If you are fond of traveling or even if traveling for business, one document that you cannot avoid is a Passport. I got my first passport made 20 years ago and I still dread that experience. Just thinking of getting a passport would remind me of long queues, touts and underhand money exchange apart from long drawn process with multiple documents, photocopies, attestation by gazetted officer and affidavits. Not anymore! Here is my latest experience that will give you a good idea of how to get your passport made or renewed.
The process of making your passport made or renewed is mostly online including taking an appointment for the personal visit.
- First and foremost make your profile at http://www.passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/user/userLogin which is just 2-3 minute process.
- Fill in the application form on the website. Printout of this application is not required.
- Take an appointment as per the availability or as per your convenient date
- If you are applying passport in Tatkal (To get passport in 3-4 working days post your personal meeting), pay Rs2000 Tatkal fees on the website by using credit card, debit card or net banking
- Take a print out of appointment slip
The best thing I liked about the entire process is that website guides you for all the documentation required as per your category application. One of my friends who recently got his passport made advised that I keep a signed copy of adhaar card of all references that I have given in the passport. This wasn’t mentioned on the website but I followed his advice. However it did not come in handy and the documents were returned to me on the first check point itself.
What to expect at Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Passport Office:
I applied for Gurgaon PSK which showed under Delhi and since I applied in Tatkal, it showed appointment availability for the next day itself at 2.30pm. The message advised that I reach by 2.15pm. However I reached early by 1.50pm itself but I wasn’t allowed to enter the premises before 2.15pm. The Gurgaon PSK is wheel chair friendly and only place you will have to stand in the queue is the first check point where they check the completeness of the document.
The first check point sent me to meet DPO (District Passport Officer). This step is only applicable for people applying under Tatkal. DPO checked my file and noted my old passport number and sent me to take the token number. The entire floor of PSK that is managed by TCS employees is divided into A, B & C Zone and one has to start from section ‘A’ post taking the token number.
There are big monitors installed everywhere that shows your token number and relevant counter where you have to go. Section A official again checked my documents, scanned them, took my biometrics, clicked pictures and took the passport fees in cash. For renewal only document that I gave were my adhaar card copy, photocopy of first 2 & last 2 pages of my old passport and the appointment slip. They also checked the passport in original. I took SMS alert service at Rs45 that gave me status of my file movement. Counter A also asked if I wanted to buy passport holder which I refused.
My turn at Section B came in another 5 minute. The person again checked all documents, asked for the original documents and cancelled my old passport.
Section C is managed by MEA officials who will finally grant the passport. Since I have lost most of my hair since my old passport, they asked me to go back to Section A again and get my US Visa scanned that showed my more recent picture. Post that scan I again had to visit counter B and later C (all through the monitor display). Under Tatkal the passport is issued subject to positive police verification. If the verification comes negative, the passport will be revoked.
I was asked to take acknowledgement letter from the exit gate counter. Hurray, the process was all done in 65 minutes from entry to exit. No bribes, no touts, air-conditioned office and promise to receive the passport under Tatkal in 3 working days. Btw, I received a message on the same day of my visit is that my passport has been printed. On the next working day, I got a message that my passport has been dispatched along with tracking details and 2 days later my passport was with me. Yes, it happens even in India 🙂