Much to my surprise the Indian Passport Office has been completely overhauled. Application forms are filled out online, appointments handed out from the web site (15 minute time increments with a specific date), PDF printouts with most of the fields filled in, it’s all very organized. Until you get there. And then you figure out a couple of things that they really should have made plain on the site. This post is really just a reminder for me so I don’t screw up next time around. Maybe it will help some poor soul and save them some time in a queue.
First things first, while filling out the form you will find them constantly referring to the Passport Information Booklet. This hallowed tome is in fact available on the Indian Passport website but is cleverly disguised as Passport Rules rather than Passport Information Booklet. Download it here. Bear in mind that it is in fact ~30 megabytes. This is because it is just a scanned version of the real handbook. If anyone has an OCR’ed version of this I’d love to have a copy.
The PDF will tell you what documents you need in excruciating detail. It also has a bunch of annexures at the end that will need to be used depending on the type of passport service needed. For instance, I had to use Annexure ‘H’ to get a passport for my kid. So, hopefully you’ve rounded up the relevant documents and are ready to fill up the form. Here is the checklist when filling it up:
- Fill up ALL fields. Don’t leave anything empty, if it doesn’t apply write “N/A”. The Information Booklet refers to fields as columns. Go figure.
- Make sure you have 3 copies of all documents you’re submitting. The way I think this works is 2 copies is enough unless you have lived in more than one place in the last year. You need to add one more set for each place you stayed in. Better to take 3 copies just in case and add an additional copy for every place you stayed at.
- Make sure you have originals of all documents you’re submitting. They won’t take them but you need to show them at the counter.
- If you have lived in more than one place in the last year you have to provide 2 Personal Particulars forms for each place you stayed at.
- Don’t forget to sign the photo you stick on every Personal Particulars form.
And the checklist for when you’re at the passport office:
- Make sure you’re in the right line. Sometimes the cop at the entrance makes a mistake. There are different lines (at the Pune Office at least) for Fresh Passports, Renewals, Minors, Government Officials and Senior Citizens. The list of people/services the line handles are stuck on the glass at the counter. Go read it and ensure you’re at the right window.
- If you travel a lot pick up the Jumbo Passport. It has 60 pages instead of 36 and costs Rs. 500 more. I still had 4 years to go on my passport but ran out of pages and needed a new one. Tell the guy at the counter you want a Jumbo so he files it correctly. I crossed out the amount mentioned at the top of the PDF (Rs. 1000) and wrote Rs. 1500 in it’s place.
- Make sure you have exact change for the passport payment. Don’t bother with a Demand Draft, they take Cash over the counter just as happily.
That’s all I can think of. Hopefully I won’t have to go back there for another 10 years.