The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released its guidelines for stakeholders transacting at Consular Offices (COs).
In compliance with the Department of Health’s (DOH) protocols for all workplaces, the DFA will implement the minimum health standards.
DFA New Normal Guidelines on Consular Offices
- All applications for consular services, including those to be coursed through the Courtesy Lane as well as the Diplomatic and Official Passports section, are to be made by appointment via email unless otherwise indicated. Once the e-mail is sent, instructions shall be given on how to proceed with the application.
- If available, all applicants are strongly encouraged to avail of online payments for consular services. Payment process at the Consular Offices shall likewise follow strict physical distancing measures.
- If available, collection of passports and other consular documents through courier delivery should be availed to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. For those not availing of courier delivery, collection of passports and consular documents shall be done strictly by appointment.
- Consular officials and security personnel shall constantly monitor the number of people inside the Consular Office at any given time in observance of physical distancing measures and to minimize the risk of infection.
- Companions of applicants for consular services will not be allowed entry, except for those who need assistance upon the determination of security personnel at the gate. Only one companion will be allowed per qualified applicant.
- In compliance with DOH guidelines, appropriate markers will be placed on the floor or at seating areas to ensure that applicants in the waiting area are at least two (2) meters from each other.
- When presenting documents to the attending officer, applicants must lay down all documents on the counter and avoid handing documents directly to the officer.
- Applicants must leave the premises/office immediately once they have completed their transactions.
- Those who are 60 years old and above, those with compromised immune systems, and others considered by the Department of Health (DOH) to be vulnerable are advised NOT to proceed with their applications for consular services at this time. Payments already made by these applicants would remain valid until such time that they can proceed to the Consular Office to complete their applications. In cases of urgent need, they may send an email to OCA or the concerned CO on how they may be accommodated.
- Applicants who are not considered vulnerable and are otherwise healthy must wear masks in order to be allowed entry into the Consular Offices.
- All persons entering Consular Offices will be subjected to temperature checks at the entrance.
- Individuals with body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius and/or those exhibiting COVID-like symptoms (e., coughing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, diarrhea, body pains) will not be allowed entry into the Consular Office and will be advised to return at a later date. In all other cases, the Department reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone it deems a health or safety risk.
Those who fail to follow the above-mentioned health and safety protocols will be accompanied out of the Consular Office.
Included in the list of COs that will resume its operations and serve the public starting 04 May 2020 are the COs in Cotabato, La Union, Puerto Princesa, Santiago, and Tuguegarao. The rest of the COs in Luzon will still be closed until the end of the Extended Community Quarantine (ECQ).