DFA Courtesy Lane in Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (TOPS) Offices

The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines has set up a dedicated courtesy lane for certain applicant categories who apply for Philippine passports so that they don’t have to go through the regular queue. The priority categories include Overseas Filipino Workers, senior citizens, Persons with Disabilities, solo parents, pregnant women, and minor applicants. 

Are long lines avoidable? Some would say no, but, while it seems like it, there are some ways to reduce the agony of waiting in long lines. After all, there’s no one in this world who has not fantasized about skipping queues, be it on the business side or on the customer side. 

Luckily businesses and other industries have been putting their best efforts into managing their queues. To date, however, they have yet to find a complete solution, though they did create an easier way for certain customers through what is now known as the courtesy lane.

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So what’s with the DFA courtesy lane?

Government offices in the Philippines are notorious for its long lines, but with DFA’s rollout of its new courtesy lane facilities, we are hoping that the Department would be the first to break away from that stereotype, as they deliver faster, more efficient services to their applicants.

As part of the DFA’s attempts at a queue management system that will provide the best queueing solutions especially amid the current health crisis, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) created a special lane facility—an express lane, if you may, which is known to many as the DFA courtesy lane facility reserved for specific types of applicants.

The DFA Courtesy Lane Facilities are created in the form of Temporary Off-Site Passport Service (TOPS) offices. These offices are generally located in different malls with the goal of catering to eligible applicants in terms of simple passport renewals. The TOPS were also created to ensure that the Department will be able to manage faster turn-over of passport applicants per day.

DFA Courtesy Lane in Temporary Off-Site Passport Services philippines

With this lane, the DFA hopes to ease the burden of a selected group of applicants who satisfies the conditions set forth by the department. That said, if the applicant is to fall under any of the categories designated by the DFA, he or she may apply for proof that they are eligible for the exclusive use of this special lane any time. 

Why would an applicant be interested in getting a proof of DFA courtesy lane eligibility?

Getting a proof of eligibility to use the DFA courtesy lane facility means that they can enjoy its many benefits. Though these benefits are only part of what it truly means to have a courtesy lane, we have listed some of the most obvious perks that would prove that your queue life, especially at the DFA offices, is about to be incredibly better, that is if you prove to be eligible for the exclusive use of this facility. 

Here are some of them:

  • Improved employee efficiency

A long queue may be time-consuming both for the employees who manage it and their customers who feel the frustration of waiting in long lines. That said, it is not an easy task for employees to address customer concerns as they also need to spend time calming down frustrated and agitated customers while managing the lines and ensuring that the customers are lining up where they should. This could leave employees frazzled and impatient, and could take up more time that they could have allotted to addressing customer concerns, leading to employee inefficiency.

  • Improved service quality

With the availability of courtesy lanes, employees no longer need to monitor the lines. Because the special lane is meant to be an express lane, the employees only need to focus on the customer without worrying that the throng of people waiting in line are in the wrong place. This will help them provide better service as there is no need to rush the interaction. Because there’s less pressure, employees are also more inclined to go the extra mile, leaving the customers happy with the transaction.

  • Reduced wait times

The restrictions on who can avail of the use of the courtesy lanes, along with the improved employee efficiency, can result in more productive interactions, significantly decreasing the waiting time for each customer. 

  • Higher satisfaction

In general, no one wants to deal with prissy staff or customers. Both sides prefer to interact with happier, less anxious, and more friendly people from either side. Because the courtesy lanes provide better conditions as opposed to regular lines, customers and employees alike can feel more satisfied and happy. 

temporary passport services from DFA

Who can enjoy the benefits of the DFA courtesy lane facility?

As mentioned earlier at the first part of this guide, there is a restriction regarding eligibility of using the DFA courtesy lane facilities. The DFA has put it up for a select group of people, and only if the applicant satisfies the criteria of any of these categories, will they be able to apply or request for a proof of eligibility to use these lanes.

The eligible beneficiaries of the DFA Courtesy Lane facility include those who belong to the following categories:

  • Senior citizens

    • People aged 60 and up or those who are considered as senior citizens may avail of the DFA courtesy lane privileges.
    • A maximum of one (1) adult companion of a senior citizen applicant. The DFA Courtesy Lane privileges can be extended to one adult companion, if and only if they are the senior citizen applicant’s immediate family member or actual traveling companion.
    • The said privileges can also be extended to an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, adult children, or adult sibling only), but they will be required to present a proof of relationship that will validate their relations to the senior citizen applicant (e.g., birth certificate).
    • A traveling companion to a senior citizen may also enjoy the courtesy privileges if they can present proof of travel with the senior citizen (e.g., confirmed flight or hotel booking). They will also need to provide the reason or justification for traveling (e.g., if the traveling companion is a medical escort or a nurse).
  • Persons with disability (PWDs)

    • PWD applicants or those who hold a valid PWD Identification Card.
    • They are generally those individuals who suffer long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments.
    • A PWD applicant may be accompanied by one (1) adult who may also avail of the DFA Courtesy Lane privileges, if and only if they are the PWD applicant’s immediate family member or traveling companion.
    • An immediate family member (i.e., parent, spouse, adult children, or adult sibling only) will need to present a proof of relationship to the PWD applicant (e.g., birth certificate).
    • If the PWD applicant is going with a traveling companion, the traveling companion may avail of the Courtesy Lane privileges. However, he will be required to present proof of travel documents with the PWD applicant (e.g., confirmed flight or hotel booking) and must also state the reason or justification for traveling (e.g., the traveling companion is a medical escort or nurse).
  • Solo Parents

    • Solo parents who wish to apply for a passport or other documents at the DFA may also use the special lane. Under the Philippine law, solo parents can be any of the following:
      • A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity
      • Parent whose spouse died
      • Parent whose spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one year
      • Parent whose spouse was certified by a public medical practitioner as either physically or mentally incapacitated, or both
      • Parent left alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one year
      • Parent whose marriage was annulled and is left with the custody of the children
      • Parent whose spouse abandoned them for at least one year
      • Unmarried mother or father who has preferred to rear his or her children 
      • Any person who solely provides parental care and support to a child
      • Any family member who assumes responsibility of head of family as a result of the death, abandonment, disappearance, or prolonged absence of parents
  • Pregnant women

    • Pregnant applicants can also avail of the privileges of the DFA courtesy lane facility with proper documentation..
  • Minors aged seven (7) years and below with their parents and minor sibling(s)

    • Minor applicants and children aged seven (7) years and below are also eligible for the DFA Courtesy lane facility. However, it is a must that they are accompanied by his or her parents, legal guardian, or their authorized representative. 
    • The adult companion may also be an applicant and will be allowed to avail of the DFA Courtesy Lane privileges.
  • Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)

    • An OFW applicant can use the courtesy lane if he or she can present proof of their OFW status. In the Philippines, Filipinos under the OFW category includes:
      • An Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW is a person from the Philippines who is living and working in another country, typically on a temporary basis. 
      • It includes land-based OFWs and seafarers/sea-based Filipino workers abroad. 
      • Families traveling together with at least one OFW will be considered all OFWs. 

Note that spouses and children of Filipinos, diplomats, foreign officials accredited by the Philippines, returning Filipino tourists are not considered OFWs.

  • Regular government employees

    • This category covers the following type of applicants:
      • Retired Regular Government Employees who have not yet passed 1 year of retirement at the time of application
      • Incumbent Elected Officials down to Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman
  • Other endorsed, exceptional and emergency cases

    • This refers to applicants who were endorsed by Philippine Congress through Department Legislative Liaison Unit (DLLU)
    • It also includes other exceptional and emergency cases

Note that all endorsements are subject to the approval of the Head of Office.

DFA Courtesy Lane in Temporary Off-Site Passport Services

Requirements when applying for Courtesy Lane Eligibility

Courtesy Lane privileges requires the applicant to present a proof of eligibility to be able to enjoy it when they make an appointment at DFA. To request for one, here are some requirements:

  • Proof of the necessity to travel urgently  

Note that the DFA does not accept a booked flight as they typically advise travelers not to book flights if their travel documents are not updated.

For Senior citizens

Senior citizens are those who are 60 years and above. The DFA Courtesy Lane privileges can be enjoyed by one (1) adult traveling companion (whether immediate family member or not) if they have the following documents:

Requirements:

  • Proof of age 
  • Senior Citizen ID (original and 1 photocopy); and,
  • Proof of travel with the senior citizen, if the traveling companion is not an immediate family member (i.e. confirmed flight or hotel booking)

Where to get it: City/Municipal Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs and Airline or Hotel

For People with disabilities (PWDs) 

This also includes privileges for one (1) adult traveling companion (whether immediate family member or not)

Requirements:

  • Proof of disability
  • PWD ID (original and 1 photocopy); and,
  • Proof of travel with the PWD, if the traveling companion is not an immediate family member (i.e. confirmed flight or hotel booking) (1 original)

Where to get it: City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO or MSWDO) and Airline or Hotel

If you need help in getting a PWD ID, you may follow the steps listed in our previous article on How to Get a PWD ID Online: A Complete Guide.

For Solo Parent and his/her dependent children

Requirements:

  • Proof of age 
  • Senior Citizen ID (original and 1 photocopy); and,
  • Proof of travel with the senior citizen, if the traveling companion is not an immediate family member (i.e. confirmed flight or hotel booking)

Where to get it: City/Municipal Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs and Airline or Hotel

To secure a solo parent ID, you may check out this guide on How to Apply for a Solo Parent ID.

For Pregnant women

Requirements:

  • Original copy of Medical Certificate/Record (If pregnancy is not visible)

Where to get it: Hospital, OB-Gynecologist

For minors seven (7) years old and below with their parents and minor sibling(s)

Requirements:

  • PSA Birth Certificate (original and 1 photocopy)

Where to get it: Philippines Statistics Authority

For tips in getting a PSA Birth Certificate, just follow the steps detailed in this guide on How to Request for PSA Birth Certificate.

Additional Requirements for first time minor applicants:

  • PSA Birth Certificate/Report of Birth or PSA Certificate of Foundling (original and 1 photocopy)
  • Passport or Valid Government ID of either parent (original and 1 photocopy)
  • School ID (for 7 years old and above) (original and 1 photocopy)

Where to get it: PSA, DFA, SSS, GSIS, LTO, PRC, OWWA, COMELEC, PNP, City/ Municipal Hall, PhilPost, School

Note that on a case by case basis, other documents may be required for special cases involving minor applicants like the following:

If PSA Document is unreadable

Requirements:

  • Local Copy of Birth Certificate/Report of Birth/Marriage Certificate/Foundling Certificate with readable dry seal (original and 1 photocopy)

Where to get it: Local Civil Registrar

If accompanied by father

Requirements:

  • If parents are married: PSA Marriage Certificate (present original, 1 photocopy)
  • If parents are unmarried: Special Power of Attorney (SPA) and Affidavit of Support and Consent executed by the mother (original)

Where to get it: PSA, Notary Public

If minor is not accompanied by parent/s during application

Requirements:

  • Special Power of Attorney designating minor’s companion to assist (original)
  • Passport or acceptable valid Government ID of authorized adult companion (original and 1 photocopy)

Where to get it: Notary Public, DFA, SSS, GSIS, LTO, PRC, OWWA, COMELEC, PNP, City/ Municipal Hall, PhilPost

If minor is not accompanied by parent/s during application and travel

Requirements:

  • Special Power of Attorney designating minor’s companion to assist (original)
  • Affidavit of Support and Consent executed by the mother (original)
  • Passport or acceptable valid Government ID of authorized adult companion (original and 1 photocopy)
  • Travel Clearance from DSWD (original and 1 photocopy)
  • Adoption papers (original and 1 photocopy)
  • PSA Birth Certificate/Report of Birth or PSA Certificate of Foundling (original and 1 photocopy)

Where to get it: Notary Public, DFA, SSS, GSIS, LTO, PRC, OWWA, COMELEC, PNP, City/ Municipal Hall, PhilPost, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Relevant Court, PSA

For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)

An OFW applicant can use the courtesy lane if he or she can present proof of their OFW status. 

Requirements:

  • Valid OWWA E-card;
  • Valid employment contract;
  • Valid work visa;
  • Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB) stamped at an international border not more than three hundred sixty-four (364) days from the date of application;
  • Expired or canceled working visa or employment contract, along with a Philippine passport with an immigration arrival stamp of not more than three hundred sixty-four (364) days from the date of application.

Where to get it: OWWA Regional Welfare Office, Overseas Employer, Foreign Embassies, Marine Industry Authority

For endorsed, exceptional, and emergency cases

Requirements:

  • Endorsement Letter and Transmittal Letter from DLLU (original copy)
  • Endorsement Letter approved and signed by the Head of Office (original copy)
  • Approval of his or her written request by any of the following Department officials:
    • The Secretary of Foreign Affairs;
    • The Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns; or
    • The Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs.

Where to get it: Senate, House of Representatives Office/agency who endorsed the applicant

Where can eligible applicants avail of the DFA’s Courtesy Lane Facilities?

Aside from DFA Aseana, there are currently 14 Temporary Off-Site Passport Service (TOPS) offices that cater to simple passport renewals and ensure faster turn-over of passport applicants per day. They can be found in the following locations:

DFA-courtesy-lanes-TOPS

TOPS site: SM Aura

Address: 3rd floor Southside, beside Miniso and Gourdo’s, SM Aura Premier 26th Street Corner McKinley Parkway Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Philippines
Supervising Consular Office: NCR Central
1st Floor Lingkod Pinoy Center Robinsons Galleria West Lane Edsa cor. Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City
OIC: Ms. Jo Ann Alonzo
Contact No: (02)8631-0806, (02)8631-0700
Email: ncrcentral.so@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: SM North Edsa

Address: 3/F, the Block (across Kultura), SM City North Edsa
Supervising Consular Office: NCR East
7th Floor SM Megamall Building C, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Avenue Mandaluyong City
OIC: Mr. Edward Yulo
Contact No: (02)8234-2478, (02)8234-5062
Email: ncreast.so@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: SM Mall of Asia

Address: MOA tourist lounge, Level 2 North Main Mall (Ippudo Side), SM Mall of Asia
Supervising Consular Office: DFA Aseana
Contact No: (02) 8 651 9400
Email: oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: Robinsons Las Piñas

Address: Level 2, Food Court (across Daiso), Robinson’s Place Las Piñas
Supervising Consular Office: NCR South
4th Floor Metro Alabang Town Center, Alabang Zapote Road, Muntinlupa City
OIC: Elizabeth A. Alberto
Contact No: (02)8551-1051
Email: dfancrsouth@gmail.com

TOPS site: Robinsons Magnolia

Address: 4th floor, New Wing Building (beside Timezone), Robinson’s Magnolia
Supervising Consular Office: NCR Northeast
Level 2 Ali Mall Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
OIC: Maria Milagros V. Monje
Contact No: (02)8293-0105
Email: ncrnortheast.so@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: Ayala Glorietta 3

Address: 3/F Glorietta 3 (beside Mercury Drug Store), Ayala Avenue, cr. Arnaiz Ave, Makati City
Supervising Consular Office: DFA Aseana
Contact No: (02) 8 651 9400
Email: oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: SM Downtown Olongapo

Address: Sm City Olongapo Downtown, Cinema 2
Supervising Consular Office: DFA Pampanga
2nd Floor Robinsons StarMills, San Fernando City, Pampanga
OIC: Mr. Chester Diaz
Contact No: (045)636-0007, 0933-173-9931
Email: pampanga.rco@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: Robinsons Galleria South (San Pedro)

Address: 3rd Floor, Robinsons Galleria South, San Pedro City, Laguna
Supervising Consular Office: NCR South
4th Floor Metro Alabang Town Center, Alabang Zapote Road, Muntinlupa City
OIC: Elizabeth A. Alberto
Contact No: (02)8551-1051
Email: dfancrsouth@gmail.com

TOPS site: SM Seaside

Address: SM City Seaside Cebu, South Road Properties, Cebu City
Supervising Consular Office: CO Cebu
4th Floor Pacific Mall-Metro Mandaue, UN Ave. cor. MC Briones St., Brgy. Estancia, Mandaue City, Cebu
OIC: Ms. Zenia Clemente
Email: cebu.rco@dfa.gov.ph
For Client inquiries: cebudfa.co@gmail.com

TOPS site: SM Lanang Premier

Address: J.P. Laurel Ave, Agdao, Davao City, 8000 Davao del Sur
Supervising Consular Office: CO Davao
3rd Floor SM City Davao, Quimpo Boulevard, Ecoland Subdivision, Brgy. Matina, Davao City
OIC: Ms. Delza Bayabao
Contact No: (082)285-4885
Email: davao.rco@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: Robinsons Novaliches

Address: 3rd Floor (beside LTO) Robinsons Novaliches, Quirino Highway, Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City
Supervising Consular Office: NCR North
3rd Floor Lingkod Pinoy Center Building B, Robinsons Novaliches, Quirino Highway, Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City
OIC: Mr. Emmanuel Arbado
Contact No: (02)8372-7902
Email: ncrnovaliches.so@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: Newport Mall

Address: 3/F Shop 8, Newport Mall, Pasay City
Supervising Consular Office: DFA Aseana
Bradco Ave. Cr. Macapagal Blvd. Aseana Business Park, Parañaque City
Contact No: (02) 8 651 9400
Email: oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph

TOPS site: SM Manila

Address: 4th Floor,East Wing Atrium SM City Manila Concepcion St. cor. Arroceros St. and San Marcelino St., Manila
Supervising Consular Office: NCR West
5th Floor SM City Manila Concepcion St. cor. Arroceros St. and San Marcelino St., Manila
Contact No: (02) 8536-9995, 0920-503-7256
Email: ncrwest.so@dfa.gov.ph, dfancrwest@gmail.com

TOPS site: Robinsons Lipa

Address: 2nd Floor Former Fashion Gallery, Robinsons Place Lipa, JP Laurel Highway, Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City, Batangas
Supervising Consular Office: CO Lipa
2nd Floor Robinsons Place Lipa, JP Laurel Highway, Mataas na Lupa, Lipa City, Batangas
Contact No: (043)722-0578
Email: lipa.rco@dfa.gov.ph

What are the things to remember when seeking to use the DFA Courtesy lane facility?

  • Senior citizens and PWD applicants have the option to choose between regular or expedited processing of their passport application during regular office hours from Monday to Friday.
  • All other applicants including companions must pay for expedited processing.
  • All applications outside regular hours must pay for expedited processing.
  • Children aged seven (7) years old and below do not need an appointment for their personal appearance at the Passport Division of the DFA in Aseana for the evaluation and processing of their passport applications.
  • Priority is given to those with urgent travel (medical or emergency reasons) needs.
  • Consular Offices are authorized to set their own daily maximum number of applicants based on their operating capacity and the safety and convenience of the public.
  • Applicants who do not meet the requirements for the use of Courtesy Lane may book their appointments at other Temporary Off-Site Passport Service (TOPS) locations through the website http://www.passport.gov.ph,
  • In DFA Aseana, eligible applicants must book their DFA appointments by emailing the Courtesy Lane Section at oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph.
  • Only those with confirmed appointments will be accommodated. Walk-ins will not be entertained in line with existing IATF guidelines on social distancing and the need to limit the number of persons in enclosed spaces.

How to contact the DFA for feedback and complaints related to the courtesy lane facilities?

If, for any reason, you feel the need to send feedbacks or file complaints relating to the DFA Courtesy lane facilities, then here’s how to do it:

For sending feedback

  • Fill out the client feedback form distributed or available at the counter.
  • Drop the accomplished form at the designated drop box located in the front desk.
  • Contact info: +632 8651-9417  or oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph

For filing complaints

  • For filing of complaints, please fill out the Public Assistance and Complaints (PAC) Form and submit to the PAC Desk Officer
  • Complaints may also be filed via email: oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph and/or oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph .
  • Kindly provide the following information:
    • Name of person being complained of
    • Incident
    • Evidence
  • For inquiries and follow-ups, you may contact the following telephone number: +632 8651-9417 directly

For Courtesy Lane, Presidential Complaints Center (PCC), CSC Contact Center ng Bayan (CCB), or the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA)

If you need the Contact Information of Courtesy Lane, Presidential Complaints Center (PCC), CSC Contact Center ng Bayan (CCB), or the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), you may reach them via the following:

  • Courtesy Lane: oca.cl@dfa.gov.ph, +632 8651-9417 
  • Presidential Complaints Center: 8888
  • CSC Contact Center ng Bayan: 0908-881-6565 (SMS)
  • Anti-Red Tape Authority: 8478-5091/ 8478-5099

Final thoughts

With over 14 TOPS offices in different Metro Manila malls now, and the recent announcement that DFA is resuming the TOPS offices operations, after it was temporarily suspended due to the pandemic, eligible applicants can now look forward to faster, more efficient services related to passport applications.

The DFA also announced that the over 2000 unclaimed passports are ready to be released, now that the TOPS operations have resumed. If you are one of those who had been unable to claim the passport they applied for, then you just need to wait for an email confirmation advising their owners that the passport is ready for pickup.

Note that the DFA still discourage passport applicants from going to the releasing centers until they have received the DFA email correspondence with the subject line, “Unclaimed passport inquiry – TOPS (site).”

Did you find this guide helpful? If so, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment box below!

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