What is DFA? Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is the prime government agency responsible for the protection of the Philippine sovereignty and conduct of foreign relations and international negotiations. Throughout history, the Philippine government has endeavored to promote national development and pursued national interest through protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as formation of diplomatic relations with other countries.

Also Read: What is POLO? Philippine Overseas Labor Office

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has always coexisted with the Philippine government. Its history can be traced back to the First Philippine Republic, with Apolinario Mabini at its helm. For over one hundred years, it has continuously forged international diplomatic relations with friendly countries. DFA  even set up 21 different consulate offices in different provinces and 5 satellite offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) to dispense consular services to the Filipino people. In this guide, you can learn more about DFA and all its programs and services.

What is DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is the Philippine government’s prime agency responsible for building foreign relations and pursuing foreign policies. Through the DFA, the government makes an effort to plan, coordinate, and evaluate the state of the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and diplomatic relations with other countries. 

With the DFA, the country strives to achieve international recognition, paving the way for a balanced yet robust trade and military relations and increased participation in the international arena. 

Along with DFA, the following agencies work together to increase regional cooperation and collaboration, promote economic diplomacy, and project good state image:

  • Foreign Service Institute
  • Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines
  • UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines Secretariat


The story of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is a long one and it is intertwined with many important events in Philippine history. 

Its establishment as Foreign Affairs marked the declaration of Philippine independence in 1898. After the Japanese occupation, when the Philippines gained full control of foreign affairs and diplomatic matters in 1946, the Department of Foreign Affairs was officially created to assist in post-war rehabilitation efforts. Later, the DFA increased the Philippines’ participation in the international arena, even going as far as becoming one of the founding members of the United Nations and one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The country also took part in the proposal of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and of the decolonization and global disarmament.  

In 1952, the Foreign Service Act of 1952 was created which pushed the DFA to focus more on institution-building and called for closer engagement with Asian neighbors to increase global linkages. The Marcos years, on the other hand, were filled with policy innovations and new initiatives. From the formation of the regional cooperation group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to the normalization of economic and diplomatic ties with China, USSR, and the European Common Market in Brussels. The Philippine Foreign Service Institute was also created in 1976 to provide in-house training to Foreign Service personnel.

Other significant events brought by the efforts of the DFA include:

  • The designation of a Legal Assistant for Migrant Workers’ Affairs in the DFA, with the rank of Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs
  • The adoption by ASEAN in 1992, 
  • The establishment of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines (BIMP)-East Asia Growth area in 1994; 
  • The establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994 as the only multilateral security dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region conducted at the government level; and 
  • The signing between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front of the Mindanao Peace Agreement.
  • the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1998 confidence-building measures with China over the South China Sea issue.  
  • Strengthened bilateral ties with neighboring countries including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.  
  • The forging of a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States in 1999.  
  • The observation of the Indonesian parliamentary elections.
  • Various cooperative activities in the areas of security, defense, combating transnational crimes, economy, culture, and the protection of OFWs and Filipinos abroad.

DFA Mission, Vision, and Core Policies

The DFA is also guided by three fundamental pillars of the Philippine foreign policy which includes:

  • Preservation and enhancement of national security;
  • Promotion and attainment of economic security;
  • Protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.


It carries out its goals in an effort to become a resilient foreign service for a strong Philippines.


The goal has always been for DFA to be able to promote and protect the Philippines’ national interest in the global arena for the coming years.

Core Values

The DFA stands by the following core values in carrying out its constitutional duties:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Patriotism
  • Professionalism
  • Service


The DFA’s mandate include advising and aiding the President in planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, integrating, and evaluating the entirety of the national effort in the field of foreign diplomatic relations.


As an agency, the DFA is expected to carry out the following objectives:

  • To contribute to the national security by protecting the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty;
  • To sustain national development and improve the state’s competitive edge in the global marketplace;
  • To improve international awareness of the Philippines and the Philippine culture;
  • To foster mutually beneficial relationships with other nations;
  • To improve the department’s performance by maximizing its human, financial, technological, and other resources;
  • To protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos, especially those who are living and working overseas, and to mobilize them to support national progress; and
  • To portray the Philippines and build its reputation in a positive light.

Benefits from DFA

The DFA is mandated by the Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7157) in such a way that it offers not only the country, but also the Filipinos, the following benefits:

  • Consular services (including visa and passport processing);
  • Promotion of the Philippine culture and traditions and building a positive state reputation for the international community;
  • Protection of the Philippines’ territorial and national sovereignty; and
  • Safeguarding overseas Filipinos’ rights and welfare.

DFA Programs and Services

Some of the programs and services offered by the DFA include:

Consular Services

  • Authentication

One of the services offered by the DFA is “authentication” or verification of the origins and authenticity of signatures appearing on public documents that will be used abroad.

For countries who are parties of the Hague Convention’ Apostille Convention, attaching the apostille should be enough, but for the others who aren’t, including Austria, Finland, Germany and Greece, legalization by the concerned Foreign Embassy or Consulate is still required.

  •  Passport

Among the many services offered by DFA include application, issuance, and renewal of the Philippine passport.

The Philippine Passport is a document owned by the Republic of the Philippines but is issued upon request of individuals who wish to live or work overseas. It is usually surrendered upon demand by authorized representatives of the Philippine government, but is temporarily kept by individuals who are then prohibited by law from making unauthorized changes, falsification, alteration, addition, pawning, or destruction of any part of the document. 

  • Visa

The Philippine Visa is an endorsement made on a travel document by a consular officer at a Philippine Embassy or Consulate abroad. Issuance of a Philippine Visa means that the visa application has been properly examined and that the bearer is allowed by law to proceed and request permission from the Philippine Immigration authorities to enter the country from any of its numerous ports of entries. 

Note that the issuance of a visa does not automatically guarantee admission to the country’s port of entries. It is merely a permit allowing the foreign national to seek permission of immigration authorities guarding the port of entry for whatever purpose.

  • Consular Records

The DFA’s Office of Consular Affairs’ Consular Records Division (OCA-CRD) receives and processes applications for registration or delayed registration of various reports of vital events (Report of Birth, Marriage, and Death) that occurred overseas and involved Filipino people. It is also tasked with keeping official records and clearing of documents and forms, usually a bill of lading, consular invoice, or certificate of origin, that have been presented to the Philippine consulate. Such consular documents usually bear a red ribbon affixed to it and the visa or signature of a consular officer in order for the document to have any legal effect in the Philippines. 

The consular records services include: 

  • Filing of a petition under RA 9048 or RA 10172 to correct a clerical error
  • Registration of Report of Birth (ROB)
  • Registration of Marriage (ROM)
  • Registration of Death (ROD)

Other Services

Other services offered by the DFA include:

  • Obtaining Transmittal Details of ROB, ROM or ROD already registered overseas
  • Philippine Visa Application for Foreigners

Video: DFA and the Filipinos Around the World

In case you want to learn more about how DFA works with the Filipinos around the world, you may check out this video posted by DFA Philippines:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you have more questions regarding the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), you may check out this list of frequently asked questions and answers:

1. What is DFA?

DFA stands for the Department of Foreign Affairs—a Philippine government agency in charge of national security and protection of territorial integrity and sovereignty. As an agency, it is also tasked with protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of Filipinos living overseas and is expected to be able to mobilize them as partners in promoting national development through international diplomatic relations.

2. Does DFA entertain walk-ins?

It depends on the concern but it generally doesn’t. In any case, please be guided as follows:

  • Authentication Services – per appointment basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; no walk-in is allowed
  • Passport Application Services – per appointment basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; no walk-in is allowed.
  • Passport Releasing Services – 8 am to 12 noon
  • Passport Status Inquiry/ Special Concerns/ Follow-up – maximum of 75 applicants daily

If you have to visit the DFA office, it’s best to schedule an appointment at https://www.passport.gov.ph.

3. Is there a limit to the period for registering a vital event —birth, marriage, or death?

Yes. The rule of thumb is, for a vital event such as a birth, it should be documented at the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) of the city or municipality where the birth happened within thirty (30) days of the birth. For vital events that occurred overseas, it is a must to have it reported within twelve (12) months of its occurrence. To register vital events like birth or death that occured overseas, the individual must have it filed with the Foreign Service Post (Embassy or Consulate General) that has authority over the location of the critical event.

4. Do I need to pay for an Apostille? Also, how long does it take to get one?

Yes. Yes, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) charges Php100.00 for ordinary processing of apostilled documents (issued after three working days) and Php200.00 for expedited processing (to be released on the next working day).

5. What does the DFA-OUMWA do?

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) is the main office in charge of providing and overseeing all Assistance to Nationals (ATN) and legal services for all distressed overseas Filipinos (OFs) and their families. It is also responsible for formulating policies and programs like information campaigns to raise public awareness about the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families while encouraging the private sector to create jobs to help repatriated OFWs find appropriate employment. It also coordinates with various government agencies and private organizations—including the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and genuine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)—to implement its programs.

6. How does OUMWA help OFWs?

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) offers numerous services to distressed OFWs and next of kins (NOKs) including the following:

  • Blood Money Negotiations
  • Compassionate Visit of the Next of Kin (NOK)
  • Employment-related complaints
  • End-of-Service Benefits
  • Family Financial Support
  • Jail Visitation
  • Medical Repatriation
  • Monetary Claims
  • Recommendation for Blacklisting
  • Repatriation
  • Request for ROD and other Civil Registry Documents
  • Shipment of Personal Belongings
  • Shipment of Remains/ Cremated Remains
  • Whereabouts / Ascertaining Condition

The following benefits are also offered by OUMWA to Filipinos:

  • Legal Services
    • Assistance to Detained OFWs and those Serving Prison Terms
    • Provision of Services of Lawyer/Counsel
  • Special ATN Concerns
    • Assistance to Kidnapping and Hostage Victims
    • Child Custody I Parental Child Abduction Cases
    • Maritime Issues
    • Monitoring of Death Penalty Cases
    • Piracy
    • Transnational Crime (i.e. Human Trafficking, Illegal Recruitment, Human Smuggling)

7. How do I reach out to DFA via OUMWA?

To contact DFA via OUMWA, you may reach out to them via their hotline at 09999802515 or (02) 8834-4996 or visit them directly at the OUMWA office from Monday to Friday at 8:00am to 5:00pm. Their office is located at 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Philippines. You may also send an email to oumwa@dfa.gov.ph.

Contact Information

For inquiries that require the assistance of DFA directly, you may reach out to DFA via the following contact information:

DFA Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) 

Office Address: ASEANA Business Park, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. cor. Bradco Ave., Brgy. Tambo, Paranaque City 1700 PHL

Email Address: oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph,

For Passport, Authentication, and other Consular Inquiries: (02)8651 – 9400

Passport Releasing Hotline: 0939-320-0569 (Smart)

Authentication Concerns Hotline: 0966-410-8465(Globe),0967-307-3111(Globe)

For OUMWA assistance, their email addresses are as follows:

For apostillization/authentication of a Philippine-issued document: authentication.inquiry@oca.dfa.gov.ph

For civil registration or filing of a Report of Birth/Marriage/Death: oca.crd@dfa.gov.ph

For government officials/personnel applying for a diplomatic or official passport: oca.dops@dfa.gov.ph

For visa renewal for accredited representatives of Foreign Missions and International Organizations: oca.visa@dfa.gov.ph

For other concerns and general inquiries: oca.concerns@dfa.gov.ph

You may also reach out to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) via the following hotline numbers:

Authentication Concerns Hotline: 0966-410-8465(Globe),0967-307-3111(Globe)

For Passport Appointment Concerns: (02)8234 – 3488

For Passport, Authentication and other Consular Inquiries: (02)8651 – 9400

Passport Releasing Hotline: 0939-320-0569 (Smart)

Visa Hotline: 0955-852-3251(TM)

Note that the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – Office of Consular Affairs at Aseana Business Park follow the following daily operation hours/schedule until further notice:

Authentication Services – per appointment basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; no walk-in is allowed

Passport Application Services – per appointment basis from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; no walk-in is allowed.

Passport Releasing Services – 8 am to 12 noon

Passport Status Inquiry/ Special Concerns/ Follow-up – maximum of 75 applicants daily

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