The Indian e-Passport Won't Replace Your Travel Visa
Last Updated : Sep 4, 2023
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At the latest Union Budget Speech (2022), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Indian e-passport would be rolled out during 2022-23.
This announcement has caused a lot of misconceptions of what the Indian e-passport really is.
Some claim that the e-passport will eliminate the need to apply for a visa when traveling abroad. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Indian citizens will still need to apply for a visa when visiting a country. Unless of course, they enjoy visa-free travel.
Then What Is The Indian e-Passport?
The Indian e-passports, also known as a biometric passport, is an international travel document which will contain your personal information such as your name, surname, date of birth, etc.
Unlike a "traditional passport", the e-passport contains a small microchip embedded within the passport booklet.
The microchip has 64 kilobytes of memory which stores all your important information.
The microchip holds your essential passport details found on the second page. Furthermore, it also contains your digital photograph, signatures, and fingerprints.
The Benefits Of The Indian e-Passport
Faster Immigration Process
If you're a frequent traveler, you already know how frustrating and tiresome immigration checkpoints can be.
The Indian e-passport enables a more efficient global immigration process for Indian citizens. With the embedded microchip, your e-passport will only take a few seconds to load and verify your information.
The hope is that these immigration checkpoints will be automated soon - effectively streamlining the immigration process and granting easier entry into countries worldwide.
Increased Security and Protection
The biggest benefit of the Indian e-passport is the added security. Fraud and identity theft has long been a problem for travelers.
With your Indian e-passport comes added security that can only be accessed by the chip system belonging to security offices.
When your passport is tampered with, the system will automatically detect it, and the passport authentication process will fail.
The Rollout Of The Indian e-Passport
Over the last few years, over 20,000 government officials and diplomats have received their Indian e-passport - the first being President Pratibha Patil, who received hers in 2008.
As mentioned, the Indian e-passport rollout for citizens will start in 2022 and continue through 2023.
The application process will be the same as that of a traditional passport. The e-passport will not be a mandatory requirement. In other words, you're not required to replace your current passport with an e-passport.
As for Indian citizens who reside abroad, the Ministry of External Affairs has signed an agreement with Tata Consultant Services (TCS) for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP).
Quick note: PSP is an e-Government platform that provides numerous government services to Indian citizens, including issuing passports.
The PSP will allow citizens abroad to apply for their new Indian e-passport using online government services.
In 2022, we'll see PSP launch its new e-passport service to Indian citizens across the globe.
Why Can't The Indian e-Passport Be Used As A Visa?
The Indian government will distribute the new e-passport amongst its citizens during 2022 and 2023. However, keep in mind that this is a travel identity document issued by the Indian government.
Each country has its own specific entry requirements for international travelers.
Typically, the main requirement is a visa.
A visa is issued by the Consulate (or Embassy) of the country you plan to visit and not by the Indian government. For this reason, an e-passport won't replace your visa.
The Freedom Of Travel
Even though the Indian e-passport is a step in the right direction, frequent travelers are still seeking an easier method of obtaining their visas.
It's no secret that visa applications are notorious for being difficult and tedious.
We can only hope that the future holds a new and better way of applying for visas...
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