Sunday, March 04, 2012

Passport Reissue in Chennai – A Happy Saga

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(This blog post is written by my wife Ms Deepa Madathil about her experience of going to Passport Office to renew (reissue) her passport. Incidentally this is the first time she is writing some thing in my blog:)
Update 08/04/12: Deepa went to Katpadi police station after getting a call from there to come there for police verification of passport. Had to take a photo with her and proof of address. In just ten minutes, police verification is over.Call from police station came exactly one month after she applied for her passport.
Update 14/03/12: Deepa got her passport home 13 days after her visit to passport seva kendra!!
My passport was going to expire in a month. The very thought of going through a government office filling so many papers was itself frightening me. To start the process rolling Brijesh and I went to a travel agency in our school to find out the procedure. They told us that reissue of passport has changed a lot since the time we got our passport 10 years ago and now things are very systematic. Only issue is that we need to go from Vellore to one of the Passport Seva Kendra in Chennai with all the documents. The travel agency promised us help in getting the date for my passport interview (More about the travel agency later in this post.) 
So I got an appointment for the passport interview in Saligramam office at 11:45 AM on March 1st. From the previous experiences in Chennai traffic we decided not to take any risk, Brijesh and I reached the passport office around 9.00 AM, only to see a huge crowd waiting on the road. They allowed only applicants to go in and that too 30 minutes before the actual appointment time. Now we have over 2 hours to kill and we didn’t know what to do. We walked around and found a Big Bazaar. We did window shopping for close to an hour and for the next one hour we just sat outside on the stairs of Big Bazaar with me watching all the people coming in and out and Brijesh reading some book. 
I went back at 11:15 AM and was allowed in. Initial screening/checking is done by TCS employees and they allow you in, only if you have all the proper documents. They check your address proof, affidavits and old passport (in case of reissue/renewal). I had all the documents but my appointment letter that I took printout of, from the internet had “Normal” at one place and “Tatkal” at the other. The travel agent who helped me book the interview had screwed up big time. I thought I may be asked to come back again as these TCS guys were rejecting entry to almost 1 in 3 applicants because they didn’t have proper documents. I didn’t want to go back to Vellore and come back again another day. 
To my surprise the guy said “Madam, Please write a letter addressed to regional passport officer that you actually want your passport to be processed in normal mode”. I was very happy to hear that and I immediately wrote that letter. Now I had cleared the first level of screening and was given a token that read A->B->C->Exit. I needed to go through three more levels before I am sure I will get my passport reissued. 
Now the wait began – wait for my token number to be displayed in the big LCD TV. In 20 minutes my token number was displayed and I was in front of another TCS employee who was really very courteous. She looked at my bank statement and marriage affidavit and told me that both the documents were enough proof of our address. She told me that they didn’t accept the letter from our workplace for proof of address as it is a private organization. I had to take the marriage affidavit as we had lost our original marriage certificate. Now this girl took my finger prints and I paid the money, Rs. 1000, for reissue of my passport. 
Now again I had to wait – for my number to be called to meet the next officer. The next person I met was not a TCS employee but a “passport verification officer”, a government employee who was scrutinizing all the documents I had submitted. I went to him when my turn came and after going through all the documents asked me, 
Passport Officer (PO): Nothing personal, but why don’t you want to change your last name after marriage.
Me: Sir, I am from a community that follows matriarchal system and my last name is my mothers’ family name.
PO: So your mother will also have the same last name? 
Me: Yes Sir, You can see that in my old passport. 
He looked at my old passport and got it verified. He said “ok” and asked me to wait for the final verification. Now I was called to meet with the “Passport Granting Officer”, another government employee. He also scanned through all the documents and maybe seeing that my old passport was issued in Hyderabad asked me
PO: So you moved from one hot place (Hyderabad) to another hot place (Vellore)
Me: Smiles 
He looks at my employee letter skeptically and asks 
PO: You a student in VIT University?
Me: No Sir, I am a faculty there
PO: Oh, sorry, I am so used to seeing student bonafide certificates from your institute that I mistook this one for that
Me: Again Smiles
PO: So you moved directly from Hyderabad to Vellore
Me: I was in US for over five years before moving to Vellore 
He looks at the US visa stamped in my old passport and then signed on the form and said “Passport Approved, You can leave”! I looked at my watch and it was 12:45 PM – exactly 90 minutes since I got in. I was given a feedback form on my way out for which I marked “Very Good” for each question.
********************************************************
Looking back now, only mistake I did in the whole process was going through the travel agent in booking the dates. Later I realized that it was an easy process that could have taken just 5 minutes for me to do it on my own for which I paid Rs 500 to that stupid travel agent. He took his own sweet time to do this registration and also filled it incorrectly. The new process at Passport Seva Kendra is so good and the only thing to take care of is you need to have the correct documents. The required documents for each kind of passport service are given here and if you follow the instructions you get your passport approved without any hassle.
Here is a video that gives all details of how to apply for your passport in Passport Seva Kendra.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous asher said...

Oh My Mad, that's awesome, i could never imagine the procedure at a Govt. Office would be this structured, that you don't have to go to one babu to another babu to get your work done.

March 04, 2012 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If ur old passport has a mistake like missing last name OR if u never got ur passport renewed for long time after it expired - try going to passport office now.. and see the fun.

March 04, 2012 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Shiju R said...

Hi,
Nice to hear about the improvement in passport services in India. But it’s more heartening to read a blog about something which is on positive side. Most of your blogs are about looking things from a critical angle.

March 05, 2012 12:40 AM  
Blogger lilyblossoms said...

You are right Mam, it is better to go through the passport office process on your own than via an agent....I ended up giving a huge amount of money to an agent when I got my passport made 3 years back and reading this and with other's experiences I realize.....passport offices are an eve more smooth ride without an agent....!!

March 05, 2012 4:58 AM  
Blogger uthara narayanan said...

I need to get my passport reissued too. What happened to police verification in this whole process?

March 05, 2012 6:26 AM  
Blogger uthara narayanan said...

I need to get my passport reissued too. What happened to police verification in this whole process?

March 05, 2012 6:36 AM  
Blogger uthara narayanan said...

what about police verification?

March 05, 2012 6:37 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

uthara narayanan
Police will come to your house from the near-by police station and only after that you actually get the passport by mail. After your visit to passport seva kendra you get your passport in a month

March 05, 2012 6:30 PM  
Blogger Mohammed Chand Shaikh said...

ur happy with the new system, for passport under PSK with TCL,but do you realize that a private frim have got your personal data, and TCL can use this for his Commercial purpose.

Sir,in the prosess it is only the same as u eat your lunch in a Dhaba or in a 5 star hotel same food only the place has been change.

agent is not a Stupit you are, Indian only blame other, you dont known how to online he does that, your work was done know you kwon , how thing work ,so then blame your self, you dont kwon to online.

March 08, 2012 11:32 PM  
Anonymous Suresh Iyer said...

Brijesh and Deepa: Good first post! Nice and informative.

I stumbled upon this post after applying for the passport reissue online. I carry a very bad memory of standing in the hot sun followed by standing in the crowded corridors without air circulation for hours at the Passport Office, Chennai for submitting the reissue application for my wife. It was pre-PSK era, of course!

I was happy to find that I could submit the form online. But the problem started when it was time to book an appointment to go to the PSK. That is the weakest link in this whole PSK thing.

The online bookings for appointment, for some strange reason, will start only at 4pm every day, and there are only 8 slots per day (may be just 8 people serviced per day?), and they will allow you to book only one week in advance. Reminds me of 8 am on IRCTC for 90 day in advance booking! :)

I have been attempting to book an appointment from Monday and only today I managed to book one, and that too after acting a bit smart. The site becomes extremely slow at sharp 4pm :) and the slots are gone within 5 minutes.

On Monday and Tuesday, due to the slowness of the site, I couldn't even see the available slots. On Wednesday, I finally managed to see the available slots, and I picked my favorite and after a couple of hiccups ("the site refused connection, please reload the page"), I manged to submit to only see the message "This slot is taken up by someone else. Please try another". So I dutifully checked for the other available slots, and by this time (4:03), the available slot count had reduced from 8 to 3! I tried each of them in quick succession, and got the same message "taken up by someone else".

Out of sheer frustration, I called up the PSK toll free number and asked them "Your online thing sucks. I want to do the whole thing offline. What should I do?". The reply was interesting "there is no offline mode now, sir. Only option for everyone in Chennai is to go to the PSKs, and to go there you need to apply online only". I asked her what will I do if I don't know English or don't know how to use computers. The reply was awesome: "you need to get hold of someone who can apply on your behalf"! I sure do hope she was bluffing, or may be the Saligramam office serves only online appointments. Being lazy, I assumed she was right and so was back in the "book online appointment" game.

It struck me today (Thursday) that I should try opening multiple slots and submitting them one after the other in quick succession, just waiting enough between submissions to avoid multiple bookings. So today I picked what might be the least favorable slots during summer -- between 11 and 3, comprising just 4 slots -- and managed to book one of them for next Thursday. The first one failed to load, and after seeing that I submitted the second. That threw CAPTCHA at me again and I submitted again, and struck gold! Of course, had it failed, the third tab was ready for submission! :)

Tips

1. Login around 3:30 or 3:45 and keep the session active by querying for slots in your favorite PSK :)

2. In most modern browsers, pressing Ctrl+click opens each slot (which appears as a clickable link) in a different tab unless you are using IE6. Once you have the tabs open for each slot, fill the CAPTCHAs (if they load :) and do as I did.

Unless the govt. ramps up the server infra, non-tech savvy people will be disappointed at not being able to book an appointment.

Btw, how many days elapsed between the police verification and the delivery of passport?

PS: This is Suresh Iyer (@protoiyer) of the 95-99 NSS PKD batch (Mech.), and I am also from Tvm. We met via your blog or on twitter, while you were in the US a couple of years back. Hope you remember me, Brijesh

PS2: Apologies for the longest comment (max 4096 characters). May be I should have posted it in my blog. :)

March 15, 2012 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Suresh Iyer said...

Thu, Mar 22: Today was my interview. Everything went on fine. The kind lady at the screening counter even allowed me to go home and come back with some originals I missed taking (entirely not my fault). Then I moved to the "A > B > C > Exit" stage, and it was pretty painless on the whole.

One irritating aspect was that the passport office staff (in Level B) didn't want to honour what is promised in the passport website vis-a-vis what documents are acceptable as address proof. The website clearly says "spouse's passport as long as the address is the same". The officer aunty I met said "No, no.. we will accept the spouse's passport only if a wife brings it [i.e. she brings her husband's passport as address proof]. You are a male and so we cannot accept you bringing your wife's. After marriage wife will go and live in husband's house, and not the other way around". I was flabbergasted and tried to make her understand that it was MY house, and moved in after marriage to live there and further that her passport happened to expire one year before mine and hence I am bringing hers as proof. She turned to her colleague and they discussed this and decided that [as per their knowledge of societal customs], spouse in that paragraph can refer to husbands only! I didn't try to tell her that in my home state (Kerala) many husbands move to their wife's place after marriage! Why give them a cultural shock?! :)

Anyways, out of sheer luck my backpack had one slightly crumpled year old BSNL bill and that was enough to cross that hurdle. It is a different matter that I had to go back to Level A to get it scanned and so on, but eventually managed to get out within 2 hours.

Brijesh: Police Verification is allowed to happen AFTER reissuing the certificate. I will be getting the reissued passport first and then I have been told to go to police station if they don't come :).

Lesson: Reissue with spouse name addition, ECNR removal, and address change means you need to carry proof and originals for each of them -- marriage certificate, Degree Certificate or marksheet and proof of address (don't depend on your wife's passport, guys, if you are in Chennai :)

March 22, 2012 5:35 PM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

@Suresh Iyer
I remember you... We have talked through Twitter... Regarding some MS admission for one of your family friend....

Yes good to know that your passport interview went well and you will soon be getting your passport. Yes you are correct, the police verification is after you get your passport....

Do keep in touch...
Brijesh

March 23, 2012 5:21 AM  
Blogger Ashwin S said...

Hi, I'm planing to apply passport for my parents. How many days it'll take to get there passport's.. By normal & tatkkal in the current system...??? Can you pls clarify... So that i can apply accordingly...

March 27, 2012 9:26 AM  
Blogger Ashwin S said...

Hi, I'm planing to apply a new passport for my parents, How many days they'll take to deliver my passport after document submittion by normal & tatkkal...?? So that i can apply accordingly... pls clarify....

March 27, 2012 9:31 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Ashwin S
For Tatkal it is 2 days after you apply and for normal it is within one month after you apply. Having said that my wife got her passport in 13 days after she apply
Good luck with your parent's passport...

March 27, 2012 1:03 PM  
Blogger arunsark said...

I had applied passport renewal in Hyderabad.
The entire online process is smooth as shared by others.

But problem comes here after we reach B counter. Here we have 20 A counters manned by TCS people and they do things real fast.

After that B counter is manned by Sarkari Babus and they are lousy lethargic pimps. They just worked like tortoises here in Hyderabad.

My agony started once I reached there. I got cleared from A counter at 12.30PM and by the time I had drashan of B counter it was 5PM and C counter was by 5.30PM.

It was a painful agonising wait. I couldn't move out because if I lose the turn then it has to start all over. And I couldn't see any food stall inside Hyderabad (Ameerpet) office and had to sit there hungry . Not sure if there is some food counter moreover I didn't any of the others sitting besides me munching.

The morons of Passport office (B/C counter) take a lunch break from 1PM to 2PM and by the time they start working it is 2.30PM. Then they go out for smoke at 3PM, chit-chat . Lot of children old people were waiting and they were colossally ignorant and in their own world.

In between an MLA and family arrived and the Babus were up in their toes and serviced him without any queues or delays.

I think this problem is specific to Hyderabad, last week my parents renewed in Trivandrum and it was done in 30mts. Chennai also I heard wait is not this bad.

When I left at 5.30PM there were still 150 people waiting for B counter appointment. Not sure if they will clear the backlog at all. I enquired with others and many in Hyderabad had an harrowing experience.

The gentleman at C counter was outright rude, I asked him where can I get the passport back after cancellation, he just said "You just get out from here". I didn't retort anything back because he can easily screw up and hold my passport.

Another painful thing was adding spouse name, I produced marriage certificate and these guys demanded passport of spouse (at B Counter). This document was never mentioned in list. I just told the truth that she had passport, if i had told no it would have continued. But they demanded that and I had to go out home and bring back her passport.

March 29, 2012 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Suresh Iyer said...

Got my passport reissued - 12 days! :)

April 03, 2012 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Chandra said...

Only the "lucky ones" get through the passport maniac easily. I have so many friends and me who have applied for new passport or renewal. There is not a single applicant who had gone through this phase without obstacles easily. In spite of this everyone has given bribe for police verification. Rs500/- is a standard price which has gone to Rs5000/- in few cases. And any irregularities can be managed through bribe.

If you wanna see the real plight of passport applicants can be seen in Hyderabad Passport office.
For new applicants who apply passport in Tatkal scheme visit in the midnight outside passport office. They will be in queue from 12:00 am midnight and only 200 applications are given tokens to apply under tatkal per day. You can get token from agents if you are able to shell out 3000 bucks.

If you wanna see the plight of applicants who had no status and come for enquiry to passport office visit office in 9 to 11 AM I guess. People come from various districts, most of them by the time they arrive gates are closed and will be staying / sleeping on the roads for next day. There are many people who are daily labour in Saudi, who already have visa and but no passport even after applying in tatkal. There are many students, employees who have to take off from work for several days to get the things done.

I am one of those. I have taken 2 days off from work, visited passport office prior day and did a thorough research to apply for passport renewal in tatkal. There are many agents who will misguide you. I have read the application guidelines several times and filled the application, and agent says that is not filed and filled properly. And they claim that you can get passport in couple of weeks if you can pay 10,000/- . I saw there are many applicants who apply from different countries via these agents and applicant need not be here.

I do not want to shell those extra 3000 for a tatkal token from an agent, though I can afford. I wanted to get through this hell myself experiencing everything.

I went to passport office that midnight 01:00 AM on a chill December night. By the time I went there there were already some 100 people in the queue. I counted myself and say that my number was some 98 including the special line for moms with little kids.

The gates were opened at 8:00 AM next morning. And luckily I was just the last but one guy that day. So with my experience and study it is said that almost 100 tokens were sold by agents.

The plight is the passport office does not have any public restrooms for applicants.

I have applied successfully, police had come for verification, shelled out 500 bucks (standard rate), collected some bunch of documents from my offer letter, certificates, bank statements and many. He will call me on my mobile, I have to go to his place and get him to my home to submit the documents. I did not take my car to receive him, afraid that I have to shell out more. He was very keen on my salary so that he can demand more. I lied that I work for some 10,000/-. That saga is over.

Next no status updated for a month. Went to office for enquiry. First day no luck. Next day very big queue some 300 - 350 before me. I could make it to the counter. He said no marriage certificate enclosed. I submitted & They missed it. Again next day for submitting the documents. Do not forget to write a covering letter in A4 size paper, else they will not accept it..

After some 2 months, I finally got my passport and missed couple of onsite opportunities.

That is the reason, I tell every one staying abroad to get renewals if needed whatever country you stay. There you get passport in few days of applying.

Such a simple process of Passport, agents and govt made a mess...

I feel I am privileged to get experience all these, else you will not know the actual process and the plight of your fellow citizens.

April 09, 2012 1:42 AM  
Anonymous Chandra said...

Only the "lucky ones" get through the passport maniac easily. I have so many friends and me who have applied for new passport or renewal. There is not a single applicant who had gone through this phase without obstacles easily. In spite of this everyone has given bribe for police verification. Rs500/- is a standard price which has gone to Rs5000/- in few cases. And any irregularities can be managed through bribe.

If you wanna see the real plight of passport applicants can be seen in Hyderabad Passport office.
For new applicants who apply passport in Tatkal scheme visit in the midnight outside passport office. They will be in queue from 12:00 am midnight and only 200 applications are given tokens to apply under tatkal per day. You can get token from agents if you are able to shell out 3000 bucks.

If you wanna see the plight of applicants who had no status and come for enquiry to passport office visit office in 9 to 11 AM I guess. People come from various districts, most of them by the time they arrive gates are closed and will be staying / sleeping on the roads for next day. There are many people who are daily labour in Saudi, who already have visa and but no passport even after applying in tatkal. There are many students, employees who have to take off from work for several days to get the things done.

I am one of those. I have taken 2 days off from work, visited passport office prior day and did a thorough research to apply for passport renewal in tatkal. There are many agents who will misguide you. I have read the application guidelines several times and filled the application, and agent says that is not filed and filled properly. And they claim that you can get passport in couple of weeks if you can pay 10,000/- . I saw there are many applicants who apply from different countries via these agents and applicant need not be here.

I do not want to shell those extra 3000 for a tatkal token from an agent, though I can afford. I wanted to get through this hell myself experiencing everything.

I went to passport office that midnight 01:00 AM on a chill December night. By the time I went there there were already some 100 people in the queue. I counted myself and say that my number was some 98 including the special line for moms with little kids.

The gates were opened at 8:00 AM next morning. And luckily I was just the last but one guy that day. So with my experience and study it is said that almost 100 tokens were sold by agents.

The plight is the passport office does not have any public restrooms for applicants.

I have applied successfully, police had come for verification, shelled out 500 bucks (standard rate), collected some bunch of documents from my offer letter, certificates, bank statements and many. He will call me on my mobile, I have to go to his place and get him to my home to submit the documents. I did not take my car to receive him, afraid that I have to shell out more. He was very keen on my salary so that he can demand more. I lied that I work for some 10,000/-. That saga is over.

Next no status updated for a month. Went to office for enquiry. First day no luck. Next day very big queue some 300 - 350 before me. I could make it to the counter. He said no marriage certificate enclosed. I submitted & They missed it. Again next day for submitting the documents. Do not forget to write a covering letter in A4 size paper, else they will not accept it..

After some 2 months, I finally got my passport and missed couple of onsite opportunities.

That is the reason, I tell every one staying abroad to get renewals if needed whatever country you stay. There you get passport in few days of applying.

Such a simple process of Passport, agents and govt made a mess...

I feel I am privileged to get experience all these, else you will not know the actual process and the plight of your fellow citizens.

April 09, 2012 1:43 AM  
Blogger Amna said...

Isnt it great to hear such a happy story..I applied for reissue of passport on 2 april 2012 under the tatkaal scheme,there were no changes on my passport and my appointment at the saligramam office went smoothly..The passport officer at counter B and C told me there would be no hiccups and no police verification needed.but 12 days after applying
my status shows police verification pending... when I contacted the local police station he politely tells me(yeah i know its stange ) no file has been forwarded to him..
Now i am not sure what to do ?
where to go or who to ask?

April 12, 2012 12:14 PM  

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