Hurry! Convert your old passport into a machine-readable one
Moneylife Digital Team 24 November 2014

From 25 November 2015, only machine-readable passports (MRPs) would be allowed adhering to the ICAO guidelines. Therefore, if you hold a passport issued before 2001, it is time to get it converted into an MRP one

 

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set 24 November 2015 as the global deadline for phasing out all passports that cannot be read by machine (machine-readable passports -MRPs). Although since 2001, India, as a member of ICAO, has been issuing machine-readable passports, there are several people who hold passports issued before that. The government has asked such people to convert their passports into machine-readable one.


“If any Indian citizen irrespective of their residence status holds a handwritten passport or has a 20 year validity passport which extends beyond 24 November 2015, then she should immediately apply for re-issuance of a MRP-compliant passport to avoid any immigration/ emigration hassles in the future. The processing time of these passports hardly takes two-three weeks,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a release.


MRP is a machine-readable travel document conforming to the specifications contained in Doc 9303, Part 1 where the data on the identity page is encoded in optical character recognition (OCR) format. According to the ICAO, a non-MRP includes handwritten passports as well as those that have no machine-readable zone (MRZ) or includes another family member’s name in addition to the name of the passport holder.


ICAO, created in 1944 is a specialised agency of the United Nations, which serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 191-member states.

 

According to the ICAO, having a MRP-compliant passport system would improve immigration management and assist in the fight against illegal immigration, terrorism and trafficking in person.


In order to ensure MRP-compliance, the fee structure and decisions involving short validity passports (SVP) have been reviewed by the Consular at the Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs.


Issuance of a Short Validity Passport (SVP) having validity from zero to five years, for which a fee of Rs1,000 under the normal category and Rs3,000 under the tatkal category is charged. For passports having validity of more than five years but less than 10 years (validity of normal passport), the fees prescribed for a normal validity passport will be levied. Moreover, the extension of SVPs by manual endorsements will be stopped requiring issuance of fresh booklets thereby encouraging the practice of MRP passports.


A SVP passport is usually issued in cases of urgency such as on production of an admission letter to a student for an international exam, non-delivery of passport to the applicants due to loss, for Indians residing abroad and visiting India for a short period on production of necessary identification documents, proof of travel for a maximum period of one year and to applicants who may have a criminal case pending in any court, subject to a written permission granted by the court.

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