After a bazillion years, we will finally have machine-readable passports!
Machine-readable passports for every Filipino by Sept 17
MANILA, Philippines — After pilot-testing machine-readable passports with government officials and diplomats, then by senior citizens and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the travel document will be available to every Filipino by September 17, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
However, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Domingo Lucenario said the more advanced electronic or e-passport may have to wait until the middle of next year. Aside from bar code and other security features of the machine-readable passport, the e-passport contains a computer chip that contains the details of the passport holder.
But he assured the machine-readable passport is already accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organization and is several times more advanced than the current manually prepared passport.
The DFA is scheduled to launch the new passport on Friday, August 17, for those seeking to renew their old ones.
Among the changes on the new passport are:
* Instead of passport-sized pictures with a white background, the new passport requires pictures with a royal blue background.
* The applicant needs to show up at the DFA so that his or her fingerprint may be taken.
* The processing will take a little bit longer now: 10 days for regular processing and five days for speed processing. But, Lucenario assured, once everyone in the system becomes accustomed to it, processing time will be reduced to current levels.
Lucenario said the price of the new passport will remain the same: P500 for regular one week processing and P750 for two-day processing.
The new passport was made available for government officials and diplomatic workers on June 18. A month later, it was issued to senior citizens applying for passports at the DFA and OFWs applying for passports at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA).