Traveling to India? Updated Indian Tourist Visa news and application tips
UPDATED OCTOBER 21, 2021: Guidelines for tourists arriving in India were just announced. Requirements for testing, vaccination, and quarantine depend largely on nationality and reciprocity agreements. You can find out more in the diagram below and here. And here is the Suvidha Self-declaration Form for all arriving international passengers. This Standard Operating Procedure shall be valid October 25, 2021 until further orders.
Note: “Category A” countries have an agreement with the Government of India for mutual recognition of vaccination certificate (for individuals fully vaccinated with nationally recognized or WHO recognized COVID-19 vaccine and those exempting Indian citizens fully vaccinated with nationally recognized or WHO recognised vaccines.)
“Category A” countries: United Kingdom, France, Germany, Nepal, Belarus, Lebanon, Armenia, Ukraine, Belgium, Hungary, and Serbia
October 8, 2021: It was announced that India will begin granting tourist Visas for foreign tourists coming to India through chartered flights on October 15, 2021. Foreign tourists travelling to India by other flights would be able to do so after November 15. Announcement here. More information about requirements such as vaccination and testing will be forthcoming. For now, we know that current tourist visas are suspended and the new ones will be for 30 days only.
Several other Visa categories are currently available and will allow travel to India including e-business visas and e-medical visas. Get more info here: Indian Visa Online. Indian citizens and and OCI cardholders are also allowed entry into India, following current testing / vaccination / quarantine requirements. Get more info here: Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
UPDATE September 17, 2021: “the Indian government has withdrawn the e-visa facility for the citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom. This comes as a reciprocal move after these countries decided to ban the entry of Indian citizens after certain states started seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. ” See announcement here.
Information below was published prior to March 2020
Please note: the updates above are current. From here on, to the end of the page, I have not updated the information that pertained to Indian visas prior to March 2020. As this information may be again applicable in future, I am not changing it for now.
If you are from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and many other countries, you need a passport and a Visa to visit India, even as a tourist. However, getting a Visa for India is much easier than ever, and the Indian Visa application process now includes the option to apply for an India Visa online (the e-Visa). It’s also cheaper than before. Canadians, Americans, Australians, British nationals (and others) are all eligible for a 10-year tourist Visa for India and the new e-Visa for India. To find out if your nationality is on the list for the e-Visa, click here: Indian Visa Online
1-year e-Visa is now available for e-Tourist Visa (as of March 25, 2019).
Big news: Government of India has confirmed that E-visa fees have been reduced, as follows in US$.
- One month e-Visa fee: US$ 25 from July – March, peak season for tourism
- One month e-Visa fee: US$ 10 from April – June, low season for tourism
- A new 5-year e-Tourist Visa: US$ 80
- 1-year e-Tourist Visa: US$ 40
Let us show you the India we love … If you are planning to travel in India, let us help you! We offer itinerary planning, India for Beginners custom tours, and much more to make sure your trip to India is filled with more magic … and less madness.
Tip 1: Decide which type of Indian Visa you want
Regular Visa: To apply for a regular Visa, such as the 10 year tourist Visa, you need to apply at an Indian mission. You have to apply online first, print the form and bring it to your local consulate or the outsourcing company. There is a three step Indian Visa application process. You can read the detailed instructions here.
There will be many very specific rules, such as the exact dimensions of the photos you need to bring. If you don’t follow the guidelines precisely, and to the letter, they will not accept your application. Likewise if there are any mistakes, such as a name misspelled.
TIP: Make sure your passport has more than six month’s validity from your date of travel.
Tip 2: Contacting your Indian mission for a regular Visa
You need to contact the Indian mission in your country to begin the process of getting a regular Indian Visa and filling out the Visa application form. Often, you will be directed to a company they outsource for processing Visas, such as BLS Services in Canada. So be prepared to have all your information, documents, and passport ready so that you can apply for an India Visa.
- If you are from Canada, visit the Consulate General of India, Toronto website or the High Commission of India in Ottawa website.
- In Canada, you can visit the BLS Services website. This is the company that the Consulate General of India in Canada outsources its Visa processing to.
- If you are from USA, start here at Embassy of India.
- If you are from Britain, start here at the High Commission of India website.
- If you are from Australia, start here at the Consulate General of India, Sydney website.
Tip 3: Everything you need to know about the e-Visa
The e-Visa is for “International Travellers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment, or casual business visit” according to the Indian government website. To apply for the e-Visa, you can apply online on this page: Indian Visa Online. To get detailed information about the e-Visa, read this page. And to find out about all the Indian Visa categories click here.
- Be aware that you still need to print a copy of the Indian Visa you receive by email, and bring it with you when you travel to India. When you arrive in India, you will have to wait in line at the airport to have the Visa stamped.
- The e-Visa is good for visits not exceeding
30 60 daysone year. [NOTE: The latest info on the Indian government website now says up to one year. This information changes so please double check at the time of you travel.]
- The new e-Visa also allows double or multiple entry — you are now able to leave India and re-enter with one Visa.
- You need to apply at least four days in advance of your arrival, and not more than
30 60120 days. [NOTE: The latest info on the Indian government website now says 120 days. This information changes so please double check at the time of you travel.]
- You can apply twice a year for the e-Visa
- e-Visa is for e-Tourist Visa, e-Business Visa, e-Conference Visa, e-Medical Visa, and e-Medical Attendant Visa.
The e-Visa scheme can be accessed at 24 airports in India including: Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Amritsar, Gaya, Lucknow, Trichy, Varanasi and Ahmedabad. Also there are some ports where e-Visa can also be used. But please double check to make sure your arrival airport is on the current list, as it has changed.
TIP: There are a lot of fake sites out there that look very similar to the official Indian government site. Be careful, always check for “gov.in” in the URL.
Tip 4: All about Visas for Yoga study in India, education, volunteering, journalism, and doing business in India
Yoga: If you are attending a short-term program to study Yoga in India, you can get a Tourist Visa.
Education: If you are attending a recognized educational institution in India, you need an education Visa.
Journalism: If you are working full-time on staff for a professional publication or media outlet, and writing professional travel stories about India or taking photographs for publication, you need a journalist Visa.
Bloggers: Many travel bloggers are hobby bloggers, and a Tourist Visa will probably be just fine. Just make sure you mark down that you are in India for tourism, not for work. And never say you are a journalist unless that is your full-time, professional job and you are working for a media outlet.
UPDATE: It’s not a good idea to say that you are a writer as this implies you are a journalist. Many writers are actually working in marketing or corporate communications — I did this for years — so probably better to say you work in marketing or in the industry that you do corporate communications for.
Volunteers: If you are volunteering in India, you need a volunteer Visa.
Business Visa: If you are planning to do business while in India, you need a Business Visa.
Other types of Visa include conference, medical, transit, and research Visa. You can see a list of all the categories of Indian Visas here.
TIP: The most difficult part about applying for an Indian Visa is getting all the details right. If you make a mistake, you could be denied.
For detailed instructions on the Indian Visa application process, visit this page.
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