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As India’s middle-class population rapidly expanded in the late 2000s, it led to a growing demand for passport services. But limited reach, a surge of daily citizen requests, and a need to comply with international travel standards was put a strain on the resources of the External Affairs Ministry, which oversees the passport issuance process.

This critical public service needed a growth and transformation story, a digital technology overhaul that would weed out obsolete systems and streamline the processes for issuance of this all-important document. The challenge was to bring a meaningful difference in the services provided to the citizens as well as reduce the strain on human resources by creating a strong back-end infrastructure.

TCS offered a path-breaking and transformative solution that went live in 2010 and, since then, it has revolutionized the passport issuance process with an end-to-end citizen service delivery program that has paved the way for better accessibility, transparency, timeliness, and user experience. TCS created a scalable technology platform that now services more than 130,000 citizens per day, enabling accelerated passport services online and strengthening a global passport seva (service) program.

The system saw the transformation through three broad-based lines of engagement — an automated, re-engineered, workflow-based process; application development; and an online portal. To take the passport services within the reach of every Indian citizen, TCS set up 77 Passport Seva Kendras and deployed over 2,500 staff across India to manage the day-to-day operations, delivering services to passport applicants.

The transformation aligned with India’s national e-governance plan and eliminated the middleman, putting citizens directly in touch with the government machinery. The loop was completed by incorporating a grievance management system and allowing for continual citizen feedback. The passport issuance process is now at one’s fingertips with the mPassport Seva Mobile App, the mPassport Police Mobile App (for police verification and background checks), and the Proactive Engagement SMS Service.

Not only that, enhanced technology-led security features including, biometric capture, digital signatures, and a strengthened de-duplication algorithm, have set new benchmarks in citizen services.

The strong proof of the transformation brought about by the TCS solution is seen in the turnaround times for passport issuance processes: The new delivery process for normal passports is down to a mere 6-8 days excluding police verification time; urgent or tatkal passports are issued on the same day or within three days.

The digitally transformed passport process is a sparkling example of how with the right vision and technological intervention, even a mammoth task involving many layers of state machinery can be turned around. Technology truly makes transformation possible.

While the External Affairs Ministry handles all sovereign functions, the TCS-powered technology manages the application system, IT and non-IT infrastructure, data centers, disaster recovery operations, and front-end business operations at all PSKs in addition to a toll-free call center with support in 17 regional languages. As a further testimony to its inclusivity, the process also accounts for requests from citizens with special needs. There are now 93 Passport Seva Kendras (passport service centers) across 79 Indian cities and 424 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras, covering some of the relatively more distanced locations like Aizawl in north-east India’s Mizoram, Leh (Ladakh) in the north, and Lakshadweep in the south.

Multiple stakeholders are integrated into one cohesive arrangement, transforming an age-old, legacy-led process from opacity to transparency and transformation.