her family were done in just a little over two hours. However, she noted that, because they went on a Saturday, all transactions were automatically considered "express," which meant they had to pay Php1,200 for each application. (The passports should be delivered in seven working days, but an additional Php150 will be charged for courier service if you don't pick it up).
10-year validity for adults, 5-year validity for minors
Princess Jill Vergara-Meneses, another SP Village mom, shared she also had a smooth experience as well, this time at DFA Robinsons Novaliches. She, her husband, and their baby did not need an appointment, and they were done in less than an hour. However, in her post on the SP Village, she mentioned that this DFA branch only accepted kids 5 years old and below in the courtesy lane, instead of the DFA rule of up to 7 years old.
Princess also added that, as per the rules, she and her husband were given passports that are valid for 10 years, while their baby's passport is valid for only 5 years.
When using the courtesy lane with their minor child, parents applying for a passport for the first time must prepare 1) their PSA-authenticated Birth Certificate, and 2) a valid government-issued ID with one photocopy. Those renewing their passports, on the other hand, must bring their current ePassport, and a photocopy of the data page.
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Married females who want to use their husband's last name must also submit their PSA-authenticated marriage contract.
The moms' experiences above were different from new mom and blogger Saab Magalona who recently had an unpleasant experience at DFA Megamall, where she went to get her then-5-month-old son Pancho a passport. She took to Twitter to clarify if the processing fee was Php1,200 as she was told at the branch, instead of Php950. The DFA promptly replied to her, saying, "PWDs, senior citizens, pregnant women and solo parents are entitled by law to avail of the courtesy lane and have the option to choose between Php950/Php1,200. Minors 7 years old and below have no legal entitlement to the courtesy lane and are charged Php1,200."
She also questioned why there was no one manning the courtesy lane, as government offices like the DFA are supposed to follow the "no noon break" policy. Saab was able to finish the transaction that day.
Here are a few other documents to bring for passport application, in addition to the basic requirements above, when using the courtesy lane:
- Solo parents with their minor children must present their Solo Parent ID.
- Pregnant women whose bump is not yet visible must present a medical certificate as proof to access the courtesy lane.
The DFA page also clarifies that companions of those entitled to use the courtesy lane will be charged the expedited processing fee [of Php1,200] "because they are not entitled to use the courtesy lane; they are accommodated for their convenience."