My visit to the Philippine Embassy never ceases to be an experience of surprise, confusion, and embarrassment. It likely has less to do with the Philippine Embassy itself than that I only go every few years, when my passport is due to expire. I will probably remember only 50% of my previous experience, and rules have likely been adjusted in some form since that time.
I was last at the Embassy in mid-May to renew my passport. This post is a walk-through of my experience, but I’ll also highlight what things have changed since my previous passport renewal visits.
The question of applying for citizenship has come up often, but that’s another post entirely. I’ll save that for later. For anyone that has conflicting information than what I have written below, please DO correct me. I’m sure I did a lot of things wrong and didn’t see a lot that I should have.
Philippine Embassy Pre-Reqs:
These items are covered on the website, as well as through posted signs in the offices.
- Filled out renewal application (this one is for expired or expiring within a year, which is what I had.)
- A photocopy of your ID and passport (BW is acceptable)
- DO NOT have passport photos taken. They will take a photo there, but make sure you dress appropriately. A full list of rules and requirements are listed here.
- CASH, money order, or cashier’s check only. I prefer cash as it allows you to make some extra decisions on extra services on the moment. I ended up spending less by option to pick up my passport vs having it mailed. If I didn’t have cash, my money order or cashier’s check would not have been the right amount. They do give change, if you don’t have the exact amount.
- GO ALONE. Unless you have a companion that also needs renewal, have minors, or need physical assistance, they will not allow you to bring friends. If you are the exception, you are allowed ONE (1) companion only. People did get kicked out by security.
- EAT and DRINK moderately beforehand. No food or drinks inside. The waiting is a wonky in that there is a number system until there isn’t and you’re just waiting to be called in who-knows-what order. Leaving to grab a snack or go to the bathroom could only extend your stay.
- Bring a book. Not a magazine. A book. A magazine would go by too fast. No, you cannot bring your Kindle or iPad. You risk getting kicked out. A man got kicked out for using his phone. I don’t think he even made any noise on it. He could’ve been texting. It’s just not allowed, period. There were many that got away with using their phone by hiding it in their purse or just by plain luck. However, let’s face it… you need this done, so just read your book, okay?
Now, on to the actual experience.
1) The building is, from what I (didn’t) see, UNMARKED. What I mean is that it doesn’t say “PHILIPPINE EMBASSY” anywhere on the building. It just looks like any other office building and you’d have to walk into the building to see that you have the correct address. Being that this is Korea town, simply seeing a large amount of Filipinos is not a complete reliable indicator that the Philippine Embassy is inside, but it helps to use it as a guide.
(Note: For those outside of LA, I’m not sure if it sounds ridiculous to associate Koreatown with Filipinos, but it is quite standard here.)
2) Once inside, check the directory for what floor the embassy is on. In my belief, the floor may have changed. The layout of the office definitely did. (I’ll go into that later.) There are two sets of elevators, so check to see what floors they go to. Each hall of elevators have their own set of floors they go to.
3) Once out of the elevator, it’ll be obvious which side to go to. There is a doorway that has a line/roped area of a line leading into the office. Turn off your cell, put it away and get in line. Just do it.
4) You’ll eventually approach the front desk. Just tell them you need to renew your passport. They will give you a number (like the ones from the deli). My mistake here was that I forgot to make copies of my ID and passport, so I was given my number and directed to the 3rd floor to get copies made. Luckily, I brought more cash than what I needed, so I had the extra dollar to pay for the copies. I requested two copies of each just in case, so I wouldn’t have to go back and lose my spot.
My second mistake here was not asking which side I should go to. The front desk is situated right at the door and is centered between two halves of the waiting room. One side is for passports and the other side is for citizenship, etc. Passports where on the left side when I was there, just make sure to ask.
5) SAVE YOUR NUMBER. You will need this. Grab a seat, take out your book, and watch for your number on the screen on the wall. Yep, just like the deli. But also listen for your number as they sometimes will call a block of numbers to line up at the window. So, it might say “56,” but they may have called out for 56-60 and you gotta make sure to hear it. You are not allowed any electronics, so this should be pretty easy. Just don’t read anything too involving that you get lost in the story.
6) Once they call you up, they will also specify what number window to go to. At this window, they will take:
- Your application form
- Your Deli number
- Your original passport
- Your ID and passport photocopy
- Then you sit back down and wait for your name to be called. I don’t know if this happens in the same order as your number… It didn’t seem to. This is where I mentioned that it may be hard to time a food or bathroom break. You just won’t know when you’re next.
7) Your name will be called with a window number. Go to that window. They will have you sign in on a clipboard. Just wait until the person finishes filling out whatever they need to do on your paperwork, which they probably just got to. They’ll then take your fingerprints digitally. Then, they will take your photo. Be ready! It’s generally a one shot and you’re stuck with that for the next few years.
**note: this happens right at the window, so you’re having your photo taken right in front of everyone. I got a little anxious over this as I know you can tell that I was just trying so hard to be camera ready. I still don’t like my passport photo, but hey, it was better than last time!
8) After this, you will go to the cashier’s window with paperwork that was handed to you. They will ask if you want to do pick up or mailed passport. I chose pick up because it was a good $20+ to arrange for mailing. And sometimes mail gets lost, so why chance it? This also saved me some money, which is good. You get a receipt. KEEP THIS. You will need this receipt to pick up your passport at the specified date. I believe it was 3 weeks from the date. In my case, the cashier specified the date to me, which helped a lot.
In the meantime…
Now, I just wait for that date to arrive. On that day, I return to the Philippine Embassy and walk directly to Window 7 with my receipt to pick up my passport. If there’s anything beyond that, I’ll post an update. In the meantime, that’s what I’m told, easy peasy.
The lady at the window was seemingly a b*itch to the people picking up their passport last time. They said thank you, but walked away calling her names (not quite) under their breath. Passive-aggressive, but I digress. Anyway, I hope she’s in a better mood when I pick up. Yikes.
Picking up the passport was easy peasy! Actually, I got a little worried because I took the day off only to find out that the cashier had given me the wrong date. 1 week too early! Still, I showed up at the window, they double checked for me… And it turned out my passport was ready. I just showed them my receipt and signed for it. Done!