An Indian passport is issued by order of the President of India to Indian citizens for the purpose of international travel. It enables the bearer to travel internationally and serves as proof of Indian citizenship as per the Passports Act (1967). The Passport Seva (Passport Service) unit of the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, functions as the central passport organisation, and is responsible for issuing Indian passports on demand to all eligible Indian citizens. Indian passports are issued at 93 passport offices located across India and at 162 Indian diplomatic missions abroad.
In addition, selected passport offices in India as well as overseas missions are authorized to issue regular Indo-Bangladesh passports and Indo-Sri Lankan passports to Indian nationals resident in West Bengal, the North-Eastern States, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. These two passports respectively permit travel to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka only and are not valid for travel to other foreign countries. India stopped issuing the Indo-Bangladeshi passport in 2013
Contemporary ordinary Indian passports have a black or deep bluish-black cover with golden coloured printing. The Emblem of India is emblazoned in the centre of the front cover. The words in Devanagari and “Passport” in English are inscribed above the Emblem whereas in Devanagari and “Republic of India” in English are inscribed below the emblem. The standard passport contains 36 pages, but frequent travellers can opt for a passport containing 60 pages. Some of the earlier passports were handwritten.
Holders of Emigration Check Required (ECR) type passports need a clearance called an Emigration Check from the Government of India’s Protector of Emigrants when going to selected countries on a work visa. This is to prevent the exploitation of Indian workers (especially the unskilled and less-educated) when going abroad, particularly to Middle Eastern countries. ECR type passport holders travelling on a tourist visa do not need a clearance; this is known as an Emigration Check Suspension.