Ministry of External Affairs

GUIDE TO CONSULAR SERVICES

An abridged guide to MEA's Consular Services

Last captured: June 2019

This Guide outlines the consular services and assistance that are provided by the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, including through the Indian Embassies and Consulates abroad. There may be circumstances in which its ability to provide consular support may be limited. These circumstances, among other things, are outlined in this document, along with advice for Indian travelers and emigrants going abroad.


Values

We are committed to providing efficient and cost-effective support to Indians overseas, to the best of our capacity, and in harmony with local regulations in force.

Who we can assist

  • All Indian nationals abroad, including NRIs (Indian passport holders)
  • PIO/OCI card holders (under special circumstances).


What help we may provide

Each case is unique and our assistance, including through the appropriate Indian Embassy/Consulate, will depend on the circumstances and availability of consular resources. We may be able to:

  • Register the births and deaths of Indian citizens, in accordance with the relevant Indian laws
  • Register marriages of Indian citizens, in accordance with the relevant Indian laws
  • Issue replacement passports, emergency certificates and other documents (fee applicable)
  • Provide relief/repatriation and financial assistance to distressed Indians, subject to the rules applicable
  • Assist in deportation of Indians by foreign Governments
  • Extradite persons under a treaty/arrangement
  • Keep custody of funds and personal effects of Indians, in certain contingencies
  • If you are arrested, an Embassy/Consulate representative can visit or contact you to check on your welfare, inform your family, provide consular assistance (subject to your consent) and do what we can to see you are treated in a fair manner under the laws of that country
  • Provide advice and support in a wide range of other cases including the death of relatives overseas, missing persons and kidnappings
  • If you consent, we will contact friends or family on your behalf. (In some contingencies, we may contact your friends or family even where we have been unable to get your consent)
  • Provide assistance in case of any emergency, including medical emergencies
  • Provide financial assistance (based on means-testing) in case of certain emergencies or in exceptional situations, as per rules applicable.
  • If you are the victim of a serious assault or other crime, provide help under local laws
  • Make special arrangements in cases of international terrorism, civil disturbances and natural disasters (fees may apply)
  • Provide some notarial services, including witnessing and authenticating documents and administering oaths and affirmations (fees apply), as per the relevant rules
  • Take evidence and service documents abroad (fees apply), as per the relevant rules.


Our assistance may be limited in some circumstances

While the government will make all efforts to provide the kinds of consular assistance listed above, it should not be assumed that all kinds of assistance will be provided regardless of the circumstances. The government may be constrained to limit the assistance extended to you if it considers that the circumstances warrant so, for example, where your actions were illegal, or you have deliberately or repeatedly acted recklessly or negligently and put yourself or others at risk, or you have demonstrated a pattern of behaviour that has required multiple instances of consular assistance previously.


Crisis Response

Some international crises and emergencies involving Indians overseas will require an exceptional response, such as:

  • Those in which large numbers of Indians may have been killed or injured or where there are serious dangers to Indians, for example warlike situations, riots, terrorist attacks, major accidents, pandemics and natural disasters
  • Political unrest which leads us to advise you to leave the country and which might require the assisted departure or evacuation of Indians if there are no commercial options and
  • Events which cause major disruption and hardship to large numbers of Indians.

In such crises and incidents we will provide exceptional support to Indians. The nature of our assistance will be guided by many considerations, but we may:

  • Deploy expert teams to support affected Indians
  • Liaise with the families of any Indians killed or injured and help in the repatriation of mortal remains
  • Establish a local network of volunteers to share advice and assistance to affected Indians
  • Work with local authorities to support affected Indians
  • Support Indians trying to leave the area and put them in contact with their families
  • Provide travel advice and crisis updates
  • Organise, where warranted and possible, special transport arrangements for evacuation of Indian nationals

In return, we request Indians affected by such crises or emergencies to:

  • Contact the Indian Embassy/Consulate concerned and register with it at the earliest opportunity
  • Read and follow all travel advisories
  • Keep in touch with any area coordinators recognised by the Indian Embassy/Consulate
  • Cooperate with the Indian Embassy/Consulate in reducing exposure to dangerous conditions

It should be recognised that there may be limits to the assistance we can provide in a crisis or major emergency, although our efforts will be to cater to all contingencies.


What we cannot do

While the Ministry of External Affairs and our Embassies/Consulates will make efforts to provide consular assistance in as many situations as possible, there may be tasks which are outside the consular role or which cannot be provided for policy reasons. These include:

  • Guarantee your safety and security in another country outside the scope of local laws, or make your travel arrangements
  • Arrange visas, licences, work or residency permits for other countries
  • Enforce a judicial or administrative order in or with respect to a foreign country without the consent and cooperation of the local authorities
  • Intervene in another country's court proceedings or legal matters including employment disputes, commercial disputes, criminal cases and family law matters or child custody disputes, except to the extent permitted by the laws of that country
  • Carry out searches for missing people in a foreign country, except with the cooperation of the authorities of that country
  • Investigate crimes or deaths overseas, which is the responsibility of the authorities of that country
  • Get you out of prison in a foreign country, except as per the legal procedures of that country
  • Prevent you from being deported
  • Get you better treatment in prison than local prisoners, although we may be able to raise welfare concerns or other sensitivities with local authorities for consideration
  • Post bail or pay your fines or legal expenses, except as permissible under the rules
  • Enforce an Indian or any other custody-related judgement/agreement overseas or compel a country to decide a custody case
  • Pay for medical services or medications, except in emergencies as per the relevant rules.
  • Pay your pension or social security benefits in a foreign country, except where permissible under Indian laws
  • Extradite/Deport/Repatriate/Return a person involuntarily and/or without legal basis or in the absence of a treaty or arrangement
  • Intervene in immigration, customs or quarantine matters in other countries, except to the extent permitted under local laws.
  • Give you legal advice, interpret or translate documents
  • Any other assistance not specifically provided by law or policy


Whom to contact

  • Emergency consular assistance could be availed by contacting the local Indian Embassy/Consulate concerned (through phone/email).
  • If you are unable to reach the local Indian Embassy/Consulate due to some reason, Consular Section of the CPV Division of the Ministry of External Affairs could be contacted: http://www.mea.gov.in/divisions.htm ; & http://meatel.nic.in/?670160 , http://www.mea.gov.in/cpv.html
  • Grievances related to Consular services could be registered on the MADAD portal – http://madad.gov.in (or MADAD mobile App or helpline at 1800-258-0222 (toll free); (+91-40) 67580222)
  • For Indians in the Gulf region & in Malaysia, you have the option of contacting the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) at Dubai (Tel: 8004-6342; 24x7 toll free helpline)
  • For Indian workers who plan to migrate abroad, assistance is available at the Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) in Gurgaon [Tel: 1800-11-3090 (24x7 toll free helpline) and 0124-2341002 (toll number).] Such assistance can be availed of in other cities in any of the four Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) (http://www.mea.gov.in/owrc-and-iwrc.htm) as per the details below:
  • MRC Gurgaon: Tel (0124-4420215) (Email: helpline@owrc.in) MRC, Chennai: Tel: (044-32008401) (Email:helpline@owrc.in) MRC, Hyderabad: Tel: (040-24652557) (Email: mrchyd@owrc.in) MRC, Kochi: Tel (048-42372040) (Email: mrckochi@owrc.in) MRC, Lucknow: Tel: (0522-4954646) (Email: helpline@owrc.in)

Follow up

In some exceptional cases, consular staff may be involved in a case for a long period of time. Follow up to such cases, especially if there are local investigations or legal processes underway, can take considerable time. We will do our best to assist families with information received from local investigative and law enforcement authorities, but it needs to be recognised that the intervention of our Embassy/Consulate cannot be beyond the scope of local laws.


More information and the complete guide can be found at https://mea.gov.in