Looking for the details on 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 2023.
If you’ve 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 fee is a one-time cost for this multiple-entry life-long visa.
With an 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 surrendered my Indian passport and documented the detailed process here. 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 (and still get) 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! 😉
But before we jump into it and I show you everything you need, I need to ask you something.
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Be aware of how much you’re actually paying for your international money transfers and don’t trust any provider blindly (especially conventional banks) – do your research!
Okay, let’s get right into the OCI requirements in the UK.
OCI Application in the UK – Your Complete Guide
Here’s the entire process from start to finish covering EVERYTHING that you need to know about the 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 the 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!
Info: You can follow this guide for OCI application in the USA as well. The various milestones, documents required and timelines are quite similar. However, CKGS (Cox & Kings Global Services) handle OCI card applications (and other Passport and Consular services) in the US. So, you can skip the appointment booking part of this guide.
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, Linked In or Whatsapp (wherever your friends and family members live! ;)) and do let me know in the comments below how your experience was.
Disclaimer: I gained a lot of knowledge on the OCI application process for the UK and as proud as I am that it got documented and has proved to help a lot of people, still I am not a lawyer and I need to add this disclaimer. Feel free to follow the instructions on this guide as this is the exact process I (and thousands of others) followed to submit OCI application in the UK. However, nothing on this website should be considered legal advice.
And before I forget!
Thanks all of you for your support and wonderful comments! I read every comment, and reply to them personally. Keep them coming! 🙂
A special mention to Nakul for sharing his learnings during the passport surrender process and for helping me with critical information for this comprehensive OCI guide. Thanks, Mez Baan (and all of you who commented) for your help in keeping this guide updated.
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.
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.
In this detailed OCI guide, I will refer to it at most places as an OCI card.
OCI Card Benefits and Disadvantages
You might think, “Aman, 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 lose your voting rights in India.
Still curious? Click here to find out OCI card benefits and disadvantages.
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
The High Commission of India has outsourced the OCI application submission services in the UK to VFS Global (like Indian passport surrender and Indian passport renewal). 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 what 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
VFS guidance on the submission of your original British passport:
“Original passports are requested to be shown over the counter but will not be taken on the day for submission. Only details will be recorded to send across to the Indian High Commission.
Applicants may take their passports back for use, but once they are requested to resubmit the passports back to the centre when OCI is approved online, the stamping process takes a minimum of 7-10 working days.”
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: London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
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.
Want to know more about the “visible mark” question? Click here to find out What is Visible Mark on the OCI application?
Click on Save & Continue.
In the next section, enter your Passport Details and family information.
Note: Make sure you enter your current foreign passport details here (and not the Indian passport). Years of use is the reason why entering the Indian passport number comes naturally.
The officer at VFS won’t accept your application and you would need to redo it online and visit again. I’ve been there, done that. You don’t repeat my mistake 😛
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 the 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).
For Native Place Address, if you don’t have any address in India, you can use an address in the UK.
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.
Note: Save the GBRL number. That’s the OCI Registration number that you need to book your VFS appointment for OCI)
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 the 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 a max size of 900×900 px.
I scanned my photograph and edited it to fit 200×200 pixels 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).
Note: For signatures, I signed with a black pen on a plain paper and took a picture using my phone camera. Later, I used editing software to fit it to the 3:1 aspect ratio (900px by 300px).
I used Skitch on Mac for editing – it’s free! There’s a Windows version available as well or could use any other photo editing app that you know.
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 the “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 the 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’re 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 the “Upload Documents” button.
Note: For this part, you only need to upload the scanned copies of your documents.
The signed application form (and other documents required for OCI in UK) still need to be submitted at VFS centre in-person.
In a bit, I will also go through the OCI documents checklist for UK you need to submit at the VFS centre.
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
Note: The file size for supporting documents needs to be less than 1MB. If you scanned your documents in high resolution you can compress the files using a pdf compressor tool online.
If you’re worried about privacy and would rather keep your sensitive personal information offline, I recommend using the native tools on your PC/Mac.
For Mac, you don’t need to install any new apps because the inbuilt app “Preview” works pretty well. For a PC, you might need to download a pdf editor (print-to-pdf is a feature in Windows 10 so could save you some hassle). Let me know if you face any issues in getting your OCI document files to the right size.
As per the latest update to the OCI process (a rather silent one – yet again!), you can now upload all the supporting documents as part of your online application itself. No photocopy or original supporting documents needed to submit with your application. To upload multiple documents, combine them into a single PDF and upload under an available similar category. As per the notification, any application without all documents uploaded online won’t be accepted.
As you can imagine, this guide would yet again require an update (after the recent changes to the appointment booking portal). Please follow the VFS documents checklist list and upload them online instead, I’ll update this guide to move things around when I get a chance. Also, please add your updates and feedback about your experience, timelines, and any tips in the comments – that’s the only way we can have at least one guide on the internet that’s up to date – by coming together to help each other! 😉
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”.
VFS UK has mentioned on their OCI Guidelines “applicants may not be able to load all the supporting documents, as there are limited options asking for specific documents. Hence only upload the documents mentioned in the drop-down menu on the website.”
So this is what I did – I uploaded cancelled Indian passport and Surrender certificate scans together as a single file.
You can combine the docs and upload a single pdf file if you want to.
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 got the OCI Application form, the 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 in the UK
You need to book an appointment to submit your OCI application at the VFS centre of your jurisdiction.
The old Online Appointment System for VFS to book and reschedule appointments has now been closed. The process in this post has been updated for the new Appointment Booking System on the HCI (High Commission of India) website.
To book a prior OCI application appointment in the UK, follow the below steps:
- Step #1. Go to this link and click “Schedule an Appointment” to access the Online Appointment System for VFS.
- Step #2. Select service as “OCI” and then select Location. The page will refresh and bring up the calendar with available slots.
Look for an available (GREEN) one and click on it to book it.
RED: Already booked or No service available on the day
GREEN: Appointments available
GREY: Slots not yet open for booking
The VFS appointment centre options for each jurisdiction are:
|Jurisdiction (Mission to Select on Form)||Location to Submit the Application|
I booked my OCI appointment at VFS Hounslow which is one of the other
two four options (now) for London jurisdiction (the other ones are Goswell, Cardiff and Belfast).
Note: Please make sure you select the VFS centre as per your jurisdiction only. If you book an appointment at any VFS centre outside your jurisdiction to get an early appointment, VFS will ask you to book the OCI appointment again at the VFS centre of your jurisdiction.
Follow this link to find out your jurisdiction based on your county.
- Step #3:Select a date and then, pick a time slot. Once you have selected a date and time for your VFS appointment, the below two fields will be filled for you based on your date-time selection.
- Date of submission of application
- Appointment Time
- Step #4 (Last Step): Now, enter Applicant Details (shown below).
- Name of the applicant as given on passport
- Passport Number
- Email ID
- Mobile Number
If you’re applying together as a family, you can at this point select the option and add the names and passport numbers for your family members. A family of three persons can book a single appointment. If you’re booking the appt. for more than three people, you can split them into multiple groups and book another appointment.
Click “Schedule Appointment Now” to proceed.
At this point, 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 with a summary of your appointment details.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t get the email – the printout 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!
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
As per the latest update to the OCI process (a rather silent one – yet again!), you can now upload all the supporting documents as part of your online application itself. No photocopy or original supporting documents need to be submitted with your application. To upload multiple documents, combine them into a single PDF and upload under an available similar category. As per the notification, any application without all documents uploaded online won’t be accepted. As you can imagine, this guide would yet again require an update (after the recent update to the appointment booking portal. Please follow the below list and upload them online instead, I’ll update this guide to move things around.
Here’s a checklist of documents required for OCI in the UK that you’d need when visiting the VFS centre 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:
- Take single-sided print-outs
- You need to accompany all the originals I have listed above with a set of photocopies.
- All photocopies need to be self-attested. For OCI application of minor children, the documents need to be self-attested by both parents.
- Carry the documents in two separate bundles – one for Originals and the other for self-attested photocopies of those originals.
- Make sure you carry TWO special delivery envelopes PER application. Or, you end up paying for the more expensive courier service by VFS.
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 the 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.”
Note: At the time of this write-up, VFS no longer accept Credit Cards for any services. So make sure to carry one of the accepted payment methods.
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 on 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.
OCI Card UK: Wrapping Up
I hope this detailed guide helps you in the 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 anymore.
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 lot of 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: Maybe, you have a question?
Drop me a quick comment below. I personally reply to comments and questions that come in. However, I’m a one-man team in this area and my response could sometimes be delayed. Please sift through the comments already on there as most scenarios have already been answered.
You can also try using Ctrl/Cmd + F to find the phrase you’re after. To keep the community vibe going, I have decided not to switch off comments as they help in keeping the guide up to date that helps everyone.
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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 features 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 the 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 centre with the printout 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 the original British Passport and Status proof?
No. After submitting the documents at the VFS centre, 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, duplicate OCI documents are issued only after a personal interview.
Hey, this is a great guide. Thank you. Do we have to provide self attested copies or a regular copy of all the documents. Thanks.
Self attested please.