dfa8 May 2010 - The Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) said today that the new Philippine ePassport has special features that make it secure, highly credible and compliant with international standards. It is also significantly benefiting the overseas contract workers and other traveling Filipinos.

"The ePassport is designed to facilitate arrival formalities and immigration checks at international airports, and thus less hassle for our kababayans when they enter other countries. It is also making possible faster airline travel arrangements. Most importantly, the security features of the ePassport prevent identify theft and tampering of the passport holder's personal data," the DFA-OCA said.

It is at a price that is comparable to, and in fact, less expensive than ePassports issued by other countries.

The DFA-OCA has embarked on a full implementation of the ePassport at its new offices at the ASEANA Business Park in Paranaque, and in the DFA regional consular offices around the country. The DFA is in the process of implementing the ePassport in Philippine Embassies and Consulates General.

The new Philippine ePassport features an embedded integrated circuit chip that allows faster verification of the identity of the passport holder. In addition to the information found on the data page, it includes the biometric information of the holder, as well as a unique identification number. These and a host of other security features ensure that the ePassport is virtually tamper-proof, and compliant with the high security standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

There are also more pages available in the new ePassport at 44 pages, providing savings to Filipino travelers.

Furthermore, the fee for the new ePassport compares favorably with the epassports issued by other countries. At US$60, it is still one of the least expensive ePassports.

According to a survey, the fees of ePassports in the Asia-Pacific region are as follows: Malaysia - 300 Ringgit (around US$92), New Zealand - NZ$150 (US$101), Japan - ¥11,000 (US$120), and Australia - A$172 (US$153).  Epassport costs €60 (US$77) in France, US$97 in the United States, and £72 (US$107) in the United Kingdom.

The DFA-OCA said that the last time that the passport fee increased was 15 years ago, in 1995. Passport fees was kept at the same level when the country shifted from the manually-scripted passports to the machine-readable passports in July 2007.

For those applying for or renewing their passports, application forms are available for free at the websites of the Embassy or Consulate General in their area. Instructions are also available at the websites to facilitate the application process.

"The DFA will continue to bring world-class passport and consular services for the world-class Filipino. All these bring better and tangible benefits to the Filipino traveler," the DFA-OCA stated. END