Part 1 – Figuring Out What to Do
This, let me tell you, is not easy. The website gives scattered, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory instructions. My favourite was:
If <something something something>
And <something else>
Then <do this>
If not, or if this but not that, then go figure, cos this website is not going to tell you what to do. In the particular instance that concerned me, the first If was: “If your passport has expired;” and the second If was: “If it is not a Bangalore-issued passport;” the Do This was: “Get a Verification Certificate.” Now this is important, so make a note of it.
Other contradictory instructions were of the type, “Get one attested photocopy of all the following documents,” and “Get only two copies of the old passport,”
Regarding such minor matters as fees, the website is delightfully vague: it lists fees for new passports, for various corrections to be made, and for sundry miscellaneous conditions. It is left to you to decide which category renewal of an expired passport comes under and what fees are applicable.
Then there’s information that’s not really available on the website, such as that photographs should have a red or blue background only – well, it is there on the website, but it takes a great deal of perseverance to find it, because it is buried somewhere under all the debris mentioned above.
If your criteria exactly match mine (viz. an expired passport originally issued outside Bangalore and therefore requiring address change but no other changes) then you might find the answer to the puzzle at the end of this blog. On the other hand, my answer might not work for your question, even if it is the same question, so if it doesn’t – don’t sue me!
If you’re thinking – isn’t there someone I can ask questions to, well, I don’t know, but you could try the FAQs on the website. I didn’t find them terribly helpful, because I followed them as far as I could but still went wrong.
Part 2 – Submitting the Form
This is a tedious, time-consuming, frustrating process, particularly if it starts (as it did for me) with a prolonged hunt for an auto willing to take you to Brunton Road or even to MG Road or nearby areas (what is it with these auto drivers?). Plan to spend half a day. I’m not sure if arriving early makes it quicker – I reached around 10.15 and found a queue on the verge of spilling out of the gate and on to the road! The good thing is, it was very orderly and there were two cops restricting access into the building. The queue moved fast enough and in an hour I was in the building. (If you think that’s long, you should have seen the way the queue snaked around the courtyard and to the gate – I thought it would take several hours!)
The first thing to happen is that you get a token stuck on your application – and my number was 210! I went on up and into the hall and found that they were currently serving 136. The hall was spacious and had lots of chairs, several of which were vacant. The bad part was that at each of the six counters, there were people crowding around in a haphazard manner. Towards the back of the hall was another queue. “What’s this queue for?” I asked the chap at the tail end. “For emigration,” he replied. Well, since I wasn’t planning on emigrating, I went and took a seat, though I did think it strange that emigration should be happening here (don’t they do that at airports?).
After a long time, someone next to me informed someone next to them that they would have to go stand in the queue at the back before going to the counters where token numbers were being processed. This someone turned out to be right. The queue at the back was for “arranging” the papers. They take your bunch from you, rip things apart and put them together in apparently random order, throwing out some stuff and asking for others. To my great indignation, they threw out my Verification Certificate which I had gone to such lengths to obtain! I argued with the chap that this was required and would preclude the need for police verification but he withered my protests with a ferocious glare and waved me away.
In due course, my number appeared on the electronic display and I pushed my way through the crowd at Counter 3. Here, they demand to see originals, and then send your papers to an officer at a desk just behind the counter. There’s one officer for two or three counters, and he processes the forms in rota. There seems to be no system for sending applicants away and calling them by token number once the processing is done; instead they just call out the name of the applicants when the officer sends the paperwork back. Since there are over 200 people in a big hall, it’s no wonder that those waiting for their names to be called are crowded up against the counter. I added to the crowd and waited breathlessly for my application to be processed.
The officer at the counter made some notes on the “For Office Use Only” sheet of the application and sent it back. Then I paid up and got a receipt that gave me a phone number and SMS number to follow up on the status of my application. Two and a quarter hours of waiting in queue and I was done!
What I Found Out the Hard Way
- Having read all the instructions on the website, compile a set of all the documents you need, all the documents you think you might need, and all the documents you can think of that you don’t think you’ll need. Just in case.
- Make at least two copies of every document, three if you want a copy for your own records. Though it is not clearly specified in any of the web pages I saw, they really will ask for two copies of everything. There is a photocopying shop outside the building (and what a lot of money he must be making!), but after waiting over two hours in queue it can be really frustrating to have to rush off and get copies. Luckily, they don’t make you stand in queue all over again in that event, but it might be difficult to get your turn at the counter, if your token number has been called while you were away.
- You don’t need attested copies if you are going in person – just ensure you have the originals with you.
- You don’t need a verification certificate if you are not applying for Tatkaal.
- For re-issue, the instructions ask for two photocopies of your old passport. I was inclined to take just the relevant front and back end pages, not the whole passport, but Amit advised me to take the whole damn thing, just in case. As it turned out, they rejected all the inside pages and kept only the front and back pages.
- The fee is Rs 1000
Part 3 – Getting the Passport
There isn’t a Part 3 right now, but there might be, if the police verification and the process of actually getting the passport in hand turn out to be interesting.