Getting a United States Passport in Metro Manila, Philippines isn’t difficult, but it’s not a simple as getting one in the United States. A renewal is easier to get than a new passport and if you’re an American living in the Philippines, a renewal is what you should be trying to get.
The only reason you’d need a new passport is if you let your current one expire and it’s been more than five years since it expired. Even then, getting a new passport isn’t that difficult. You just have a couple of more things to do.
According to the United States Embassy’s instruction page on how to Renew an Adult 10-Year Validity Passport, you need to fill out the DS-82 Application for a U.S. Passport and mail it to the Citizenship and Passport Unit at the United States Embassy. The unit will make an appointment for when you need to go in and pay the fee and arrange for it to be mailed to you.
All of this is pretty simple stuff until you get to the “mailed” part of it. Receiving mail on time (or even at all) isn’t something I trust in any part of the Philippines. Using the courier service the embassy contracted is probably the best way to make sure documents get from point A to point B in a reasonable time. If not, registered mail is a lot better than regular mail.
Filling out the PDF form is easy, but you have to print it and send it. You can’t send it any other way. If you don’t have a printer, you’ll have to print it to a file and go somewhere (like an Internet café) to have it printed.
My old passport expired in 2011 and it wasn’t until 2012 that I decided to get a renewal. I rarely looked at it and if I hadn’t been planning a trip for later that year, I may have let it go for a couple of more years. With more than six months until my trip, I wasn’t in a hurry.
I sent my passport application, along with the other required documents, by registered mail. Thirteen days later, I received an e-mail message from the embassy with the instructions for going there to pay the fee. Two days later, I went to the embassy.
I was given a choice. I could have a courier deliver the new passport to me (at extra cost, of course), have it sent to me by regular mail or return to pick it up. The clerk told me I wouldn’t receive any notification when it was ready to be picked up, so I needed to call in two to three weeks to check on it. I chose to pick it up. I didn’t plan to call for three or four weeks.
Despite what they told me, I received an e-mail message a week later, telling me my passport was ready to be picked up. I intended to go the following week. Four days later, I received a phone call from the passport office repeating what the e-mail message said. I asked about it, and I was told it wasn’t normal procedure - the officer in charge wanted to make sure all the expats got taken care of as quickly as possible.
Three days later, I went to Metro Manila to pick up the passport and that’s the end of the story. I don’t have to worry about getting another renewal until after 2022 and before the 15-year date in 2027. That is, as long as I don’t have to travel close to the expiration date in 2022.
I could have used a courier in 2012 and I’m sure that’s what I’ll do the next time around if I’m in the Philippines at the time. When I looked at the instruction page today, I noticed the fee is $110 in cash (dollars or the peso equivalent), which probably includes the receiving fee.
My daughter-in-law, Cathy, is submitting an application for a United States passport for her son (my grandson) at the post office in Waialua, Hawaii in a few days. The application fee is $80 and the receiving fee is $35. That’s $115 already. Since he has to have a photo, they charge another $15 for that.