As of April 1, 2010, the use of machine reading of passports will be in effect. You are still allowed to use your older passport as long as it is still valid until its expiration date. However, you are suggested to renew your passport about six months before the expiration date to be in compliance and avoid issues.
With that said- I had to go through this roller coaster and I just wish somebody told me things to avoid a lot of last minute major time wasting.
The websites for the embassies and consulates are not uniform and are not as updated as you expect it to be. So my biggest tip is do your homework and read this in advance before you decide to go. Do not hesitate to call the consulate or embassy you intend to visit to clarify things.
This process applies to those who have a green card, dual citizenship, etc as long as your request is to renew your passport.
Things You Will Need- $50-$80 in cash and exact change. - Your current valid passport. - Your current valid other passport (for dual citizens) or green card; in applicable. * A mighty plus: printer that also has a hook up to a scanner.
Step 1Locate the nearest embassy/consulate. Get the phone number and call. In the particular situation to the Filipino consulates/embassies and with my most recent experience, I have stumbled across separate websites for different locations. Some were actually closed and were still posted on lists of available consulates. Some may take appointments or you may not like that- either way, make sure you know how the particular consulate/embassy you're heading to will manage the time. The holidays for the embassy/consulate will combine the host country and the natural country's holidays. Be prepared to make sure the dates you plan to go will be a normal business day for the consulate. There's a particular instance for winter break where in the USA, the embassy was unavailable around the 15th of December until the 25th of January!
Step 2Depending how close you are to the location you might want to book your flight, plan your road trip, and figure out how you're going to get your passport back when it's ready. There is an option to bring a self addressed envelope (with postage of course) so it can be mailed once ready. Or if you want to personally pick it up, realize you must make another trip in six weeks.
Step 3Gather your documents. Make sure you have: Your current passport. Your current green card or other passport (if applicable to green card holders or dual citizenship status). $50-$80 in cash, in exact change. These fees will be $50 for the passport renewal, $20 for photos if you need to, and some loose change for the photocopying machine. Please know checks, cards, and money orders are not acceptable. ID photo with hair tucked behind ears without glasses and with royal blue background (3 of them) - specifics can be checked with the consulates/embassies. If you can't find a place that can do this, the consulate/embassy should have one and they will charge $20 (again- good to call ahead). Application filled out ***but not signed***. Do not worry about the thumb printing. You can get this at the consulate/embassy, but limit is 1 per person and you want to make sure you have the information anyway so time is not wasted. If you prepare to print one and fill it out- make sure it is for the location you are submitting it to. Each location is printed out on the top left corner. Do not submit a pre-filled application for Los Angeles, CA when you are heading to New York, NY. Self addressed envelope with postage paid if you prefer it mailed to you. Copies of documentations. You can do copies at the actual building but you have to do it yourself on a copying machine that charges around $0.25 per page and copy. You will need: Front page of your passport, the one with your photo and information on it. Page of your most recent entry into the current host country. IE: Jan 04, 2010 in Washington stamp if I am applying in the United States. Last page where there is the signature of the signing officer who processed your current passport. The immigrant visa page showing your I-94 sticker etc or whatever that may apply. But it is the sticker provided by the host country on your residency or stay. Green card; front part is enough.
Step 4Getting there when you don't have an appointment will require a lot of waiting so make sure you get there early and make sure you get a number. Just like any procedure that requires you to be in lines etc, you know you're in for a wait. If you have all your documents, you just have to pass the time. If not, this is the perfect time to get your photo and copies- otherwise you will be in for a longer wait.
Step 5After your number is called, someone will make sure they received everything. Hopefully this is a one time thing for the well-prepared. This is a fairly fast process. You will then be asked to sign your application. You will be asked to pay at the cashier.
Step 6Pay $50 in exact amount. You will get a receipt which is highly suggested to be kept in a safe place though not a requirement. The cashier will write down a new number on your application. You are to take this to the thumb printing area.
Step 7More waiting but the last step for the time being. The number the cashier wrote on your application will be what you will be waiting for in this procedure. Once called, give your application to the person and they will manually input into the system. You will be asked to make sure the information filled out is correct- take your time and do this. You will get your prints done and after that a piece of paper with the consulate/embassy information telling you when your passport will be ready. If you have a self-addressed envelope with paid postage, this is where you give it. You can also authorize to have someone pick it up at this point.
Step 8The physical procedure is done. You are free. Now the ultimate wait. It is not up to 6 weeks, it is not a within 6 weeks period, it is a DEFINITE 6 week wait time. At this point you can still decide if you want to pick it up, authorize someone, or have it mailed. Pick up: requires you signature and your old passport to be invalidated on the spot. Authorize someone: you will need to clarify and sign papers to allow this first before sending your authorized person to do the deed. Make sure they have an official ID with them when picking up the passport. They will need your old passport too to be invalidated. Mail: You must send your old passport with a self-addressed envelope with paid postage to be invalidated and you will get the old and new one together in the mail.
The process is actually simple and straightforward, but like with any government related situation, there's a lot of delays when it comes to falling in line, providing the correct proofs and documentations. Be prepared, have a checklist, and I hope there were things that either reiterated the need of doing your research or enlightened you in some way.