A visit to the Passport Seva Kendra

Why are we talking about passports? Is this not a church website and blog? Yes, it is a church website and blog. I had an appointment at the Passport Seva Kendra yesterday and have learnt a thing or two about the process yesterday. I felt this information is relevant to any Indian and more especially to those who seek to apply for passport in the PSK at the address: Sai Arcade, Survey No. 56/P, Devarabisanahalli, Marathahalli Outer Ring Road (Opp to INTEL), Bangalore.

This post may again be specifically significant for those who are applying for passports for the entire family as I did. My wife and I had valid Indian passports. However, these were issued before our wedding. They did not have our current address details. The peculiarity of our case is that we had got married in a church and had not received  a certificate in original. Thus, we had never changed my wife’s name post marriage.

The first step I would suggest for anyone seeking to apply for passport – either fresh, reissue or renewal is to visit the passport website. Read the information on the website especially these:

  1. Steps to apply for the passport.
  2. How to fill passport application online.
  3. Police Verification.

The second step is to use the document adviser on the homepage of the website. If you check the relevant boxes correctly, you will be issued an advise and you will know what documents you have and prepare them. Some of the documents have multiple options. You can chose the best for you from them. Also, remember, that some documents have a clause that you need to provide more than one proof. For example, if you chose to use your Ration Card as an address proof, you will need to provide another proof as well. If you chose to use your telephone bill as address proof, you need to furnish a recent one (last 3 months) and one from one year ago! In our case, my wife and I had a joint bank account. I used the statements [one year] as a proof. Remember to carry originals as they will be verified. If you use passbook, ensure that photographs are on it with bank seal.

So, now that you know the process and have all the documents ready, you can follow two alternatives. One, get Police Clearance Certificate in advance or apply for passport and let the PCC be done post acceptance of passport application.

Fill the form, preferably online. This way you will know with some certainty that your data will have minimum error. While, I was at the office, I saw people getting rejected for silly errors. Date of birth incorrect. For example, today is 12-June-2013. But the person has filled 10-Oct-2013. This cannot be valid! Also there was a male who had filled his gender as female!

Do get a decent appointment. I had got appointment at 11:15 AM with reporting time as 11:00 AM. I arrived at Hulimavu at 9:40 AM. I reached the PSK only at 11:02 AM. So much for Bangalore traffic! So, ensure you plan well. If you are late by a certain number of minutes, your appointment is invalid. I do not know what is the number of minutes though. But, I saw so many late arrivals and saw them return disappointed.

There are 4 stops that you will have. On arrival, you will have to report to the token issue counter. Here, they will do a cursory check whether you have all your documents and place them in a file and give you a token number. This token number will expire once you are through with the system. The second stop is at Counter A. There are many counter A desks numbered as A1, A2 – A17, A20. Here, they will scan all your documents, get your signature, fingerprints and photograph. In case of minors, you will need to carry passport photograph (just 1). You have to make payment as per the norms. They will issue a receipt and return your file. Also, they will ask you to sign a request to cancel your current passport in case of re-issue. In case you have a minor with you, take a photocopy receipt to the first counter (the token issue counter. Photocopies can be taken near it for a fee). They will then issue a token for your minor. Now proceed to Counter A for your minor. Once you are done with Counter A. Your token will be called at Counter B. Here there are persons who will mark and validate the data on your submitted documents so that the Granting Officer need not scrutinize the document at length. If they are satisfied, they will send you to Counter C. This is the Granting Officer counter. This counter alone is the real deal. The previous counters ensure that you have minimum difficulty at Counter C. Once they grant or reject, you can collect your acknowledgement at the exit.

Some of my observations of PSK Sai Arcade are as follows. There are 2 Token issue counters for Normal services, 1 for Tatkaal and 1 for minors and seniors. These counters, reject people with bad applications and for being late. They keep the pace of the system. You may spend a few minutes here. There are many desks at Counter A. They do reject quiet a few applications if they are not satisfied with the documents. Also the need for so many counters is that there is a lot of scanning and verification to do. There number of Counter B desks are a fifth of Counter A desks. Lesser work and hence faster. Counter C has even lesser desks. However, they do take a little longer as they are the Granting Officers.

I have heard that the staff are discourteous at PSK Sai Arcade. My experience was the opposite. They were helpful, courteous and responded to queries clearly and in a friendly manner.

If I did not have a 2.10 year old child who was a little cranky, my guess is I would have been in and out in around 30 minutes. Since we were a family, we took about 110 minutes which I feel is very acceptable given that each of our processes were dependent on the other members completion.

On the other services like ATM, photocopier, pantry and parking: I was there for about 2 hours – parking charges 20/-. ATM can get crowded – so have money with you. Photocopier charged at 1 per copy, but it can get bugging as there are 2 machines, one operator and many customers who are tensed, frustrated and just plain irritable that it can be tough on you. The pantry is good, clean and all products are sold at MRP even though they have a monopoly. Cappuccino at 25, Coffee at 15 etc. I think is decent. The whole place is air conditioned and does not get stuffy even with so many people on the floor.

A small other information: You could always enjoy a yummy meal at Hyderabad Ruchi which is right behind the parking area. An excellent place to celebrate your passport work. The prices are decent, food great, air conditioned and with car parking (which is important in Bangalore).

Update on 15-June-2013:

Allegra’s (my daughter) and my passports are dispatched. We expect to receive them today or tomorrow.

Lauren’s (my wife) passport is awaiting police verification. I wonder how mine got through without any verification.

Update on 19-June-2013:

Lauren’s police verification is complete. The police department was not a good experience. I hope that our government will improve this sector as well. However, the fact that they have an IT cell improves the process. Also, the service is covered under sakala. This means that they have to provide a service within the SLA period. You can also monitor the status of your verification online. The workflow however is a simple “Pending” and “Completed”. So it is actually not very useful.

Update on 26-June-2013:

Finally, it has moved to the Commissioner’s office. The slowest process is the individuals police station. This is out of the CPV jurisdiction. So, we must not blame the passport department. This is just slow police work.

Update on 28-June-2013:

The Commissioner’s office has processed it and the printing is also in progress. I guess we can expect the passport in a weeks time from now.

Update on 1-July-2013:

The passport is printed and will be dispatched soon. I expect to receive it by 5th of July. Unless, things don’t proceed as per expectation, I do no plan to update this post further.

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