Indian Passports


Blue, white, and yellow are not just colours but symbols of distinct categories of travellers. Have you ever wondered why some passports have different covers?

Step into the vibrant world of passports, where colours speak volumes about legal identity and international mobility. This guide will delve into the five distinct types of passports in India, From the traditional blue to the contemporary shades of e-passports, each cover tells a unique story of its holder’s journey. In the corridors of legal discourse, the landmark case of Satwant Singh Sawhney v. D. Ramarathnam, 1967 SCC OnLine SC 21 echoes a resounding truth: the Indian passport is not merely a travel document but a gateway to global horizons.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the types of passports available in India and uncover the reasons behind their colour-coded covers; what are these different passport types, and what do they indicate? Why does the colour of a passport cover matter? Read on to find out more about the colours of legal identity, their importance in the realm of Indian international travel, the historical evolution of the Indian passport, the landmark legal judgments that have shaped passport rights, and the shift towards digital passports specifically in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Also, the essential documents required for obtaining a passport, the specifics of passport expiry, and the renewal process.


British Rule: The Defence of India Act, 1915 marked a pivotal moment, mandating passports for entry and exit from India, and setting the stage for governmental regulation of travel. The subsequent Indian Passport Act, 1920 formalized this requirement, introducing structured procedures.

Independent India: However, it was not until 1952 that a significant shift occurred. The Indian government revoked old passports, ushering into a new era where passports were selectively granted only to individuals deemed “respectable”.

  • In V.G. Row v. State of Madras, 1953 SCC OnLine Mad 186, the Madras High Court ruled that the petitioner had no inherent right to a passport and the government could deny it to protect national interests.1
  • The Court had also stated that passport issuance is a political function not subject to judicial review but clarified that denying a passport did not prevent the petitioner from travelling abroad.

However, with the coming of the Indian Passport Act, 1967 (“Passport Act”) the Supreme Court was faced with the crucial question of, whether a passport should be considered a Fundamental Right or not ?

In the landmark case of Satwant Singh Sawhney (supra), the right to a passport was affirmed as a fundamental entitlement for every citizen. This ruling catalysed legislative action, leading to the passage of the Passport Act.

Another landmark judgement of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) 1 SCC 248, held that the right to travel abroad is a fundamental human right, vital for fostering an individual’s independent and creative character. It enhances personal freedom and broadens one’s experiences. The Supreme Court highlighted a US Supreme Court judgment in Kent v. Dulles,2 which emphasised that the freedom to travel internationally holds significant social value and is a crucial human right.3


Understanding which passport is right for you is crucial. Here is a breakdown:

Note: Indian passports, issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, serve as proof of citizenship under the Passport Act. The Consular, Passport & Visa Division’s Passport Seva office is responsible for their issuance.


Blue Passport (Type P)

Who Gets It: General citizens
Purpose: Leisure or business travel

Details: The ordinary blue passport is issued to Indian citizens, typically within 30 to 45 days. For urgent travel, you can opt for a Tatkal passport or a Short Validity Passport (SVP)4 by providing the necessary documents and paying an extra fee.

White Service Passport (Type S)

Who Gets It: Government Officials
Purpose: Official travel

Details: Issued to Indian Government officials, including Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service officers, for official duties abroad.

Note: The Supreme Court in Satish Chandra Verma v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 2048, held that the right to travel abroad is an important basic human right while permitting an IPS Officer, who was denied the permission to travel abroad, as he was facing departmental proceedings.

Emergency Certificate

The White Service Passport is not to be confused with another similar-appearing travel document called the Emergency Certificate (“EC”), issued to Indian citizens in emergency situations, such as the loss of Original Passport abroad.5

Maroon Diplomat Passport (Type D)

Who Gets It: Diplomats and Senior Officials

Purpose: Diplomatic missions

Details: Reserved for Indian diplomats, Members of Parliament, Union Council of Ministers, and high-ranking government officials, including their dependents.

Orange Emigration Passport (ECR)

Who Gets It: Individuals without higher education

Purpose: Protection of workers abroad

Details: The orange passport is for those who need Emigration Clearance, typically due to lower educational qualifications. It fast-tracks the emigration process and ensures protection against exploitation, provided for under the Indian Emigration Act, 1983.


The Ministry of External Affairs, in 2018, rescinded its decision to issue Orange Passports to citizens travelling abroad with Emigration Check Required (ECR) status. 6


As nations grappled with new health and safety protocols, the concept of e-passports gained momentum, offering a touchless solution for identity verification and border control. With the fusion of cutting-edge technology and traditional document authentication, e-passports symbolise a convergence of the ancient ethos of regulated travel and the demands of a modern, interconnected world.

Today, a passport serves as more than just a travel document; it is tangible proof of both address and citizenship, reflecting the culmination of centuries of legal evolution and societal transformation.

In India, the ePassport project is almost ready and will be tested soon. After a successful trial, it will be gradually introduced across the country for general citizens.7


Who Gets It: Diplomats and Government Officials

Purpose: Enhanced security and convenience

Details: E-passports include an electronic chip with biometric data, such as iris prints and photographs, making them tamper-proof and speeding up immigration processes.

Key Initiatives:

  1. Apply from Anywhere

    You can now apply for a passport from anywhere in India. Choose your preferred Passport Office (PO) and handle the entire process online via The system offers simplified forms, a document advisor, and online applications through rural CSCs. The mPassport Seva Mobile App provides easy appointments, electronic tokens, and renewal reminders via SMS, regardless of your address.

  2. mPassport Seva Mobile App

    The mPassport Seva Mobile App simplifies passport services without needing a computer or printer.8 It is inclusive of the following features:

    • New user registration
    • Account sign-in
    • Application form filing
    • Payment for services
    • Appointment scheduling
    • Status checks
    • Document advisor
    • Fee calculator
    • Paperless Process

The process includes SMS and email appointment notifications, electronic tokens, and exit letters at PSKs. This eco-friendly approach speeds up service delivery and reduces grievances.

  1. Renewal Reminders

    The Ministry sends two SMS reminders before your passport expires — nine months and seven months in advance, ensuring you never miss a renewal.9

These ‘Digital India’ initiatives make passport applications and renewals smoother, faster, and more convenient. Apply from anywhere, enjoy paperless services, and stay updated with timely reminders, embracing the digital transformation for a hassle-free passport experience.

The Need for Colour Division

Why Proper Documentation Matters

An Indian passport is a threshold to the world, but obtaining it requires the mandated documental preparation. Accurate and complete documentation is the cornerstone of a smooth application process.

Every document you submit verifies your identity, address, and other vital details, ensuring the passport reaches the right person and upholding national security. Missing or incorrect documents can cause delays, frustration, or even application rejection, which is especially inconvenient if you’re on a tight travel schedule.

Why do You Need it?

Knowing the documents required for your passport appointment and police verification will save you time and effort. Proper preparation not only streamlines the process but also boosts your confidence as you navigate the application procedures.


The division of passport colours in India primarily serves to ease international travel and ensure the safety and privileges of different categories of travellers:

  • Diplomats and Senior Officials: The maroon passport provides diplomats with privileges such as expedited visa processing and diplomatic immunity, facilitating smooth international relations.
  • Government Officials: The white passport ensures government officials on official duty can travel efficiently, often with fewer bureaucratic hurdles.
  • General Citizens: The blue passport allows ordinary citizens to travel for personal or business purposes, with options for urgent travel through Tatkal services.
  • Workers Abroad: The orange passport offers protection to less-educated workers against exploitation, ensuring they receive proper treatment and support abroad.

The passport colour division in India aims to balance the need for security, efficiency, and protection based on education and professional status. Understanding these nuances helps ensure travellers are aware of both their rights and the potential implications of their passport type.


1. List of Documents Required for a New Passport in India10

a. Proof of Address

To apply for a new passport, you must provide proof of address, which is a crucial part of your application.

Acceptable documents include a Voter ID card, Aadhaar card/E-Aadhaar, electricity bill, telephone bill, water bill, gas connection bill, bank account statement, Income Tax Assessment Order, and rent agreement.

b. Proof of Date of Birth

You need to submit proof of date of birth as part of your passport application. This can include a birth certificate, PAN card, Aadhaar card/E-Aadhaar, or a driving license.

c. Photo ID Proof

Photo identification is essential for any government application. For a passport, you can use an Aadhaar card/E-Aadhaar, PAN card, driving license, or Voter ID card.

d. Passport-Size


Your passport application must include at least two recent passport-size photographs. Ensure these photographs are current and meet the required specifications.

e. Previous Passport

If you are applying for a reissue of your passport, you must submit your old passport in its original form along with your application and other documents.

f. Additional Documents

Depending on individual circumstances, you may need to provide additional documents. It is advisable to thoroughly read the passport application guidelines from the official Indian Passport Seva website to ensure you have all the necessary documents.

2. Documents Required for a Minor’s Passport

For minors under 18, the passport application requires specific documents which includes, the minor’s birth certificate, proof of parents’ citizenship, proof of address, a recent passport-size photograph of the minor, Annexure ‘D’ (for both parents/guardians), Annexure ‘C’ (for minors aged 15 to 18), and any other documents specified by the passport office.

3. Documents for Re-Issuance of Passport

If you need to reissue your passport due to a change of address, exhaustion of pages, expiration, loss, damage, or change in personal details, you must submit the old passport, proof of address, proof of date of birth, photographs, and any other documents based on your specific case.

4. Documents for Passport Renewal

For passport renewal, you need to provide your original old passport, self-attested copies of the first two and last two pages, a self-attested copy of the Emigration Check Required (ECR)/Non-ECR page, a self-attested copy of any observation page made by the Passport Issuing Authority, a self-attested copy of the validity extension page if applicable, and documents proving the resolution of issues that led to the issuance of a Short Validity Passport (SVP) if relevant.11

5. Documents for Tatkal Passport

To apply for a Tatkal passport, you need proof of age (birth certificate, school leaving certificate, etc.), proof of address (Aadhaar card, Voter ID card, electricity bill, etc.), proof of nationality (birth certificate, Voter ID card, etc.), self-attested copies of the first two and last two pages of your old passport (if any), Annexure E (declaration of citizenship, family details, and no criminal record), two passport- sized photographs with a white background, and payment of the Tatkal fee.


What You Need to Know

Eligibility for Renewal12

Renew Upon Expiry: You are eligible to renew your passport once it has expired.

Early Renewal: Passports with an original 10-year validity can be renewed up to a year before they expire.

Documentation and Requirements

Valid Visa: Your previous passport must contain a valid visa.

Affidavit for Late Renewal: If renewing more than a year after the passport’s expiry, you need to submit an affidavit (Form 1).

Costs of Renewing a Full Passport

36-Page Passport: The fee for renewing a 36-page passport is ?1,500.

60-Page Passport: The fee for renewing a 60-page passport is ?2,00013.

Situations Requiring a New Passport Booklet

Full Pages: When all pages of the passport are filled, a new booklet is required.

Changes in Appearance: Significant changes in your appearance necessitate a new passport.

Updating Personal Information: A new passport is required for updates to key personal details such as name, birth date, birthplace, or signatures.

Steps to Renew Your Passport;


To conclude, as you prepare for your travels, remember that your passport’s colour signifies your role, rights, and protections. From diplomats and government officials to workers and general citizens, each passport tells a story of purpose and privilege.

So, embrace your passport, cherish the opportunities it brings, and let it open doors to new adventures and experiences. Safe travels!

Image Source:

1. Ghouse, Mohammad. “The Vicissitudes of Freedom of Exit in India.” The American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 17, no. 4, 1969, pp. 559—72. JSTOR,

(Accessed 27 May 2024)

2. 6 357 U.S. 116 (1958); see also Dayton v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 144 (1958).

3. Noorani, A. G. “Right to Passport.” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 16, no. 47, 1981, pp. 1893—1893. JSTOR,, Accessed 27 May 2024.

4. Find the details at:

5. Embassy of India, Berne, Switzerland: Notice for Indian National who have Lost their Passport (


7. Question no-1334 e-passports. Available at:

(Accessed: 28 May 2024).

8. Passport seva home: Indian passport: Passport: Passport seva project Passport. Available at:

(Accessed: 26 May 2024).

9. Making it easy to travel making it secure to travel. Available at:

(Accessed: 27 May 2024).

10. Documents required for passport in India 2024: Complete Guide (2024) Y20 India. Available at:

(Accessed: 26 May 2024).

11. List of documents required for passport in India (new/renew/duplicate) Available at:

(Accessed: 26 May 2024).

12. Ministry of External Affairs. Available at:

(Accessed: 28 May 2024).

13. Calculate your fee here:

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  • There is no orange passport also white Passport ( EMERGENCY CERTIFICATE) is given for those who lost passport/ urgent issue passport

    • Thank you for your feedback. We have updated the information regarding the (rescinded) Orange Passport, and (continuing) White Passport. For ECR status travellers, the GoI does not issue Orange jacket-passports anymore, however, they are issued Ordinary Passports (Blue), along with their ECR status mentioned within. Further, we must highlight that an Official Passport (White) is not to be confused with an Emergency Certificate-which is a one-way travel document issued to Indian citizens in emergency scenarios, such as (correctly mentioned by you) when their passport is lost abroad.

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