Machine-Readable Indian Passports to Be Mandatory for NRIs & Indian Citizens
The Consular, Passport & Visa Division (CPV) of the Ministry of External Affairs issued a public advisory on December 23, 2014 notifying any Indian citizen or resident and/or passport holder with a non-machine readable passport (MRP) to update his/her passport. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) pronounced November 24, 2015 as the deadline for phasing out all non-MRPs.
Handwritten passports with a pasted photograph or 20 year validity passports are considered non-MRPs. According to the ministry, approximately 60 million Indians hold valid Indian Passports, with approximately 280,000 of which are handwritten passports in circulation.
Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding handwritten passports as well as 20-year passports with validity beyond the November 24, 2015 should, therefore, apply for re-issue of passports and obtain MRPs well before the deadline in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining foreign visa or immigration problem, the notification from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated. The ministry further added “Some foreign governments may deny visa or entry to any person travelling on a non-Machine Readable Passport.”
Since 2001, the government of India has been issuing machine readable passports. Passports issued prior to 2001, particularly those issued during 1990s with a validity of 20 years, will fall under the valid non-MRP category.
The Ministry of External Affairs advises Indian citizens residing in India and abroad holding handwritten passports with validity beyond November 24, 2015 to apply for re-issue of individual passport before the deadline to avoid an inconvenience during international travel or in obtaining new visa.