Welcome to 2018, mga Ka-Tsong! For our first cool tip of the year, we’re going to focus on one of the most important things every OFW must have: passports. As your “pass” to fly out of the Philippines and into your destination countries, passports have a central role to play in your OFW journey. Here are some general tips we have for you regarding passports:
- Apply early. As with most things, we recommend that you get started on working towards your passport early, especially if it’s your first time. To obtain a passport, you would have to set an appointment through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Here’s a useful link: https://consular.dfa.gov.ph/passport. Take note that appointment slots fill up quickly, so set one up as fast as you can to avoid delays. There are other things you have to consider that take up considerable amounts of time: processing times for the documents you need, processing times for the passport itself, and mailing time for the passport to arrive at your doorstep (if you choose to have DFA mail the passport to you instead of pick-up). Once you become an OFW though, DFA has courtesy lanes and offices for you to apply for your passport faster, so take note of that.
- Carefully review your application. In filling out your forms for your passport, make sure to provide only accurate and up-to-date information and carefully check for any errors (for example, misspelled names). Your passport will be used in the preparation of many other documents in the future, such as in the application for visas, so you have to ensure that all the information there is factually correct to begin with.
- Keep your passport safe. Once you do get your passport, the rule is to keep it as safe as possible. Keep it safe from the elements, don’t let it get wet or sit next close to heat. Remember that your passport is electronic, so take care of it as you would your cellphone. In a different sense, you also have to keep your passport safe from being stolen. Not only is your passport required for you to exit the country, but it also contains a lot of sensitive information that others can potentially use to harm you. So keep it safe!
- Don’t give your passport away. In relation to our tip #3, you have to be cautious about giving your passport away to someone else. Only give your passport to people you could trust, for instance to embassies whenever you apply for visas. When working abroad, do not recklessly give your passports to your employers. Recall that in the news, there are lots of OFWs being illegally detained overseas just because their employers take hold of their passports. Take care not to be in this position!
- Mind the expiry date. For most places, passports are only accepted for at least 6 months before the listed expiry date. Keep this in mind when planning out your travels. Renewing your passport ahead of time is always a good idea. When you are working abroad, take note of the location of the Philippine consulate nearest you, so that you know where you can renew your passport if needed. Take note that appointment slots for passport applications abroad, if applicable, usually fill up very quickly.
The tips above are, in our opinion, the most important ones you have to remember when dealing with passports. If you would like to give us more tips on the topic, please feel free to comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that they can be shared with other OFWs and OFW aspirants. 🙂 See you next time!