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Indians in Saudi Arabia asked to get machine-readable passports

Riyadh, Sep 1 (IANS): The Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia has appealed to all Indians living in the kingdom to get machine-readable passports issued as soon as possible, a media report said Monday.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will phase out non-machine-readable passports by Nov 24, 2015, Arab News quoted Indian embassy spokesperson Surinder Bhagat as saying.

"Foreign governments may deny visas or even entry on old passports," he said.

"This is why Indian citizens living across the kingdom are advised to change their passports as soon as they can."

Passports with pasted photos and handwritten details or a 20-year validity period are considered non-machine-readable.

"The government has been issuing electronic passports since 2001," he said.

"In fact, all new passports are ICAO-compliant and are printed in Riyadh."

India has decided to recall 60-page passport booklets bearing codes Z-000001 to Z-073000 with immediate effect due to administrative and technical problems in their usage.

The holders of passports with these numbers can return them to their embassies to have them cancelled and re-apply for a new passport free of charge, the official said.