The Republic of India issues passports to its citizens that allow them to travel to foreign countries. The Indian Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, Consular Passport and Visa Division, is responsible for reviewing applications and approving passports. There are 33 public passport offices within India.
Three passport types
Three kinds of passports are issued in India. An ordinary passport appears with a blue cover, and consists of 36 or 60 pages. They are valid for 10 years from the date of issue and can be renewed for another 10 years. Indians use these passports for ordinary vacation or business travel. Members of the national government, including diplomats, administrative officials, and official public couriers, use a maroon-covered diplomatic passport. Ordinary citizens travelling on official government business carry an official passport, with a white cover.
India also issues special passports to citizens of India who intend to travel to Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. These passports are only good for travel to the specified destination country. The government ceased issuing Indo-Bangladesh passports in 2006, although those already issued are usable until their expiration dates. These passports allow travel to Bangladesh without requiring a visa, which ordinary passport-holders need to obtain.
The ECNR endorsement
Indian passports are printed in Hindi and English. To be valid for travel to certain countries, ordinary Indian passports (after 2007) require a ECNR ("Emigration Check Not Required") endorsement, which certifies that the bearer does not need to be cleared for travel by the Protector of Emigrants agency for the purpose of employment. While most nations require Indian citizens to obtain visas before entering their territory, a few countries allow visa-free travel for short visits, usually 30 days or less. These include the neighbouring nations of Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
In 2009 India was issuing e-passports to those eligible for diplomatic passports. These carry a microchip with a photograph of the bearer and relevant personal information. The e-passport program will eventually extended to ordinary passports.
The fee for an ordinary 30-page passport as of 2009 was 1,000 rupees, with the fee for an extended 60-page passport set at 1,500 rupees. A passport for minor children younger than 15, good for five years or until the holder reaches the age of 15, also was available, for a 600-rupee fee. Duplicate passports require a fee of 2,500 and 3,000 rupees for 30-page and 60-page versions, respectively. The United States requires all Indian passport-holders to apply for a visa before entering the United States.
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