It was year 2007. Chennai. My passport was about to expire and I had to get it renewed. So, in the month of November I started the process like everyone does – with an agent/broker. Paid money. The whole process was extremely confusing, secretive and exhausting. Standing in line for countless hours at the RPO in Nungambakkam was a torture in its own way. Corruption was flowing all around you. But then, it was 2007.
Fast forward to 2017 and it is same time of the decade for me. Task as hand was to renew my passport. Well, between 2007 and 2017, I made 2 visits to Passport office. Both are documented at https://vijay-ivaturi.com/2015/05/07/streamlined-indian-passport-application-process/ and https://vijay-ivaturi.com/2013/08/10/india-passport-process/. Different experiences from 2007, but cumbersome nonetheless.
2017 experience was however way different and something that makes us really proud of how the system has evolved from where it was 10 years ago. From the thought of applying for passport renewal to the actual passport in my had – it took 7 days (including weekend, normal passport, no bribes). Below is the story.
Thursday night 8 PM
I decided to renew my passport and went to the passport website for booking an appointment. It took some 30 minutes to fill in my details and there was an appointment available in nearby PSK (in Hyderabad) the very next day, Friday. Only document evidence I needed was a copy of my Aadhar which has current address.
Friday afternoon 1 PM
I was at the PST at the appointment time. Documents I was carrying: old passport, photocopies of old passport, new passport application receipt, copy of Aadhar. That’s it! You do not need anything else. Nothing whatsoever!
Once inside the PSK, it is a 4 step process:
Step -1 : Submit your documents to the TCS employee at entrance desk for basic validation and issuing of a token. This has been a slow step 2 years back and same now also. We were around 10 people in the room and it took the PSK staff 30 minutes to issue the token number.
Step -2 : With the token number, wait at counter-A for my turn. Documents get scanned, fingerprints taken, photograph taken and documents are reverified at this step. Since these tasks take time, there are a number of counters setup for this task and the whole room looks like a typical corporate office.
Step -3 : Next round of document validation by MEA (Government) staff. Nothing much happens here, if your documents are all in the right shape.
Step -4 : Final step where your passport application gets approved by another MEA staff member. He/she will ask to see the original address proof. Again, this is a quick step. That is it. You are done!
Before exiting the PSK, applicants have to collect a receipt indicating that passport is approved and will be processed.
Saturday evening 8 PM
Had a knock at my door and when I opened it, 2 burly gentlemen walked into my apartment and introduced themselves as policemen who came for verification! This is incredible. Kudos to MEA and Hyderabad police. They took 30 minutes to complete the verification process and left. No bribe.
Wednesday morning 11 AM
Speedpost employee delivered the passport at my home. I was in office and as requested by the employee, my wife tipped him some 50 bucks. And I do not mind doing it. We tip pizza delivery boys all the time. Perfectly fine in tipping the postman!
And done. Within 7 day, normal application, no bribe, no hassles. I had my passport in my had. This is just incredible. After Aadhaar, Passport is the only other public facing government service which is this efficient. We just wish the state government departments also take up such professional approaches in government hospitals, RTOs, registrar office, municipal offices etc.
Now, there are few things you should be careful about. Below is the list:
- Every time you move your address, make sure you get the Aadhar address changed. This is a simple process which can be completed online. You will need some very basic supporting document to modify Aadhar address. As a responsible citizen, keep your Aadhar address updated and avoid paying money to agents/brokers.
- Aadhar stopped giving cards anymore. All you get is an e-aadhar. When you print the e-aadhar, ensure that you accept digital signature certificate in PDF and then only print. I did not check this and my e-aadhar print had a X mark stating the document is not digitally verified. Had a tough time in Step-3 convincing the MEA official
- It is advisable to keep a copy and original of one additional address proof. MEA staff asks for additional proofs, so that they are 100% satisfied with the application. I did not carry any additional proof and they were all looking at me with suspicion
- Also carry a 10th class or degree certificate copy + original. Just in case
- Police verification is independent of your passport delivery process. This is a brilliant move by MEA since policemen cannot harass you anymore by delaying their verification report. In the new system, you would have got the passport already
- Bribe is possible situation still with police verification. It is a common practice that they will ask you to come to the police station to complete the verification and you will be compelled to pay money in the police station. In my case however, this was not the situation. Cops came to my home and everything went smooth.
- For police verification, keep 2 photographs ready, along with every other document you carried to PSK. Good thing about PSK is that all document you carry inside come out with you. So, these are sufficient for police verification.
So, have fun and get your passports issued or renewed without any complications corruption. Things are changing and will change even more for our own good.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.