Passports: India

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1914 onwards: the evolution of the Indian passport

1914 – 2018: the evolution of the Indian passport
From January 21, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

1914 - 2018: the evolution of the Indian passport

Indian passports, ECR and ECNR

Why passports are judged by their cover, February 5, 2018: The Times of India

i) The main Emigration Check Required (ECR) destinations, as in 2016; ii) the number of countries that give visa-free/visa on arrival access to Indians
From: Why passports are judged by their cover, February 5, 2018: The Times of India

Since when are passports being issued?


Hebrew Bible mentions a travel document a Persian emperor issued to a person called Nehemiah who was supposed to travel to rebuild Jerusalem. The document requested governors to grant Nehemiah safe passage in areas beyond the emperor’s control. This mention indicates the existence of such documents.


Cut to 1414. The English parliament’s Act of that year talks of a travel paper or ‘safe-conduct’ document issued by the king to English subjects as well as foreign nationals. These were called passports. The word’s origin remains unclear — whether derived from people crossing maritime ports or city walls (portes in French).


With cheaper and faster transport, global travel remained no more restricted to the privileged. Massive working-class migration occurred through the 19th and 20th centuries. With World War I, the concept of closed borders emerged and the first modern passport came into existence. Many argue that it was first proposed by the League of Nations to maintain hegemony of certain western nations in deciding ethnic characteristics of New World countries. Making a passport compulsory for international travel was the most effective tool to achieve this.

How old is India’s passport system?

The first passports in India were issued during WWI under the Defence of India Act, 1914. The Act expired six months after the war. Indian Passport Act, 1920, was enacted and eventually was renamed Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920. After Independence, the ministry of external affairs took on the role of issuing passports. The first five offices were in Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Nagpur. Today’s passports are issued under the Indian Passport Act of June 24, 1967.

What are the various types of passports and travel documents?

The government issues three classes of passport – ordinary, official and diplomatic. Under Passport Act, government also issues documents such as emergency certificates (to authorise a person’s entry into India) to Indian citizens whose passports have been lost/stolen or impounded in foreign countries and for those to be repatriated. Certificates of identity are also given to stateless people in India or foreigners whose country is not represented in India.

What are ECR and ECNR passports?

Emigration Check Required (ECR)-category passport holders need emigration clearance from the Protector of Emigrants’ office, Overseas Indian Affairs division in the foreign ministry, to go to 18 countries — the bulk of them in West Asia — and mainly includes those who go to work in these countries. Diplomatic passport-holders, income tax-payers and those with professional degrees etc. are exempt (ECNR category).

Are some passports more powerful than others?

Passport Index, a real-time global ranking of passports, ranks Germany as the world’s most powerful passport — its citizens have visa-free/visa-on-arrival access in 161 countries. It is followed by Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Spain and Sweden — each with similar access in 160 countries. Indians have similar access/admission in 55 countries.

The legal position

Criminal cases’ pendency no ground for denial of passport

Srikanth Aluri, March 23, 2023: The Times of India

Vijayawada : The Andhra Pradesh high court in a recent judgment said authorities like the Indian embassies cannot reject applications to renew a passport merely on the ground that the applicant has a pending criminal case in India.

It clarified that though the passport authority has the power to refuse renewal under Section 6 (2) of Passport Act, it can consider the case if the applicant produces an NOC from concerned court. 

The court was hearingthree separate petitions challenging the decision of Indian embassies in different parts of the world to reject passport renewal applications.

Petitioners Khadar Valli Shaik and P Radha Krishna Reddy are facing cases of domestic violence while Nalluri Yugandhar is facing charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy among others. They moved the HC contending that refusing to renew passports under Section 6 (2) was untenable after they had left India. 

The Union government argued that the sectionwould apply both at the time of renewal and at the time of issuing a passport.

Justice Ravinath Tilhari observed that the passport authority would be within its jurisdiction to refuse renewal on the same grounds as it does while issuing the document. However, in cases where Section 6 (2) (f) of the Passport Act is attracted, the passport authority should consider the NOC given by the courts concerned. Justice Tilhari added that officials should not reject renewal merely on the grounds of pending criminal cases.

Curbing travel: Only magistrate can do so, not passport authority: HC

Rosy Sequeira, Dec 1, 2016: The Times of India

Passport authority has no power to curb travel: HC

The Bombay high court said that the passport authority did not have the right to decide whether an accused in a criminal case could travel abroad or not.

“That right vests with a magistrate who alone can impose conditions if an application is made seeking permission to travel abroad,“ said a bench of Justice Vidyasagar Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardessai.

The court heard a petition filed by Samip Rajani (28), a flight purser with Jet Airways, who challenged the renewal of his passport only for a year as opposed to 10 years. His petition said as a result he cannot get his flight schedule for overseas travel and will lose considerable remuneration.

Rajani was booked for assaulting a traffic policeman and for criminal intimidation and driving dangerously . Rajani, in turn, filed a counter-complaint against the cop for allegedly demanding a bribe and physically assaulting him on refusal. Rajani was released on bail.

On his plea, the Mulund magistrate had directed that his passport be renewed. Instead of 10 years, though, it was renewed for a year. Rajani then moved high court. The judges said whenever a criminal complaint is pending against an applicant who wishes to go abroad, the magistrate alone has the jurisdiction to impose the condition regarding his right to travel.

Also, if a magistrate is satisfied that an applicant should not be permitted, he can reject the application.However, when an application is made for renewal, the passport authority has to adhere to provisions of the Passport Act.

The judges said the Centre's notification which allows passports to be renewed for a year was earlier held by the high court as ambiguous.

The bench said it is common knowledge that some countries do not grant visa unless a passport is valid for more than six months.

It said the Supreme Court has already held that the right to travel for business or service is a part of one's fundamental rights subject to reasonable restrictions imposed under the Passport Act and Rules.

“In the present case, the applicant as a flight purser has to travel abroad and there is no possibility of him absconding since he has to return along with the flight,“ the bench said.

The judges directed the regional passport office to renew his passport for 10 years expeditiously and within three weeks.

The judges also clarified that Rajani will have to apply to the magistrate in order to obtain permission to travel and the magistrate may impose conditions deemed fit and proper.

Father’s name principle

May 3, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi: Delhi High Court has observed that the passport of a minor child can be issued without the biological father’s name under varying circumstances and that such a relief should depend upon the facts of each case. It was hearing a plea that was moved by a minor child and his mother seeking deletion of the father’s name from the child’s passport. It also sought re-issuance of a fresh passport.

“Irrespective of the fact that the applicable clauses in the manual may be different, the spirit behind the said decisions is clear, i. e. , that under certain circumstances, the name of the biological father can be deleted and the surname can also be changed. Both the passport manual and the official memorandum relied upon by the respondents recognise that passports can be issued under varying circumstances without the name of the father. Such a relief ought to be considered, depending upon the factual position emerging in each case,” the single judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh said in an order released on April 25.

“No hard and fast rule can be applied. There are myriad situations in the case of matrimonial discord between parents, where the child’s passport application may have to be considered by the authorities,” it added.

The court directed issuance of a fresh passport in favour of the minor son without the name of his father who deserted his mother during the pregnancy. While directing the removal of the father’s name from the son’s passport, the court emphasised that this order shall not be treated as a precedent.

The court rejected the submission of the Centre that the office memorandum of last year would only apply to single unwed parents. “Wherever the term ‘single unwed parent’ is to be mentioned, the same has specifically been mentioned by the passport authorities. In other clauses, the term ‘single parent’ is used. However, the mere furnishing of the name does not result in the conclusion that the name of the father has to be compulsorily mentioned,” it stated.

‘No need of court nod to renew passport’: HC

Rosy Sequeira, Sep 5, 2022: The Times of India

Mumbai : Observing that the permission of a court where a criminal case is pending is not required for renewal of a passport, the Bombay high court directed the regional passport office to pr ocess a man’s application without insisting on it.

Justices Sanjay Gangapurwala and Madhav Jamdar on August 23 quashed and set aside a2018 communication of the passport office that rejected the application of AbbasK
agalwala stating that he has to obtain permission from the court where the criminal caseis pending. Kagalwala (82) moved HC in 2019. He has a pending case against him for cheating and forgery.

His advocate Vivek Kantawala argued that for renewal of passpo rt, permission of a court where the criminal case is pending is not n ecessary. “Ifacriminal case is pending, the only limitation would be that the petitioner cann ot travel abroad without the court’s permission,” he added.

Centre’s advocate relied on an August 25, 1993, notification and the Passport Act, 1967, which states that the passport authority c an refuse to issue a passport to an applicant who has a case pending before a criminal court. He said Kagalwala will have to obtain permission from the court for issuance of passport. But the judges pointed out that “it will be in case of issuance of passport and not renewal. ”

They noted that the validity of Kagalwala’s passport expiredin 2017 and his app lication has been pending for over four years. In view of the fact that he was issued a passport earlier and seeks renewal, they directed that “the respondent (passport office) to pr ocess the application for renewal of passport without insisting for permission of the court, where a criminal case is pending against the petitioner. ” “If the petitioner is travelling abroad, the petitioner would be required to seek permission from the court where the criminal case is pending,” they said. They also directed “that a decision shall be taken as observed above within two mon ths. ”

Revocation of passport: Lawsuit no ground: HC


The Times of India 2013/08/07

New Delhi: Even if a criminal case is pending against a person the passport office can’t as a rule revoke his passport, Delhi high court has clarified. The court said a passport can be impounded only in “appropriate cases” where cogent reasons have to be given in writing by the RPO.

Accepting the plea of a man, facing trial in a matrimonial case lodged by his wife, Justice V K Jain directed the passport authority to release his passport which was revoked on the ground of criminal charges against him. The court, however, directed him not to leave the country without its permission and also asked him to attend the ongoing criminal proceedings.

Allowing Manish Kumar Mittal's plea against the passport authority, Justice Jain noted, “The order passed by the Regional Passport Officer directing the petitioner (Mittal) to surrender his passport as well as the order passed by the appellate authority are, hereby, set aside. The respondents (authorities) are directed to release the passport of the petitioner to him forthwith.” The court also asked the RPO to pass an order within eight weeks after giving an opportunity to Mittal to make his stand clear under provisions of the Passports Act.

Seizure of passport: Court cannot do so under CrPC: HC

March 23, 2022: The Times of India

Bengaluru: The Karnataka HC in a recent judgment held that Section 104 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers a court to impound any document placed before it, but not passports.

Allowing the petition filed by one Praveen Surendiran, arraigned as accused no. 10 in a case where crores of rupees were siphoned off Manipal Education and Medical Group, Justice M Nagaprasanna said a passport can be impounded by acompetent authority alone, in terms of Section 10 of the Passport Act, 1967.

“The Passport Act is a special law and prevails over Section 104 of the CrPC. The court can impound any document but not the passport, as it is dealt with by a special enactment. . . ,” the judge observed in his order. 


2019/ Lotus symbol

Dec 12, 2019 The Economic Times

The stage is set to celebrate India Inc.’s top business leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals under the age of 40. The Economic Times 40 under Forty listings has, since its inception, been mirroring changes taking place in India Inc. Be it the rise of startup entrepreneurs, the growing importance of professional services, or the progress of women in corporate India’s leadership ranks — the awards have documented the focus on young leaders across sectors and celebrated their achievements.

The Economic Times 40 under Forty aims to acknowledge and encourage India’s sharpest minds who have believed in innovation and stood strong despite challenges.

The dynamic list of 40 represents achievers from different industries, selected after rigorous sourcing, nomination, referencing and shortlisting process, from an initial list of hundreds of young business leaders drawn up based on primary research, recommendations from companies and senior industry leaders.

The Top 40 have been shortlisted after an intensive three-stage evaluation by our eminent jury members who include Gaurav Dalmia, Chairman, Dalmia Group Holdings; Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Enterprises; Janmejaya Sinha, Chairman, Boston Consulting Group India Practice; Meena Ganesh, Head, Portea Medical and Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi Group.

SBI’s Former Chairman, Rajnish Kumar; Marico India’s Saugata Gupta and Deputy Chairman and Non-Executive Director of HSBC Asia Pacific Board, Zia Mody are part of the prestigious jury.

Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s leading global executive search and leadership consulting firms, is the Study Partner for the 7th Edition of ET 40 under Forty. Presented by Mercedes-Benz A-class, a virtual award ceremony will be held to felicitate this year’s business leaders on July 2 hosted on

Demand for and issuance of passports

Demand for passports: region-wise

Passport demand highest from backward UP districts

The Times of India

Kartikeya | TNN

Mumbai: The largest demand for passports in the country is coming not from metros like Mumbai or Delhi but from 48 of India’s most backward districts in eastern and central Uttar Pradesh.

In 2009, the regional passport office (RPO) at Lucknow — which caters to districts like Gonda, Faizabad, Azamgarh and Jaunpur — received an average 1,403 applications daily for fresh passports. The staggering figure put it ahead of RPOs in Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab and the metros which have traditionally been the hubs of passport demand.

Immigrant workers from UP’s districts like Mirzapur, Pratapgarh, Gorakhpur, Ballia etc are known to flock to more developed states in search of livelihood. In states like Maharashtra some regional parties have even violently opposed the migration. But the huge demand for passports from the same poorer districts indicates that they are looking for jobs abroad as well.

In 2009, Uttar Pradesh also overtook Kerala and sent maximum number of workers abroad. This would also explain why the officials at Lucknow RPO find themselves buried under a huge heap of passport applications.

Data maintained by union ministry of overseas Indian affairs shows that until a few years ago barely a few thousand workers from UP sought emigration clearance each year to work overseas. In 2005, the number stood at just 22,558 workers. But thanks to a growing demand for construction workers in the Middle East, the numbers started going up dramatically since 2007.

Consequently, in 2009 more than 1,25,000 workers from UP received emigration clearance from the government, edging ahead of Kerala’s 1,19,000 workers. Apart from the Lucknow RPO, passport offices at Hyderabad (1,330 applications every day), Bangalore (1,226) and Ahmedabad (1,220) saw a huge demand. Overall 37 RPOs across the country received more than five million passport applications in 2009 at an average of 21,089 each day.

Issuance of passports:region-wise

2013:Number of passports issued by regional passport offices

The Times of India

Feb 06 2015

It's not any of the Regional Passport Offices in India's four largest metros -Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai -that issued the highest number of passports in 2013. The Hyderabad RTO topped with 5.9 lakh passports issued. It was followed by Bangalore and Lucknow. This trend might be linked to the higher number of IT companies in the south than in the north of the country.Lucknow, being the capital of India's most populous state, would be catering to a much larger population than other RTOs. In 2013, passport offices across the country received 69.7 lakh applications and issued 68.1 lakh passports

Passports issued: 2013-15

The Times of India, Jan 18 2016

A demographic profile of those who applied for Indian passports in 2015: by age, gender and education; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jan 18 2016

1.14cr passports issued since 13 but verification the bane

While 6.33 crore Indians now hold valid passports, up considerably from 5.19 crore in 2013, the issuance of passport continues to suffer from delay in police verification, latest figures compiled by the foreign ministry show. In fact, the average allIndia time taken for police verification has now reduced to 34 days (it was 49 in 2013), but that's still way above the ministry's desired period of 21 days.

According to foreign ministry joint secretary and chief passport officer Muktesh Pardeshi, 61% of all passport verifications were completed within 21 days.

“Today , on a pan-India basis, 68% of normal passports which require police verification are issued within a month. If police verification period is excluded, then 94% of normal passports are issued within 21 days,“ he said. Interestingly , the newly created state of Telangana has emerged as the best-performing state by completing police verification in eight days. It is followed by Andhra Pradesh (12 days), Chandigarh (12 days), Goa (12 days) and Delhi (14 days).

Accord ing to the official, in the case of Tatkal applications, 34% passports were issued on the day of submission of papers. Overall, 87% were issued passports within three days.

In addition to the 77 Pass port Seva Kendras (PSKs) currently operational in public private partnership PPP) mode, the ministry has set up eight additional PSKs in Agartala, Aizawl, Gangtok, Imphal, Kalaburagi, Karimnagar, Darbhanga and Shillong, providing extended reach to passport applicants in the northeast. Ten more PSKs are likely to come up in 2016.

The data compiled by the ministry also reveals that Uttar Pradesh now accounts for the maximum number of passport applications. It is followed by Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Together they account for more than 51% of the applications.

Lucknow, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Ahmedabad receive the maximum number of applications in that order.Malappuram, Pune, Thane and Khozhikode are on top among the smaller towns and cities. The maximum number of Indian passport applications received abroad were in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Qatar.

Ownership of passports

2018- 22

Chethan Kumar, Dec 19, 2022: The Times of India

The number of passport holders in India, state-wise, in 2022
From: Chethan Kumar, Dec 19, 2022: The Times of India

BENGALURU: Seventy-five years after Independence, 7.2% of India's population owns a passport with a majority having availed one in the past decade. As of mid-December, 9.6 crore Indians held passports, and the number is set to cross the 10-crore mark in the next few months.

According to data from the ministry of external affairs (MEA), over 2.2 crore or nearly a quarter (23%) of the passports were issued in Kerala and Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka are among the other big states with high numbers.

While the overall percentage of passport holders appears below par, it's noteworthy that passport issuance policy was very rigid until very recently and the number of Indians with aspirations, and the wherewithal, to go abroad has also increased in the recent past.

As part of reforms, the Centre has been increasing the number of Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) across the country and easing the process to avail a passport. For instance, as per the MEA, it took an average of six days to issue a passport in 2022 as against 21 in 2015

At least 368 PSKs have been added between 2015 and 2022. "As of 2022, there's been a 340% increase in the number of PSKs compared to 153 in 2014," as per MEA. Also, passports are issued at over 140 Indian missions abroad. In fact, one in 10 passports issued since 2014 has been at an Indian mission. With growing per-capita income, relaxed norms and increased education and job opportunities abroad, the number of Indians wanting to own passports has been increasing.

As of December 12 this year, over 1.1 crore passports have been issued, including 10.5% issued by Indian missions abroad. This is 36% more than the number of passports issued in 2021, and 81.5% more than in 2020, the two Covid-19 years. The number this year is close to the pre-Covid peak of about 1.2 crore in 2019 and 2017.

While only Kerala and Maharashtra have over one crore passport holders each, Tamil Nadu is really close with 97 lakh. Both TN and Maharashtra have a much higher population than Kerala, which tops the list.

Similarly, UP, which has more than double the population of Tamil Nadu, has 87.9 lakh passport holders, while Punjab, whose residents are known to migrate, has more than 77 lakh passport holders, followed by Gujarat (67.6 lakh) and Karnataka (66.3 lakh). These seven states together have nearly two-thirds of all passport holders in the country - over 6.1 crore - while Andaman and Nicobar Islands has the least number of passport holders (4,316).

Passport power, India and the world: visa-free access to other countries


The global rank of the Indian passport 2006 - 23
Graphic courtesy: [ The Indian Express]

See graphic The global rank of the Indian passport 2006 - 23


See graphic, The number of countries that holders of Indian and Pakistani passports can visit without a visa

The number of countries that holders of Indian and Pakistani passports can visit without a visa ; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, November 8, 2015

Countries Indians can travel to without Visa


See graphic, Country-wise list of passports, with number of visa-free destinations

Country-wise list of passports, with number of visa-free destinations; The Times of India, Feb 5, 2017

March 19, 2017: The Times of India

This is the list of 30 beautiful countries including Fiji, Jamaica, Jordan, Ecuador and Hong Kong where Indians can travel to without a visa.

1. Fiji is the perfect holiday destination, blessed with 333 tropical islands in the heart of the South Pacific. You can choose to relax and unwind in one of Fiji’s world-class spas and beaches.

2. Saint Lucia’s coast is home to volcanic beaches, reef-diving sites, luxury resorts and fishing villages. You can spend a good time in Saint Lucia.

3. Dominica: It’s a mountainous Caribbean island nation with natural hot springs and rainforests. You can spend the winters to escape colder climates and enjoy the island’s stunning natural splendors.

4. Seychelles - The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. It is a home to rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Seychelles issues visitor’s permit on arrival.

5. Nepal: Possessing eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, Nepal is a hotspot destination for mountaineers, rock climbers and people seeking adventure.

6. Maldives: It has become a favorite tourist destination among Bollywood celebrities. The capital of Maldives, Male boasts an array of scenic sites. Maldives offers visa on arrival.

7. Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It's known for cloud-shrouded mountains and beaches.

8. Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela. Trinidad’s capital hosts a boisterous carnical featuring calypso and soca music. While Tobago is known for its beaches and Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve.

9. Thailand is much popular among tourists. It is known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. Thailand offers visa on arrival.

10. Tanzania is known for its vast wilderness areas. Serengeti National Park and Kilimanjaro National Park are the famous tourist destinations of Tanzania.

11. Samoa: It’s is a country comprising the westernmost group of the Samoan Islands, in Polynesia. Robert Louis Stevenson Museum & Mt Vaea National Reserve are the best places to visit in Samoa. One needs to take entry permit on arrival.

12. Mauritius is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs. You can visit Champs de Mars horse track, Eureka plantation house and 18th-century Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens.

13. Madagascar: Huge island nation Madagascar is a home to thousands of animal species, such as lemurs, found nowhere else, plus rainforests, beaches and reefs. It offers visa on arrival for Indians.

14. Macau: It is an autonomous region on the south coast of China. Being a Portuguese territory until 1999, Macau reflects a mix of cultural influences. Macau earned the nickname, “Las Vegas of Asia” for its giant casinos and malls.

15. Laos: It’s is known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Laos issues visa on arrival for Indians.

16. Kenya: This East Africa country encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. It's also home to wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. Kenya offers visa on arrival for Indians.

17. Jordan is an Arab Kingdom in West Asia. It is a home to around 100,000 archaeological and tourist sites. Petra and Jerash are well preserved historical cities which have become Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction.

18. Jamaica: The Caribbean island nation offers you a lush topography of mountains, rainforests and reef-lined beaches. You can explore natural beauty in affordable prices. Jamaica is also famed as the birthplace of reggae music.

19. Indonesia: It’s a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands. There are hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. Beaches of Bali are most popular among tourists. Indonesia offers visa on arrival for Indians.

20. Hong Kong: It is a major shopping destination, famed for bespoke tailors and Temple Street Night Market. Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, and former British colony, in southeastern China. It is also a major shopping destination, famed for bespoke tailors and Temple Street Night Market.

21. Grenada: It is an island country consisting of Grenada itself and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Swimming, diving, snorkeling and fishing are all popular activities in Grenada's turquoise waters.

22. Ecuador is the home to volcanic mountains, lush jungle and beautiful Pacific coastline. Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, The Basilica of the National Vow and El Panecillo are popular places to visit in Ecuador.

23. El Salvador: It is a small Central American nation. The capital, San Salvador has numerous museums and the National Theater. Surf spots are also popular among tourists.

24. Uganda is a landlocked country which encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and immense Lake Victoria. It offers visa on arrivals for Indians.

25. The Cook Islands is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. Rarotonga island is known as the best destination for beaches and scuba diving.

26. Cape Verde: It’s known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture, traditional morna music and numerous beaches. Praia de Santa Maria, Praia de Chaves, Santa Monica State Beach and Pedra Lume Salt Crater are best places to visit in Cape Verde. You can get visa on arrival.

27. Cambodia: According to reports, more than 2 million tourists visit Cambodia every year. The tourists destinations include Sihanoukville, sleepy riverside town of Battambang and Bokor Hill Station.

28. British Virgin Islands: It is a British oversees territory comprising 4 main islands and many smaller ones. This territory is known for its reef-lined beaches and as a yachting destination.

29. Bolivia is one of the highest and most remote countries on earth. For tourists, Bolivia offers a diverse mix of multi-ethnic cultural experiences, magnificent natural landscapes and extreme adventures. You can get visa on arrival for this beautiful country.

30. Bhutan

Neighbouring country Bhutan is known for its monasteries, fortresses, steep mountains and valleys. Bhutan’s most famous tourist place is The Tiger’s Nest Monastery which hangs on a cliff and stands above enchanting forest of blue pines and rhododendrons.


The Indian Express

While India has ranked a couple of places higher than last year’s when the Indian passport was ranked 87, the number of countries Indian passport holders can go easily reduced by one. Owing to increasing migration, Indian passport holders have lost visa-free access to Serbia. Starting January 1, 2023, Indian passport holders are required to apply for a visa to enter the country unlike earlier which allowed visa-free travel to the country for 90 days.

Indian passport holders can travel visa-free to 59 destinations like Bhutan, Indonesia, Macao, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Iran and Qatar. However, some countries require visa-on-arrival.

  • - Visa on arrival
    • – Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)


Cook Islands


Marshall Islands *



Palau Islands *

Samoa *

Tuvalu *



Iran *

Jordan *







British Virgin Islands






St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Lucia *

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Trinidad and Tobago



Cambodia *


Laos *

Macao (SAR China)

Maldives *

Myanmar *


Sri Lanka *

Thailand *

Timor-Leste *


Bolivia *

El Salvador


Botswana *

Burundi *

Cape Verde Islands *

Comoro Islands *

Ethiopia *

Gabon *

Guinea-Bissau *

Madagascar *

Mauritania *


Mozambique *

Rwanda *


Seychelles *

Sierra Leone *

Somalia *

Tanzania *

Togo *


Uganda *

Zimbabwe *

Global Power Index 2017/ India ranked 75th

Indian passport ranked 75 in Global Power Index 2017, October 26, 2017: India Today

The Passport Index's Global Passport Power Rank 2017 has ranked India at 75th position. Singapore, for the first time, has topped the Index.

The passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories were considered.

What is the ranking based on?

The ranking is based on the score that the countries get after an analysis is made of the access that the different passports allow to countries around the world. The 'Visa-free score' represents the number of countries its holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival. India's position

India has a 'Visa-free score' of 51, which in effect means that 24 countries allow Indian passport holders visa-free entry and 27 provide them with the visa on arrival.

In the immediate neighbourhood, India fared better than Bangladesh that was ranked at 90 with a VFS score of 35, Nepal and Sri Lanka were both ranked at 89 with a VFS score of 36, Bhutan was placed at 76 spot with a VFS score of 50, Myanmar was ranked at 84 with a score of 41, and Pakistan that was ranked at 93 with a score of 26.

November 2017/ Most/least powerful passports

World's most and least powerful passports, country-wise, November 2017
From: November 21, 2017: The Times of India

See graphic:

World's most and least powerful passports, country-wise, November 2017

2019: India drops from 81 to 82

The ranks of the Indian Passport in the world, 2014-19;
The ranks of Pakistani and Sri Lankan Passport in 2019
From: Oct 11, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

The ranks of the Indian Passport in the world, 2014-19;
The ranks of Pakistani and Sri Lankan Passport in 2019

2022: India no. 87

Saurabh Sinha, July 21, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi: Indians now have visa-free access to about as many countries as they had pre-Covid. The latest quarterly Henley Passport Index — which ranks the “power” of a passport based on the number of countries allowing holders visa-free access —for 2022 lists India at number 87 with access to about 60 countries without a visa.

“Indian passport holders now have roughly the same travel freedom as they did pre-pandemic, with unrestricted access to 57 destinations around the world (as opposed just 23 destinations in 2020),” Henley and Partners said in a statement.

The statement quotes VFS Global, a visa processing provider, saying visa application volumes between January and May this year have grown by over 100% compared to the same period last year. “For example, in India, visa applications are averaging more than 20,000 per day as we head into the July-August holiday season. These numbers include travellers visiting Canada, Europe, and UK, along with other popular destinations,” it says.

Henley said “recent watershed moments” like the pandemic and the war in Europe have brought “residence and citizenship by investment programmes centre stage as affluent individuals seek domicile diversification solutions.

Henley & Partners CEO Juerg Steffen said: “Throughout the chaos of the pandemic, the benefits of a second or even third passport were self-evident for investors seeking security and peace of mind. We have seen an increase of 55% in enquiries compared to the previous quarter, which was itself recordbreaking. The top four nationalities currently driving demand are Russians, Indians, Americans, and Brits. ”

The five most powerful passports this year and the number of places where holders of the same have unrestricted access to are — Japan (193 destinations); Singapore and South Korea (192 each); Germany and Spain (190 each); Finland, Italy and Luxembourg (189 each) and Austria, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden (188 each). UK is the sixth-most powerful passport (187 countries) along with France. US is at number seven (186 countries), along with Switzerland and New Zealand. Canada and Australia are eighth (185 countries each).

The least powerful passport is of Afghanistan, ranked 112 with access to only 27 countries. Iraq (111 rank 29 destinations); Syria (110 rank, 30 destinations); Pakistan (109 rank, 32 destinations); Yemen (108 rank, 34 destinations); Somalia (107 rank, 35 destinations); 106. Nepal and Palestinian Territory (106 rank 38 destinations each) and North Korea (105 rank, 40 destinations) are among the weakest passports.

Simplification of procedures

2016: See graphic

2016: Simplification of procedures; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 28, 2016

Name on passport

Father's name not needed: HC

The Times of India, May 21 2016

Dad's name not needed for passport: HC

Siding with a divorcee who was abandoned by her husband on the birth of their daughter, the Delhi high court said the mother's name was sufficient for a child to apply for a passport, reports Abhinav Garg. Only in case of a legal necessity can the father's name be sought, Justice Manmohan said. By citing the father's name in the application form, the petitioner argued, her daughter would be forced “to alter not only her name, but also her identity that she had been using since her birth ie as daughter of the petitioner No.1 rather than her biological father who had abandoned her at the time of her birth“.

Mother’s name is sufficient in some cases: HC

The Times of India, May 21 2016

Abhinav Garg

Single woman can be a natural guardian as well as a parent

The Delhi high court has held that in certain cases, mother's name is sufficient for a child to apply for a passport, especially because a single woman can be a natural guardian as well as a parent.

Justice Manmohan directed the Regional Passport Office to accept the application form of the girl child of a single parent without insisting upon mentioning her father's name.

The court ruled that authorities “can insist upon the name of the biological father in the passport only if it is a requirement in law, like standing instructions, manuals, etc. In the absence of any provision making it mandatory to mention the name of one's biological father in the passport, the respondents cannot insist upon the same“.

Justice Manmohan observed, “This court also takes judicial notice of the fact that families of single parents are on the increase due to various reasons like unwed mothers, sex workers, surrogate mothers, rape survivors, children abando ned by father and also children born through IVF technology .“

He said just because the software of the passport office didn't accept a single parent's applications, it cannot become a legal requirement.

The HC also pointed out that on two previous occasions, in 2005 and 2011, the girl was issued a passport without her father's name, which “makes it evident that the said requirement is not a legal necessity , but only a procedural formality , which cannot be the basis of rejecting her case“.

The court saw merit in the argument of the petitioner that if the authorities didn't alter their stand, her daughter would be compelled “to alter not only her name, but also her identity that she had been using since her birth--i.e. as the daughter of the petitioner No.1 rather than her biological father who had abandoned her at the time of her birth“. The father had refused to accept the child because he did not want a girl, the petition added.

In her plea, the woman sought a reissue of her daughter's passport without her father's name being mentioned in the application. She informed the HC that being a divorcee, she had raised the child as a single parent since her birth after the biological father completely abdicated his responsibilities towards the child.

Saying she was forced to move court after passport authorities insisted on the father's name, the woman argued it violated her daughter's rights to determine her name and identity . She also pointed out that the entire record of her daughter, including her educational certificates and the Aadhaar card did not bear the name of her father.

Defending its format, the RPO said the computerised passport application form had a column with regard to father's name under the heading “family details“. The government's lawyer said the format makes it compulsory for the girl applicant to fill the form and mention these details. The RPO cited a clause in the rule book that said “parents' name not to be deleted from passport as a consequence of divorce“ and argued it is a well-recognised principle of law that the relationship between parents and children does not get dissolved, except in cases of valid adoption.

Women can retain maiden names

Women can keep maiden names in passport: Modi, April 14, 2017: The Times of India  Indian women will not have to change their names on passports after marriage. Also, they don't have to produce a marriage or divorce certificate to get a passport. In addition, they can give either their father's or mother's name on the passport, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, addressing businesswomen at an event in Mumbai. “From now onwards, women will not have to change their names in the passport after their marriage,“ Modi told the Indian Merchants Chambers' ladies wing over video conferencing. TNN

Passport papers can be self-attested: 2016

The Times of India, Dec 24 2016 

The government made it easier for single mothers, adopted children and sadhussanyasis to apply for passports while reducing the paperwork and documentation required for several categories of applicants.

The new rules were announced by MoS for external affairs Gen V K Singh (retd) after he inaugurated the ministry's `Twitter Sewa' on Friday . The ministry said that Aadhaare-Aadhaar cards would now be accepted as proof of date of birth and digitally signed marriage certificates as proof of marriage. This would override Passport Rules, 1980, which says applicants born on or after January 26, 1989 have to submit birth certificates.

The list of documents accepted as birth date proof also includes PAN card, voter ID, school leaving certificate and driving licence. Getting a passport will be easier for single parents too.The MEA says, “The online passport application form requires the applicant to provide the name of father or mother or legal guardian, i.e. only one parent... This would enable single parents to apply ...for their children and to issue passports where name of father or mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant“. Separated or divorced applicants will not have to mention the name of herhis spouse in the application form either.Divorced applicants would not have to provide even the divorce decree.

Sadhus and sanyasis -who have renounced their families and recognise only their spiritual gurus as family -will now be able to apply for passports with the name of their spiritual guru in place of their biological parents' names. The caveat here is they should have at least one one public document such as election photo identity card issued by the Election Commission of India, PAN card, Aadhaar card etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column for parents' names.

Orphaned children or those born out of wedlock -who do not have proof of date of birth -can now give a declaration from the head of the orphanage or child care home instead. For children adopted within the country , there is no longer a need to get an adopted certificate, just an undertaking from the parent would do.Documents now would only need self-attestation, and on plain paper.

Annexures in passport applications have been brought down from 15 to 9.

The new rules have been formulated based on the report of a three-member committee comprising MEA and ministry of women and child development, which was set up to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where motherchild has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issues to children with single parent and to adopted children.

Birth certificatenot needed

Birth cert no more a must for passport|Jul 24 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

You no longer need to show your birth certificate to get a passport.Continuing the process of simplifying passports for citizens, the government informed Parliament this week that Aadhaar or PAN card among a host of documents could be used to establish proof of birth.

According to the Passport Rules, 1980, all applicants Rules, 1980, all applicants born on or after January 26, 1989, had to submit a birth certificate, a mandatory provision. Now they can submit any one of these -transfer school leavingmatriculation certificate issued by the school last attendedrecognised educational board con taining the date of birth of the applicant; PAN card; Aadhaar cardE-Aadhaar; driving licence, voter ID cards, even LIC policy bonds.

Government servants can give extracts of service record, pension records etc.The aim is to make passports easily available to millions more, minister of state for external affairs V K Singh said.

As has been reported earlier by TOI, neither divorce decrees, nor adoption certificates need to be submitted.

New passports will have personal details printed in Hindi and English. Those above 60 and below 8 years of age will get a 10% discount on passport fees. Online applicants need only provide the name of one parent or guardian. 

Problems at airport

Information mismatch between passport and visa

Passport- visa tips

Saurabh Sinha, Spouse's name not on passport? Carry proof of marriage, Oct 13 2016 : The Times of India

Their bags are packed, they're ready to go.But they can't leave on a jet plane just yet. Indian travellers often commit mistakes while planning international trips, due to which they are not allowed to board flights or deported from their destination.

A Delhi couple heading to Dubai on honeymoon were not allowed to board the plane at IGI airport on Wednesday as the woman's visa identified her as “wife of “ x, while her passport, issued before marriage, had her name alone. The couple managed to fly out later, but travel industry veterans said, in such cases, it's best to carry proof of the marriage. If you are married and the name of your partner is not on the passport, remember to carry a marriage certificate along. In case you don't have it, carry an affidavit or marriage photographs along with some other proof,“ said Sharat Dhall, president of travel portal “If someone's passport has an emigration clearance required (ECR) stamp, they need to get emigration check done prior to departure,“ he added.

According to leading travel agents, this is just one of several mistakes that result in last-minute heartbreaks for travellers. “Almost on a daily basis, we have people returning from airports or being deported due to common mistakes,“ Anil Kalsi of Delhibased Ambey Travels said.

One of them, he said, was not checking the transit visa requirements before booking flights with layovers. “People look for lowest fares and end up buying tickets without keeping in mind transit visa requirements. For example, people flying from India to the US via Canada, or India to Canada via the US, buy tickets without realising that they would require a transit visa for Canada and the US,“ he said, “Such people are sent back from origin airports.“

If you're flying from India to New Zealand or Fiji via Australia, you will need an Australian transit visa, Kalsi added.

Another mistake is ignoring the validity of passports, especially while travelling to countries that offer visa on arrival. “It is common to see tourists being deported from Bali (Indonesia offers visa on arrival) as they land with passports due to expire in less than six months (from date of return) and are denied visa,“ Kalsi said.

Dhall of added, “Passengers must ensure their visa and passport details match in terms of name, passport validity , details and date etc. Travel dates and visa dates should be matched particularly for Schengen visa.“

See also

Passports: South Asia

Passports: India

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