India Declares Hand-Written Indian Passports Invalid

India Declares Hand-Written Indian Passports Invalid

The Indian Government has declared that Indian passports that are handwritten or issued before 2001 with a validity of 20 years are no longer valid for travel, as of Nov. 24, 2015. As per reports here, the International Civil Administration Organization has deemed that all passports issued anywhere in the world must now be machine-readable to comply with airport regulations worldwide. Foreign governments may deny a visa or entry to a person travelling on a non-machine readable passport from Nov. 25.

Venkata Ramana, a spokesman for the San Francisco Indian Consulate, was quoted to have told the media that “Hand-written Indian passports and passports issued before 2001 must be converted to electronic, scannable passports to conform with international standards.” He noted that many people have already converted their passports, and guided readers to for instructions on how and where to apply for a new passport.

The Indian Embassy noted in a bulletin that 286,000 handwritten passports were still in circulation as of November 2014. The Embassy noted that the Government of India has been issuing machine-readable passports since 2001.

“Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding such passports with validity beyond Nov. 24, 2015 are advised to apply for re-issue of their passports well before the deadline in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining valid visa or international travel,” stated the Embassy.

The Embassy also noted: “Many international travelers may not realize that having an unexpired passport is sometimes not enough to obtain visas or to enter certain foreign countries. Indian citizens traveling on passports which may expire in less than six months should renew their passports before any upcoming international travel. The universal practice in vogue now is: ‘Once your passport crosses the nine-year mark, it is time to get new passport,’” said the Embassy, adding that it was especially important to check the validity of passports for minors, whose travel documents are only valid for five years. Adults receive 10-year passports.

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