Travel agencies given extension on passport processing services

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DFA spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez: One-year extension for travel agencies. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has allowed travel agencies to continue offering passport processing services to their clients for another year after they appealed for an extension of their accreditation, which lapsed on June 20.

DFA spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said, “The accreditation period for travel agencies will begin next month and will last until June 2014. The DFA has also issued new guidelines on the matter. Under the new guidelines, there will be no special privileges for passport applicants who go through travel agencies.”

“The only difference between applicants who go through travel agencies and those who do not is the former may pay the processing fee at any Landbank branch,” he added.

Under the guidelines, travel agents may make online passport application appointments for their clients and payment via Landbank branches will be allowed. Hernandez said travel agencies may also offer assistance in collating the requirements for their clients, including securing their birth certificates.

Applicants must, however, personally appear in the DFA consular office of their choice for the actual application procedure, where their biometric data will be scanned and recorded.

“The guidelines do not prevent travel agencies from assisting those who are willing and have the means to avail themselves of the services they offer. The guidelines are intended to allow ordinary passport applicants to enjoy the same special treatment travel agency clients enjoy but at no extra cost to them,” said Hernandez.—Tarra Quismundo

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