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Thursday, 17 October 2013

How to renew or reissue your Indian Passport?

Recently I went through the whole process of reissuing my passport as it was about to expire. I just thought of documenting the whole process so that it could benefit others. The steps listed here may or may not be of help to you as every passport reissue case is different. Do note that renewal and reissue of passport are two different things. Passport is generally reissued. Renewal only happens in special cases where a short validity passport was issued which now has to be renewed for a full 10 year term.

Some points to note before you read further:

    I got my passport reissued in April 2013, chances are the process may change in few months.
    I got my passport reissued at Mumbai. Passport authorities at other locations may or may not adhere to the process followed at Mumbai.
    I had to change my address and add spouse name in the passport. For other changes, more documents/verifications may be required.
    My case was of passport reissue. For fresh passport, the documents required and your experience dealing with Passport authorities may vary.
    I applied under “Normal” application process. Tatkal applications may require more scrutiny and checks.

With above disclaimer, below are the steps that I followed to get my passport reissued in 10 days under normal application system.

    To begin, Since the entire process of application entry is now online, you have to create an account on Passport India website. You can create upto 3 applications from one account, so no need to create multiple accounts for family members in case you are applying for passport for the family members. If you have more than three applications, then you will have to create multiple accounts on passport website.
    As soon as you create your account, you will receive an email from Passport Website asking you to click on a link to activate your account. Simply click on the link and follow the process to activate your account. Once you activate your account, you will receive a welcome email from passport website.
    Visit the document advisor links on the home page to check the documents required for your application. The advisor opens a wizard and asks you questions related to your application to advise you the documents required. Fresh passport documents and Reissue passport documents are different and these links will advise you better about the documents required.
    Login into your passport website account and create an application for fresh/reissue of passport (depending on your case). You can either choose to fill the form online or download a PDF file to be filled offline. In case you choose the later, once you fill up the PDF, you have to generate an XML upload file. Login back into the passport account and upload the XML file to submit the application. If you have a broadband Internet connection, it is always recommended to choose the online option rather than the PDF option.
    While filling up the application form, make sure the details such as your Given Names, Surname, Father/Mother/Spouse name matches exactly as on your old passport (or in case of a fresh passport, as on your proof of identity/address documents). In case you are married, it is mandatory to add your spouse name in the application. Failure to do so would amount to concealment of information and could result in penalty and criminal prosecution. Similarly if your old passport contained spouse name and reissue application does not, necessary documents must be attached (divorce/death certificate).
    While giving references in the application, make sure to choose references who live in the same society/neighborhood as you. Although the passport website says you can give reference of anyone from the city, it doesn’t work at least in a big city such as Mumbai. The police will insist on references of the neighbors only.
    Make sure to mention the correct police station in the application as an error here will delay your police verification. Passport authorities will not be able to guide you on filling up such details.
    Once the application form is filled, you can click submit and the system will generate an application reference number. Once the application is submitted, no further changes are allowed in the application. In case you wish to make changes in an already submitted application, you have two choices. You can either create a new application or mention the changes to the Passport officer during the appointment.
    After submission of the application form, you will need to create an appointment to visit the nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK). Appointments are required only for applications under “Normal” process. Tatkal applicants can simply walk into the PSK with a submitted application form. Partially filled application forms which have not yet been submitted are not entertained at the PSK. So make sure you submit the form before visiting the PSK if you are applying under tatkal.
    You can follow the steps mentioned in the article “How to get passport appointment online” in order to get an appointment with nearest PSK.
    Once you get the appointment, print the appointment receipt (which has a barcode) and carry the documents suggested by Document Advisor. The documents must be carried in original along with 2 photocopies. The photocopies should be self attested (i.e. the applicant should sign each copy).
    You do not have to carry the application form or any photographs. Photographs and biometric details are captured at the PSK.
    Do note that unless you are a minor, senior citizen, illiterate or physically challenged, no one is allowed to accompany you to the PSK.
    Visit the PSK at the reporting time mentioned in your appointment. Do not panic if you reach late, most PSKs are sympathetic towards late comers and will most likely allow you inside. However, do note, that PSK security reserves the right to refuse entry if you report after your appointment time.
    Mobile phones are allowed inside PSK. However cameras and other electronic gadgets are not. Its best to just carry the documents and your cell phone since PSKs do not have a locker facility.



Once at the PSK,

    You will be cleared by the PSK security who will scrutinize your appointment letter and let you in.
    Once inside the PSK, you will have to stand in a queue to receive a token number. Ideally this should not take more than 5-10 minutes. However since most people are late, chances are that there is already a backlog and expect to stand in the queue for 30-45 minutes before you reach the token counter.
    Once at the token counter, the person will ask for your appointment receipt and all the original documents. He/She will take one copy of the documents and if everything is in order, will put them in a file and give the file number to the same. The originals are returned back to you.
    Once this is complete, you will just have to wait back until your name is called out and a token is issued to you. This can take anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. Once you receive the token, you can allowed inside the application processing zone. You have to present your token at the security who will verify it before letting you in.
    Inside the processing zone, you will see three different types of counters viz A, B and C.
    Counter A are operated by TCS employees and are generally very professional and quick in their work.
    There are large LCD screens placed at various locations inside the processing zone that show the token number status. As soon as your token is called, visit the specific A counter.
    At counter A all your original documents will be scanned and uploaded in the system. You will also have the opportunity to verify your application details and confirm the same before they are submitted. Your photograph and biometric details (fingerprints) will be captured. Also you will have to pay the necessary application fees in cash at counter A. Once this is complete, you will receive your passport file and token number back. This usually takes 7-10 minutes.
    You will again have to wait until your token is called at one of the B counters. Here, a passport officer (Government servant) will verify your original documents, stamp your passport (in case of reissue) as canceled and stamp your document photocopies as verified. This usually takes 5-7 minutes. However it can take as long as 15-20 minutes as well. Once this step is complete, you will receive your token and file back from the counter B officer.
    You will have to now wait for your turn at Counter C. At counter C a senior passport officer will verify all your documents again. He/She may ask you few questions. If he/she is satisfied with the application process, he/she will grant you a passport and generate a receipt. The passport file will be kept with the officer at counter C. He/She will also tell you whether your passport application has been accepted under tatkal or not (if you applied under tatkal). Whether police verification is required or not. If police verification is required, whether it will happen before passport issue or after. All this usually takes 7-10 minutes.
    Once you finish counter C, you have to submit your token at the exit counter and get a passport application receipt which contains the passport file number. You can track your passport status online with the help of the passport file number.



While I am not an expert about what documents are required as every passport application case is unique. However, here are some recommendations that have worked in my case.

    Submit as many documents as possible. While the document advisor on the website will suggest you to submit one of the documents as address proof, it is recommended to submit as many documents as you have for identity/address proof.
    Aadhar card is accepted as a proof of address and identity. However make sure that the name and address matches exactly as on your passport application.
    Ration cards are also accepted as proof of address. However you should submit one more address proof if ration card is your primary address proof.
    Bank statements from any scheduled commercial bank (which includes private sector banks such as ICICI, HDFC, Kotak, Yes Bank) as well as photo/non-photo passbooks issued by public sector banks are accepted as proof of address.
    Bank statements should be printed on bank’s stationary, stamped and signed on every page. Make sure the signatory mentions his/her name, designation and employee number and places the bank’s round stamp on every page.
    Bank statements generated from netbanking are not accepted by Passport authorities.
    Utility bills are accepted as a proof of address provided they are in the name of the applicant and two bills are produced, one which is 12 months old and another which is current month.
    E-Bills from utility service providers are not accepted by passport authorities.