x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Filipinos to book online for passports

The online system will be compulsory for Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates when it starts functioning.

ABU DHABI // Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates renewing their passports in the capital may soon have to book an appointment online.

The embassy in Abu Dhabi said about 40 per cent of the applications it processed each day were from outside the emirate.

Most of those applying make the trip to avoid the long daily queues at the Dubai consulate.

"We plan to have an online appointment system some time next month to decongest the queue at the embassy," said Jose Jacob, the Philippine consul general in Abu Dhabi.

Since March last year, Filipinos in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have been able to apply at the embassy for appointments. But those from other emirates, including Dubai and Fujairah, often turn up without appointments.

"They expect us to process their passport applications immediately," said Mr Jacob. "This has to change."

The online system will be compulsory for Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates when it comes online, he said.

Residents in Abu Dhabi emirate will not need an appointment but priority will be given to those with expired visas, lost passports, children under seven, the elderly and the disabled.

Since the start of the year the consulate has been processing about 180 applications a day, with most appointments booked online - but not all.

"I decided not to secure an appointment in Dubai and to try my luck here," said Norcel Nacorda, 37, an interior designer from Dubai, who took a bus to the capital yesterday. "A friend told me that he didn't have to stand in a long queue to renew his passport."

Darell Quiambao, 25, a waiter in Dubai whose passport expires next month, did the same.

"I accompanied a friend who renewed his passport here and he didn't face any problems getting one of the walk-in slots," Mr Quiambao said.

FilCom, an umbrella group of Filipino community organisations in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, is working with the consulate to run a special session between 8am and 5pm on Fridays for Filipinos who need new passports.

That session is already overbooked, with more than 200 applicants for just 160 slots.

But Geronimo Suliguin, the vice consul in Dubai, said the consulate would try to accommodate those walking in off the street.

Filipinos can sign up for passport renewal appointments by emailing matilynbagunu@yahoo.com.