What do ECR and ECNR mean on an Indian passport?

Matters about emigration in India are governed by the Emigration Act, 1983. As per some regulations, there is a particular category of holders of Indian passports that require obtaining a permit called “Emigration Clearance” from the office of the Protector of Emigrants (POE) when traveling to certain countries.

“Emigration” has been expressly defined as the left of the country, India, by an Indian with the intention of seeking employment opportunities in a foreign country.

As per the regulations, Indian passports come in two categories;

  • Passports with an endorsement – with (ECR) Emigration Check Requirements.

  • Passports with endorsement – with (ECNR) Emigration Check Not Required

For all passports issued before the end of January 2007, if there’s no notation in the passport then that means ECR.

For passports granted in and subsequently after January 2007 and if there is no notation in the passport, then it means ECNR. For any passport that requires an Emigration Check, the passport will come with an endorsement regarding the same.

The ECR requirements are meant to safeguard the interests of Indian citizens working in different countries due to the varying legal conditions and requirements in that country.

ECR Countries:

For people subjected to ECR, clearance from (POE) is required before one enters the following countries seeking employment;

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Brunei
  • Kuwait
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq (emigration banned)
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Thailand
  • UAE
  • Yemen

The Emigration clearance is only required for people seeking employment opportunities in the above-named countries. If the purposes of travel are not for employment opportunities, then the emigration clearance is not required.

For people traveling to other countries other than the ones named above, then an emigration clearance is not required regardless of whether or not, you are ECNR as described below.

  • For any Indian passport holder who is well educated, they have the freedom of traveling to some Gulf/ African states or any other countries which have a less superior status. They are deemed to be working there to earn a livelihood at their own risk and hence do not require an immigration check per say.
  • On the other hand, Indian citizens with a lower education level will be required to obtain an ECR with details like a valid work permit, visa and job agreement amongst others between the foreign employer and themselves.
  • The same should be communicated and verified by the (POE) in India, similar to the one issued by the Visa/Passport Consulate. These are some of the mishaps that the government seeks to address. Such people will be victims of exploitation by agents and their employers, denial of wages, confiscation of their passports by authorities in the country, and possible imprisonment for lack of the required documents. This leads to pain and suffering for both their families and themselves. A similar scenario has been witnessed by Indians who have been stranded in some Gulf States.