anand on August 18th, 2008

I continue to be amazed at the amount of paperwork that is required in India. For any activity, there is a requirement for a letter to be written. Depositing a check (cheque) involves filling in a deposit slip (thats reasonable). The information on the deposit slip includes reasonable details such as account number, account name, date, amount, check number. However, now the unreasonable part starts. The form requires you to fill the date on the check (cheque), the bank it is drawn on, the branch of the bank, the name of the party that has issued the check etc (why all this is important beats me!). And, of course, if you want a receipt, you need to fill in this deposit slip in duplicate. And then, pin your check to your deposit slip (the teller does not like doing this for you). And, of course, sign the deposit slip!!!. Paying school fees is even worse – they want all this information in quadruplicate – a school copy, a bank branch copy, a bank head office copy and a customer copy. No one can really answer the question as to why all this information is required.

A serious effort at paperwork reduction would be a huge help. Meanwhile, here are some essential documents that you will require. I mean, really require. With every service you ask for, you will be asked to provide some version of these documents. So, it is best to have them handy. Also, it is best to ensure that the information on these documents match. I have run into problems if my middle name appears on one of them and not on another.

The 2 essential documents you will need are:

  • Proof of Identity: PAN Card, Passport, Drivers License are great examples of these. Ration Card, School Leaving Certificate, Degree, Utility Bill, Bank Account statements etc may also serve this purpose but I highly recommend having a proof of id with a photograph – i.e. PAN Card, passport, drivers license.
  • Proof of address: Utility bill, phone bill, bank statements, ration card are good examples of these. Of these, utility bills (electricity, water) or government telephone bills (BSNL, MTNL) are considered “better”. Your rental agreement (called leave license agreement) and/or your property documents serve as proofs of address too. Oftentimes, you will require 2 proofs of address.
  • PAN Card: If you plan to enter any account with a financial services company, the PAN card is essential. This means, bank accounts, mutual fund accounts, credit cards etc will require these. You can apply for it with proofs of ID and proofs of address. You need not be a citizen of India to apply. You can get more information at the Income Tax website.

You should make sure you have (or have a plan to obtain) these documents. You will require these every time you apply for any service – from bank accounts, to mobile phones, to anything. Also, ensure that these documents have the same address and the same names (middle-names too). And keep many many copies handy, along with many copies of your photographs.

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