He was born in Jalandhar, India to noted writer in Punjabi, Mohinder Singh Sarna, and did his schooling from St. Joseph's Academy, Dehradun. Later he graduated as a part of the 1980 Class of Indian Foreign Service. Before holding his current post, he was Joint Secretary for external publicity at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), since October 2002, and holds the distinction of being the longest-serving spokesperson of the ministry, and served two prime ministers, three foreign ministers and four foreign secretaries, till the end of his term in September, 2008
Previously as a diplomat served in Moscow, Warsaw, Thimphu, Geneva, Teheran and Washington, DC 
He also writes short stories, and book reviews. His first novel published was We Weren't Lovers Like That in 2003, followed by The Book of Nanak in the same year, his latest, The Exile, published in 2008, is based on the life of Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of Lahore, and son Raja Ranjit Singh.
- Folk Tales of Poland, Sterling Publications, 1991. ISBN 81-207-1072-X.
- We Weren't Lovers Like That. Penguin, May 2003. ISBN 0-14-302961-4.
- The Book of Nanak, Penguin, September 2003. ISBN 0-670-04978-6.
- The Exile. Penguin, 2008. ISBN 978-0-670-08208-7.
- Journeys : Heroes, Pilgrims, Explores, edited by Geeti Sen and Molly Kaushal. New Delhi, Penguin, 2004. ISBN 0-670-05796-7. 2. And the Baba went along the way, by Navtej Sarna.
- The Harper Collins Book of New Indian Fiction : Contemporary Writing in English, edited by Khushwant Singh. New Delhi, Harper Collins, 2005, . ISBN 81-7223-584-4. 5. Madame Kitty by Navtej Sarna.
- Navtej Sarna, envoy to Israel The Hindu, March 30, 2008.
- Navtej Sarna is new foreign office spokesman Hindustan Times, October 16, 2002.
- Navtej Sarna, longest serving foreign ministry spokesman, ends tenure Monday Hindustan Times, September 14, 2008.
- The Rediff Chat: Ambassador Navtej Sarna Rediff.com.
- Diplomat into novelist The Hindu,January 4, 2004.
- The Exile: A maharaja's tragic journey Rediff.com, October 15, 2008.
- Navtej Sarna Penguin.