Non-machine readable passports out by 2015

By Florante Catanus, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Dec 28 2012 12:08 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2012 08:08 PM

DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia - The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requires that all non-machine readable passports should be out of circulation before November 24, 2015. This was revealed by Ambassador Ezzedin Tago of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh in a recent advisory to the Filipino community.

Sample of a non-machine readable passport

The embassy advised overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families in the kingdom to secure an ePassport to avoid problems in the future.

The advisory stated that a non-machine readable passport that is valid for less than six (6) months or the one that has already expired may be extended in the following instances (in accordance with DFA instructions):

• Death in the family requiring the OFW and members of his/her dependent family to urgently travel to the Philippines;
• Medical emergencies requiring the OFW and members of his/her dependent family to urgently travel to the Philippines or another country for medical treatment;
• OFWs returning to their employers abroad with valid employment contracts processed by the POEA; and
• Those going home on final exit visas.

The above should be supported by proof of urgency such as copy of the death certificate, medical certificate, valid employment contract processed by the POEA or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office of the Embassy or the Consulate, along with plane ticket with confirmed flight details.

The advisory further explains that once extension is granted, the following conditions shall then apply:

• The extension shall only be done once and shall not be beyond 30 October 2015.
• The applicant shall also apply for an ePassport at the same time the application for the extension is filed with the Embassy or Consulate.
• Payment of the consular fees for the extension of the passport and the application for the ePassport; and
• The extended passport shall be submitted for cancellation on the date of the release of the ePassport.

However, those who are going home on final exit visas will not be required to apply for ePassports with the embassy and the consulate.

Applications for extension of the validity of persons who will be travelling for visit or tourism purposes only shall not be given due course.

The embassy reiterated its call on all applicants to schedule an appointment for the renewal of their passports through its website

The online appointment system allows the passport applicant to choose the date and time of their preferred appointment. The system will then send confirmation on their e-mail after a successful booking of appointment.

It no longer accepts appointments for passport by text or phone call due to difficulties in managing the text appointments.

Also, the embassy discourages multiple bookings made by a single applicant to maximize the appointment slots of applicants in one day. In case the applicant wishes to change his/her appointment schedule, he/she needs to cancel the appointment to allow other applicant to book on the vacated slot.