In accordance with a ruling by the Ministry of External Affairs, passports issued from 2007 onwards do not have the ECNR stamp affixed; instead, a blank page 2 of the passport is deemed to have been ECNR endorsed. As a result, only ECR stamps are now affixed to Indian passports. For passports issued before January 2007, no notation in the passport means ECR. For passports issued in or after January 2007, no notation in the passport means ECNR. If Emigration Check is Required, there will be an endorsement in the passport regarding ECR.
Since 25 November 2015, Indian passports that are handwritten or with an original date of expiry extending to 20 years have not been valid under ICAO travel regulations. With more recent Indian passports the personal particulars of the passport holder, that were hitherto printed on the inner cover page, are printed on the second page of the document. Another added security feature in the newer non-handwritten passports is a ghost picture of the holder found on the right side of the second page. Apart from stymieing criminals from printing fake passports, recent changes also help prevent smudging of the document because of inkjet printers.
In September 2007, the Indian Union cabinet approved a new passport issuance system under the Passport Seva Project. As per the project, front-end activities of passport issuance, dispatch of passports, online linking with police, and Central Printing Unit for centralised printing of passports will be put in place. The new system is trying to be ‘timely, transparent, more accessible and reliable manner’ for passport issuance. The applicant has to apply for fresh/reissue of passport through the Passport Seva system at one of the 77 Passport offices known as “Passport Seva Kendra”s operating throughout the country.
India has recently initiated the first phase of biometric e-passport for Diplomatic passport holders in India and abroad. The new passports have been designed locally by the Central Passport Organisation, the India Security Press and IIT Kanpur. It contains a security chip with all personal data and digital images. In the first phase new passports will have a 64KB chip carrying a photograph of the passport holder and in subsequent phases it will have a fingerprint. The new passport has already been tested with passport readers in the United States and has 4-second response time, while the US Passport has 10-second response time. It need not be carried in a metal jacket for security reasons. It will first need to be skimmed through a readers, after which it would generate an access code which then unlocks the chip for reader access.