Indian Passport

Passports in India are issued by the Government of India (GOI) to Indian citizens. It is an important travel document that Indian travellers are required to have and produce to authorities when entering or exiting India. It is issued in the form of a booklet, containing 36 (standard) to 60 pages. It contains important details such as the holder's name, date and place of birth, nationality and photograph and passport details such as the passport number and validity period. A passport serves as proof of identity.

Passports are issued, in accordance with the Passports Act 1967 by the Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs through the Central Passport Organisation (CPO). The CPO works through Passport Offices, Passport Seva Kendras and Laghu Kendras in India and through consular, visa and passport services and the Indian Missions / Posts outside India (Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates). There are three types of passports issued in India viz. Regular (Type P), Official (Type S), Diplomatic (TypeD). In specific cases, alternate travel documents are issued in place of passports. Some passports have ECR (Emigration Check Required) status and some have ECNR (Emigration Check Not Required) status. Biometric e Passports have been introduced for Diplomatic passports.

India ranks third, after China and the US, in terms of passports issued. The number of applications processed during the year 2014 - 2015 stood at Rs.1 crore with Kerala topping other states with about 10 lakh applications. This is expected to go up during this and coming years. Although an estimated 6.2 crore Indians have passports, a large number of people do not possess this document. Those who wish to obtain a passport may do so by applying for a fresh passport. A passports may also be reissued to those who already have one. Passports can be obtained by all eligible Indian citizens including infants. There are certain disqualifying criteria that may prevent a person from being granted a passport. There are also circumstances under which a person's passport may be impounded or revoked. Passports have an expiry date after which they are no longer valid unless renewed.

Types of Indian Passports - What does the 'P', 'S', 'D' in your passport mean?

There are 3 main types of passports issued by GOI under the Passport Act 1967. They are -

  • Type P / Ordinary passport- 'P' denotes 'Personal'. These are Ordinary passports issued to ordinary individuals. They are general purpose passports that citizens normally use for travel on holiday or business.
  • Type S / Official passport- 'S' denotes 'Service'. These are Official passports issued to people travelling abroad on official government/state work.
  • Type D / Diplomatic passport- 'D' denotes 'Diplomat'. These are Diplomatic passports issued to people who always travel on official government work including those posted abroad.

Other travel documents may be issued under the Passport Act 1967. These include

  • Emergency Certificates
  • Certificate of Identity
  • Others

What do Indian passports look like?

It is a booklet with a navy blue, red or white cover depending on the type of passport.

  • A regular passport has a navy blue cover
  • An official passport has a white cover
  • A diplomatic passport has a red cover.

The front cover contains the Emblem of India and some text, both in gold. The text printed on the cover is 'Passport' and 'Republic of India',
A standard passport booklet contains 36 pages. However, a person can opt for a booklet of 60 pages. Those who travel a lot would prefer a 60 page passport.

Passport details or particulars

The passport has information pertaining to the holder, the passport and also includes a President's note in the text which is stamped and signed at issue on behalf of the Indian President.
On the second page can be found identifying details of the holder - his/her full name, date and place of birth, gender, nationality, signature and photograph. Also indicated is the passport type i.e. either P, S or D. (These details were earlier) Other specific information present is the date and place of issue of the passport, its expiry date, the country code and the passport number. There is also Machine Readable Passport Zone at the bottom of the page.
On the inside of the back cover can be found details pertaining to the holder's parents and spouse (if any) i.e. his/her father's and mother's name or a legal guardian's name where applicable, spouse's name, the holder's address. Other details included are the file number and in case the holder has an old passport, then the old passport number along with the date and place of its issue are also mentioned.

ECR and ECNR Status or Stamp in Passport

Emigration Check Required (ECR) status or passports with an ECR endorsement indicates the need for emigration clearance of the holder when they go to ECR countries for employment. There are currently 17 ECR countries and clearance is required for those travelling for employment in these countries because of the lack of entry and employment regulations of foreigners in these countries.
There is no specific mention of ECNR status. Passports are by default of status Emigration Check Not Required (ECNR), unless specifically endorsed as ECR.

Machine Readable Passports (MRP) by Nov 25, 2015

Earlier, before 2001, passports were handwritten and had no machine readable code. These include passports of 20 year validity (commonly issued during the mid-90s). However, they are being phased out in favour of machine readable travel documents (MRTDs) and post Nov.25, 2015 they will no longer be valid. To this end, fast-track processes have been put in place to ensure reissue/renewals are done smoothly and quickly.

Holders of such passports will have to renew them / have them reissued by Nov.24th, 2015 in order to maintain their validity. This applies to Indians both in and outside India. This guideline comes from the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and aims to phase out non-MRPs globally. It is estimated about 2.5 lakh handwritten documents will have to be reissued. Those who do not have ICAO-compliant MRPs will face difficulties in travel post the deadline. Computerized passports offer better security and help prevent misuse and fraud such as reproducing multiple passports under a single person's name, duplicate or fake passports.

E-passport / Biometric / Digital Passport

The CPO, Indian Security Press and IIT Kanpur has introduced e-passports a.k.a. biometric passports. These are currently only issued to diplomats. However, this is expected to be extended to all in the coming years.These passports are not paperless. They are normal booklets containing a microprocessor chip embedded within. This will contain the holder's information digitally and will act as a security measure.

Tatkaal Passport Scheme

Those who want to apply for a passport urgently can apply under the Tatkaal scheme. This will have to be specified at time of application in the passport application form. There are certain people, though, who aren't allowed tatkaal passports. If eligible, the form has to be submitted along with a Verification Certificate and the Standard Affidavit (Annexure F and Annexure I respectively) and other supporting documents. Tatkaal passport fees are higher than regular passport fees. The Verification Certificate may be reviewed for authenticity by passport issuing officials to verify its authenticity. Police verification is done on a post PV basis, i.e. after issue. There is no need to prove the urgency for tatkaal passports.

Passport Issuing Authorities and Collection Centers

As mentioned, the MEA works through the CPO and PSKs in India and Embassies/Consulates outside India for the issuance of passports and carrying out related services.

MEA - The Ministry of External Affairs is the government arm under whose purview falls all matters related to passports. There is only 1 MEA.

CPV - The Consular Passport and Visa is the MEA division through which the MEA works for the issuance of passports. The CPV at Patiala House, New Delhi, processes applications for Official and Diplomatic passports.

PO/RPO - Passport Offices/Regional Passport Offices issue / deny issue of / impound passports. POs carry out back-end passport-related processes and services. They exercise authority over PSKs. They process applications, print and send out approved passports. They deal with the MEA, state police and state administration. They also handle financial, legal and RTI activities. There are 37 passport offices in India.

PSK - Passport Seva Kendras are extensions of POs through which front-end passport-related processes and services are carried out. It is the physical space where applicants must physically present themselves after getting an online appointment. This is where required documents are submitted, photographs taken and applications are reviewed before being passed on to the Passport Office for processing. There are 77 PSKs in India functioning under the PPP model under which human and technological resources are provided by TCS.

PSLK - Passport Seva Laghu Kendras are also extensions of POs providing similar services as PSKs, except that these were set up to cover certain areas such as eastern and north-eastern areas. They help ease the burden of PSKs in these regions who handle applications from a large jurisdiction. There are 16 PSLKs in India, but these do not function under the PPP model. They are entirely up, operated and controlled by the government.

DPC, SPC, CSC - District Passport Cells, Speed Post Centers and Citizen Service Centers can only process applications for fresh passports and not a reissue, tatkaal or other cases. They also cannot provide other related services.

Indian Missions Abroad - The MEA works through about 180 Indian Mission / Posts for issuance of passports outside India. These include Indian Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates.

Know Your Passport Booklet

Indian Passport Booklet

The Indian Passport has 3 primary variants:

1. Regular Passport (Blue):

  • The Regular / Ordinary Indian Passport consists of either 36 or 60 pages, and has a dark blue / blueish black cover.
  • It has the National Emblem of India emblazoned in gold in the centre of the cover, with the word "Passport", also in gold, printed on top in both Hindi and English. The words "Republic of India" are imprinted in gold on the bottom of the cover, in Hindi and English.
  • This passport is issued to regular Indian citizens who do not operate in an official, governmental, diplomatic, ambassadorial, consular, or political capacity.
  • Regular passports have 36 pages, and an option exists while applying for the passport to get a 60 page booklet.
  • The first page of the regular passport booklet is printed on the flip side of the front cover, and the last page is printed on the flip side of the back cover.
  • This regular passport is held by most Indian citizens for travelling overseas in a business, educational, or vacationing capacity.
  • The passport itself is classified as a "Type - P Passport" (where "P" stands for "Personal").

2. Diplomatic Passport (Maroon):

  • The Diplomatic passport has a maroon cover.
  • It has the National Emblem of India emblazoned in gold in the centre of the cover, with the words "Diplomatic Passport", also in gold, printed on top in both Hindi and English. The words "Republic of India" are imprinted in gold on the bottom of the cover, in Hindi and English.
  • This passport is issued by the Foreign Service Board in the Ministry of External Affairs to:
  • Branch A, and Branch B Officers of the Indian Foreign Service.
  • Officers of the Ministry of External Affairs who are to travel internationally on official business.
  • Officers of other Ministries and Departments of the Government of India who are to travel internationally on official business.
  • The passport is also issued to the dependent children, spouses, official hosts/hostesses, dependent parents when joining the officer mentioned above at his/her official post abroad, as determined by the Ministry of External Affairs.

3. Official Passport (Gray / White)

  • These passports are issued to:
  • Government officials, and non-officials, when their travel is paid for by the Indian Government. The families and dependents of these officials also receive these passports when their travel is being paid for by the Indian Government.
  • Reserve Bank of India Officials, and their families, when travelling out of India on official business for the RBI.
  • Bank of India Officials, and their families, when travelling out of India on official business for the SBI.
  • State Officials of Nationalised Banks, Undertakings, and Corporations which are owned or controlled by the State, and their families, when travelling out of the country for official business related to the organization to which they belong.
  • Permanent Government Officials, and their families, when they travel as a delegation or deputation to foreign Governments, the UNO, any UNO Agencies, and any other International Governmental Agencies that are recognised by the Indian Government.
  • Any person who is on a foreign mission of such a nature as is deemed beneficial or in the interests of the Indian Government, by the Indian Government.
  • Persons who travel abroad for whatever purpose, even if a department of the Government certifies that the purpose or travel would be beneficial to the Government and in the Government's interest.

Passports have the following information printed on the reverse side of the covers:

The first printed page (inside of the front cover) contains the following information:

  • Type: "P", "D", or "S".
  • Country Code: IND. IND is India.
  • Passport Number: xxxxxxxx. Individual passport number as assigned to individual passports.
  • Surname: XXX. The surname of the passport holder, as it appears on other recognised identity documents.
  • Given name(s): XXX XXX. The first and middle name of the passport holder, as it appears on other recognised identity documents.
  • Nationality: INDIAN. Indian, as the passport holder is an Indian citizen.
  • Gender: M or F. Depending on the gender of the applicant.
  • Date of birth: xx/xx/xxxx. The passport holder's date of birth, printed in the DD/MM/YYYY format.
  • Place of birth: The city or place in which the passport holder was born, as it appears on the birth certificate submitted with the application.
  • Place of issue: The location of the Regional Passport Office from which the passport was issued to the passport holder.
  • Date of issue: The date on which the Regional Passport Officer issued the passport to the passport holder.
  • Date of expiry: The date from which the passport will no longer be valid for international travel, nor exist as a document of identity verification, nor for any other reason other than to be resubmitted for processing so that a new passport may be issued with extended validity.
  • Photograph of Passport Holder: The passport photograph attached to the passport of the passport holder, which is to be taken adhering to strict guidelines.
  • Signature of the Passport Holder: The specimen signature of the passport holder is printed just under the photograph.
  • MRZ: The last two lines of print behind the front cover are the Machine Readable Zone, which allows a computer to read the passport, register it, and authenticate it.
  • The last printed page, on the opposite side of the back end cover contains the following information:
  • Name of Father or Legal Guardian: The name of the father or legal guardian, as it appears on official records.
  • Name of Mother: The name of the passport holder's mother, as it appears on legal records.
  • Name of Spouse: The name of the passport holder's spouse, at it appears on the spouse's passport / marriage certificate.
  • Address: The permanent residential and correspondence address of the passport holder.
  • Old passport number with Date and Place of Issue:The old passport, if any, which was submitted for the re-issue of the current passport, for whatever reason (theft, expiry, damage, loss, etc.).
  • File number: The file number corresponding to the passport holder's passport.

Indian Passport Barcode

Indian Passports have become machine-readable with the phasing out of the older handwritten passports, and issuing newer passports with barcodes. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which India is a member country, decided to phase out handwritten passports in an effort of maximizing security and optimize efficiency. The new passports being issued by the CPV (Consular, Passport, and Visa) division of the Ministry of External Affairs are barcoded and machine-readable.

Indian Biometric Passport

India plans to roll out Biometric Passports this year (2016). The biometric passport will have a chip embedded within it, which contains personal information and the photograph of the passport holder. The biometric passport will also be upgraded to hold the passport holder's fingerprint data.