So I just got my passport reissued this week and I’m amazed how far things have come. I got my passport done close to a decade back when I had to fly to Austin. Back then getting a passport done was a pain - I had applied from Mangalore in Tatkal and since Mangalore didn’t have a tatkal processing system, it was forwarded to the Bangalore passport centre. I still vividly remember the day I visited - I stood in queue at 8am (was told to go early because the counter was open only till 12pm), stood there for hours after some initial confusion on where to go(which lost me a whole bunch of spots) and when I was 2 spots away from reaching the counter, the guy at the counter shut down saying they’re doing for the day even though it was 11:45am. Was so pissed but really couldn’t do anything but go back. The next day I went and stood in the line at slightly before 7 and somehow got through the document submission and had to patiently wait.
In contrast now, it’s so much better. I booked an appointment via the Passport Seva Kendra website. I registered on Friday late afternoon, was able to get an appointment for Monday 12pm with reporting time mentioned as 11:45am. Since I was going to have my address changed, I wasn’t sure about what documents were required. The Document Advisor on the website is very handy and had good info on what documents are required. There are multiple options you need to select(new/reissue, if reissue - why reissue etc) so you’re pretty much covered if you’re wondering what documents to get incase yours is not that straightforward. I paid the fee online (₹1,500 - no extra charges if you’re paying online via SBI Netbanking, others will have extra fees). Opted for SMS update service where you get status of what’s happening as and when it happens. I selected the PSK at Sai Arcade, Bellandur since it’s close to my office.
Come Monday, I reached the PSK at around 11:30. Saw the line up of cars and mentally prepared myself to be stuck in for 4-5 hours. I reached the main entrance, security asked me for the reporting time and since I was ahead of time, they asked to wait aside. Come 11:45 sharp, security called us and let us in. There are multiple counters that you need to visit. It starts with the first counter which does basic checkup that you have the required documents based on reason for passport(new/reissue) and issues you a token. Once you get a token, you can go inside and sit, there will be periodic announcements of token number and the counter to visit the respective counters
- Counter A: Collate all your documents, validates them, scans them, takes your photo and collects your finger prints
- Counter B: Second level of verification
- Counter C: Not sure what happens here for new passport issues, but in my case I was directed to APO office where she stamped a big “cancelled” sign on my old passport
- Fill in feedback, and you wait and pray it gets done fast
By the time I was out it was close to 1:40 (not bad!) and I decided to go home and work from there since it didn’t make sense to go to office and leave in another 2 hours. I was astounded that I got the notification that the passport had gone to print even before I reached home! The next day, I got the notification that print was done and passport would be dispatched soon. Thursday late night I got another SMS that the passport had been dispatched and will be delivered soon. Friday afternoon 12pm - the Postman was at my place, handed the passport over to me. Very impressed on how things have turned around and how simple it is now.
Some notes and observations of the PSK at Sai Arcade:
- Keep the SMS of the appointment saved and ready, they’re quite likely to check it
- SMS update service costs ₹45, but needs to be paid in cash over counter A. I have no idea why it’s not collected online. Carry change. Else forget about getting the ₹5 back
- PSK at Bellandur has paid parking at the back. Just search for PSK Paid parking, maps is accurate. ₹20 for 2 hours. You can walk right to the PSK from the parking lot. No need to walk back to the main road.
- You’ll need one self attested set(ie sign on the photocopies) of your document proof along with the originals. There’s a photocopy(“Xerox”) booth available at the PSK office itself.
- If you’re going to use the Passbook as the address proof(I used this because it was the simplest way I could get an address proof - just head to the bank and issue a request to change your address and get it signed and stamped) then don’t forget to get the passbook updated with the latest statements and get a photocopy of that. Learnt the hard way that merely passbook isn’t sufficient. Thankfully I had my passbook updated and took a photocopy of the passbook and the statement there.
- The place where the tokens are issued is air conditioned but the real place where you’ll sit waiting for your turn is not(or maybe not working). There’s drinking water available. Cafe apparently used to be there but was closed when I was there.
- There are 23 A-counters only to be followed by 4 B & C counters. I have no idea why the disparity. Good news is that you will be done at B & C counters pretty fast. But still that’s quite huge of a bottleneck. Hope that gets sorted soon.
- If you’re getting your spouse’s name added on, you won’t need a marriage certificate but they will make you fill and sign a declaration form which has the name, date of wedding and so on.
Overall quite a good experience.