The front cover of a contemporary Philippine biometric passport.
The data page of the biometric passport with its machine-readable zone and digitally-captured signature.
|Type of document||Passport|
|Eligibility requirements||Philippine citizenship|
A Philippine passport is a travel document and is a Primary National ID issued to citizens of the Philippines. It is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Philippine diplomatic missions abroad, with certain exceptions. Besides facilitating international travel and conferring diplomatic assistance to Filipinos overseas, a Philippine passport is considered a primary form of identification in the Philippines particularly because there is no national identity card system in the country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs started issuing maroon machine-readable passports since September 17, 2007, and biometric passports since August 11, 2009. The green colored cover non-electronic passports are still acceptable until they expire. Philippine passports are printed at the Security Plant Complex of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
The nature of passports in Pre-Hispanic and Spanish-Era Philippines is generally unknown, and the earliest forms have been issued since the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946. Passports were ordered to be printed in Filipino for the first time under Diosdado Macapagal, to be subsequently implemented under Ferdinand Marcos. Currently, it is printed in Filipino with English translations.
With the adoption of the current constitution in 1987, the power of issuing passports was transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the current Department of Foreign Affairs. The Philippine Passport Act 1996 governs the issuance of Philippine passports and travel documents. Philippine passports are only issued to citizens, while travel documents (under Section 13) may be issued to citizens who have lost their passports overseas as well as permanent residents who cannot obtain passports or travel documents from other countries. 
On May 1, 1995, green covers were instituted on regular passports for the first time, and barcodes were inserted in passports in 2004. The new security-enhanced passport is a pre-requisite to the issuance of new machine-readable passports which was issued on September 17, 2007. The Philippines used to be one of the few countries in the world and formerly the only country in Southeast Asia that did not issue machine-readable regular passports, although machine-readable official passports have been issued since June 18, 2007.
In 2006, the DFA in cooperation with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas started a five-year passport modernization project designed to issue new Philippine machine-readable passports (MRP). However, an injunction was issued against the project by a lower court, only to be overturned by the Supreme Court and ordering the DFA and the BSP to continue the project.
The new machine-readable passport is designed to prevent tampering through the use of a special features embedded in the passport cover, similar to other machine-readable passports. It will also have more pages than a current passport (44 pages instead of the present 32) and processing and releasing times are expected to be accelerated, however currently for overseas processing of passports the wait time is up to ten weeks.
It is also believed that Philippine machine-readable passports will be used in the fight against terrorism. Because of this, personal appearance for applying the new MRP passport is now required and cannot be bypassed. Also, fingerprints are registered into passport and microprinting is found all over the data page of the passport.
It was initially rumoured that effective January 2010 onwards, all handwritten (green) passports will no longer be valid regardless of their original expiration date. Officials from the DFA clarified that the green passports will expire as scheduled on their original expiration dates. However, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requires all member states to issue machine-readable passports by April 2010, hence some countries may deny entry to Filipinos still in possession of the green, hand-written passports.
In late July 2008, the DFA has announced plans and the possible implementation of a new Biometric Passport System for new passports. It is expected that the government will start issuing biometric passports by the end of 2009. On August 11, 2009, the first biometric passport was released for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The new e-passport has various security features, including a hidden encoded image; an ultra-thin, holographic laminate; and a tamper-proof electronic microchip costing at around 950 pesos for the normal processing of 20 days or 1,200 pesos for the rush processing of 10 days.[not in citation given]
With the declaration of martial law on September 23, 1972, travel restrictions were imposed on Philippine citizens. A letter of instruction restricted the issuance of passports to members of the Philippine diplomatic service, although this was relaxed in 1981 with the lifting of martial law.
In 1983, there were orders from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to issue any passports to the Aquino family. Despite the government ban, Ninoy Aquino was able to acquire one with the help of Rashid Lucman, a former congressman from Mindanao. The passport identified him as Marciál Bonifacio, an alias derived from "martial law" and Fort Bonifacio, where he was detained.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, passports were stamped with limitations prohibiting travel to South Africa (because of apartheid) and Lebanon (because of the civil war). Passports were previously stamped prohibiting travel to Iraq due to the ongoing violence and because of the Angelo de la Cruz kidnapping in 2004. However, passports printed after July 1, 2011 no longer bear this stamp.
Types of passports
There are three types of Philippine passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). These are currently designated by the colors maroon (regular), red (official), and dark blue (diplomatic).
A regular passport is issued to any citizen of the Philippines applying for a Philippine passport. It is the most common type of passport issued and is used for all travel by Philippine citizens and non-official travel by Philippine government officials. Since September 17, 2007, all new Philippine passports have been issued with maroon covers.
An official passport is issued to members of the Philippine government for use on official business, as well as employees of Philippine diplomatic posts abroad who are not members of the diplomatic service. It is the second of two passports issued to the President and the Presidential family. As such, this passport does not extend the privilege of diplomatic immunity. Government officials are prohibited from using official passports for non-official business, and as such also have regular passports. This passport has a red cover.
A diplomatic passport is issued to members of the Philippine diplomatic service, members of the Cabinet, service attachés of other government agencies assigned to Philippine diplomatic posts abroad and Philippine delegates to international and regional organizations. It is the first of two passports issued to the President of the Philippines and the Presidential family. This passport has a dark blue cover and extends to the bearer the privilege of diplomatic immunity.
Passports issued during the latter years of the Fourth Republic had the order reversed (strikingly similar to the United States passport), with "PASAPORTE" on top and "REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS" on the bottom. All passports issued since this period have the cover in Filipino.
A typical passport has 44 (previously 32 or 64) pages.
Philippine passports are bilingual, with both issued text and information page data in Filipino followed by English translations. Brown passports once had all the Filipino text written with diacritics; this was discontinued in the green and maroon passports.
Philippine passports have different styles of data pages. Old brown passports have both a data and physical description page, with the picture located on the description page rather than the data page; these are separated by the passport note. Green passports issued before 2004 have the data page on the inner cover followed by the passport note page. Passports issued after 2004 have the passport note and data pages reversed, with the passport note on the inner cover page.
The data page contains the following information:
- Passport type (P)
- Country code (PHL)
- Passport number
- Passport numbers vary with each type of passport. Brown passports have a letter followed by six numbers, while green passports issued before 2005 have two letters followed by six numbers. Passports issued after 2005 (including machine-readable and biometric passports) have two letters followed by seven numbers.
- A bearer's last name goes first, followed by the first names and middle name (mother's maiden last name)
- Nationality (Filipino)
- Date of birth (written in the European date format with months abbreviated)
- Sex (M or F)
- Date of issue
- Date of expiry
- A Philippine passport is valid for five years from the date of issue. Passports issued from 1981 to 1986 were valid for two years and may be extended for another two years.
- Issuing authority
- Valid issuing authorities for Philippine passports include the main office of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, branch offices of the DFA located in certain cities around the Philippines, and Philippine embassies and consulates.
- Signature of bearer (for biometric passports)
With new maroon-covered passports, the passport data page ends with the Machine Readable Zone. This zone is absent in green-covered passports.
Philippine passports are known for having handwritten data entries rather than typed or computerised, although this is common only for passports issued in the Philippines. This practice is called "scripting" by the DFA. Passports issued by Philippine diplomatic missions typically have data entries typed rather than written. Machine-readable passports have their entries entered by computer.
The passports contain a note from the issuing state that is addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of that state and requesting that he or she be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note is first written in Filipino followed by the English translation:
- "Ang Pamahalaan ng Republika ng Pilipinas ay humihiling sa lahat na kinauukulan na pahintulutan ang pinagkalooban nito, isang mamamayan ng Pilipinas, na makaraan nang malaya at walang sagabal, at kung kailangan, ay pag-ukulan siya ng lahat ng tulong at proteksyon ayon sa batas."
- "The Government of the Republic of the Philippines requests all concerned authorities to permit the bearer, a citizen of the Philippines, to pass safely and freely and in case of need to give him/her all lawful aid and protection."
A Philippine passport is invalid if the passport is not signed, and normally the bearer affixes his/her signature on the signature field, whose position has varied with various incarnations of Philippine passports. Persons too young to sign a passport previously may have a parent or legal guardian sign the passport on their behalf, although this has since been prohibited.
Brown passports originally contained the signature field below the data page at the passport's inner cover. When green passports began being issued in 1995, a field where the bearer must sign the passport appeared below the passport note.
Machine-readable passports originally had no signature field, a source of much controversy as Filipinos applying for foreign visas, whether for travel or employment, have either been requested to get a copy of their passport application form, or denied altogether. Newer versions of this passport eventually had the signature field at the back cover, below the important reminders for Philippine passport holders, while older versions have the field stamped on.
Biometric passports are the only Philippine passports which do not require the physical signature of the bearer, as an image of the bearer's signature is printed onto the passport data page.
The new biometric Philippine passport costs 950 pesos (approximately $21) in the Philippines or $60 abroad. Overtime processing for new passports costs an additional 250 pesos. Persons who take advantage of overtime processing get their passports within ten working days, but is only available in the Philippines. Passports previously could amended for 100 pesos (approx. $2.50) in the Philippines or $20 abroad, although machine-readable passports are no longer amendable.
Lost or stolen passports may be replaced for 700 pesos (approx. $15) in the Philippines, $90 abroad.
The DFA also offers other channels for the public to apply for their passports. Aside from the traditional on site application process, there is also a DFA Express Passport Delivery hotline (02)737–1000 where an individual can call, inquire, and have his passport picked-up, processed and delivered to his doorstep. The third option is an online application process at www.passport.com.ph , which has a similar door-to-door delivery feature. However, there are many complaints regarding the door-to-door delivery feature the DFA offers, and the complainants often suggest to just pick it up personally or by an authorized 3rd-party. These include a delay of at least one week and non-notification of the passport recipient of the delay in the delivery of their passports. The DFA Multi-purpose Cooperative (DFAMPC) which is responsible for the delivery (as of July 2011), is hard if not impossible to contact regarding delayed passports.
- Visa requirements for Filipino citizens
- Department of Foreign Affairs
- Foreign relations of the Philippines
- Philippine nationality law
- Republic Act No. 8239: Philippine Passport Act of 1996
- Old RP passports out, new hi-tech passports in, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, August 16, 2007
- DFA: ‘RP passport exposes Filipinos to discrimination’, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 13, 2007
- DFA issues machine-readable passports to govt execs, Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 13, 2007
- Philippine Embassy Issues Clarification On Validity Of Green Passports – http://www.philippineembassybrunei.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=154:philippine-embassy-issues-clarification-on-validity-of-green-passports&catid=10:press-releases&Itemid=48
- http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090811-219798/President-gets-first-RP-electronic-passport "President gets first RP electronic passport"
- Services – INQUIRER.net
- Passport General Information
- Passport system causing visa applicants, travel agents headaches, The Philippine Star, May 2, 2008
- "DFA – Passport not delivered as scheduled"
- Online Passport Application and Requirements
- Guidelines on how to apply for a Philippine passport
- Application form for Philippine passports (Front Page)
- Government Citizen Services