I was at the Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA-Davao because I have to request a change of surname in my passport due to marriage and to renew it. I already had the set of requirements as texted by a friend who had done the same process. I braved the early morning queue outside SM Ecoland parking area hoping that at 7 am I’ll still be able to get a number. Luckily, I got one. And when the doors were opened an hour after, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Another queue of course when we were inside, and when it finally was my turn the officer asked for my Commission on Filipinos Overseas – Guidance and Counseling Program Certificate or in short CFO GCP Certificate. I didn’t know about it and the officer directed me to the information desk and I learned that there is no office here in Davao, I have to get it in Cebu or Manila. I felt defeated, called my friend, and asked why she didn’t include the CFO certificate in her text. It was because she forgot that my husband is a foreigner haha.
So, what exactly is a CFO GCP Certificate and who should get it?
Based on my later research, this certificate is required for women who want to go abroad with their spouses. According to CFO, fiancé (e)s, spouses, and partners of foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens are required to attend the CFO GCP Seminar in order to get the Certificate of Attendance and a Registration Sticker. I need the certificate to renew my passport if I want to use my husband’s surname and in order to leave the country. I will have to attend a 4-hour seminar to get it and a sticker will be given to me when I have gotten a visa valid for my destination. The sticker will be asked by the immigration officers at the airport prior to my international departure.
I decided to attend the seminar in Cebu and I am glad they already have an online appointment system. I went to their website then answered their preliminary questions to check if I was qualified to get the certificate. I was asked for my email address too because they sent a confirmation link. Since I am qualified, I indicated my chosen date and time of counseling. I provided some more personal information then uploaded a photo. When it was completed, I received a confirmation with a barcode through my email and it has to be printed because I need to bring it to the venue together with the other requirements enumerated below:
Counseling Requirements for those with or without a visa:
- Original and photocopy of two (2) valid IDs with photo
- Guidance and Counseling Form (you can get it from the venue)
- If married, photocopy of marriage contract on SECPA from the NSO or the LCR; or original and photocopy of Report of Marriage duly registered by the Phil. Embassy or Consulate of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs (if married abroad)
- Other documents as may be required by the Counselors
- Registration and Counseling fee of Php 400.00
As per the info of CFO-Cebu Office, the other documents as may be required by the Counselors may consist of your pictures together with partner, divorce papers of your fiancé, or death certificate of his former wife, photocopy of his passport, etc. I have saved in my tablet some of the pictures of me and my husband together.
Additional requirements for those with visa:
- Original and photocopy of passport
- Original and photocopy of visa
- Original and photocopy of Immigrant Data Summary for US-bound emigrants (except for K-visa holders)
- Original and photocopy of Confirmation of Permanent Residence for Canada-bound emigrants
- Original and photocopy of Certificate of Eligibility for Japan-bound emigrants
- Original CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate
- Duly completed Emigrant Registration Form
My seminar in Cebu was scheduled and 100% confirmed for several weeks. However, some days ago I got a call from the CFO office that they will be closed on my schedule due to a city event. I got a little angry because I have already booked nonrefundable tickets and hotels. But I said to myself, I need to focus on the solution. I got a new schedule two days later and also a reminder of the weaknesses in our bureaucracy. The CFO is created to help and protect Filipinas who are going abroad, not to create problems for them. I will post my experiences with the CFO seminar when I have done it, and I hope that my evaluation will be a good one 🙂
^^^Check out the Part 2 of this series^^^