How to apply for an OCI card in the UK?
Today I’m going to guide you through the step-by-step process of submitting your OCI application in the UK in 2021.
If you cancelled your Indian passport to get the surrender certificate after obtaining British Citizenship, you require a valid Visa for your next visit to India. You could opt to get a Visa (or an eVisa) for India whenever you need to fly to India.
(A conventional Visa has a validity of 6 months, and an eVisa provides a double-entry validity of 60 days)
If you visit now and then, or even once a year, getting an OCI card makes sense both logistically and economically.
The OCI application fees is a one-time cost for this multiple-entry life-long visa.
With OCI card, you are granted the status of Overseas Citizen of India.
(More on the benefits of having an OCI card in a bit).
I also covered the step-by-step procedure for my wife’s Indian passport renewal. Both these guides ended up helping so many people. I had a massive response from everyone, and that’s evident from the number of comments I have on each of those guides.
In those comments, you wanted me to cover a detailed step-by-step guide to the OCI application process in the UK.
Well, here it is – the most anticipated guide on Comparism! 😉
Let’s get right into the OCI requirements in the UK.
To help you easily navigate through the ultimate guide to OCI application in UK, I have created a table of contents below:
- OCI Application UK – Complete Guide 2021
- What is an OCI Card?
- How to apply for OCI card in the UK
- Steps for online OCI application UK submission
- OCI Documents required to upload online
- OCI Appointment Booking UK
- Documents required for OCI at the VFS center
- OCI Card fees in the UK
- OCI card processing time in the UK
- Collection of OCI Card and Supporting documents
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you need to get a new OCI card when your passport is renewed/re-issued?
- Can you submit OCI application on behalf of your family member(s)?
- Can I apply for an OCI card by post?
- Do you need to submit your original passport for OCI application?
- Do you need to book an appointment again to submit original British Passport and Status proof?
- Can you apply for duplicate OCI documents in case of loss of OCI registration certificate?
- OCI Card UK – Wrapping Up
OCI Application UK – Complete Guide 2021
Here’s the entire process from start to finish covering EVERYTHING that you need to know about OCI application process in the UK.
I hope it helps you and eases the process of OCI card application.
But why bother?
Pretty simple – the official guides aren’t good enough. And there’s nothing wrong with helping someone with the knowledge gained, right?
During the process of filing 2 OCI applications (mine and Nakul’s), I spoke to VFS phone helpline on multiple occasions to clarify a few points, and Nakul emailed VFS with queries more than thrice!
I did a single application for just myself, and Nakul prepared the OCI application pack for a family of 4. Together, we gathered vital information which is either not covered on the VFS website OR, is overly complicated and confusing!
In comparison, I found that the guides that Cox & Kings have on their website to assist the OCI application in the US are pretty detailed and useful!
This OCI card application guide is to ease some of the pain – learnings from the bumpy (and fun) ride that Nakul and I went through.
If you found this guide useful in any way, please share it.
Share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Whatsapp (wherever your friends and family members live! ;)) and do let me know in the comments below how your experience was.
And before I forget!
Okay, let’s jump right in!
What is an OCI Card?
Here’s a quick primer on what’s an OCI card.
What does OCI stand for and why is it better than applying for an Indian eVisa or a regular visa for India?
OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) card is a multiple-entry lifetime visa for India without any limitations on the length of stay in India.
It is a smart card with the idea to facilitate quicker immigration clearance and also, using consular services.
OCI Registration Certificate, OCI Card, Overseas Citizenship of India card are the different terms used to describe this.
In this detailed OCI guide, I will refer to it at most places as OCI card.
If you want to know more about what an OCI card is, and how it came into being, please head over to this Wikipedia article.
OCI card benefits
You might think if I can quickly get a Visa or an eVisa to India, why should I bother getting an OCI card.
Well, holding an OCI card gives you some added advantages:
- Multiple-entry, life-long Visa to visit India
- One-time cost
- No need to report to authorities for any length of stay in India
- Parity with NRIs in financial, education and economic fields (except acquisition of plantation/agricultural properties)
With an OCI card, you cannot undertake any Missionary, mountaineering and research work in India. If you plan any of this on your trip to India, you would need prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs in India.
Also, holding an OCI card doesn’t make you an Indian citizen, and you don’t get you voting rights in India.
OCI Eligibility – Who can apply for an OCI card?
Let’s see if you are eligible for an OCI card.
If you migrated from India or, are married to an Indian or, your parents/grandparents belonged to India, you are eligible to be granted the status of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).
Minor children with foreign nationality are eligible for an OCI card if they meet any of the following criteria:
Both the parents or one of the parents are either citizens of India or, are OCI cardholders.
How to apply for OCI card in the UK
Consequently, applying for OCI by post is not an option and you have to do it via only VFS in the UK (and CKGS in the USA).
The good thing is: it’s an online process (somewhat!), and you can apply for OCI registration online.
(except you need to visit the VFS centre still physically – twice!)
I know, even I don’t like that part!
Here’s how the overall OCI card application process looks like:
- Fill up and print OCI online Application form
- Submit the application form, required documents and OCI application fees to the VFS centre
- Wait for application status online to update to “Processed” (takes 6-8 weeks as advised by VFS)
- Visit the VFS centre with the status (printout) and submit the original foreign (British) passport
- British passport will be returned in minimum 7-10 working days (as advised by VFS) with your brand new OCI card and the originals
Now, let’s look at the process in detail.
Steps for online OCI application UK submission
In this post, I will help you submit the OCI application step-by-step (with screenshots) but briefly, here’s what you need to do in this part.
- Complete online OCI registration form Part-A.
- Upload scanned image and signature.
- Complete application form Part-B.
- At the end of part-B, upload supporting documents in PDF format.
- Download the OCI application form and print it.
Let me break this down for you (with screenshots).
#1. Start OCI registration form Part-A (Page-I)
Go to the OCI website and pick the option “New OCI Registration.”
On the next screen, answer the captcha security question and click “Enter.”
In the next step, select “Fresh Application.”
Select Place of submission as “UK” and the mission from the available options: Birmingham, Edinburgh and London.
This form is then further divided into three sections: Applicant’s Information, Applicant’s Passport Details and Applicant’s Family Details.
Let’s start with the OCI Applicant’s Information section.
Enter the Given Name and Surname as in your current passport (UK).
If you have a middle name, both the first name and middle name need to go into the Given Name form field.
Fill in your Sex, DOB, Country and the State of Birth, Place (city) of birth, Current Nationality, Visible mark and Marital status.
Click on Save & Continue.
In the next section, enter your Passport Details and family information.
Once done, click “Update & Continue” to proceed to the next part.
This will take you to Page-II of Part-A of the online OCI application form.
#2. OCI Application form Page-II of Part-A
Occupation Details and Address Details – that’s what this section is.
In Occupation details section, enter the details of your employer. If you run your own business or are self-employed, this would be your own/company address.
For the present address, enter your address in the UK and for “Native Place Address,” enter your Indian address (you could use your parents’ address in India).
Fill in the details and click Next.
On the next screen, verify the information you have entered so far:
- Applicant Information
- Family Information
- Passport Information
- Occupation Details
- Residential Address Details
Please note that once you submit the details, you won’t be able to change anything on the OCI application form. If you need to change anything, click “Modify” to change the details.
Once you are happy with the information, click “Submit” to submit the OCI form.
On the next screen, you will see a confirmation message and get an OCI File Reference Number which starts with GBRL.
Congratulations! You have completed Part-A of the OCI online application form.
#2.1. Upload scanned image and signature
You need the scanned image of your photographs and signature for this step.
After uploading image and signature, you will be redirected to fill Part B to complete the OCI registration online.
Your image needs to be square (1:1 aspect ratio) with a min size of 200×200 px and max size of 900×900 px.
I scanned my photograph and edited it to fit 200×200 pixel to meet the square size requirement.
For the signatures, the aspect ratio needs to be 3:1 (width: height) with minimum dimensions 200 pixels (width) x 67 pixels (height) and maximum 900 pixels (width) x 300 pixels (height).
You can pause at this step and come back later using the Temporary Application ID that you noted above.
Let me know in the comments if you face any issues at this step.
Once you’re ready, click on “I am ready with Image.”
On the next screen, upload the applicant’s image and signature.
As you upload the images, the website will confirm if the uploaded images meet the guidelines.
Once you see this message, you are good to proceed to the next step and click “Upload” button.“
You will now see your uploaded image and your signature below the image.
If you notice any issues, click on “I want to upload again” to go one step back and upload again. Edit again if you need to.
Once you are happy with how your image and signature look, click on “I have uploaded successfully.”
You will see the confirmation on next screen, and you can now click “Proceed to Part-B” to continue with the next part of the OCI form.
#3. OCI Registration Part-B
Part-B of the OCI application form is mainly about your Citizenship Details.
It’s divided into three sections: Citizenship Details, Present Nationality Details and Other Details.
In the first section, answer all the questions about your Citizenship in the questionnaire.
Proceed to the next step.
It’s about your existing nationality details – you need to provide details about how you acquired British Citizenship (Naturalisation/Registration etc.).
Provide the date of naturalisation as a British Citizen.
In the “Other Details” section, select the previous nationality of the applicant.
If you have any relatives staying in India, answer “Yes” and enter their details.
Next, you will get a confirmation screen.
You are almost done!
If you have made it this far, you have successfully completed Part-A (including online documents upload) and Part-B of the OCI application form.
Finally, the next step is to upload supporting documents for your OCI application.
Click on “Upload Documents” button.
Let’s take a look:
OCI Documents required to upload online
Here’s the list of documents required to upload online for a fresh OCI application.
- Current British passport and Naturalisation Certificate for British Citizenship
- Proof of Indian origin – Copy of cancelled Indian passport and surrender certificate
Additional OCI documents (depending on your case)
- Indian Visa (if applicable): If you hold an Indian visa (with 3+ months validity), upload a copy
- Spouse OCI card and Marriage Certificate: if “Spouse” is the basis of your OCI application
- Relationship Certificate: Birth certificates of your parents/grandparents depending on the basis of your application
- PIO Card: If you are a PIO cardholder and applying to get an OCI card in lieu of PIO, then upload a copy of your PIO card photo page and last bio-page
- Existing OCI card: If you already have an OCI card and are applying for a renewal after getting a new passport, upload a copy of your OCI card to Indian Visa “Document Type”.
So this is what I did – I uploaded cancelled Indian passport and Surrender certificate scans together as a single file.
If you want to, you can combine the docs and upload a single pdf file.
Click “Final Submit” to submit your OCI application!
The button will change to Generate Application Form.
Click on the Generate Application Form button to download the OCI application form straight to your computer.
Now that you have the got the OCI Application form, next step is to book an appointment for OCI service at VFS UK (or CKGS in the US).
That’s how you are required to submit the OCI application form along with the required documents (originals and self-attested photocopies) in-person to the selected centre and pay the OCI application fees.
Let me quickly show you how to book the appointment right away.
OCI Appointment Booking UK
You need to book an appointment to submit your OCI application at the VFS centre of your jurisdiction.
To book a prior OCI application appointment, follow the below steps:
Step #1. Go to this link to access the Online Appointment System for VFS and click on schedule appointment.
Step #2: Next step to book OCI appointment is to pick your preferred VFS centre as per your jurisdiction in the UK.
Here are your options:
Select your preferred VFS Appointment Centre and Services as “OCI” and click Submit.
I booked my OCI appointment at VFS Hounslow which is one of the two options for London jurisdiction (the other one is Goswell).
Pick yours as per your jurisdiction.
Step #3. Enter applicant details and pick an appointment
- Passport Number
- Applicant First and Last name
- OCI Registration Number
- Date of Birth
- Telephone Number
- Email ID
Click Submit. On the next screen, pick a date and time slot.
As you pick the time slot, you’ll get a booking confirmation of your OCI appointment.
Print it as you will need it on the day of the appointment. You’ll also get an email confirmation along with the appointment letter.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t get the email – the print out of the appointment confirmation you downloaded above will suffice.
OCI appointment – What happens on the day?
Because you attended VFS to submit your Indian passport cancellation application, you already know the drill!
Therefore, I won’t go through this section in detail.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Report at the VFS centre at your designated appointment time (a few minutes earlier is OK!)
- Security personnel will make preliminary checks and issue you a token number for the OCI queue.
- Wait for your number – you might have to wait (hopefully not too long!) if the centre is running behind schedule on the day for OCI appointments.
- Once called, submit your application and supporting docs at the counter and pay the OCI application fees.
A few pointers:
Don’t bother sticking your photo on the form yet – the security personnel could provide you with this cool (nothing fancy – don’t get your hopes high!) double-sided tape. You can use this to fix photos (one in the main box) and another just right below the main picture (there’s a space in the family details section right side area on the printed form).
When you check-in, someone at the reception will ask you to fill a separate “undertaking” form to enter your name, passport number and sign it.
Documents required for OCI at the VFS center
Here’s a checklist for documents required for OCI in the UK that you’d need when visiting the VFS center for your OCI appointment in-person:
- OCI Application form (that you printed earlier!)
- Signed Declaration Form – same as you did for Surrender Certificate application [Download here]
- 2 photographs 50mmx50mm (same as the digital copy you uploaded on the online OCI application form)
- British Passport copy (valid for at least six months) – you need to carry the original passport as well for verification.
- Marriage certificate, if you’re married
- Naturalisation certificate (or relevant document for any other method (like Registration) used to obtain British Citizenship)
- Employee Letter from your current employer
- If unemployed, you can provide proof of last employment along with bank statements for the current account.
- If you own a business in the UK, you can provide proof of Tax Returns submitted to HMRC along with Company incorporation documents. A letter from your accountant would suffice as well.
- Proof of Indian Origin
- If you were born in India, held an Indian passport and obtained foreign nationality after May 2010: Indian Passport Surrender Certificate or, Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate (if you cannot produce the surrender certificate for any reason
- Two self-addressed Royal Mail special delivery envelopes (Silver A4 sized) per application.
In addition to the OCI document checklist above, you might need the below documents depending on your case:
OCI Card fees in the UK
The total cost to get an OCI card in the UK is £201.44.
The amount includes OCI application fees of £194 and another £7.44 for VFS Service Fee.
You can pay the OCI fees using Cash, Debit Card or via Postal Order or Bank Draft payable to “VF Services UK Ltd.”
OCI card processing time in the UK
From submission to VFS to getting your brand new OCI card in hand, the OCI process takes about 6-8 weeks.
However, how long it takes to get an OCI card may vary depending case by case.
If you are planning on visiting India anytime soon, you need to consider the OCI processing time so it fits with your itinerary and plans.
If you cannot apply for an OCI card right now or won’t receive it in time, you can always apply for an Indian Visa or even more convenient Indian eVisa.
When I planned to apply for OCI, I had to travel to India twice and did so using eVisa (I got it in less than 24 hours – follow my detailed guide here!)
OCI Application status
You can track the current status of your OCI card application here using the OCI Registration Number (GBRLXXXXXXXX).
Collection of OCI Card and Supporting documents
Because the OCI application is no longer submitted directly to the Indian mission, VFS takes care of the collection and delivery of OCI cards in the UK.
Once the Indian mission approves your OCI application, VFS will organise the delivery of the OCI card and your original supporting documents.
For getting your OCI card delivered, as I mentioned on the OCI documents checklist, you are required to provide two prepaid self-addressed Special Delivery envelopes (Silver Royal Mail ones) from your side to return the documents and OCI Card. You can buy them from any post office.
You can also choose the courier service offered at the VFS centre but it’s more expensive compared to the Royal Mail option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need to get a new OCI card when your passport is renewed/re-issued?
Depends. It is mandatory to get the OCI card re-issued every time you renew your passport up to the age of 20 years and ONLY ONCE after attaining the age of 50 years because of frequent changes to facial feature in this age group.
If you get your first OCI card AFTER turning 50, you are NOT required to renew it ever again. OCI registration certificate is not mandatory each time your passport is renewed/reissued between 21-50 years of age.
Can you submit OCI application on behalf of your family member(s)?
Yes. Only immediate family members may submit applications on behalf of other family members. You must provide proof of relationship (original passport/identity paper/document).
Can I apply for an OCI card by post?
No, applying for OCI in the UK by post is not an option and you have to do it only via VFS.
Do you need to submit your original passport for OCI application?
Not at the time of submitting the documents the first time. When you submit your application to VFS, the original passport is needed for verification – you get the original passport back.
Once the status of your OCI application shows “processed” online, you need to revisit the application center with the print out of the online status and submit your original British (foreign) passport. You will receive it back in 7-10 working days after submission along with the new OCI booklet.
Do you need to book an appointment again to submit original British Passport and Status proof?
No. After submitting the documents at the VFS center, when the online status shows that HCI has received the OCI application, you do not need to schedule an appointment again. You can submit the documents on any working day between 8:30 am – 11 am.
Can you apply for duplicate OCI documents in case of loss of OCI registration certificate?
Yes, you can. If you lose your OCI documents, you’ll need to file a complaint with the police authorities and enclose a copy of the complaint with the application. Also, the duplicate OCI documents are issued only after a personal interview.
OCI Card UK – Wrapping Up
I hope this detailed guide helps you in OCI application process in the UK after surrendering your Indian passport.
I followed the exact process to apply for OCI in the UK that successfully got me a brand new OCI card.
I make regular updates to the timelines and FAQs section but now I rely on YOUR feedback in the comments section.
If this guide helps you a tiny bit in your OCI card application, please update in the comments if you find any of the parts don’t hold good any more.
That will help keep this OCI guide up to date and will help even more people.
When I started to prepare my OCI application, I had a few doubts after reading the official VFS guide and ended up going through various forums to clarify them.
I have done my bit by giving you this detailed guide to the whole OCI card process.
Now it’s your turn!
I’d like to hear from you:
What’s your #1 takeaway from this guide?
Or maybe you have a question.
Either way, drop me a quick comment below.
I will personally reply to comments and questions that come in.
If you found it helpful, please don’t forget to share it with your friends, colleagues and family members.
You can sign up for my free newsletter and never miss an update from Comparism – you will get an email the next time I publish a post.
Also, I send out updates about best offers on India money transfers.