I renewed my passport in Dammam, KSA last December 2012 and I gave a pound-for-pound account of how it is being conducted by the Philippine Embassy of Riyadh through their Embassy-on-Wheels program.
Back in the later part of January I visited the website of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to check if my passport is already available. My name came out a day after their last visit in our area so I had to wait until yesterday, or about two months, to claim my passport in the Philippine School in Dammam.
Waiting Out in the Cold
My friend Gelo and I headed straight to the venue as early as 5:45AM as we were warned that if you arrive at around 8AM, the queue will be very long.
We arrived at the Philippine School in Dammam at around 6:00AM and the volunteers at the school entrance had just started to prepare their tables.
We were asked to fall in line in the covered basketball court. But the chilling wind and temperature of 6degC almost killed us. The elderly ones had bouts of arthritis attack because of the cold weather and the volunteers just don’t seem to care and won’t let us in yet.
Some Pinoys must have thought that the winter chill has already subsided that most of them came to the venue without even sweaters or jackets.
We waited standing for one hour in the cold until they finally decided to let us in around 7:20AM.
Claiming the Passport
We were asked to go straight to the school building after freezing out in the cold. We headed to the second floor and waited there until a volunteer asked us to prepare the old passport and the receipt.
The volunteers then started to prepare all the passports as we waited. They called us by batches of 10 persons and it was effective.
I thought I was in an old school stock exchange where traders scream their lungs out to bid on a stock price. This time around the volunteers are screaming out our names without even using a megaphone or a microphone. The microphone was being used by someone else from the Embassy who was just repeating loudly the instructions to the Pinoys applying for passport renewal already relayed earlier by the volunteer who sounded more effective than the Embassy guy.
The Consul Official as always was just standing and walking all over the place. Supervising, yeah?
But nevertheless, my name was called after waiting for around 20 minutes.
Reminders to OFW’s Heading to Embassy-on-Wheels (OEW) Venues
1) Do not go to OEW venues without prior online appointments. You will never be entertained by Embassy representatives and the volunteers.
2) If you are extending the validity of your passport, make sure that you have enough evidence on why you should do so. There should be a letter from your company certifying your need to extend your passport’s validity. You should also have a letter from a party in the Philippines clearly indicating that you are in an emergency situation and that you need to be in the Philippines as soon as possible. This could be a medical certificate or a letter from you agency.
3) Do not lose the receipt that they gave you when you paid for the renewal of passports. Do not forget also to bring your old passport for the Embassy representatives to cancel it before you claim the new one. If you fail to bring any of these two, you will never be able to claim your new passport. The Embassy officials will have to decide on what you should do if in case you lost any of the two requirements.
4) Bring your sweater or jacket especially during winter months. Bring bottled water and a few crackers to last you for a couple of hours or so.
5) Keep on visiting the website of the Philippine Embassy of Riyadh as there are several changes in the appointment dates.
I hope this post will guide our OFW’s in Saudi Arabia who may not be able to renew and claim their passports back home.
Be safe always.
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