I am writing my experience in getting my 5 y/o son's passport renewed. I had to go through a lot of hassle with VFS and not at all smooth. Hope this post can help someone save their precious time which VFS never considers (at least in my case).
11/22/2020 - Old passport and required documents posted to VFS.
12/02/2020 - Received acknowledgement from VFS asking for below additional documents which WERE NOT MENTIONED in the checklist (not sure if its updated now).
1. Child's birth certificate photo copy
2. Notarized Annexure D
3. Return label - Yes, I purchased Fedex labels from their site and sent in the initial courier. Thought they over looked, so sent it again.
12/08/2020 - Posted the updated documents to VFS.
No update for 2 weeks. I sent couple of queries via emails and phone calls. They took action only after I provided them the tracking number of the above sent package.
12/22/2020 - Got an update from VFS stating that they are not accepting FEDEX return label and asked me to send the UPS one. I didn't understand why they do not accept the label that was purchased from their website!! I thought no point arguing with them and decided to send the UPS return label.
12/24/2020 - Sent the UPS return label to VFS.
01/04/2021 - We have received your application and is now Under Process at ICAC in San Francisco.
01/05/2021 - Application has been processed at the VFS and currently In-Transit to the embassy.
--------------- Tracking on GOV website - https://portal4.passportindia.gov.in/Online/index.html
01/05/2021 - Received the application at the embassy.
01/06/2021 - The application is under review.
01/22/2021 - Print has been initiated for the passport. (No police verification email. I guess if there is no address change, for minors atleast, there is no police verification.)
01/25/2021 - Passport is printed and will be delivered shortly.
The process at the embassy was relatively smooth. Took around 2 - 3 weeks which is expected.
--------------- Tracking with the VFS ------------------------
Again the nightmare started!!
01/28/2021 - Received an email from VFS. our Application has been reviewed by the Embassy of India/ Consulate General of India & will be dispatched within 24 – 48 business hours provided you had purchased or sent the return label.
From then, no update for a week! I didn't understand why they need a week to dispatch the passport. Yes, I understand due to COVID, there could be some delays, but a week to dispatch the passport from the embassy?
I started to become curious and called the VFS customer care (I know they charge $2.5/min, but my situation is such, please look at the disclaimer below). Such a pathetic service, they keep repeating same statements that were in their website and tracking info. Why does anyone spend money to listen to the information that is already available? I was expecting them to either expedite the process or let me know if there is any problem, but none.
02/03/2021 - Finally the status on their tracking website changed to "Counter Delivery". I thought that means they will dispatch. Again, even after 2 days, I didn't see any update on my UPS tracking number. So again I called the VFS customer care, to my shock they said, the passport is ready to be picked up and I NEED TO CALL UPS AND REQUEST THEM TO PICK UP THE PASSPORT. I thought that was not the case for all other cases, again I decided not to argue, I was drained and want my passport back anyhow. So I called UPS and request for a pickup (I need to pay the pickup charges as well!).
But the point is, there was no notification from VFS asking me to request for the pickup. If I had not followed up, would it have been lying with them forever or until they take their own sweet time to respond?
02/05/2021 - The passport has been picked up by the UPS.
02/06/2021 - I received the old and new passport.
Disclaimer: I needed the passport to be renewed as I need it for my visa processing to a foriegn country as my current visa in USA is getting expired in May/2021. The only mistake I did is submitting the application in "Normal". I had renewed my passport in 2017 with CKGS in "Normal" and it was very smooth, got my passport in 3 weeks. With that experience and with COVID around, back in November, I thought I would get it in 1.5 months, but it took me 2.5 months with multiple follow ups(not sure how long would it have taken if I had not followed up at multiple stages with VFS).
Lesson learnt, I will always go with Tatkal in future for the passport renewals.