New Delhi: In a significant move, government has made it mandatory for seamen to carry passports before travelling abroad from June 1, withdrawing the over four decade-long exemption given to them.
In a statement on Thursday, External Affairs Ministry said the Passport Act, 1967 provides that no person shall depart from, or attempt to depart from India, unless he holds a valid passport or travel document.
However, as per the Gazette Notification issued by the Government of India in 1968, in view of the functional requirement of seamen's foreign travel, the members of the crew and tindals of sailing vessels [holding identity cards or permits, under the Sailing Vessels (Members of Crew) Rules, 1967] are exempted from the mandatory requirement of holding passports before travelling abroad.
This provision allowed seamen to travel abroad on the basis of their identity card.
"The above provision has been reconsidered by the government and it has been decided to withdraw the above facility with effect from 01.06.2015. A copy of the Gazette Notification dated 16.03.2015 is annexed," the MEA said.
In view of the above, all Indian citizens, who are also members of the crew and tindals of sailing vessels are hereby informed to obtain passports for their international travel, it said.
All passport issuing authorities in India and abroad are requested to extend their full support in expeditious issuance of passports to such applicants, it added.