The use of the passport was discontinued after the establishment of the dominions of India and Pakistan in 1947, and its bearers were entitled to opt for Indian, Pakistani or British nationality. Passport laws were made strict in both the countries in 1952. Citizens of both India and Pakistan did not need a visa or were issued one on arrival until the Second Kashmir War. Before the war, citizens of both countries could freely travel to each other’s countries, despite having gone to war in 1947 over Kashmir.
In addition, selected passport offices in India as well as overseas missions were authorised 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 permitted travel to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka only and were 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.