Consular, Passport and Visa Division Consular, Passport and Visa Division

Guide to Consular Services

This Guide outlines the consular services and assistance that are provided by the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, including through the Indian Embassies and Consulates abroad. There may be circumstances in which its ability to provide consular support may be limited. These circumstances, among other things, are outlined in this document, along with advice for Indian travellers and emigrants going abroad.

Values

We are committed to providing efficient and cost-effective support to Indians overseas, to the best of our capacity, and in harmony with local regulations in force.

Who we can assist

  • All Indian nationals abroad, including NRIs (Indian passport holders)
  • PIO/OCI card holders (under special circumstances).

Before/during foreign travel we advice that Indian nationals should

  • Familiarise yourself with the countries you are visiting
  • Check the latest travel advisories and follow them
  • Take personal responsibility for your travel choices, your safety, finances and behaviour overseas, including obeying the laws of the country you are visiting
  • Make sure you have the right visas for the countries you are visiting or transiting and check any other entry or exit requirements.
  • Organise your finances to cover your planned travel.
  • Obey the laws of the country you're visiting, even if these appear harsh or unfair by Indian standards. Don't expect to be treated differently from the locals.
  • Take appropriate travel and comprehensive medical insurance that covers you for any unexpected costs; make sure you have sought medical advice for health concerns, have up to date vaccinations and, if you're carrying pharmaceutical products or medicines from India, make sure they are allowed in the country you are visiting
  • Protect your passport and report it promptly if it is lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Make sure your passport is valid (with at least six months validity from your planned date of return to India) and will not expire when you are overseas
  • Carry extra passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while you're away.
  • Make copies of your passport (including visa pages), insurance policy, traveller’s cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place away from the originals and also leave a copy with someone at home.
  • Keep in contact with friends and family back home and leave a copy of your insurance policy details and your overseas itinerary with them
  • In case your stay in a foreign country is for a reasonable length of time, register with the local Indian Embassy/Consulate before leaving India or soon after arrival, to get better aces to consular assistance and updates. (Students can register on the Students’ Module of MADAD – under construction)
  • Treat consular staff with respect and be honest in providing the Embassy/Consulate with all relevant information when seeking our assistance
  • If you get arrested or detained for some reason, insist on Consular access (under the Vienna Convention) to a representative from the nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate

What help we may provide

Each case is unique and our assistance, including through the appropriate Indian Embassy/Consulate, will depend on the circumstances and availability of consular resources. We may be able to:

  • Register the births and deaths of Indian citizens, in accordance with the relevant Indian laws
  • Register marriages of Indian citizens, in accordance with the relevant Indian laws
  • Issue replacement passports, emergency certificates and other documents (fee applicable)
  • Provide relief/repatriation and financial assistance to distressed Indians, subject to the rules applicable
  • Assist in deportation of Indians by foreign Governments
  • Extradite persons under a treaty/arrangement
  • Keep custody of funds and personal effects of Indians, in certain contingencies
  • If you are arrested, an Embassy/Consulate representative can visit or contact you to check on your welfare, inform your family, provide consular assistance (subject to your consent) and do what we can to see you are treated in a fair manner under the laws of that country
  • Provide advice and support in a wide range of other cases including the death of relatives overseas, missing persons and kidnappings
  • If you consent, we will contact friends or family on your behalf. (In some contingencies, we may contact your friends or family even where we have been unable to get your consent)
  • Provide assistance in case of any emergency, including medical emergencies
  • Provide financial assistance (based on means-testing) in case of certain emergencies or in exceptional situations, as per rules applicable.
  • If you are the victim of a serious assault or other crime, provide help under local laws
  • Make special arrangements in cases of international terrorism, civil disturbances and natural disasters (fees may apply)
  • Provide some notarial services, including witnessing and authenticating documents and administering oaths and affirmations (fees apply), as per the relevant rules
  • Take evidence and service documents abroad (fees apply), as per the relevant rules.

Our assistance may be limited in some circumstances

While the government will make all efforts to provide the kinds of consular assistance listed above, it should not be assumed that all kinds of assistance will be provided regardless of the circumstances. The government may be constrained to limit the assistance extended to you if it considers that the circumstances warrant so, for example, where your actions were illegal, or you have deliberately or repeatedly acted recklessly or negligently and put yourself or others at risk, or you have demonstrated a pattern of behaviour that has required multiple instances of consular assistance previously.

Crisis Response

Some international crises and emergencies involving Indians overseas will require an exceptional response, such as:

  • Those in which large numbers of Indians may have been killed or injured or where there are serious dangers to Indians, for example warlike situations, riots, terrorist attacks, major accidents, pandemics and natural disasters
  • Political unrest which leads us to advise you to leave the country and which might require the assisted departure or evacuation of Indians if there are no commercial options and
  • Events which cause major disruption and hardship to large numbers of Indians.

In such crises and incidents we will provide exceptional support to Indians. The nature of our assistance will be guided by many considerations, but we may:

  • Deploy expert teams to support affected Indians
  • Liaise with the families of any Indians killed or injured and help in the repatriation of mortal remains
  • Establish a local network of volunteers to share advice and assistance to affected Indians
  • Work with local authorities to support affected Indians
  • Support Indians trying to leave the area and put them in contact with their families
  • Provide travel advice and crisis updates
  • Organise, where warranted and possible, special transport arrangements for evacuation of Indian nationals

In return, we request Indians affected by such crises or emergencies to:

  • Contact the Indian Embassy/Consulate concerned and register with it at the earliest opportunity
  • Read and follow all travel advisories
  • Keep in touch with any area coordinators recognised by the Indian Embassy/Consulate
  • Cooperate with the Indian Embassy/Consulate in reducing exposure to dangerous conditions

It should be recognised that there may be limits to the assistance we can provide in a crisis or major emergency, although our efforts will be to cater to all contingencies.

What we cannot do

While the Ministry of External Affairs and our Embassies/Consulates will make efforts to provide consular assistance in as many situations as possible, there may be tasks which are outside the consular role or which cannot be provided for policy reasons. These include:

  • Guarantee your safety and security in another country outside the scope of local laws, or make your travel arrangements
  • Arrange visas, licences, work or residency permits for other countries
  • Enforce a judicial or administrative order in or with respect to a foreign country without the consent and cooperation of the local authorities
  • Intervene in another country's court proceedings or legal matters including employment disputes, commercial disputes, criminal cases and family law matters or child custody disputes, except to the extent permitted by the laws of that country
  • Carry out searches for missing people in a foreign country, except with the cooperation of the authorities of that country
  • Investigate crimes or deaths overseas, which is the responsibility of the authorities of that country
  • Get you out of prison in a foreign country, except as per the legal procedures of that country
  • Prevent you from being deported
  • Get you better treatment in prison than local prisoners, although we may be able to raise welfare concerns or other sensitivities with local authorities for consideration
  • Post bail or pay your fines or legal expenses, except as permissible under the rules
  • Enforce an Indian or any other custody-related judgement/agreement overseas or compel a country to decide a custody case
  • Pay for medical services or medications, except in emergencies as per the relevant rules.
  • Pay your pension or social security benefits in a foreign country, except where permissible under Indian laws
  • Extradite/Deport/Repatriate/Return a person involuntarily and/or without legal basis or in the absence of a treaty or arrangement
  • Intervene in immigration, customs or quarantine matters in other countries, except to the extent permitted under local laws.
  • Give you legal advice, interpret or translate documents
  • Any other assistance not specifically provided by law or policy

Whom to contact

  • Emergency consular assistance could be availed by contacting the local Indian Embassy/Consulate concerned (through phone/email). The contact details of all Indian Embassies/Consulates are available here: http://www.mea.gov.in/indian-missions-abroad.htm
  • If you are unable to reach the local Indian Embassy/Consulate due to some reason, Consular Section of the CPV Division of the Ministry of External Affairs could be contacted: http://www.mea.gov.in/divisions.htm ; & http://meatel.nic.in/?670160 External website that opens in a new window, http://www.mea.gov.in/cpv.html
  • Grievances related to Consular services could be registered on the MADAD portal – http://madad.gov.in External website that opens in a new window (or MADAD mobile App or helpline at 1800-258-0222 (toll free); (+91-40) 67580222)
  • For Indians in the Gulf region & in Malaysia, you have the option of contacting the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) at Dubai (Tel: 8004-6342; 24x7 toll free helpline)
  • For Indian workers who plan to migrate abroad, assistance is available at the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) in Gurgaon [Tel: 1800-11-3090 (24x7 toll free helpline) and 0124-2341002 (toll number).] Such assistance can be availed of in other cities in any of the four Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) (http://www.mea.gov.in/owrc-and-iwrc.htm) as per the details below:
    MRC Gurgaon: Tel (0124-4420215) (Email: helpline@owrc.in) MRC, Chennai: Tel: (044-32008401) (Email: helpline@owrc.in) MRC, Hyderabad: Tel: (040-24652557) (Email: mrchyd@owrc.in) MRC, Kochi: Tel (048-42372040) (Email: mrckochi@owrc.in) MRC, Lucknow: Tel: (0522-4954646) (Email: helpline@owrc.in)

Follow up

In some exceptional cases, consular staff may be involved in a case for a long period of time. Follow up to such cases, especially if there are local investigations or legal processes underway, can take considerable time. We will do our best to assist families with information received from local investigative and law enforcement authorities, but it needs to be recognised that the intervention of our Embassy/Consulate cannot be beyond the scope of local laws.

Feedback

We welcome your comments on our services, to help us to identify areas that need improvement or where changes would help make services better. Sharing your experiences may also help other Indians avoid difficulties overseas and appreciate what level of assistance can be provided.

Consular Section
CPV
Ministry of External affairs

Phone : 011-23386760
Fax : 011-23070644
E-mail :uscons@mea.gov.in
CC :uspg@mea.gov.in, jscpv@mea.gov.in

If you are not satisfied with the consular services received you could lodge a grievance related to the same at MADAD – http://madad.gov.in External website that opens in a new window (or MADAD mobile App or helpline at 1800-258-0222 (toll free); (+91-40) 67580222) or appeal to:

Shri P. Kumaran
Joint Secretary
CPV Division
Ministry of External Affairs

Phone : 011-23387104, 23384529
Fax : 011-23782821
E-mail :jscpv@mea.gov.in
CC :uspg@mea.gov.in, jscpv@mea.gov.in

Special Advice for Prospective Emigrant Workers

Guidelines

  • Be sure of who your Recruiting Agent is. Ask him to show his Original Registration Certificate issued by the Protector General of Emigrants, Govt. of India. Do not deal with him unless he is registered and the registration is valid and is not suspended/cancelled. In case of doubt, check with any of the offices of the Protector of Emigrants (POEs) or the Protector General of Emigrants (PGE). Your insurance policy will be valid only if your RA number is available.
  • Do not deal with sub-agents as they are not permitted under the Emigration Act, 1983 and Rules.
  • Ask the Recruiting Agent to show to you the Demand Letter and Power of Attorney from the foreign employer.
  • Carefully go through the Employment Contract detailing the salary/wage levels and other service conditions.
  • Do not pay more than the equivalent of wages for forty five days as offered under the employment contract, subject to a maximum of Rupees Twenty Thousand in respect of services provided and take a receipt of this payment.
  • Pay by Demand Draft or Cheque and obtain a receipt. Complaints of overcharging or cheating can be lodged with the concerned POE or with the Protector General of Emigrants (PGE) or at Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC).

Check before departure

  • Ensure you have a valid Passport with remaining validity of 06 months. A valid Visa must be either stamped on or accompany your Passport. Also ensure invariably that your VISA is for the same category for which you have been recruited. Always keep a photocopy of your Passport and Visa.
  • You must possess a copy of the Employment Contract signed by you and your foreign employer duly attested by the registered recruiting agent.
  • Insist on a copy of Employment Contract in English, duly authenticated by the recruiting agent. Have someone you trust read it carefully and explain the terms to you.
  • Open a Saving Bank N.R.E. Account in one of the Banks in India to enable you to send your remittances from abroad. Do not trust illegal remittance mechanisms.
  • Acquaint yourself with local labor laws, working and living conditions of the country of employment. Keep with you complete address, phone, email of the Indian Embassy of the country which you are visiting. OWRC can provide assistance in this regard.

In the country of your employment

  • Do not part with your Passport and copy of Employment Contract signed by you in India, at any cost. (Keep extra copies of these in a safe place for future reference)
  • Obtain a Resident Permit or Identity Card, Labor Card or ‘IQAMA’.
  • Do not sign any other Employment Contract or any blank paper.
  • Do not strike work or resort to agitations. These may be illegal under local labour laws. You could be arrested, imprisoned and also deported.
  • Do not carry with you any edible items or any other item given to you by someone you do not know. These may land you in jail, if any banned substance found in such items.
  • Do not carry any medicines without the accompanying prescriptions from a Doctor. (Some medicines allowed in India may not be allowed in other countries)
  • Avoid all contacts that may result in AIDS – a dreaded disease.
  • Keep in touch with the nearest Indian Embassy and report any complaints about non-payment or delayed payment of wages or compensations or any other problem to the Indian Embassy. Register yourself with the nearest Indian Embassy, to be able to get the best possible assistance.

Customs formalities

  • Personal baggage: Please cooperate with the Customs staff at the International Airports during your journey.
  • Ensure that you do not carry any narcotics or alcoholic drinks. Alcohol may be strictly prohibited in some countries and its consumption may be a serious offence attracting severe punishment. Please update yourself on local regulations in this regard.
  • Do not accept any unchecked parcel from any one. If you have to take a parcel for someone, please check it thoroughly to ensure that it does not contain alcohol, narcotics or some other banned item. Otherwise, it may land you in serious legal difficulties on arrival in the country of employment.

Religion

  • Be sensitive to local religious practices and customs

Precautions

  • You must make and keep a photocopy of all the pages of your Passport. Do not lose your Passport or its photocopy.
  • By chance if you misplace your Passport, inform the nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate immediately and give them the relevant details, i.e. Passport number, date and place of issue, your name and date of your entry in the country of employment. (You will be able to give these details only if you keep a photocopy of your Passport in a safe place).
  • Leave a copy of your passport, visa and all other documents with one of your relatives
  • Do not lose your copy of Employment Contract. Make photocopies and keep them with you always. Leave extra copies with your friends.
  • You must have a full name, address, telephone/fax number of your foreign employer, before you leave India.
  • If you have difficulty in locating your foreign employer, contact the nearest Indian Embassy/Consulate immediately.
  • Do not accept temporary or permanent employment with another person or establishment other than that with the sponsoring Company/ establishment/ person. Employment with persons other than your original sponsor is strictly prohibited and attracts severe penalties/punishment.
  • Before the Visa or Employment Contract expire, get them renewed well in time. If you are returning to India for a short leave during the tenure of your Employment Contract abroad, ensure that the validity period of your Visa does not expire before you return to the country of employment.
  • Also ensure that your Passport is valid. At least two months before it is about to expire, get it revalidated from the concerned Indian Embassy/Consulate abroad.
  • If at all the terms of your contract are altered/changed to your detriment, please file a complaint against your recruiting agent on MADAD (at www.madad.gov.in or in the MADAD helpline at 1800-258-0222 (toll free); (+91-40) 67580222) or at the IWRC Dubai [Tel: 8004-6342 (24x7 toll free helpline)]; Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC), Gurgaon [Tel: 1800-11-3090 (24x7 toll free helpline) and 0124-2341002 (toll number)]