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Dreaded Address Updation – Foreigners registration in India

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I quietly slipped into Bangalore for a couple of days… where the topic of “foreigner registration” in India came up.

When you move, updating your address is a necessary bother anywhere in the world. But in India, it can be an incredibly painful process. I changed apartments nearly two years ago and it took only three months to get my bank to update it, another two months for my mobile service provider… however in a baffling twist, I became “Mr Hickling” in the process?!

To “fix” that, one needs a form, an indemnification letter requesting changing gender on 1 Rupee legal stamp paper, passport sized photos, original proof of gender with certified copies and apply in person to present the evidence. I guess the fact that I’m unmistakably female, haven’t undergone a sex change operation and someone somewhere incorrectly selected “Mr” instead of “Ms” in their system is entirely irrelevant?!

"Mr" Hickling may have the right address but wrong gender on the phone bill + right gender / wrong address in FRRO Permit (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

“Mr” Hickling may have the right address but wrong gender on the phone bill + right gender / wrong address in FRRO Permit (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Is it any wonder that I’ve avoided going to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)?

But Friday, prompted by the horror stories of my Bangalore friends, incredulous that I could be so blasé about not updating my address after so long… decided to stop delaying, prepare for the worst and just do it. Even if it was made to sound akin to going to the dentist for a root canal. Necessary but really quite yucky!

A promising start - FRRO (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

A promising start – FRRO (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

I’m no neophyte and, as I couldn’t find the requirements on-line, prepared for everything! Early morning, I set off on my valiant quest with:

  • Copies of my passport, PIO card, FRRO book in triplicate, obviously with the originals too!
  • Original address proof of all kinds – bank statement, mobile phone bill (hoping the “Mr” wouldn’t be noticed) with copies too
  • And, just in case, even added to my stack of papers notorized copy of my 33 month lease
  • Multiple passport sized photos to meet any kind of requirement (because you ALWAYS need photos for everything!)
FRRO Services... Hmm... no address changes (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

FRRO Services… Hmm… no address changes (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

So what happened?

  • Entry – The ever-present visitor pass system – entirely expected so no big deal.
  • 3rd Floor Reception – I was politely sent to a queue… didn’t take long for my turn when they exclaimed “Oh but you didn’t need to queue here… please go right ahead to the PIO/OCI office.” (Handy – will remember for future reference!)
  • PIO/OCI office – They weren’t at all concerned that I’d neglected to update my address for such a long time. Apparently address is no longer required?! However as I’d made the trip and have the old permit, address proof, copies with me… had me hand-write a simple letter, photocopy it for Rs 1, update the ‘new’ address in my ‘old’ FRRO Registration booklet and sent me on my way!
Check it out - PIO + OCI have their own office specifically barred to "agents" (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Check it out – PIO + OCI have their own office specifically barred to “agents” (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

What did I actually need? Basically nothing! Compared to the hassles of trying to correct my mobile phone operators gender-bender error, it was entirely painless!

No obnoxious red tape, long queues, no fees, no fuss with days, weeks, months of waiting that my friends in Bangalore had regaled. Just a friendly accommodation of providing something rather than nothing for my troubles.

And what's office without a Gandhi quote (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

And what’s a government office without a Gandhi quote (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

I should probably inform the Canadian Consulate too… wonder if there will be more ‘red tape’ than for India??

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22 Comments

  1. Expat Eye says:

    Phew, at least something turned out to be hassle-free! Now you can focus your energies on your tax situation 😉

  2. gkm2011 says:

    Made me laugh. Go “Mr. Hickling!” I am a Mr. on my IHG membership – still cracks me up – or the time they flipped my surname and first name on a flight ticket – that took some smooth talking in Taiwan!

    • Oh gawd! Can just imagine you smooth talking your way into Taiwan! 🙂

      I haven’t yet tackled the Mr Hickling thing yet… just have the list of what’s required… need a day when can camp out a few hours at the Vodafone office.

      Gotta love the way I need to indemnify the company against their own mistakes! Brings on giggles and groans all at once. Sheesh!

  3. arranbhansal says:

    Great post, brings back some memories!

  4. Karolyn Cooper says:

    No more FRRO for me!
    I’m glad your visit went smoothly.

  5. Aw, the neverending paperwork… at least there’s been one positive experience 🙂

  6. I had no idea how the story was going to end because bureaucracy in india IS so unexpected, they make up their own rules as they go. I’m really glad this process for you was painless for a change!

  7. Glynis Jolly says:

    I dream of living in Europe. It’s a case of my personality fitting in better there than here in the States. But I hadn’t thought about the hassles of changing addresses. This could be a big snag. Thanks for the wakeup call. 😉

    • Oh piffle! Don’t let a trifling thing like address change processes be a bother. My vote?

      For stuff in Canada I can mostly get online and don’t really need in India, I use my parents address as ‘permanent’ with a request they open bank and other mail, just to be sure all on track.

      For stuff in Europe, get as much as you can online!

      Here in Mumbai, it is obvious some folks give up and don’t bother changing their address. A woman that lived in our flat about 5-6 years ago still has her physical mobile bill come to our address. Another who shifted to a different flat in the same building, have their bank statements – we just pass them on!

  8. vidamanejo says:

    Mr. Hickling…this was an incredibly helpful blog 🙂 Glad it’s all sorted out.

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