We had our share of doubts on getting a passport through a travel agency, but the conveniences this option offers still prevailed over our hesitations.
We sought the assistance of Land and Sky Travel Service and paid P1,000 for each passport (regular processing) instead of P500. I have inquired in other travel agencies at the Victoria Plaza Mall, and their rates range from P1,200 to P1,500.
Having gone through the process (see the next entry for a step-by-step account of the process we went through), I would say that these are the main advantages of agency-aided passport applications:
1. No falling in line. The agency’s liaison guided us straight to the receiving area. Others had to fall in line at least 4 times! That would be twice outside the building and twice inside the receiving area. The first is to get an application form while the second is to get a priority number after you have filled out the form. The third is to have your documents checked and fourth, to pay for the passport fees.
2. Less waiting. We overheard the lady behind us that she was there since morning. My husband and I, on the other hand, went in at 2 PM and left at 3:30PM. We could have finished earlier, but I had to repeat the thumb marking process since my marks were too dark.
3. One time visit to DFA. The agency facilitates the collection of their clients’ passports from DFA, once issued. The agency just gave us a call to inform that the passports are ready for pick-up at any time of our convenience. That’s the main reason we chose an agency located in SM City, which is the nearest mall from our place.
4. Someone checks your documents before you excuse yourself from work to make a personal appearance in DFA. You don’t need to go through 3 queues before someone tells you that your documents are not complete or not admissible.
Now, if you ask me if the convenience was worth the extra P500, I would say that it definitely is. 😉
Check the article DFA: Delays For All by Dindin Velasco of the Sun Star Davao. She made a recount of her own experience in getting a passport. Actually, hers was a renewal, but the process she described was very similar. Her article was dated April 14, 2008. We applied for our passports last month (July 2008) and received them last week.