Update 23-Feb-2012: Folks, regarding the Online Passport appointment system, it looks like some smart agents and geeks are using the decaptcha system (e.g. http://decaptcha.net/, Death By Captcha) to bypass the code to enter in order to obtain the appointment. I even got a message from a geek that for Rs.500/- he will get the passport appointment on any day at any Passport Seva centre. This is not good at all for the general public as agents will mint money using technology available only to them. And if it’s confirmed true, we should definitely escalate it to the MoE technical team. Probably, a little more ethical and smart way of getting appointment is explained by Sulaiman in his comment here
Update 30-Apr-2011: Following escalation from media (especially The Hindu), the MoE has decided to take further steps to clean up the backlog. In the month of May, walk in is possible and token based services will be provided in addition to increased number of appointments per day. Please read the Hindu article for details.
Update on 28-Apr-2011: I wrote this post during the initial days of PSK launch in Bangalore and Chandigarh. Since then, the service quality at PSK seem to have gone down drastically as you can read from the comments many frustrated citizens. Basically, TCS & the passport office team are not able to handle the volume with just 2 PSKs in Bangalore. Moreover, the online system is unable to take the appointment request load as well. Today’s Hindu paper has detailed these problems in their article titled “Easy passport to frustration“. While they fix the problems, let us write to the Ministry of External Affairs to urgently look into the disastrous situation. Email addresses are available on their website
The old post continues…
Today is an memorable day for me as a citizen of India. On this day, I experienced the best ever quality service possible from a government organization i.e. the Indian Passport application via the Passport Seva Kendra in Marathahalli Bangalore.
The Passport Seva Kendras are part of the pilot project by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA_, Government of India. This project aims to speed up and simplify the passport application process and is now available on a pilot basis in Bangalore and Chandigarh. Applying the passport online is better than ever before and I will tell you why.
The new smooth process of Passport Application – Online
The following is what I had to do to obtain passport, for my children, online.
Step 1: Go to India Passport Website and signup for a user account. Make sure that the Date of Birth of the applicant accurately – this will be matched against the appointment later.
Step 2: Download the eFile PDF application form and fill in your details offline. In the offline PDF form itself you can validate your entries and once you validate it you will get an XML file that you can upload to your account. In addition you have to upload the scanned copies of your address proof, date of birth proof etc. For every category of applicants (e.g. children under 15, NRI adult etc) there is online help available as to which documents are required to be uploaded.
Step 3: Once the valid documents are uploaded, take an online appointment for your nearest PSK (Passport Seva Kendra). In Bangalore, the Marathahalli Passport Seva kendra is supposed to be the best. You will usually get an online appointment within 10 days of uploading the application form and supporting documents but you also have the option of walking in the very next day.
Step 4: On the appointment date, be present 10-15 minutes before the appointment to first validate your appointment at the security gate. Remember, you DO NOT need to carry your photograph copies. After the appointment validation, you obtain a system token and wait in the lounge to be called. The token numbers are displayed on large LCD screens and that tells you the impressive speed at which they handle their customers. You ideally will not wait for more than 15 minutes before your number is called out. Move to the desk number – there are more than 50 of them and provide your photocopies there. If you forgot to take photocopies, you can obtain high quality photocopies in the lounge at Re. 1 per copy.
At this desk, you will pay the fees, take your thumb impressions and the digital photo. The desk assistant then will bundle all these together as a neat file and you have to proceed to the passport official who will check the originals against the copies.
As the last step, the grant officer (Assistant Passport Officer, I think) will grant you – or seldom reject – the passport. You can check the status of your passport application online as well. Before moving out they will hand over an acknowledgment to you.
Typically kids passports are sent out within 3 business days and adults’ (or wherever police verification is required) within 5 to 7 business days. And that’s extremely fast!
What I liked about the Marathahalli PSK and the overall service
- Well trained, young and extremely friendly staff at the front desks. They are very well motivated as well, even the security guards there are friendly
- Extremely fast handling of files from desk to desk
- Priority queue for the physically challenged, senior citizens, pregnant ladies etc
- Very good infrastructure – including photocopy service, sitting lounge, display/announcement systems, paid parking and number of desks
- The online systems are more or less bug free and functional most times. It’s developed and supported by Tata Consultancy Services, I was told
Overall, it was a very pleasant experience – a pleasant surprise really.
There are hardly any improvement areas. However, I thought, once you already submitted the documents online, they didn’t have to reload them once again. I saw the lady doing it once again. Perhaps a bug?
While in most cases, there are only 3-4 documents required, sometimes it could be 5 but the online system allow uploading of only 4 documents per passport application form. Also, the address line length in the online form is slightly short.
At the moment, there are four such PSKs in Karnataka. I hope that every state will soon get 4-5 PSKs to make the passport application process smooth and super fast. We, Bangaloreans are privileged for now.
Having lived in Bangalore for more than 12 years, I have been a big fan of Shri. S.M. Krishna since he was the Chief Minister of the state. Now, I am extremely delighted that his leadership in the MEA has resulted excellent improvement in the passport application process. I wish him and his team the very best and a big THANK YOU for making our lives easier.
For those who are in Bangalore, I suggest that you visit the Marathahalli PSK than the Lalbagh one which is still building some of the facilities I hear.
Way to go MEA!