By M Najmuz Zafar

MUSCAT: The Indian mission in Oman is ranked seventh in the world in terms of providing passport related services, according to a report by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Placed among the top 12 countries in rendering passport services, the mission in Oman along with Saudi Arabia, UAE, US, Kuwait, UK, Qatar, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Italy and Bahrain collectively contributed to 87 per cent of the total passport services abroad.

Indian missions abroad rendered over 1.4mn passport and related services in 2013. Saudi Arabia and UAE alone contributed to 43.4 per cent of total services abroad, with Dubai, Riyadh and Jeddah accounting for 39.4 per cent services.

Meanwhile, MEA in an August 5 public notice has simplified passport application process by allowing self attestation of all supporting documents. In an other circular, it has also started accepting registered rent agreement in India as a valid proof of address with respect to tenants seeking passport facilities.

The provision of self certification of documents like birth certificate, educational documents and address proof from the applicants instead of getting it attested by a gazetted officer was introduced in 2000. However, attestation by a gazetted officer was required in certain cases like passport applications of minors (attested copies of parents’ passports, marriage certificate), issuance of ordinary passport to government servants upon who had retired or resigned (attested copies of Pension Payment Order or notification of retirement).

The ministry stated, “It has been decided to discontinue the requirement of attested photocopies of original documents in all the cases including the above. The applicants, therefore, may submit self attested documents of all the original documents at the time of submission of their passport applications. Under the self certification method, original documents are required to be produced at the time of verification/final processing.”

The ministry also said that it had been receiving requests from Passport Issuing Authorities and the public to include the registered rent agreement as a valid proof of address in respect of tenants.

“The matter has been considered in consultation with the Legal & Treaties (L&T) Division of the ministry and it has now been decided that henceforth, the registered rent agreement duly registered under Section 17 of the Registration Act, 1908 and executed in favour of the tenant by the landlord for a period of more than one year, will be accepted as a valid proof of address for the purpose of the submission of passport application,” it stated.

According to the Central Passport Organization, MEA , there were 51.9mn valid passport holders as on December 31, 2013. Kerala topped the states in terms of number of passport applications in 2013 followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, accounting for more than 55 per cent of total applications.