Get a machine-readable passport, or else...

Get a machine-readable passport, or else...

Planning a foreign holiday? Beware, if you are holding a passport that is handwritten and issued with a 20-year validity.

For, many governments across the world have already started posing tough questions to visitors who don’t carry a Machine Readable Passport (MRP). You could be denied a visa, or worse, refused entry once you get there!

Technically, non-MRP passport holders have time till November 24, 2015, the deadline fixed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for the global phase-out of all such documents. However, as the Regional Passport Office (RPO) officials here insist, time is now just ripe to get your old passports renewed as MRP documents. 

All handwritten passports with pasted photos, issued earlier by the Government of India are considered non-MRP passports. Passports of 20-year validity also fall under this category, and so does those with validity exceeding the November 24 deadline.

In 2001, the Centre had started issuing MRP passports that are ICAO-compliant. The government had also urged all Indian citizens residing in the country and abroad to apply for re-issue. It had to be well before the deadline since problems were likely to crop up in visa processing and immigration. Travel agents confirmed that many travellers had faced last-minute visa problems, necessitating tatkal applications. Unaware of the new rule, many had even cancelled their foreign trips since they could not get their passports renewed in time. The agents now insist that all travellers carry MRP passports to avoid complications during the journey.

Renewal of passports issued 20 years back would require fresh police verification in case of address change, according to Regional Passport Office (RPO) officials here. Under tatkal, however, a verification certificate from a gazetted officer would suffice.

The RPO had no information on the number of handwritten passports issued before 2001. Reason: Computerisation of data began only in 2002.

The renewal process, detailed on the passport portal (www.passportindia.gov.in), requires the applicants to get their old passports cancelled, choose normal or tatkal options and pay the prescribed fees. Further details could also be accessed from the National Call Centre (toll free number 1800-258-1800).

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