My passport was due to expire in less than an year, so I thought to renew it early in order to avoid last minute hurdles with travel and VISA. Since I am currently living in Switzerland, Indian embassy at Bern was the only option for me.
Indian embassy in Bern has a quite interesting website http://www.indembassybern.ch which lists details about the process, although in a bit tedious way. It has all the information you need, but in a form that perplexes you and makes you feel a bit cautious. Fortunately all went well with my process and I got my passport re-issued in 4 weeks. Here are the important details about the process I followed:-
Application process: The recommended application process is to fill online application at http://passport.gov.in/nri/ and take an appointment at the embassy for the scheduled date. If you are sending your application through post, off course an appointment is not needed. You can also send the application in prescribed forms E.A. (P)-2; however, filling form online actually helps to get your detail correctly into the system without going through a manual data entry process and thus increasing risk of getting error. Filling form online actually is pretty simple. If you realized that even after careful entries, you made a mistake in form, you can simply discard your form and start with a fresh form. Your Switzerland address should also be mentioned in the "other address" field so that a person may contact you locally. Taking an appointment actually gets the appointment date printed on application form as well, so it just helps in case the person refuses to entertain you when you reach there.
Fees: The fees for the application should preferably be deposited into a UBS bank for the given Indian embassy account. You can choose any UBS bank in Switzerland to deposit money (especially near to your home if you are sending application by post). But you have to deposit it personally in order to get a signed receipt from the cashier. Online payment confirmation would probably not hold good in the eyes of staff.
There is a little confusing statement in website regarding fees for renewal of passport. Table at http://www.indembassybern.ch/mrp_version28072010.html says that fees for renewing passport is 73 CHF while in another row, it reads that Extension / Renewal of validity of passport is Free.
The second statement doesnt apply to final expiry of passport, so if your passport is expiring after 10 years of validity, you will receive a new passport and your fees would be 73 CHF
Personal appearance: Many of the online discussion at www.englishforum.ch tells you that it is not necessary to go to embassy personally. I however felt that being there personally and talking to a real person is much better than getting returned envelop or wondering what happened wrong with your application. After having gone through the entire process, I think its worth being personally there, if there are some major changes in your passport such as change of address, adding name of wife in passport etc. e.g, there was a change of address in my passport and I wrote the new address in application. I however, forgot to bring a proof of new address with me. While at the embassy, the staff person asked me if I am carrying any other proof of address and luckily I had my Indian driving license with me. He gladly accepted it and made a copy of it. Since it was a mistake by my part, which thankfully got corrected on time, I felt that being there was really worth the ticket to Bern. Besides, Bern is a nice place to be, at least worth a day's trip.
Self addressed envelop: Please provide a self addressed and stamped envelop (preferably registered) which can hold two passports with your application. Your new passport will be printed in India and would be sent to embassy in Bern. Bern staff would then cancel your existing passport, put it along with your new passport and send it to you in this envelop.
Experience: So after all the preparations and making copies of each and every document, I went to Bern and reached embassy right on time. Staff was courteous enough and asked me to wait at reception while the concerned person comes. After 15 minute of wait, the officer responsible for the passport came out and checked my documents. He pointed out that I didn't had any proof of new address which luckily was immediately given as I was carrying my Indian driving license. Since I was also adding name of my wife on the passport, he checked our marriage certificate which was duly endorsed already by ministry of external affairs. He then told us that everything is in order, and since there is a change of address, there might be slight delay for verification and clearance from Jaipur(which is my home town).
I was done in approx 30 minutes in total and happily came back with a pleasant feeling. After this, it was a long wait of 4 weeks after I received my new and old passport in my mailbox through Swiss Post. The new passport had a new passport number and was issued at Bern.
Overall I would say that my experience was quite positive. There is always a room of improvement, but the dealing was much much better than my last interaction with passport services at Bangalore. I had to take a Police Clearance Certificate for Swiss VISA from RPO Bangalore and entire process was horrendous and torturous. It was as if me and my wife were declared guilty and criminal by default and we had to fight our way through police stations and RPO office to prove it otherwise.
I congratulate the embassy staff at Bern for doing a good job and hope that their website would become much efficient and streamlined in the process.