All that you wanted to know about switching from ration book to PDS Smart Card


Range of services online. Screenshot from

Maintaining the worn out ration book was anyway quite a task in every household. But it’s time to bid adieu to the age-old tradition.

Smart cards are the digital version of ration booklets designed like an ATM card. Earlier this year, the Government of Tamil Nadu led by the Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palanisamy announced a move to issue smart cards in lieu of the existing ration cards.

So far the government has issued 1,98,69,625 smart cards to ration card holders across the state whereas the total number of beneficiaries are calculated to be 6,70,65,374. Meanwhile, residents with old ration cards can continue to avail their usual services till they receive the smart card.

The primary objective of making it digital is to avoid bogus members and fake cards while ensuring that PDS (Public Distribution System) provisions reach the deserving citizens without double billing/bogus billing. The digitization will aid the government in tracking the supply of commodities to PDS outlets.

Know the basics

There are three types of PDS Smart Cards:

No Commodity Card (White card): People availing no commodity card cannot purchase any commodity but can have the card. Primarily, the white card is availed to hold accountability to the government which prevents misusing the number provided on the card.

Rice Card/All Commodity Card (Green card): This is issued to people who prefer to buy rice and other commodities. Citizens can avail between 12 and 20 kg of rice which depends on the number of adults and children — 4 kg per adult and 2 kg per child.

Sugar Card (White card): Cardholders can avail sugar up to 3 kgs in place of rice along with other commodities. (500 gm per head every month)

Apart from the above listed types, policemen get khaki cards for availing provisions. While a citizen can switch over to sugar card to rice card and vice versa, the user having white card does not have the option to switch.

People having any card except the white card can avail kerosene if they have one or no LPG cylinder connection. The entitlements are as follows:

Without LPG cylinders: 10 litre

With single LPG cylinder: 3 litre

With two LPG cylinders: ineligible

Here is a quick FAQ that can help you get started with the application process and other queries.

Where can I get my smart card made in Chennai?

Presently, you can apply for smart card only online at:

Once applied, a reference number will be sent to the registered mobile number, with which the application status can be tracked online or offline.

Are the cards issued based on the economic status of the head of the family?

No, the citizen has the option to choose any type of card.

What are the documents required to get the smart card made?

You would need a photocopy of the old PDS book, one photograph of the head of the family and proof of residence.

Following are the accepted proofs of residence; one who wishes to apply for the PDS card can select any one from the listed documents below:

  •       Aadhaar Card
  •       Passport
  •       Property Tax, in case of own house
  •       Rental Agreement, for tenants
  •       Slum Clearance Board allotment order
  •       Telephone Bill
  •        Front page of bank passbook
  •        Telephone bill
  •        Gas consumer bill
  •        Electricity Bill
  •        Voter identity card

What are the charges applicable in government-authorised centres?

This is a free service offered by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

How long would it take to get a smart card?

It takes 65 days to reach your nearest PDS shop from the day of application, which will be intimated to the registered mobile number through SMS. You can then collect it from your nearest e-seva centres.

However, if you have applied for changes/corrections, you can collect the card from e-seva centre once the official from your Taluk office approves it.

How can I update or change details in my smart card?

  1. Go to the website:
  2. Select ‘Beneficiary Log in’, enter the registered mobile number and the OTP.
  3. You will be logged in. Select ‘Card Mutation’ and you can select any one from the following options
      1. Change of address
      2. Change of cylinder
      3. Surrender or cancel the card
      4. Card Type change
      5. Family Card Blocking
      6. Family Card Unblocking
      7. Family Head Member Change
      8. Remove Family Member
  4. Once you have chosen the appropriate option, a reference number will be generated with which you can track the status

How do I link my smart card with my Aadhaar card?

The user is required to take a photograph of the head of the family, a photocopy of the smart card and the Aadhaar cards of all the family members to the ration office and submit in the e-seva centre. The submission of the documents will be acknowledged via SMS or e-mail. Once the linking process is successfully completed, the user will be notified through an SMS again.

 What do you do if you lose your smart card?

Citizens who have lost their smart cards may get it replaced at a cost of Rs 30 at the nearest e-seva centre. The card holder is required to provide the registered mobile number, to which an OTP will be sent. Using the password, the new smart card will be generated.

How does the smart card work when you go the ration centre? How are records kept?

Once the provisions are purchased, the barcode in the smart card is scanned using the scanner that tracks the purchase of the customer. The list of provisions bought and the bill is sent to the customer through SMS. This way, the customer can lodge a complaint if he is deceived.  

Is it a life-time card, or would I need to renew my smart card?

Yes, it is a life-time card issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

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About Bhavani Prabhakar 146 Articles
Bhavani Prabhakar was Staff Reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai.

1 Comment

  1. Very elaborate information on PDS cards system and it’s operation which public are unaware off. Very useful.Well compiled.

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