The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has inked a memorandum of understanding with VFS Global in Dubai for the establishment of the first Philippine Passport Renewal Center (PaRC) abroad.
DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay and VFS Global head of business development, Chris Dix, signed the document at the Wafi Mall in Dubai on November 21, in the presence of Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and VFS Global Regional Group Chief Operations Officer Vinay Malhotra.
The signing was followed by the inauguration of the PaRC at the Dubai Health Care City.
According to the DFA's release on Friday, this is the first time that the Philippine government has outsourced part of its passport renewal service to a private entity.
The PaRC will provide an alternative means for Filipinos to avail of passport renewal services in two of the Middle Eastern countries with the highest concentration of Filipino workers — the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The latest data from the DFA showed that about 600,000 Filipinos are residing in the UAE, which makes it the second-largest concentration of Filipino workers in the Middle East.
The launch of PaRC in Dubai will allow Filipinos in the area and the Northern Emirates to choose between applying for the renewal of their passport at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai or the Center.
Those who avail of the services at PaRC will pay an additional convenience fee on top of the normal cost of passport renewal payment at the Consulate General or the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
PaRC will only cater to simple passport renewal services that do not require any changes in the biographic details of the passport holder.
The outsourcing to VFS Global only applies to the frontline operation of passport renewal, such as the acceptance of the application, capturing of biometrics and biographical details, payment of fees, and release of passport. The actual production of the passport is still with the DFA.
In his remarks, Locsin said the opening of PaRC was in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to all government agencies to improve their services to the public, especially to Filipinos overseas.
Meanwhile, VFS’ Malhotra thanked the department for partnering with them.
“Our Passport and Consular services have been growing from strength to strength, and we look forward to bringing the best in class services to the Philippines expats here in Dubai," he said.
DFA said similar centers will be opened in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, as well as in Riyadh and Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020.