India Visa application is easier and cheaper now for tourists
NATIONALS FROM MOST countries need a Visa to go to India, even just for tourism reasons. However, getting an Indian Visa is much easier than ever, and the Indian Visa application process now includes the option to get an e-Visa. It’s also cheaper than before. Canadians, Americans, Australians, and British nationals are all among the long list of countries now eligible for 10-year tourist Visas and the new e-Visa for India. To find out if your nationality is on the list, click here: Indian Visa Online
UPDATED: Just announced, one-year E-Visa will be available for Tourist Visa, Business Visas and more will be available as of March 25, 2019.
Here’s what you need to know.
You need to contact the Indian mission in your country to begin the process of getting an Indian Visa. Often, you will be directed to a company they outsource for processing Visas, such as BLS Services in Canada.
- If you are from Canada, start here at the Consulate General of India, Toronto page or the High Commission of India in Ottawa page.
- If you are from USA, start here at Consulate General of India page or go directly to Cox and Kings Global Services Pvt. Ltd, as they are the company the CGI has outsourced for processing Visas.
- If you are from Britain, start here at the High Commission of India page.
- If you are from Australia, start here at the Consulate General of India, Sydney page.
In Canada, you can visit the BLS Services page. This is the company that the Consulate General of India in Canada outsources its Visa processing to.
There are essentially two types of Indian Visas for tourists.
- To apply for a six-month (or longer) tourist Visa, you need to apply at an Indian mission (see links above for examples of Consulate Generals and High Commissions). You have to apply online, print the form and bring it to your local consulate. 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.
- To get detailed information about the e-Visa, read this page.
- To apply for the new e-Visa facility, you can apply online on this page: Indian Visa Online. See below for more details.
TIP: Make sure your passport has more than six month’s validity from your date of travel.
The e-Visa (Indian Visa) process:
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.
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.
- 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 60 days. This information changes so please double check at the time of you travel.]
- The new e-Visa also allows double 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 has 3 sub-categories: e-Tourist visa, e-Business Visa and e-Medical 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.
What about yoga study in India?
Tourist visas are issued to people who want to come to India to visit people and go sightseeing or attend a short-term yoga program.
Be honest when applying for Indian Visa
One of my readers asked about what kind of Indian Visa to get for yoga study in India, and other travel writers and bloggers have asked me if they need a journalism Visa. So, I interviewed the Consul General of India in Toronto and his advice was to be truthful. He said that if you are honest, they will try and do everything they can to make sure you get the right Visa.
- If you are attending a recognized educational institution in India, you need an education Visa. (But see exemption for attending short-term yoga studies, above.)
- If you are writing professional travel stories about India or taking photographs for publication, you need a journalist Visa. (I took this to mean, if you are working full-time for a professional publication, such as staff writer for the New York Times. 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.)
- If you are volunteering, you need a volunteer Visa.
- Other types of Visas include business, conference, medical, transit, and research.
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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