I had to recently renew an Indian passport for a family member in CA, USA. This post is a collection of notes from that experience.
Who handles it: The entire passport renewal process is handled by CKGS in the US.
Types of renewal: There are two ways to renew your passport: normal and Tatkal. Normal process might take 4-6 weeks, Tatkal is within a week or so. Tatkal fee will be $100 or so more on top of the normal application fee.
CKGS online application: The online application at CKGS might take 0.5-1 hours to complete. If you need Tatkal, note that you need to follow the process detailed below before you do the online application.
If you need Tatkal, you will need to first email CKGS and provide the necessary documents as email attachments. You can find the email address, the email format and the documents required on the CKGS Tatkal information page. It is a good idea to provide a reason for why you need Tatkal in the email. (For example, "I need to visit India for visa stamping in a month on date DD/MM/YYYY and would like to have a new passport for that.")
CKGS will forward your request to the Indian Embassy.
CKGS will get back to you by email whether your Tatkal request was accepted or not by the Embassy.
We found that this process takes 2-3 workdays.
If your Tatkal request got approved, then remember to choose Tatkal both in the CKGS online passport application form and in the Indian government's passport application form.
Indian passport application:
After the CKGS application is done, CKGS will lead you to the Indian government's passport application page. Here they call renewal as re-issue. This application too might take 0.5-1 hour to complete. Once you finish you need to print out the application.
If you are keeping your Indian address in the passport, the Indian passport application will require an Indian phone number. I gave my parent's number and had no problems.
You can make small changes to your passport details: fixing parents' names, adding spouse name or fixing address. Each of these might require you to add necessary documentation in your package. The CKGS checklist (see below) will mention those documents.
If you are adding a spouse name, then you will need to add a notarized copy of your marriage certificate to your submission.
If you are fixing your parent's name, then you might need to submit a notarized copy of your birth certificate or your parent's passport first and last pages.
If you are fixing your Indian home address, then submit a self-attested copy of your Aadhaar card.
After your Indian passport application, you go back to CKGS application and enter the Indian passport application number and other details. You finish the CKGS application by paying the fee using your credit card.
Checklist: CKGS application process ends with a checklist of documents. You need to print it out and use as the reference list of documents needed to submit. The old passport is the only original document on that list. Rest are photocopies of documents, some of them need to be self-attested, some need to be notarized. Remember that all the documents need to be printed single-side only.
Documents: Use the checklist to print out the required documents. Print single-side in color.
Notarizing documents: For the documents needing notarization, search in Google Maps for notary to find some place nearby. I was able to find a notary who charged $5 per page. Note that for documents requiring notarization you need to sign them in front of the notary. Do not sign them beforehand.
Photos: US passport-size photos are needed. Checklist misleadingly says 4 photos are needed. I found that only 2 photos are needed: 1 for the Indian passport application and 1 for the Change of appearance/signature form.
How to submit: At the end, CKGS allows you to choose whether you want to submit documents in person at the CKGS office or send them by Fedex/UPS. If you choose the latter, CKGS will give you the shipping labels to print on your package when you send them.
There is no option of picking up the passport at CKGS office. New passports are always shipped to your address by Fedex/UPS.
Submit in person:
Since CKGS office was in SF which is nearby, we chose to submit the documents in person.
If you pick this option, you cannot later switch to sending documents by Fedex.
If you pick this option, the applicant has to go in person to submit. You cannot send someone else in your place.
CKGS office is closed on Indian holidays.
When you submit, your documents will be checked and you will be given a submission number to track status on CKGS website.
We used Tatkal and the whole process was finished in 1.5 weeks.