Renewing my passport, part 2

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <>

Towards the end of August, I applied to renew my expired passport. I stood in a queue to submit the application, and returned home to wait for the police to verify that the residential address I put on the form was indeed where I lived.

A month later (to the day), a Sub-Inspector of police called to tell me he was on his way. He wanted to see two separate documents proving that I had lived at the specified address for a year or more. I showed him an old lease deed and a recent phone bill for my MTNL land line. He was happy with the deed, but wanted a phone bill that was more than a year old. I didn't have one (because I send the whole year's bills to my accountant at the end of the financial year), and I happened to not have any other documents (e.g. bank statements) that he would accept instead.

He said I had three options: to produce the requisite proof somehow, or to accept that my application would fail, and to apply again later when I had all the right documents, or to "spend a little money" to ensure a favourable police report despite my (partial) lack of documentation. "A little" money turned out to be INR1000, and I didn't feel like spending that on our friendly neighbourhood SI.

I had resigned myself to failure when Hassath suggested asking MTNL for a copy of an old phone bill… and I suddenly remembered that the MTNL web site (bless its soul!) allows me to download PDF copies of all the bills I've paid in the past. I downloaded one, printed it out, cringed at how unconvincing and unofficial it looked (even in colour), and called the SI to tell him I'd found some proof. He accepted it, and went away to file his report.

Today (about forty days after the police verification), I received my new passport by courier.

But all is not well. The "7B" in my (independently verified!) address has been printed in the passport as "73". But that's not all! There's an "Emigration Check Required" stamp on the first page, even though I am (explicitly and unambiguously) exempt from that particular restriction by virtue of paying income tax and having studied in India past the secondary school level. Oh well, at least they got my name right.

I wonder how many queues it will take to get this sorted out.

Update (2009-11-23): The incorrect address has been corrected after only two trips to the RPO.