Indian law says that citizens of India are not allowed dual citizenship, so the moment you become a citizen of the United States, you must take steps to renounce citizenship of your home country. This means surrendering your Indian passport and obtaining a certificate of surrender. You can surrender your passport as a standalone application, or combine it with an application for a travel visa or an Overseas Citizenship of India card, an immigration status that permits foreign citizens of Indian origin to live and work in India.
Where to Surrender an Indian Passport
Since May 2014, the Indian Embassy in the U.S. has outsourced the surrender and renunciation service to Cox and Kings Global Services. You cannot send an application to the Indian embassy or consulate directly – you must go through CKGS.
Cox and Kings have offices in Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta. You have the option of submitting your application in person during usual office hours, either by appointment or as a walk in. Or, you can ship the application to the appropriate Cox and Kings office.
You can find a list of office addresses and telephone numbers, and a list of the states that each office serves, on the Cox and Kings website.
How to Apply
Applications start online even if you’re intending to deliver the completed application in person. Start by visiting the CKGS website and click the tab “renunciation.” Then, select the service you require:
- Renunciation only
- Renunciation with Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) application
- Renunciation with visa application.
The service you select will pull up a series of questions. These are slightly different depending on the type of application you’re submitting but generally, you will need to enter:
- Your name
- Date of acquired U.S. citizenship
- Current U.S. passport number
- Indian passport number, date and place of issue and date of expiry
- Information about your travel history to and from India since the date you became a U.S. citizen
The answers you give will direct you to the correct application form for your situation, with it partially autofilled. Review and check the application before printing on _single-_sided paper and signing where indicated. Double-sided applications will be rejected.
Compile Documents for Shipping
Once the application is filled out, you will be directed to a document checklist. This lists all the documents you need to submit with your application, as well as the fee, estimated processing time and web reference number for your application. Mandatory documents vary depending on the type of application, but as a minimum, you will need to include the completed and signed application form, photo identification, your current Indian passport, documents showing your legal status, proof of address and name change documentation.
Payments must be made by credit card, either online or at the CKGS application center. At the time of publication, they comprise:
- Renunciation of Indian citizenship fee: $175 if you became a U.S. citizen from June 2010 (reduced fees apply for earlier citizenships)
- CKGS service fee: $17
- Indian Community Welfare Fund contribution: $3
- Penalty charges (see below)
- Courier fees if choosing this option
What If I Do not Have my Indian Passport?
If you have lost or misplaced your Indian passport and thus do not have a physical document to send to CKGS, you will be directed to a different form, known as the CKGS renunciation application. The application looks more or less the same as a regular surrender application, but you will need to submit a Notarized Affidavit regarding the loss of your Indian passport.
With a surrender application, your Indian passport will be endorsed with the statement “cancelled due to acquiring foreign nationality." With a renunciation, you will receive a renunciation certificate to this effect. Both have the same effect at law.
A Note About Shipping
Note that the shipping requirements are somewhat prescriptive. If you choose to ship your application rather than visit a CKGS office in person, then the recommended option it to organize a CKGS courier service through UPS or FedEx. You can book and pay for this online as part of your application.
You must use certain types of envelopes and comply with the weight restriction when mailing your application. Take care to read the shipping section of the CKGS website before you begin.
Penalties for Misuse of Passport
Once you become a U.S. citizen, it is illegal to retain your Indian passport or to attempt to travel using it. The punishment for doing so is a fine up to $1,250 and imprisonment up to five years. In practice, the penalty will reflect the degree of the offense. For example, if you use your Indian passport within three months of becoming a U.S. citizen, the penalty will be much less severe ($250 fine) than if you seek to renew your Indian passport after acquiring U.S. citizenship (a $500 fine). Where applicable, penalty fees are payable before CKGS will process your application.
Read More: What Is Needed to Renew a Passport?
- When traveling to India, it is not necessary to carry your Certificate of Surrender.
- The penalties for retaining an Indian passport after becoming a U.S. citizen include imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $1,250. Traveling to India on the Indian passport attracts a fine of $250.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.