OCI Cardholders Should Carry Both Old and New Passports, Though Not Required

Indian Americans have welcomed the Indian government’s recent announcement on Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders not needing to carry their old passports while traveling to India. On March 29, the Indian consulate in San Francisco circulated a press release that carried two announcements about the OCI card.

“The timeline for re-issuance of OCI cards in respect of OCI card holders, who may be required to get their OCI card re-issued, has been extended till 31 December 2021,” read the first announcement.  Earlier it was until June 31, 2021.

The second announcement was: “Henceforth, the OCI card holders traveling on the strength of their existing OCI card bearing old passport number are not required to carry their old passport. However, carrying of the new passport is mandatory along with the OCI card.”

Recently, there has been some confusion circulating among Indian Americans with regards to travel to India.

As per media reports, OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cardholders transiting through third countries have been denied permission to board flights to India as those OCI cardholders were not carrying their old passport bearing its number on the OCI card.

The article said that it was mandatory to carry both the old and new passports in case the OCI cardholders are traveling on the strength of the OCI card bearing the old passport number in it.

On March 26, the Consulate General of India’s office in San Francisco issued a press release, which stated the following: “Henceforth, the OCI card holders traveling on the strength of their existing OCI card bearing old passport number are not required to carry their old passport. However, carrying of new passport is mandatory along with the OCI card.”

Even though the Indian Ministry of External Affairs would be informing immigration officers around the world about this new regulation, there was still a slight chance that some officer in some country who was not up to speed on this new regulation, could create a problem.

Based on this, it would be wise to carry both passports to avoid any such situation when traveling to India. On the matter of re-issuance of the OCI card, the guidelines for the renewal are as follows:

  • OCI card is required to be re-issued each time a new passport is required by the cardholder up to the age of 20 years. This is requested due to the changes in appearance of the cardholder during their growth years.
  • Between the ages of 20 and 50, no re-issuance of the OCI card is required by the cardholder at the time of renewal of passport.
  • However, when the cardholder reaches the age of 50, the OCI card needs to be re-issued just once at the time of renewing the cardholder’s passport.

In order to further ease the travel of OCI cardholders to India, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the timeline for re-issuance of OCI cards in respect of OCI cardholders who may be required to get their OCI card re-issued, has been extended till Dec. 31, 2021. The previous deadline was June 30, 2021.

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