Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting a PAN Card in India - Not easy !

What does it take to get a PAN card in India? A lot... I had some interesting experiences in my quest to get a PAN card, in India. The experiences that I had proves that you need lots of patience, whenever you are dealing with Indian government. Here is how the story goes...

The first time I applied for a PAN card was in 2002. There were long queues in income tax offices, especially working class/employed folks waiting to submit their PAN card application. As a true citizen, I stood in line and applied for my PAN card. After nearly 3 months, Income Tax  department returned my PAN card application saying that my photo in the application was "damaged". The leftover glue from another application has completely damaged my photo. I was frustrated to see that my application was rejected due to no fault of mine. I was about to leave to US for my job and I ditched the idea of getting a PAN card. (Also read: Can't escape standing in long lines   Got the two wheeler driving license - after hours of waiting)

Years later, Indian government made it mandatory for DEMAT account holders to furnish PAN card details. Though I was not using the account, I had to furnish PAN details to prevent the account from getting locked. In 2007, I went to UTI services to apply for a PAN card. They got my money, application, & photograph and said that I'll receive my PAN card  in just 2 weeks. I liked the fact that I didn't have to stand in long lines to apply for the PAN card. In two weeks, I got my PAN card, but... my birth date wasn't correct in that. My frustrations grew up again. But, I didn't bother to apply for a correction or to get a new PAN card. I started using that & nobody noticed/complained about the incorrect birth date.

In 2010, when I applied for a loan, the loan processing agent promptly noticed the mismatch in my birth date. They didn't make it a big issue - but asked me to correct it soon. So, I thought I should get my birth date corrected in the PAN card. I applied for a "correction" online from NSDL website & couriered all my documents to NSDL processing center. NSDL provides status of the processing, online - which is good. Though I wanted to just change my birthdate, they had asked for an address proof. The address proof that I gave had my name as "Saravanan V". I was asked to mail an address proof which contains my "full name". They had an option to send a soft copy over email. After I sent the scanned copy of the address proof, they changed my application status to something like "Processing complete. Request forwarded for PAN card change". The department that does the PAN card modifications, changed the status to "Mismatch between birthdate in the database and the birthdate in the application". The jokers have ignored the fact that my application itself was to change the "birth date" in the database. I tried to reach the NSDL Customer Support number in the website/application form. Unfortunately, the number itself was NOT in service. I sent an email to them saying that the purpose of my application itself was to change the birth date in the database and I had provided all the relevant details/proofs for it. Thank god, they realized their mistake on seeing that email. They didn't ask me to send any other documents and issued me a PAN card with the right birth date. Atlast, I now have a proper PAN card.

Though online services are available for many government transactions, the quality of such services is still poor. Mailing a 'hard copy' is a must, though you submit your application online. However, it is "way" better than having to stand in long lines for just "submitting" your application. On that front, our government has made great strides !

Way to go, India.

Also read:


10 things to know if you are thinking of Returning to India (R2I)
How much money do you need to R2I?