I had to apply for a PCC (Police Clearance Certificate) recently, and I was surprised at the lack of information about this online even though this is a very important thing without which you can’t get a passport, and some countries don’t issue you a visa.
In this post, I’m going to recount my experience and cover everything that I dealt with and learned about this process.
When do you need a PCC?
You need a PCC when applying for a passport or when applying for visas of certain countries, and while the overall process for this is similar — it is not exactly the same. As a result of this — your experience might be completely different from the experience of someone else whose situation varied only slightly.
Who issues you a PCC?
Usually, PCC is given by the Regional Passport Office of the place that you have resided in the last six months. Location is important because although the PCC is a document issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, it does mention the place it is issued at and many countries require you to get it from the place you have resided in.
This can pose challenges for people who travel for work, and don’t have an address proof in the place they currently live in.
Here is a list of all the documents that they accept as a residence proof:
If you don’t have any of these documents then getting an address proof in the form of a bank statement is your best bet.
You can change your address to your existing one at the bank which is usually a very straightforward process, and then request them to issue a bank statement for the last twelve months. You need to go to the bank to get this because the bank stamps and signs this statement, and that’s what authenticates it. The statement will not work for you if you just download it online; it needs to have the stamp of the bank.
Also, keep in mind that it should be the last twelve months, I didn’t read anywhere that this ought to be the case but they insist on it once you are at the center. The other interesting aspect about this is that the more things you have the better it is. If you have a rental agreement which is not registered, just notarize it and take it with you anyway. If your passport has a local address, but it is different from the one you’re applying for, take a copy of that as well, take a copy of all your official documents, visas that you may have for other countries, marriage certificate etc. Although these documents aren’t mentioned in the list of documents that can be given as proof, I believe they can be used as supporting documents and the staff there likes to get as many of these documents as possible.
Also, this is not written anywhere as well, you need to take your actual passport with you so they can verify that and also provide the stamp on that. This is very important. Something else that isn’t mentioned is that you have to write a letter saying why you need a PCC. This can be a simple typed letter, or even a handwritten letter.
Where do you apply for a PCC?
Go to the Passport Seva website, and take an appointment at a date and center convenient to you. I was getting appointments for the next day at Hyderabad, but I’ve heard from people that sometimes you have to wait a week or more.
When you book the appointment, there is an option to enroll into the SMS service for Rs. 35, I enrolled in that and paid the 35 rupees in cash at the center, and I think this is an important thing to keep in mind, so you keep getting updates on your status.
On the day of the appointment, take a print out of the appointment letter along with your other letters, and reach the center at the time prescribed. I’ve been there thrice now, and I don’t see any benefit of reaching there before time. At the prescribed time, they ask people who have appointments for that time to form a queue and get inside to get a token and I think this is a very simple and efficient way of managing their queue.
There were three zones – A, B and C and three officers who each do part of the process, and there is an electronic board that tells you which counter to go to based on your token number, and there are people who also escort people around counters.
At the first counter, they check the documents, and create a file for you. They ask questions about what other documents you may possibly have, and put everything relevant in that file.
At the second counter, they scan and upload these documents, as well as verify the details you filled online. I had made a mistake in entering my place of birth which they caught and corrected. You are also finger printed, and photographed at this counter.
In the third counter, the officer actually brings up your information on their computer, and it tells them whether there are issues with your case, whether there are no issues, but a physical police verification is required, or if a physical police verification isn’t required altogether.
PCC and PCC Stamp
If a physical police verification is not required altogether then they ask you to go to a counter where the individual takes the PCC letter and puts the stamps on them. He puts three stamps on them:
- An endorsement with your application number, and a place to hand-write the country for which the PCC is being issued.
- Second is a stamp of the Ministry of External Affairs.
- Third is the stamp of the individual authorized to give this clearance.
Not only do they stamp the PCC letter, they stamp a page on your passport as well.
After these stamps are placed, the authorized individual also signs the letter as well as passport page, and you are all set.
It is my understanding that you don’t need physical police verification if you had a verification done from the same place earlier, and it doesn’t matter how long ago that verification took place as long as there are no police records about you after that verification.
Physical Police Verification
If you do need a physical police verification then you are given a receipt number, and a document that you are supposed to take home.
They send an SMS with the name and phone number of the police officer who will come to your house to verify your details. This SMS usually comes the same or the next day, and the police officer comes the subsequent day. It is best to call the officer, and get a tentative idea of when he plans to come visit so you can be available at home when he comes there.
Here again, keep the original proof that you submitted to the passport office ready with you. If you gave a stamped bank statement, get another bank statement out, take a copy of all your documents whether they are listed or not, as well as take a copy of your passport. He will ask for all of these. He will also need signatures of two neighbors so ensure that you have two neighbors who are willing to sign as witness, any two will do, even from the same house.
How long does it take to get PCC after the verification?
This is another important thing to keep in mind — if you’ve been living in your current city for less than a year then the verification takes two to three weeks, but if you have been living in the city for more than a year then the verification is done the next week and then two or three days after that you can go to the Passport Seva Kendra and get your passport stamped and PCC letter issued.
This information is not present anywhere and it isn’t even very clear to me from which form they obtain this information, but the document that the police officer receives from the passport office contains this so make sure when filling the forms you pay attention to this.
This is everything I learned about this process, and while I truly feel the process is a lot better than the one ten years ago, there is no place where it is explained properly so you can be prepared for it. I hope this post helps people who are going to apply for a PCC and if you have any questions, or anything to add to this, please do leave a comment.