Guidelines on Provision of Consular Services in Consular Offices
The Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) will be resuming operations for some of its Consular Offices (COs) on 04 May 2020*, with the rest following suit after the end of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
However, the public is informed that there will be several precautionary health measures that will be enforced to ensure the health and safety of the public and the attending personnel. These measures will continue to be implemented in all COs once operations resume following the end of the extended ECQ.
As prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH) for all workplaces, the DFA will implement minimum health standards, which includes basic precautionary measures such as physical distancing, to ensure the safety of all applicants and attending personnel and service staff. The following are the guidelines that shall be followed in all of DFA’s COs:
1. SCHEDULING OF APPOINTMENT VIA E-MAIL
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 e-mail is sent, instructions shall be given on how to proceed with the application.
TYPE OF CONSULAR SERVICE TO BE AVAILED
2. OBSERVING PHYSICAL DISTANCING MEASURES
- 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.
3. PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS AND OTHER ILLNESSES
- 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.
Applicants are expected to follow the instructions and advice from Consular Office personnel in order to ensure their safety. Those who fail to do so will be accompanied out of the Consular Office.
Due to the limited number of applicants that can be physically accommodated in our Consular Offices resulting from COVID-19 precautionary measures, the public may experience some delays beyond the time period it normally takes to process applications for consular services.
The Department prioritizes the safety of the public and of its personnel, and appeals for the public’s continued patience and understanding as adjustments are made to operate under the “new normal” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.END
*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).