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Apostille Philippines: Absolutely Everything you Need to Know
You’ll need to know how to Apostille Philippines documents if you are a Filipino abroad (or planning to go abroad).
Your documents should be Apostilled so that they are considered authentic by the country you are going to and are required when you are offered a job abroad.
To help you do that, I’ve written a comprehensive guide on absolutely everything you need to know including DFA Apostille Requirements, DFA Apostille Costs, how to make an appointment at the DFA.
Expect a lot of work – while the DFA Apostille cost is not a lot, getting the requirements together takes a lot of time and effort.
What is an Apostille?
An Apostille is a certificate issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) verifying that the documents issued in the Philippines are genuine.
Apostilles replaced the old Red-Ribbon Certification.
Apostilles started to be used in the Philippines when we joined the Hague Apostille Convention on May 14, 2019.
When a document is Apostilled, it will be accepted by foreign institutions as authentic and allows Philippine documents to be used abroad.
The Apostille process reduces the steps needed to legalize documents abroad. Before, documents had to be legalized in both contracting countries before
they could be used. Now, documents issued by an apostille country are no longer subject to legalization if both countries are Apostille members.
This is a huge help for Filipinos working and living abroad and also for foreigners who need Philippine issued documents authenticated.
TIP – A document can only be apostilled in the country it was issued.
For example, the DFA will only Apostille Philippine documents. And a German, Australian or other documents would be apostilled in the country it was created/issued in.
What are the DFA Apostille requirements?
DFA Apostille Requirement 1: CANA, CAV, Etc.
The first DFA Apostille Requirement is related to the type of document you want to apostille.
Different documents have different requirements – for example, school documents need a CAV, notarized documents need a CANA, etc.
Plan for several days off work.
Also, expect several days or weeks for each government agency to process the requirement you need.
(Yes, it really does take that much time to get Philippine Apostille requirements. It is really, really time-consuming.)
Apostille Philippines: Requirements by type of document
- Diplomas, Form 137s need to be Certified True Copies and they need a Certification, Authentication and Verification (CAV). This means a trip to the school and 2 trips to the DepEd, CHED or TESDA and there may be several weeks in between for processing.
- Affidavits, contracts and SPAs need to be original notarized documents with a Certificate Authorizing a Notarial Act (CANA) from the Courts. This takes a trip or 2 to the court with jurisdiction over the notary.
- Court documents must be Certified True Copies and must have Supreme Court Certification. Budget for 2 trips to the court and 2 to the Supreme Court.
- PRC documents have to be Certified True Copies and they have to be certified by the PRC. This may take 2 to 3 trips. Plan for some time in between.
- Local Civil Registrar records such as birth, death, marriage, and no record certificate if the record is new and no copies from PSA are available yet. These documents must be certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority or its Regional Offices before they can be apostilled
- Medical Certificates for employment purposes must be certified by the Department of Health.
- CAAP documents must be certified by the Civil Aviation Authority.
- Driver’s Licenses must be certified by the Land Registration Office (Main) only.
- Immigration records must be certified by the Bureau of Immigration
- Business Registrations and other business-related documents must be certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Social Security System (SSS), City or Municipal Offices, Etc.
- Export documents must be certified by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce (PCCI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), or by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), depending on the nature of the document.
Be prepared for a lot of legwork.
The process is very manual and will need you to personally appear.
Also, expect that each of the government agencies will need some time to process your request. It may take anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on the situation.
The good news is that after you get the above major DFA Apostille requirements, DFA Apostille processing itself is relatively streamlined.
It takes a few days so long as you get an appointment.
DFA Apostille Requirement 2: Special Power of Attorney
The second DFA Apostille Requirement is the Authorization Letter or a Special Power of Attorney.
This is an important requirement in case you cannot go to the DFA yourself and need to ask somebody – maybe a relative or a friend – to go on your behalf.
They both authorize somebody to work on the apostille for you.
However, they do have significant differences. (And note that some DFA branches will only accept a SPA not an Authorization letter)
An Authorization Letter is a signed letter that is used when you are working on behalf of a family member.
A Special Power of Authority must be notarized (and apostilled, if you are in a foreign country), and is required when you are working on behalf of a non-family member.
When we transact with the DFA, we usually work for non-family members and so we send our clients a SPA for them to complete.
Apostille Philippines: Information you must have on your SPA
- The document owner or affiant’s name, signature and ID;
- The authorized representative’s name and ID;
- Specific instructions as to what transaction is to be done and the exact documents to be apostilled;
- Addressed to the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Consular Affairs or its Satellite Offices;
- The signature and seal of the notary public;
- The date of writing and date of notarization;
- Apostille, if the document owner is abroad.
Note that the signature must be the same as that of the ID because the DFA is very strict.
The DFA will only provide an apostille when they are certain the person is an authorized representative.
DFA Apostille Requirement 3: IDs accepted by the DFA
In any government transaction, a valid ID is needed.
There are many types of valid IDs and identification papers accepted for DFA Apostille processing.
Almost all of them are government-issued.
Apostille Philippines: List of Valid IDs accepted by the DFA:
- Driver’s License;
- Voter’s ID or Certification;
- Senior Citizen ID;
- PWD ID;
- Solo Parent ID; and
- Seaman’s Book and Alumni ID or Student ID (1 year upon graduation)
Make sure that the ID is not expired!
Apostille Philippines: How do you fill-up the DFA application form?
The latest DFA Apostille Application Form is DFA-OCA-A-02 Revision 2 as of May 2019.
The form can be downloaded here and can be filled out before the appointment date.
People often go to the DFA without a pre-filled out form so they first have to get it at the information desk.
But just getting the form might take some time.
It’s highly recommended that you download the form from the DFA website and filled it out before you go. This will save you time and effort.
The DFA form is a single-page form.
The front is where you write the necessary information while at the back, you can see the list of requirements, types of documents for apostille, DFA satellites, and DFA contact numbers.
Apostille Philippines: Information needed on the DFA Apostille Form
- Choose between expedite or regular
- The document owner’s name
- The representative’s name
- The contact number of the representative;
- The signature of the representative;
- The date of filing; and
- The Country of destination
There is a part where only the processors and releasing officers are allowed to write.
Avoid writing any information there.
Apostille Philippines: Where can I get an Apostille in the Philippines?
There are 7 DFA Apostille processing offices:
- DFA Aseana
- DFA Cubao
- DFA Manila
- DFA Mandaluyong
- DFA Pampanga
- DFA Davao
It is always practical to choose the DFA satellite near you for convenience.
It is also important to note that each DFA Satellite has its own internal rules of procedure.
For example DFA Cubao, they don’t offer to expedite while DFA Manila does.
Another example is the authorization letter.
Based on my personal experience, some DFA satellites only accept a notarized SPA.
Some are strict about the signature while some are not.
These may seem like small issues, but this can seriously delay your apostille process. It’s always better to check even the smallest details before filing.
Once you’ve chosen which satellite to go to, you can now schedule your DFA Apostille Appointment Online.
How do I make an Apostille Appointment at the DFA?
DFA Apostille walk-ins were allowed prior to the pandemic, but now several branches require you to have booked a DFA Apostille Appointment online before you come.
(DFA Appointment walk-ins are no longer entertained at many branches – set an appointment so that you are not turned away.)
To get an appointment, email your desired DFA satellite.
These are the email addresses of DFA Satellites for Appointments:
- CO Northeast (Ali Mall Cubao) – firstname.lastname@example.org
- CO West (SM Manila) – email@example.com
- CO East (SM Megamall) – firstname.lastname@example.org
- CO South (Metro Gaisano, Alabang) – email@example.com
- Pampanga – firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
- Cebu – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Davao – email@example.com
Each satellite has its own rules even in setting up an appointment.
For example in DFA Aseana, you need to fill out their online form early in the morning because there is a tendency that slots are booked. It’s a first come first serve basis – even for DFA Apostille Appointment online requests.
But other Satellites such as DFA Manila operate differently – you can email them any time of day and expect a reply shortly.
You’ll need to send the following details to request a DFA Apostille appointment online:
- The name of the document owner (Requester)
- The name of the representative
- Type of documents to apostille
- Number of documents
- Desired date of appointment
For DFA Satellites such as DFA Mega Mall in Mandaluyong, ask that a scanned copy of the documents and other requirements be sent to them in the same email as the appointment request for advance assessment.
This is good since your documents are assessed before you go there personally only to find out that you lack something.
(This would mean a return trip and a lot of hassle.)
If you have a Special Power of Attorney, a valid ID, an application form and a DFA Apostille appointment, you’re all set!
You’re now ready to go to the DFA and file.
Apostille Philippines: What to do at the DFA?
DFA Apostille processing requires 2 separate trips:
- Filing the Apostille Request
- Picking up the apostille
I’ll go through them below.
Trip 1: Filing your DFA Apostille Request
What time should I be at the DFA for my DFA Apostille Appointment?
So, you have completed the DFA Apostille Requirements, pre-filled out the application form and have your DFA Apostille Appointment.
Now all you need is to go there personally and file it.
From experience, it is always better to go visit a DFA satellite early.
This means that the premises are newly disinfected compared with afternoon sessions.
The window clerks are still fresh and so are their minds.
You can smell the difference.
Everyone’s mood is friendly compared to afternoon schedules where window officers tend to become rude due to exhaustion and annoying and entitled clients.
As part of the new normal, before entering a premises, a health disclosure form must be filled out first.
Always bring your pen to avoid using the public pen and borrowing from strangers which can put you at risk of catching the covid19 virus. This is just an important note.
What should I do first at my DFA Apostille Appointment?
At your DFA Apostille appointment, you can go straight to the proper window to file your documents for Apostille so long as you have already pre-filled up the DFA Apostille form (I discuss this in the previous section How do you fill-up the DFA application form).
Find the queue and wait for your turn.
At the window, your DFA Apostille Requirements will be assessed.
You will be asked to show your original valid ID. It should be the same ID you will use on the release date.
After the assessment, there are just two results. It is either they accept it or deny it.
Let’s assume your request was denied due to issues with the specimen signature on the SPA and IDs or lacking documentary requirements.
If that’s the case, they will issue a feedback form with the issues identified. You’ll have to comply and go back another day to re-file it.
Sometimes it gets really difficult when the document that has an issue has to be corrected abroad.
This may cause a lot of delays if you’re working on a tight schedule.
On the other hand, if your papers are approved, they will issue a payment order showing you the DFA Apostille Cost.
You may opt for the expedited option which adds 200 pesos to the DFA Apostille Cost, but the release is the day after.
(If you are not in a hurry, you can choose regular processing and you can claim your apostille after 4 working days.)
You will pay the final amount at the cashier.
Again, even in this matter, some satellites differ from others.
Some have the expedited option and some don’t.
Some will ask you to go back to that same filing window after payment to submit a carbon copy of the receipt while some do not.
But usually, after payment, you just keep the receipt and head home.
You’ll need to present the receipt because you will need that on the release day.
Trip 2: Picking up your Apostilled Philippine documents (H3)
Picking up your Apostilled Philippine documents (H4)
On the release date, you need to bring your pen, your valid ID, the SPA or authorization letter, and the receipt.
Usually, they will no longer ask for your SPA on the release day but just bring it with you in case a problem arises.
Once you are at the DFA, you can ask the information desk where the release for an apostille is and follow their instruction.
You will usually need to put the receipt in a box next to the release window and wait for your name to be called.
Once called, you need to show your original ID. They may also ask you to take off your mask to verify that it is you and will give you the finished apostille once checked.
You need to sign a proof of release to certify that you received the document.
Sign it and put the date.
Don’t forget to check the document before you go.
Sometimes they mix the documents up and you may end up having other people’s documents.
So check the document to see if the names are spelled correctly. Also, check if the document is complete.
What happens when they will not release my Apostilled documents? (H4)
What if your document was not processed due to requirement issues?
And you just found out on the release day?
Well. That is very frustrating especially if you have a schedule to keep.
But what else can you do but comply?
Again, even if some documents passed the assessment day, issues can arise on the verification of the signature of the signatory.
The DFA has a record of all authorized signatories from all government agencies and sometimes, signatures become obsolete and no longer match the current signature of the signatory.
In this case, the DFA will issue a request for a specimen signature addressed to the office where your document originated and was certified.
That means you need to go back to the issuing office to request the updated specimen signature and submit it back to the DFA.
Only then they can process your paper for apostille.
This may sound like a lot of work – it truly is.
Apostille Philippines: Things you need to Remember
Due to the pandemic, the Department of Foreign Affairs has reduced staff.
It takes longer to process and apostille.
Be prepared to wait and put in the time to get your DFA Apostille requirements in order.
When you are ready, choose the nearest DFA consular satellite.
Remember that DFA Apostille walk-ins are not encouraged and book an online appointment.
Remember to be detailed when complying with all the requirements I’ve stated.
It takes a lot of work – filing at the DFA is easy and the DFA Apostille cost is not expensive, but it is getting all the requirements together and dealing with an issue that is really, really time-consuming.
Filing for apostille authentication is not hassle-free but once you understand the process, you can get in and out of it like a pro.