Now, pay online while booking passport appointments
In a move that is likely to increase the hassle for those seeking appointments, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has introduced online payment for those taking appointments from June 21. Online payment will be mandatory and MEA has insisted that it will reduce the number of people cancelling appointments.
To make matters worse, the MEA has also eliminated the option of choosing a date and time for appearing at the Passport Seva Kendra (PSKs). Now those who apply will have make do with whatever time is allocated by the system at the time of taking the appointment.
The system was introduced on a pilot basis at Dehradun Passport Office from June 1, but has been rolled out quickly to other centres, including the four PSKs in Karnataka - Lalbagh and Marathahalli in Bangalore; Hubli-Dharwad and Mangalore.
So quick has been the roll out that it has caught passport officials in Bangalore by surprise. An official rued that it was not introduced on an optional basis. “The system needs to be given at least a couple of weeks time to eliminate confusion. This is bound to make matters a little difficult,” the official commented.
According to the press release from MEA, with launch of online payment based appointments, applicants will be required to make payment at the time of booking appointment on the MEA website. With this, only genuine applicants will book the appointment and number of no-shows will reduce.
Under the new process, payments can be made while booking an appointment on the website www.passportindia.gov.in either by credit /debit card (both Master and Visa) or Internet banking of State Bank of India.
Applicants can also use the challan option provided on the website and deposit the money in State Bank of India (SBI) branch after generating challan online. In such cases, upon the confirmation of payment receipt by SBI in online system, applicants can take appointment. Further, instead of applicant choosing the date and time slot of appointment, system will automatically give earliest available appointment, the statement said.