The Indian Passport Office has come up with numerous improvements over the years. I remember the first time my passport was issued in Chennai in the year 2000. The paperwork and processing took humongous amount of time and effort for my father and me. The renewal came up ten years later in 2010, when I was in California. The process was relatively simpler. All I had to do was upload a few documents and take a day off work to visit the Consulate in San Francisco, which was about 40 miles away. My renewed passport was sent home in a few days. After my parents shifted to Belgaum permanently, they had to visit Hubli to get their passport renewed. I was happy when I heard the news that Belgaum was getting it’s own passport service centre. My passport is due for renewal now in 2020. I looked up the process on the website and it seemed pretty straight forward. I assumed that the renewal would be done in a jiffy, but little did I anticipate the surprise in store.
I have been struggling with the PIN code entry in my online application. The PIN code for my address in Nanawadi, Belgaum is 590009. It has always been so, for the past 25 years and I have the same PIN code on all my IDs – Aadhar card, PAN card, Voter ID and my old Passport too. Now all of a sudden, the passport application software just wont accept 590009 as my pin code for my passport renewal. The error below shows up.
As a Software Engineer, it is obvious to me that the PIN code in the Passport Application software is tied to the Police station for Police verification. This particular validation check I assume is written so that the application is automatically assigned the appropriate Police Station. My assumption is further validated from the report here: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Passport-software-tweaked-to-match-police-station-with-applicant/articleshow/46256925.cms. So far, so good.
But then, the software needs to include all the PIN codes that come under the jurisdiction of a particular Police station and not just a subset. In my case, the software only takes 590006 as a valid PIN code and does not allow 590009. And while I could use an incorrect PIN code to get my passport application through, I will have to bear the incorrect PIN on my passport for the next 10 years. Passport is the only ID proof accepted internationally, especially when we travel abroad. PIN code is an important part of our address. In the US, I remember using PIN code for banking transactions, at the Gas stations, for credit cards and for various documents requiring Address authentication. So entering an incorrect PIN code is just not right nor acceptable to me.
So here is what I did about it:
- I first raised a Grievance explaining the entire issue via the Grievance/ Feedback form on the Passport Seva website.
Response Received: Please contact call centre 1800 258 1800 / visit our website for documents requirement
From their response it seemed like they had not even read my issue. Calling 1800-258-1800, yielded no response.
- Then, I raised another grievance via pgportal MEAPD/E/2019/04342
Response Received: As informed by the Service Provider the PIN code 590009 can be entered. However, you can bring it to the notice of the respective PSK/POPSK in writing to make necessary changes on the date of your application.
This is not true, 590009 cannot be entered. So again, they had not even bothered to read about my problem.
- I then escalated and sent an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Response Received: Applicant may contact to the customer care Toll Free No. 1800-258-1800
Escalation wasn’t useful at all as even they did not bother to read my email. Calling 1800-258-1800, again yielded no response.
- I finally went to the Passport office in Belgaum and asked the staff there.
Response Received: Enter 590006(which is not my PIN code). When I told that it wasn’t the right PIN code, I was told it doesn’t matter.
On further Googling this error, I realized that many people are affected by the incorrect PIN code problem in the Passport software. Here are a select few online discussions I found:
Wondering if the tweak in software to improve processing time for Police verification is causing other side effects resulting in passports with incorrect PIN codes? Incorrect PIN code mismatch can cause serious issues to the future of many people, including visa issues.
This post is written with the only hope that someone in the MEA department in Government of India understands the root cause of the issue and takes the right action of fixing the Passport Application Software.