Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to get the Passport - My learnings...

Ok. Now that I have the passport with me, I thought of recording my learnings for posterity. Four visits to the passport office and I know a thing or two.

The Indian government Passport Management System works (It is the software that handles passport processing data). So be humble about your opinion on the sarkari processes… you just need to know how to get your work done in this vast government machinery. Which is what this blog is about. 24 simple tips that you won’t get in the official website or in any consumer complaint websites.

1. Take time to fill the form carefully, honestly and neatly. If you have any queries, check. Be sure that you will be caught for any mistake coz the Indian government Passport Management System works. Check out the link for the various mistakes that can be addressed with a penalty at . Make sure you don’t commit those mistakes.

2. You need to take a token to submit the passport application form. Online application is available for certain cities where you can book an online appointment (date and time) and so skip the token procedure completely. That would help you skip the standing in the token queue (See more on queues under the Queues sub section). Check out the cities with the Online registration option on .

3. Keep the receipt safely till you get your passport.

If you are reading this blog then chances are that you haven’t got your passport for some reason that you don’t know. And you are figuring out just what to do.

Passport status

4. Passport status can be checked on the website  or .

5. The message in the status will not tell you what is wrong exactly which is when you would feel lost and helpless and curse the ‘system’. Fretting wont help you. Nor will the person lending you a sympathetic ear. Read on…

Email queries

6. Email to  would get you a response but not a detailed one. You can visit your cities passport office home page too for some email Ids and phone numbers. But it wont help.

Visit the PRO

7. The only way to move your file is to visit the PRO. Chances are that you will have to visit the PRO a few times before anything happens.

8. In Delhi, the PRO’s don’t meet any visitors on wednesday. Check which day is applicable for your city.

9. In the Delhi passport office, PRO for Tatkaal sits in the ground floor and the PRO of the general category sits on the first floor. Don’t expect a swanky office space. Your tax may not really have been put to great use. The office is dusty and congested. Be prepared.

10. People around will complain about how sarkari the place is etc etc etc etc etc etc… etc. Don’t bother to contribute. It will only exhaust you in the already stuffy place and make you irritable. That won’t help when the PRO asks you to visit again and the thought of all the queues, travel and leave from office engulf you. Expect the worst. Smile, say OK and never question the PRO.


11. You don’t need to take a token to visit the PRO if you have already applied for the passport. But you need to show the receipt of the payment made for the passport application. So the token queue can be skipped.

12. If you are in Delhi, then this is the timing for the queue:

a. Token queue starts at 9.30 am. If you need a token then be there by 8.45 am coz by then the queue starts building up.

b. The entry to the building starts at 10:00 am and once the entry starts, the queue moves smoothly. If you want to meet the Tatkal PRO or if you have an online appointment there is no need to come before 10:00.

c. If you want to meet the PRO in the general category, then you could come by 9.30 am to be slightly ahead in the queue.

13. Don’t try to jump the queue. Especially the one outside the PRO’s office! You can’t use gender, age and other sympathy generators. No one will help you. So don’t expect any help. (By the way, Senior citizens can skip the main entrance queue but only their spouses can accompany them. Don’t call in on your ageing parents or grandparents just to skip the queue! The Indian Government is ahead of you on this one. There is a notice right outside with this message).

14. The officials come in only after 10:30 am and most by 11:00 am. So you cannot really avoid the waiting part.

15. Once the officials are there the queues move forward fairly quickly.

16. You maybe asked to stand in another queue if you have to pay a fine or get some document checked. Bear it with a smile.

What to carry in all your follow up visits to the passport office (This should save you another trip or two to the passport office)

17. Carry 4 sets of personal particulars form (or PP form). You might need 2 or 3 but why take a chance.

18. Passport size photographs. To be safe carry the same version as in your application form.

19. A few blank pages incase you are asked to submit any application

20. Stationary – Pen, Glue stick, stapler etc

21. Originals and photocopy of the various documents that you are/were required to submit with your passport application.

RTI (Right to information)

22. If nothing works, you can try RTI. The common man has no clue how RTI works, so here is my contribution – Just write a letter to the PIO (Public Information Officer) of the department requesting for the information you seek along with a Rs 10.00 postal money order. Send the letter via speedpost and keep the receipt. You can get the address of the PIO of the concerned passport office at .

23. You can followup with an email to if you wish.


24. Don’t even think about it! (I did not think of it either). The Indian government Passport Management System works. And you should go through the procedure.

To repeat myself yet again - the Indian government Passport Management System works. You just need to figure out what to do. And no, there are no shortcuts. If you did not get your passport for whatever reason and regardless of whether it was your fault or not, you have to go through the government procedure And yes, it is just like the television serial Office-Office. Grin and bear and you will receive your passport - finally.