Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding handwritten passports with validity beyond the November 24, 2015 should apply for re-issue of passports.
Thousands of Indian expatriates in the UAE holding manual passports will have to change them to machine-readable passports (MRPs) before November 2015.
This is to meet the deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for globally phasing out all non-MRPs.
From November 25, 2015, foreign governments may deny visa or entry to any person travelling with a non-MRP, a notification issued for the holders of all non-MRP holders on the website of the Indian Consulate in Dubai said.
“Indian citizens residing in India and abroad and holding handwritten passports as well as 20-year passports with validity beyond the November 24, 2015 should, therefore, apply for re-issue of passports and obtain MRPs well before the deadline in order to avoid any inconvenience in obtaining foreign visa or immigration problem,” the notification from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated.
Earlier this week, the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia reportedly appealed to all Indians living in the kingdom to get MRPs issued as soon as possible.
India began issuing MRPs in 2001 and the facility was introduced in the missions in the UAE in March 2006. All Indian passports issued in the UAE since then are ICAO-compliant MRPs.
Officials in the Indian missions in the UAE told Khaleej Times that no local deadline has been set for non-MRP holders to seek a change in their passport category.
“The number of Indians using non-Machine Readable Passport in Dubai is not possible to ascertain. However, these can’t be many, considering that MRPs are being issued in Dubai since 2006 and almost all passports prior to that have been renewed as MRPs,” a spokesperson of the consulate said.
“However, Indian passport holders coming for various services both at the consulate and the outsource agency, BLS International, are being instructed orally to obtain MRPs. All Indian associations in all Northern Emirates have also been advised to propagate accordingly,” he added.
An official at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said the missions, which recently faced huge delays in the issuance of passports due to technical reasons, are not likely to face a big challenge due to the rush of applicants seeking MRPs.
“The number of Indians in the UAE who must be holding passports with 20-year validity is very less…Those who might have renewed their 10-year validity passports from November 2005 to March 2006 are mainly required to change their manual passports. But, the missions here have been asking applicants to change the non-MRPs and many of them have done it already,” he said.
However, there could still be thousands of Indians who need to change their passports to comply with the new rule by November 2015 since the Indian missions in the UAE together issue about 20,000 passports per month. They are required to seek the service without waiting for the last moment.