NAT 220626 PASSPORT SEVA CAMP VSAKLANI-3-1656306064256
Indian expats at a Passport Seva Camp organised by the Consulate General of India at one of the 12 BLS International Service Centres in Dubai on Sunday. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Ahead of holidays, more than 1,100 Indian expatriates availed of a special passport service camp organised by the Indian Consulate in Dubai on Sunday.

“We received over 1,100 applications today,” Ramkumar Thangaraj, consul (Passport, Education and Attestation) told Gulf News on Sunday evening.

The camp was held simultaneously from 9am to 6pm at 12 centres of BLS International Services Ltd, the outsourced service provider for processing passport applications, in Dubai and northern emirates.

It was the third special Passport Seva (Service) Camp conducted by the mission to cater to huge demand for passport renewal and its related services.

NAT 220626 PASSPORT SEVA CAMP VSAKLANI-6-1656306073671
Sunday's camp was the third special Passport Seva Camp to be held since May in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Sunday, the weekend holiday for BLS Centres, is chosen for the special camps. The previous special passport service camps were held on May 22 and 29.

While applicants requiring emergency passport renewal could walk into four BLS Centres on May 22, the number of centres was increased to six on May 29.

According to Thangaraj, around 2,000 passport applications were processed during the last two special camps.

As reported first by Gulf News, from June 10, the consulate had also allowed Indian expats in Dubai to walk in to apply for emergency passport renewal under the ‘Tatkal’ service which charges Dh570 extra for same-day renewal.

Appointment needed

However, to streamline the services further, applicants were asked to book appointments at one of the 12 participating BLS Centres for attending the special camp this time.

Thangaraj said exemption from booking appointment was given for applicants from various categories such as Tatkal cases; emergency cases (medical treatment, death); new-born child; senior citizens, emergency certificates and out passes. They were allowed to walk in, the diplomat confirmed.

Attributing the high demand for passport services due to the summer holiday season when most expats are travelling after the COVID-19 travel restrictions had been relaxed, Thangaraj said the consulate would again consider holding more special service camps if still there is a demand.

e-Passports for expats

Asked about e-Passports for Indian expats in the UAE, the diplomat said the Indian missions here were awaiting updates on the latest announcement from India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar.

Marking the Passport Seva Divas (Day) on June 24, which commemorates the enactment of the Indian Passports Act on June 24, 1967, the minister had announced in India that the government was working to roll out e-Passports to make international travel easier, enable protection against identity theft and offer greater data security. The Ministry has successfully integrated the passport issuance systems in 178 of India’s Embassies and Consulates abroad, he added.

“We are yet to receive the modalities of [issuing] e-Passports here,” Thangaraj said.

However, he hoped that Indian expats would not have to wait for long to receive the high-tech passports.