From travelling around the globe, to visiting your kids at high school in a foreign university, to do destination weddings outside country, to leaving a country after scam (probably until you are found one to be!); for every act mentioned, you need a valid country-authorized passport. It is an officially recognized travel document that permits a person to cross-borders with other nations.
The word “Passport” – literally means a document to steer “pass” through a destination “port”!
How did passports come into existence?
A traveller’s identity across the globe is identified by this crucial piece of document. It carries a person’s face & the country he/she represents. So when you think of hopping borders, just show-off your colourful raffles to enter any country.
The history of passport dates back to 1414, when King Henry V developed a so-called travel document for his subjects to prove their identity in foreign lands. It was a random piece of informative paper which centuries later became an official travel requirement.
The use of Passport started a little more than 100 years ago when European countries constituted The Travel Control Act, 1918, to make it mandatory for people traveling from & into the region post World War 1.
(Come on, let’s give them the credits they deserve!)
What about Indian Passports?
The first version of an Indian Passport was released in 1920 and the current version we use was issued in 1986. It is issued by the President of India to its citizens. The Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) unit of the Ministry of External Affairs has recognised Passport Seva (Passport Service) as the central passport issuing entity.
(In pic above: from left to right: British India passport, Joint India-Pakistan passport issued to migrants, Current Indian passport, An Indian Diplomatic passport) (Image Credits: Wikipedia)
Additionally, in 1967, The Passports Act was enacted by Parliament of India for the issue of passports and travel documents to its citizens (and other persons) and also regulate their departure.
As I write this article, soon we will have access to Biometric Passports (chip-enabled e-passports) which will carry all the information of a person. The law to bring this into effect was passed in April 2017. The e-passports can be read within 4 seconds, eliminating the efforts of passport officials at the centres and airports.
It will also help in drastically reducing long lines at the immigration counters enabling smooth and hassle-free movements. It will also help in filtering out fake passports. The pilot has been started with Official and Diplomatic Passports first.
Another major development that kicks in soon, is the elimination of details from the Demographic Page, which was largely used by unskilled workers seeking employment abroad.
Important: India does not allow Dual-Citizenship (multi-country citizenship). In simple words, you cannot be a citizen of any other nation, if you are an Indian citizen.
Information on Indian Passport
Our Passport has 2 main pages: Profile Page and Demographic Page
Profile Page contains
• Type – The Type of passport (Ordinary “P”, Official “S”, Diplomatic “D”)
• Country Code (“IND”)
• Passport Number
• Given Name
• Date of Birth
• Place of Birth
• Place of Issue
• Date of Issue
• Date of Expiry
• Passport Holder’s Photo
• Passport Holder’s Signature
Demographic Page contains
• Father’s / Legal Guardian Name
• Mother’s Name
• Spouse’s Name
• Your Address
• Old Passport Number (if any)
• File Number ( a reference application number)
Fact: For adults above 18, the passport validity is 10 years, while for minors it is 5 years
Types of Indian Passport
Depending on the requirements and segregation of each country for its citizens, different types of passports are issued. India issues 3 types of passports.
1. Ordinary Passport
• Issued to: Common citizens
• Colour: Dark Blue
• Purpose: Vacation, Travel, Business, Studies
• Type: “P” – where “P” stands for Personal
2. Official Passport
• Issued to: Individuals representing Indian government
• Colour: White
• Purpose: Official Business
• Type: “S” – where “S” stands for Service
3. Diplomatic Passport
• Issued to: Diplomats, Government Officials
• Colour: Maroon
• Purpose: Diplomatic Assignments and Missions
• Type: “D” – where “D” stands for Diplomatic
(A pro-tip: Never keep passports as shown, i don’t do it either, it might get damaged or unreadable for scanners)
Indian Passport – Global Ranks
As per the Passport Index, which ranks how strong a country’s passport is with respect to its peers, India holds:
- Visa-Free Score (popularly known as VFS) of 58 (Highest VFS, Singapore 164)
- Global Rank of 73 out of 98 on the basis of VFS (tied with Uzbekistan and Sao Tome Princepe)
- Individual Rank of 143 out of 199
These rankings easily explain why our country has less outbound tourists (as you need to get visa for almost every other country). The state of infra for inbound tourists with respect to accessibility is reflected too.
• The VFS of 58 includes 25 Visa-free countries and 33 VoA (Visa-on-arrival).
• The Individual Rank of 143 takes into consideration the UNDP HDI (United Nations Development Program – Human Development Index) which says about the perception of the country abroad.
To bring some cheer, India ranks 23rd out of 103 with a score of 157 in the list of welcoming nations (Passports accepted visa-free or with electronic travel authorization).
See we are very welcoming 🙂
“The ranking depends on factors like Global Tourism Contribution, Foreign Relations, Domestic tourism inbound & outbound, currency strength, political stability, inbound tourist facilities, tourist friendly policies, safety index of the country, state of Infrastructure and easiness in shuttling between places depending on transportation.”
To ascertain if there is any development in the factors leading to upgrade or a downgrade, the rankings are revised annually. The better the rankings, the better it is for tourists visiting India & for Indians to travel abroad.
Important: Whenever you travel a foreign land, keep the Indian Embassy / Consulate contact handy, as that is the only centre that can help you out in case of any emergency (Passport Lost / Stolen, Instability in visiting country or any other event)
To get Indian Embassy Information Click here
Passports alone do not guarantee a visit across borders, visa plays a crucial role in deciding the fate. You will read about visa in my next post.
Thanks for reading. I hope this gets you to understand your passport or get one. If you find this useful, would appreciate your comments below and do spread the word! 🙂
Be sure to poke me if you have any questions.
Indian but do not own a passport yet? Click here to get one
Know your Passport Seva Kendra (PSK)