With 100's of thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) being deployed abroad each year, it is no wonder that booking appointments for passport-related services in Philippine embassies like in Kuala Lumpur (KL) is always an exercise in humility and patience. While some of us require unusual passport services like lost or mutilated passport applications, most of us, I can confidently say, only need a well-ordered and unproblematic passport renewal application process.
That is why it is laudable that the Philippine government, in partnership with BLS International, had recently established the BLS - Philippine Passport Renewal Center (PaRC) last Nov. 16, 2021. In its announcement, the government stated that
it aims to address the need for the delivery of simple (electronic passport) e-passport renewal services to OFWs in Malaysia.
Simple e-passport renewals are defined as those applications that DO NOT REQUIRE changes to the applicant's biographical details.
Any other type of application can only be processed in the Philippine embassy in KL.
Sounds great. But what gives?
Reasons why OFWs should renew their passports at BLS PaRC
- It is conveniently located and accessible via public transport. It is a walking distance away from the nearest Kuala Lumpur Monorail station, Stesen Medan Tuanku.
- They have favourable office hours. That means six days a week, from Tuesday till Sunday, 10AM to 7PM. Except holidays of course.
- Easy-to-use appointment booking system. The user-friendliness of the BLS PaRC website and booking system is a breath of fresh air. A schedule's availability is visually indicated and the appointment application form is quite straightforward.
- Clean, air-conditioned office and friendly staff. The BLS PaRC office is a conducive environment for official business transactions. Perfect for those of us who don't want to be too inconvenienced while waiting.
Reasons why OFWs SHOULD NOT renew their passports at BLS PaRC
- Additional processing/convenience fee of RM 113. This is on top of the standard fees collected at the Philippine embassy if one processes the renewal there.
- You require passport services that are more than simple. According to the Philippine embassy facebook announcement, applications that fall under the categories below CANNOT BE PROCESSED in BLS PaRC.
New passport applications
Lost passport applications
Mutilated passport applications
Renewal of green and maroon passports
Renewal WITH CHANGES to biographical details
Guide to passport renewal application at the BLS PaRC
The following is a breakdown of the several steps that I followed while processing my passport renewal application at BLS PaRC. I divided them into three stages, each of them containing details that, hopefully, can make your experience as smooth as mine. Nevertheless, your mileage may vary.
Before the application
Schedule an appointment
- Go to the booking page and schedule an appointment there. Pick a date and time that is convenient for you. It is hard to commit a mistake here since the allowable days are clearly indicated by colour: green available, red not available!
- Upon selecting a schedule, an application form will appear below the legends table. Scroll down to see it.
- Accurately fill-in all the required fields. You will not be able to proceed to the next step if details are missing. Make sure to provide a valid email address because an appointment confirmation will be sent there.
- Once the confirmation is received, print a copy and include it with the rest of your other required documents.
- Download, print and fill-in completely the passport application form with all your biographical details. The forms are available here: for adults and for minors.
- Take a photo copy (or two) of your current passport's data page.
- Secure your original and current e-passport.
- Print a copy of the appointment confirmation email that you have received after booking an appointment in the previous step.
- Gather all the documents and place them in an envelope, mainly, to have an easier way to access them later on.
- Prepare the payment in CASH, according to the enumerated fees below
- Standard fees include
Consular fee - RM 288
Passport revolving fee - RM 24
BLS processing fee - RM 113
- Additional but optional fees are to be expected should you want to avail of the extra services that they offer
SMS and Email alert - RM 10
Photocopy - RM 1
Form filling - RM 30
Courier West Malaysia - RM 75
Courier East Malaysia - RM 85
Based on the fees as of February, 2022.
During the appointment day
Check-in at BLS PaRC
- Wear decent clothing. You are going to a business appointment so it is best to look respectable. Besides, a photo of you will be taken a little later.
- Be early, at least 15 mins ahead of your scheduled appointment. Everybody who arrives will be checked-in by the guard-on-duty. Depending on the number of people on your chosen appointment date, this could take a while. Prepare the documentary requirements and present them to the guard.
- Once checked-in, a priority number will be given to you. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called.
Documents verification and payment
- Submit the documents to the counter where it will be evaluated and verified. The details on the application form, especially, will be carefully checked for completeness.
- The payment will be taken here as well, so prepare your cash. Additionally, the evaluator will explain and ask if you intend to avail of the optional services. If so, make sure to ready the cash for that too.
- Once verified, nn official receipt, that contains a reference number, will be issued to you along with some instructional brochure which describes, among other things, how to track your application later on.
At this stage of the application, all your biographical details, photo, digital signature and fingerprints will be recorded and collected.
- An authorised Filipino personnel will encode the details which you have written in your application form. A separate computer screen, facing you, is present to enable you to see your details as they are being encoded. Pay extra attention to any typos and spelling mistakes that maybe inputted during the process. Point them out immediately so they can be corrected right away.
- Once the encoding is done, and you have carefully verified their correctness, biometric data collection will follow.
- Photo - Take care that your face and upper body is as natural as it can be, free from heavy makeup, jewellery and other ornaments.
- Fingerprints - See that you apply the right pressure on the digital scanner. Be alert on the instructions of the encoder because you may have to press more on the device or move your fingers a little bit to fully capture your prints.
- Digital signature - Write in your signature using the digital tablet and pen provided to you while you preview it on the screen.
Rejoice! You are done!
After the renewal application
Tracking the passport application
According to their website, it takes four to six weeks after submission for the passport renewal application to be completed. THERE IS NO option to expedite this. Keep this in mind as it might affect your other appointments or plans.
- An application tracking form is available for you, at anytime, to input the reference number and your date of birth to get a status of your application. Not unlike how we track a parcel in one of those courier services that we are all familiar with by now.
- Additionally, you can also call or email them should you have more questions.
Personal passport collection (if you chose personal)
Finally, your new passport has arrived.
- If you opted to personally collect the new passport at the BLS PaRC, bring with you the official receipt and your old passport.
- Present to the personnel on duty your official receipt and old passport to get a priority number. Take a seat while your new passport and the collection acknowledgement form are being prepared.
- Proceed to the releasing counter when your number is called to receive your new passport.
- EXTRA CAREFULLY CHECK for any typos and other wrong biographical details in the new passport data page. Hopefully there are none as this will entail further processing time to correct the errors.
- Once you have verified that the details are true and correct, confirm it with the authorised personnel in the counter. They will then invalidate your old passport by punching holes on the cover. Say a silent thank you to it for its years of service to you.
- Finally, sign the collection acknowledgement form to affirm that the document has been collected.
"The applicant can also request a representative to claim the Passport, bringing along the applicant’s old Passport, official receipt, duly notarised authorisation letter and an identification card/Passport of the authorised representative."
Overall, it was a pleasant experience.
More options are always good! Everybody's circumstance is different though. If you were like me who find themselves needing to renew their passports at the soonest time possible, having the facility at BLS PaRC was a great boon. It eased the feeling of dread for not having the valid papers to proceed with my other business transactions. It removed the anxiety of waiting at 8AM each day to get a chance to book an un-guaranteed appointment slot in the embassy's relatively outmoded system.
While it would have been great if the Philippine embassy could just accommodate us all, it is still commendable that they were able to find a way to alleviate the difficulty in getting an available slot for passport-related services, albeit for a small additional fee. I hope that this starts a trend of service improvements for OFWs, not only in Malaysia, but worldwide.
Interested? Reach out to BLS PaRC through the details below.