NRI Pulse Staff Report
Atlanta, GA: Hand-written passports of Indian citizens living in India and abroad are no longer valid, according to an advisory released by the Consulate General of India in Atlanta recently.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had set a deadline of the 24th November, 2015 for globally phasing out of all non-Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). Foreign Governments may deny Visa or entry to any person traveling on a non-Machine Readable Passport, says the advisory.
The Government of India has been issuing Machine Readable Passports since 2001. The Passports, however, issued before 2001 and particularly those issued during mid 1990s with a validity of 20 years will fall in the category of non-MRPs. All handwritten passports with pasted photographs are also considered non-MRPs.
By the end of November 2014, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.86 lakh handwritten passports in circulation. Approximately 6 crore Indians hold valid passports.
Indian citizens residing inIndiaand abroad and holding such passports with validity beyond the 24th November, 2015 are advised to apply for re-issue of their passports immediately in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining valid visa or international travel.
The advisory also applies for passports valid for less than six months. Many international travelers may not realize that having an unexpired passport is sometimes not enough to obtain visas or to enter certain foreign countries. Indian citizens traveling on passports which may expire in less than six months should renew their passports before any upcoming international travel. It is especially important to check the passports needs of any minor who may be accompanying their parents as passports for minors have a shorter validity period (5 years) than passports for adults (10 years). The universal practice in vogue now is;
Once your passport crosses the nine-year mark, it is time to get new passport, says the advisory.
Also, some countries do not accept passports which may have fewer than two pages remaining. Please check your passport to ensure that you have enough visa pages. There is no provision of additional booklets/pages and you will be required to apply reissuance of passport following standard procedures. Frequent travellers may opt for Jumbo Passport containing 64 pages.
All Passport Issuing Authorities have instituted a simple and fast-track procedure for renewal of passports. For more details related to passport services, website – www.passportindia.gov.in – or the National Call Centre (1800-258-1800 – Toll Free) may be accessed.
Indian citizens living in the Southeast are requested to go through this advisory, which has also been published on the website of the Indian Consulate in Atlanta (www.indianconsulateatlanta.org) and other social media.