Passport renewal, Digi travel, e-passport and e-visa: Everything you need to know

Indian passport. Photo: iStock

Whether you are planning a trip or not, it's important to make sure that your travel documents are in order. First and foremost, check your passport's date of expiry. Don’t worry if it has already expired as an application for renewal can be forwarded within three years after the expiry of the passport. Ideally, it is better to renew the passport nine months before the end of the expiry period. If there is a delay in initiating the renewal process, the travellers will not be able to meet the criteria that the passport should have at least six months of validity at the time of applying for a visa.

The rules relating to issuing passports for minors are different. The passports are issued for those under the age of 18 for five years, and these passports should be renewed after five years or after the passport holder attains the age of 18, whichever is earlier. There is also an option to get passports for 10 years for those between the ages of 15 and 18.

Documents needed for renewal
1. Old passport
2. The copies of the first two and last two pages of the passport
3. The self-attested copies of ECR required/ non-ECR pages
4. Address proof
5. Copy of the page showing the expiry period
6. A Short Validity Passport (SVP) is issued to a person who has criminal cases pending against him or her. Usually, the SVPs have a validity period of one year. While renewing, documents relating to why an SVP was issued in the first place and why the conditions under which the SVP was issued are irrelevant now should be furnished. The official website for passport-related services is here.

A fee should be paid while forwarding the passport renewal application. The application fee for getting 36-page passports with 10-year validity for people over 18 years is Rs 1,500. An additional fee of Rs 2,000 should be paid for passports to be issued on tatkal. A 60-page passport comes with a fee tag of Rs 2,000. A fee of Rs 1,000 will be charged for issuing passports to those under the age of 18 for five years and an additional amount of Rs 2,000 should be paid to avail the tatkal service. The fee for 10-year validity passports for minors in the 15 to 18 age bracket is Rs 1,500.

The applicants can visit the Passport Seva Kendra after taking an appointment date and time online. First, open the ‘Passport Seva Website’ and take a login ID after registration. After entering the portal with the login ID, click on the ‘Apply for a new passport/Reissue of passport’ option. Select the ‘Payment and scheduling of appointment’ option after punching in the relevant information. Pay the requisite fees using the modes of payment listed on the website. Apply after completing all the formalities. Use the ‘Print the application receipt’ option to take a printout of the receipt. The renewal process could be completed if the applicant visits the Passport Seva Kendra on the day of the appointment.

What are Digi travel, e-passport, e-visa and e-ticket
Now travelling is going the digital way. The day when you can travel without the baggage of documents is not far away and recently, the US Government completed the pilot project of paperless visas. When paperless visas come into vogue, traditional formalities such as visa stamping and passport stamping would be a thing of the past. Digi travel, e-passport, e-visa and e-ticket would make travelling hassle-free and paperless.

The passports are issued for those under the age of 18 for a period of five years, and these passports should be renewed after five years or after the passport holder attains the age of 18, whichever is earlier. Photo: iStock/Liudmila Chernetska

The US diplomatic team that visited Dublin, the capital of Ireland, travelled with paperless visas, the first in the world, and this was confirmed by US deputy assistant state secretary. It would take another 18 months for the project to spread its wings globally. Once that is done, there is no need to furnish the American visa directly to the officials concerned as visas can be checked online.

Many countries such as Cambodia, Kenya and Australia are granting e-visas. The travellers can renew their visa by sending relevant information through an e-mail without parting with the passport. However the formalities associated with getting an e-visa to travel to a country for the first time are the same. Many countries ask the applicants to appear for personal interviews to grant e-visas. The formalities for e-visa and traditional visa are the same if a person is applying for the first time. It is easier to renew an e-visa compared to a traditional visa.

Visa is a permission to travel and stay in a country for a specific period, and this travel document is issued by the embassies of the respective countries. Presently, a visa application should include requisite documents and a copy of the passport. E-visa would help in completing these formalities by taking the digital route.

The information relating to e-visa (electronic visa) or Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is stored digitally, and the passport details are linked with these data. There is no need to paste the sticker on the e-visa or stamp passport. E-visa can be pocketed through governments’ official websites or designated visa service providers. Many countries including Australia, Colombia, Georgia, Morocco, Malaysia, Russia and Singapore are issuing e-visas to tourists from India.

Digital Passport
Many countries have introduced e-passports or digital passport facilities and India is also on the verge of ushering in e-passport. Finland is the first country in the world that treaded the e-passport path. The Finland citizens travelling to and from London, Manchester and Edinburgh in Finnair can use e-passports. E-passports store information, including biometric details, about the travellers, and the information would be checked as and when needed. E-passports would help in providing a hassle-free travel experience to the passengers. Many airports have put in place facilities to ensure trouble-free and faster security checks for e-passport holders.

A fee should be paid while forwarding the passport renewal application. Photo: Shutterstock/Craif F Scott

Besides India, many countries including the US, the UK, Poland and South Korea are in the process of digitalizing passports. A digital health passport in the name of ‘Singapore HealthCerts’ was introduced in 2021, which had information relating to COVID-19 checkups and vaccinations.

India’s ‘Digi Yatra’
The Ministry of Civil Aviation introduced the ‘Digi Yatra’ programme to ensure a smooth travel experience for travellers. Through this digital app, the security checks at the airports are expedited using facial recognition technology. The UTS mobile app was started to facilitate easy reservation of railway tickets. This app would help in booking unreserved railway tickets, and purchasing platform tickets and season tickets. The ‘Unreserved ticketing system’ of the Indian Railways is available on Android, Windows and iOS platforms.

The uniform distance restriction for booking a platform ticket through UTS is 2km from the railway station. The app also facilitates the purchase of season tickets for three months, six months and one year. As per the numbers clocked between April and November last year, as many as 14.76 crore passengers spread across five divisions of the Central Railway used the UTS app resulting in an income generation of Rs 161 crore. In the same period, close to 14.44 crore passengers used the app under the Mumbai Division and registered an income of Rs 155.86 crore.

Difference between visa and passport
Foreign travel can’t happen without visas and passports. Both these travel documents are issued by the governments concerned for different purposes. What is the principal difference between a visa and a passport? What purpose do these two key documents serve? Let’s take a lowdown.

In simple terms, the passport is a window to other countries. A passport is a travel document issued by the government to its citizens and vouches for the holder’s details and citizenship. A passport has been recognized globally as a document that validates a person’s citizenship.

A person cannot cross international borders without a passport, which contains the holder’s name, birth date, picture and special identification number. Being a passport holder doesn’t mean that you can enjoy seamless travel to other nations. A passport is just an identification document while travelling to other nations. Every passport has an expiry date and make sure the passport is valid before embarking on a foreign trip.

Visa is an official nod given by the government to foreign citizens to enter, stay and leave their territory. A visa is issued for different purposes such as employment, travel and study. Each country has its own set of documents that are mandatory for issuing a visa. Many countries issue free visa to citizens of certain nations. Each visa comes with a validity period. Some countries also issue e-visa and visa-on-arrival.

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