Passport Requirements Changed 25.Nov.2015 – 20-Year Indian Passports Should be Replaced

Under a deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as of November 25, 2015, all passports are required to meet machine-readable standards. Foreign governments are not required to accept passports that do not meet these standards. This includes Indian passports issued with validity periods of twenty years, as these passports are not considered machine-readable. Readers are reminded of this requirement, as many recent inquiries have reached the Murthy Law Firm from individuals who encountered problems with travel due to failure to replace their passports.

Rules Apply to Nearly All Countries

Technically, these passport rules only apply to nations that are members of the ICAO, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). But, nearly every country in the world is a member state of the ICAO. Therefore, travelers generally should assume that obtaining a machine-readable passport is a must, now that the deadline has passed. Since November 2015, an international traveler with a passport that is not compliant with machine-readable requirements could be denied entry or the issuance of a visa from any member state of the ICAO.

Indian 20-Year and Handwritten Passports Should be Replaced

The Indian embassy has been advising its citizens of the need to apply for an updated, ten-year passport as far back as 2004. India began issuing machine-readable passports in 2001, and all Indian passports issued thereafter comply with the machine-readable requirements. Some of the older passports were issued with twenty-year validity periods and are NOT machine readable. Any Indian citizen who has one of the older, noncompliant passports, should obtain a new passport before seeking to travel abroad.


Taking steps now to ensure one’s passport is machine-readable, and, if it is not, applying for a new, compliant passport, can help a traveler avoid problems in the future. Those with questions about whether a particular passport meets the machine-readable requirements should contact the responsible government agency in the country that issued the passport.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.