The Indian Government has urged its citizens living abroad to opt for new machine readable passports in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organizations plan to phase out all non-machine readable passports in 2015.
The Indian mission in the UAE have also urged Indian citizens to check the validity of their passports and the remaining number of blank pages to ensure that they have more than two pages because some countries deny visa for such passport holders.
In a statement, the Indian Consulate in Dubai advised Non-Resident Indians to apply urgently for the reissuance of their passports, in case they are not machine readable.
About 286,000 handwritten passports were in circulation by the end of November 2014 out of 60 million Indians who hold valid passports.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has set a deadline of the 24th November, 2015 for globally phasing out of all non-Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). From 25th November, 2015 onwards, foreign governments may deny visa or entry to any person travelling on a non-Machine Readable Passport,” said the Consulate statement.
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.
“Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding such passports with validity beyond the 24th November, 2015 are advised to apply for re-issue of their passports well before the deadline in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining valid visa or international travel.
Many international travellers may not realise that having an unexpired passport is sometimes not enough to obtain visas or to enter certain foreign countries. Indian citizens travelling 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,” the statement said.
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.