Saturday, May 24, 2008

MRP to be launched at the Embassy

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio P. Villamor

The Philippine Embassy wishes to inform the Filipino community as well as all Saudi companies and individuals employing Filipino workers that, upon instruction by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is scheduled to begin the implementation of the Machine Readable Passport project on 31 May 2008.

Following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the MRP, for guidance:

What is MRP?

A machine-readable passport is a passport where the data on the identity page is encoded in optical character recognition format, and is capable of being read by a passport machine reader at international borders.

Why MRP?

One of the benefits of having an MRP is the faster processing of arriving passengers by immigration officials at ports or borders.

Moreover, MRP is more secure compared to manually read passports that preceded them. The public can rest assured that it is tamper-resistant and fully compliant with the standards and requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Philippine MRP, which comes in maroon cover, also has more pages (44) than the old, green passport (32).

What are some of the security features of the MRP?

The security features of the Philippine MRP include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) watermarked paper and colored fibers
2) ultraviolet (UV)-reactive inks
3) a combination of security prints, such as fine lines with modulation, guilloche design, art screen and dash effects and microtext
4) laser-perforated alpha-numeric serial numbers
5) security laminates that are ultra thin with strong adhesion to prevent chemical, thermal or mechanical forgery
6) high-level origination and high image definition
7) high security animated and color switch optical imaging
8) nano imaging

All relevant government agencies as well as foreign governments have been fully apprised of the features of the new Philippine passport and are thus able to detect forgeries and discrepancies which are prejudicial to those using forged or fake passports.

What are the important changes in the procedure of application for MRP?

Many OFWs have been quite familiar with the requirements and procedure for passport application. However, some significant changes have been introduced into the process of applying for and securing an MRP, to wit:

1) Personal appearance is required for everyone applying for new, renewal of old passport, and replacement of lost passport, except for minors below 8 years old and those over 65 years old. This is so that they can affix their thumb marks and sign the MRP printable form.

2) In compliance with international standards, passport size photos to be submitted must have a royal blue, instead of white, background. The size of the facial image should be at least 70-80% of the photo. This is very important since improper photos or mishandling of the photos will result in outright rejection of the passport application.

The detailed guidelines on the submission of new photo requirement for MRP can be found at the Philippine Embassy website: or at the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

3) After the usual verification, processing and payment of SR200.00, the applicant will proceed to the designated area and present his/her verified and processed application form for encoding. The applicant shall affix his/her fingerprints and signature on the MRP printable form, also called the Computer Generated Format (CGF), upon making sure that all the data contained therein are correct.

4) All the CGFs will then be sent via special diplomatic pouch on a weekly basis to the Department of Foreign Affairs office at the PICC where the printing of MRPs is centrally located.

5) Due to the centralized system of printing and maintaining passport database in Manila, the turnaround time for the release of the MRPs at the Foreign Service Establishments will be thirty (30) calendar days.

Thus, it is extremely important that all the documentary and procedural requirements are carefully observed to avoid unnecessary delay or inconvenience.

Can applicants have their old passports back while waiting for their MRPs?

Old passports submitted for renewal will be returned to the applicants and, if still valid, will not be cancelled immediately. But they will have to present their old passports again to the Embassy for cancellation upon the release of their new Machine Readable Passports.

Can all walk-in applicants be accommodated?

As much as possible, the Embassy wishes to serve all passport applicants arriving on any given day. However, due to the human and logistical constraints in launching the new system, the Embassy will adopt a progressive system of implementation.

During the first week from the start of the MRP implementation (May 31 – June 5), the Embassy can accommodate only up to 100 applicants a day including the usual Thursday morning schedule. In the second week (June 7 – 11 only since June 12 is an official holiday), the Embassy can accept a maximum of 120 applicants per day. In the next third and fourth weeks (June 14 – 26), 150 applicants will be served. After which, the Embassy may receive up to 200 applicants per day.

In addition, during the first month (May 31 – June 26) of MRP issuance, the Embassy would give priority to those whose passports are scheduled to expire in less than three (3) months time. Those whose passports are still valid for more than three (3) months will be asked to apply later.

What will happen to the old, green passports?

The old, green passport or the Machine Readable Ready Passport (MRRP) will remain valid up to its date of expiration. Until then, there is no need to have it renewed unless required by immigration authorities for visa issuance. However, the supply of this type of passport is now very limited and unstable. As the Embassy shifts to the much improved MRPs, the delivery of the service will progress on a gradual basis until it reaches optimum level in one month’s time.

What options are available for those who need a passport immediately?

Those who unfortunately find themselves in emergency situations (e.g. sudden death in the family or repatriation for medical treatment) and urgently need to renew their expired passports may apply for either the old, green passport or Travel Document.

Will there still be “Embassy on Wheels” to serve Filipino communities outside Riyadh?

In consideration of the travel time and cost that will be incurred by most passport applicants in faraway places outside the Riyadh region, the Embassy will resume its outreach service called “Embassy on Wheels” to process their passport applications. Such service can be brought back to Al-Khobar at the end of June 2008 once the necessary preparations are completed.

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