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RPO urges citizens to shift to machine readable passports

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Mumbai: The Regional Passport Office (RPO) here has asked citizens to immediately do away with their handwritten passports, saying not switching to machine-readable ones will cause them problem in getting visas.

The move comes following a directive issued by the Joint Secretary and Chief Passport Officer in New Delhi.

A toll free National Call Centre at — 1800-258-1800 — has also been set up for the purpose, the RPO said.

According to the passport office here, as of today, 2.5 lakh handwritten passports with 20 years validity are in the circulation across the country which need to be converted into machine-readable ones.

Harish Fulpadia, Deputy Passport Officer of Mumbai region, told PTI: “In accordance with the ICAO guidelines, member countries had been advised to phase out these non-machine readable passport by November 24, 2015.”

The details for conversion of the passports are available on www.Passportindia.Gov.In website.

Fulpadia said that converting the passport into machine-readable ones is in the line to implement the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which has decided to do away with non-machine readable (handwritten) passports globally, and since India is part of the ICAO, therefore the citizens have been asked to get their passport converted in new one that can be read by machines.

Handwritten passports were issued before 2001 and are being phased out in many countries.

According to another official at RPO, those who fail to renew or convert their passports into machine readable one may be denied visas henceforth.

Mumbai’s Passport Office, being the only one in the region, caters to the residents from Greater Mumbai, over and above districts of Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Aurangabad and Beed in Maharashtra.

PTI

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