Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Travel Insurance / Articles / Passport / What is a passport?

What is a passport?

TeamAckoFeb 27, 2024

For any Indian, there are a number of ways to identify themselves, such as Aadhar card, PAN card, voter ID, etc. All these documents will have a few details that show the other person who you really are. However, these are only limited to India. But what about when you go abroad? Shouldn’t there be a national ID card that shows who you are and where you are from? If you said yes, then that’s exactly what a passport is. In this article, we're going to dive deep into how a passport works, what it really is, and how you can apply for one.

Let us begin.




Passport definition

A passport is a government-issued document that certifies a person's nationality and identity. 

It's super important for traveling internationally, allowing you to pass through borders and enter foreign countries legally. Your passport includes all your essential information, like your name, date of birth, photo, and signature. Plus, it also has security features to prevent any forgery and ensure its authenticity. By giving you the right to travel abroad, your passport helps promote global mobility and a sense of national identity.

Types of passports

There are various types of passportsissued by governments worldwide, each serving specific purposes based on the holder's status and requirements.

  • Ordinary/regular passport: This is the most common type of passport issued to ordinary citizens for general international travel purposes.

  • Diplomatic/Official passport: Reserved for diplomats, consuls, and government officials representing their respective countries in foreign nations, granting them special legal protections.

  • Collective passport: An older form of a passport issued to groups travelling together, now rarely used.

  • Family passport: Rarely issued nowadays, this type used to include details of an entire family unit on a single passport.

  • Refugee passport: Granted to individuals fleeing their home country due to persecution or conflict, providing them with temporary travel rights.

Passport application requirements

To obtain a passport as an Indian citizen, the following are the general requirements.

  • Proof of citizenship: Applicants need to provide proof of Indian citizenship, which can be demonstrated through documents like birth certificates, school leaving certificates, or voter ID cards.

  • Proof of address: Individuals must submit valid documents as proof of their current address, such as utility bills, Aadhaar card, or rent agreement.

  • Passport application form: Applicants are required to fill out the passport application form accurately, either online through the Passport Seva website or offline at designated Passport Seva Kendras.

  • Passport-size photographs: Recent passport-sized photographs meeting the specified requirements must be submitted with the application.

  • Photo ID proof: A valid photo identification document, such as an Aadhaar card, voter ID, or driving license, needs to be presented.

  • Date of birth proof: Documents like birth certificates or school records must be provided to verify the applicant's date of birth.

  • Supporting documents: Depending on the purpose of travel, additional supporting documents may be required, such as proof of employment, educational qualifications, or travel itinerary.

  • Fees: The applicable passport fees must be paid online or at the Passport Seva Kendra, as per the selected passport type and processing options.

  • Police verification: After submitting the application, police verification may be conducted at the applicant's address, which is a routine security measure.

  • Annexures (if applicable): Specific annexures may be required for minors, government employees, or individuals with a change in name.

Note: The requirements for obtaining a passport may vary based on individual circumstances and updates in the passport application process. As such, it is advisable to check the official Passport Seva website or consult with the nearest Passport Seva Kendra for the most up-to-date information and guidelines.

How do I apply for a passport?

To apply for a passport, follow these steps.

  1. Register online: Create an account by going to the Passport Seva website ( Fill in the required details to register as a new user.

  2. Fill out the application form: Log in to your account and complete Form 1 of the passport application. Before submitting, provide accurate information and double-check all details.

  3. Choose application type: Select the appropriate application type based on your needs, such as a fresh passport, reissue, or renewal.

  4. Schedule an appointment: Once you've filled out the form, set up a meeting at the nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Passport Seva Laghu Kendra (PSLK) to verify your documents and collect biometric data.

  5. Pay fees: Pay the applicable passport fees online using various payment options available on the website.

  6. Visit Passport Seva Kendra: On the appointed date and time, visit the PSK/PSLK with all the required documents in original and photocopies.

  7. Biometric data collection: Your fingerprints, picture, and signature will be taken at the PSK/PSLK.

  8. Police verification: For most passport applications, police verification is carried out at the applicant's address after the PSK visit.

  9. Track application status: You can track the status of your application online through the Passport Seva website using your application reference number.

  10. Passport delivery: Once your application is processed and approved, your passport will be printed and dispatched to your registered address.

Important notes

Kindly note the following.

  • Minors (below 18) should be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians during the application process.

  • Government employees may need to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer.

  • For applicants with a change in name, additional documentation like a marriage certificate or affidavit may be required.

  • Ensure that all the information provided in the application is accurate and matches the supporting documents. Any discrepancy may lead to delays in processing or rejection of the application.

  • For further assistance or queries, refer to the official Passport Seva website or contact the nearest Passport Seva Kendra.

Passport photo requirements

When applying for a passport in India, it is critical to follow specific guidelines for the passport-sized photograph. The photo must meet the following specifications.

  • Size: The photograph should be 2 inches by 2 inches (51 mm x 51 mm) in size.

  • Background: The background should be plain, white, or light-colored, without any patterns or shadows.

  • face position: The face must be front-facing, and the applicant should look directly at the camera. Both ears should be visible in the photo.

  • Expression: The applicant should have a neutral facial expression with a closed mouth and relaxed features.

  • Attire: Normal attire without any religious headwear or accessories that obscure facial features is recommended.

  • Headgear: In case of religious reasons, a turban or headscarf can be allowed, provided it does not cover the face.

  • Glasses: If the applicant wears glasses, they should have clear lenses, and the eyes should be visible without any reflections.

  • Lighting: The photo should have even lighting without any harsh shadows or glare.

  • Resolution and printing: The photo should be of high resolution and printed on high-quality photo paper.

  • Age of photo: The photograph should be recent and taken within the last six months.

  • Digital photos: Online applications allow for digital photos. In this case, the photo should conform to the specified size and resolution.

How to track passport applications

To track your passport application as an Indian citizen, follow these steps.

  1. Visit the Passport Seva website: Go to the official Passport Seva website of the Government of India -

  2. Click on "Track Application Status": On the homepage, find and click on the "Track Application Status" option.

  3. Choose application type: Select the application type based on your purpose, such as a fresh passport, reissue, or renewal.

  4. Enter application details: You will be prompted to enter specific details related to your passport application, including the Application Reference Number (ARN) or Passport File Number (PFN).

  5. Provide additional information (if required): Depending on the application type, you may need to enter other details like your date of birth or the name of the applicant.

  6. Click "Track Status": After entering all the required information, click on the "Track Status" button.

  7. View application status: The system will display the current status of your passport application on the screen. It will show whether your application is pending, approved, dispatched, or requires any further action.

  8. Receive SMS/email updates (optional): If you have provided your mobile number or email address during the application process, you may receive automated updates regarding your application status.

Note: The tracking process may vary slightly for different passport application types. The ARN or PFN is crucial to track your application, so ensure you have it handy. If you have applied through the Passport Seva Kendra, the ARN can be found on the payment receipt.

Frequently asked questions

Review this section to find answers to commonly asked questions regarding passports for Indians.


What is a passport, and why do I need one?

A passport is a government-issued document that certifies your nationality and identity. It is required for international travel because it allows you to legally cross borders and enter foreign countries.

How do I apply for a passport in India?

Visit the Passport Seva website ( to register, complete the application form, make an appointment at the closest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), and submit the necessary paperwork for verification in order to apply for a passport in India.

What documents do I need to apply for a passport?

The required documents include proof of citizenship, proof of address, photo ID proof, and date of birth proof. Additional documents may be required based on your specific circumstances.

How long does it take to get a passport in India?

The processing time for passports varies based on the application type and the regional Passport Office. Typically, it takes around 15 to 30 working days for a normal passport and 1 to 7 working days for a Tatkal passport.

Can I track the status of my passport application online?

Yes, you can check the status of your passport application online at Passport Seva using your Application Reference Number (ARN) or Passport File Number (PFN).

Can I apply for a passport if I have yet to attain 18 years of age?

Yes, minors can apply for passports with the consent of their parents or legal guardians. Both parents' signatures may be required for this process.

Do I need to appear for an interview during the passport application process?

Yes, in most cases, applicants must go to a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) to have their documents verified and biometric data collected.

Can I renew my passport online?

Yes, passport renewal can be done online if your previous passport was issued after a certain year and you meet the specified criteria. Otherwise, you may need to apply for a fresh passport.

What is the validity period of an Indian passport?

For adults (18 years and above), an Indian passport is typically valid for 10 years. For minors (below 18 years), it is valid for 5 years.

Can I make changes to my passport after it has been issued?

Yes, you can make certain changes, such as updating your address or adding a spouse's name, through the Passport Seva website. However, major changes may require a reissue or renewal of the passport.

Disclaimer: For any specific queries or concerns about your passport application, you can also contact the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or the Passport Office where you submitted your application. They will be able to provide further assistance and updates on your application status.

Explore More:


Want to post any comments?


Ensure a safe trip with a comprehensive travel insurance plan.

Travel insurance plans starting @ ₹10/ per travel day*

quote icon

Get Quote

quote icon