So you have decided to visit India, fantastic, you are going to have an amazing time. By this point, you may have planned your route through India and everywhere you want to stay. If not, do not worry, my two week India itinerary may help if you planning on travelling to India with your annual leave. The next step is applying for your Indian tourist visa. This is where everyone starts to panic, me included, and rightly so, there is so much information out there and it can quickly become a bit of a minefield. Which is why I wanted to create to this simple guide to make the process of applying for an Indian e-tourist visa easier.
Please note this guide is from the perspective of a British Citizen, this process may vary depending on the country you are from and what passport you hold.
Every person, unless you are an Indian national, you must have a visa to enter India. The Indian tourist visa is also known as an E-tourist Visa. They are both the same thing. You must apply for and receive your visa before going to India. You cannot get your visa on arrival in India like you can in Thailand.
Again, you must have an approved tourist Indian visa before flying to India.
How to Get a Visa for India (tourists staying less than 60 days)
If you are looking to travel to India for longer than 60 days, this guide is not for you, and I suggest reading this guide for on how to apply for a longer visa.
The E-tourist visa is valid for 60 days of travel in India, you then have 120 days from the day the visa is approved to use the visa. This means you do not want to apply for your visa too early or it may not be valid for the dates you want to travel. We were visiting India for just two-weeks so we were not too constricted by this. I applied for our Visas at the start of October and we travelled at the start of November.
You will also need to make sure you do not leave your application too late and risk it not being processed on time. In general, it states visas should take around 5 working days to process, I believe ours were back within 48 hours, which is quick but we could have just been lucky. You can apply for an emergency e-tourist visa but it states this still takes 24 – 48 hours.
To be safe I would be applying for your visa 2 – 3 weeks before your departure date.
How to apply for the Indian E-Visa Online Before Your Trip
There are two ways:
Through the official Indian Visa Application website (this is how I applied for ours). When applying through this route, give yourself time to concentrate on the application. If you fill out the form wrong, you do not get a second chance and you will have to pay again. You will need to fill out various questions such as previous countries visited, parent’s nationalities, etc you will also need to submit photos of yourself with a white background. It is quite a long process but it is easy to follow.
At the end, you will be asked to pay a fee, which is around £75. After payment, you will receive an email to say your application is being processed. Two days later we received another email to say ours had been approved.
The other way is to use a third-party company to apply for you. You give the dates you are travelling and they do everything else for you. This will incur an additional fee, (usually around £25) but it will save you time and if they get the form wrong, they pay the additional fee to start again, not you. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the visa process I suggest using this option to ensure it is all done correctly.
What else you need to know about Indian e-visa for tourists
You need to have at least 6 months before expiration left on your passport.
On the first admission into India, you can only enter via certain airports. These are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi.
Print your visa out before leaving for the airport. Our visas were checked at check-in at Heathrow and again at the boarding gate. They are extremely strict with the Indian visa, so have it printed out and kept safe with your passport. You will also be asked for a printed version on arrival at immigration at India. Do you not rely on just being able to show the email on your phone.
You will also need proof of your flight out of India. Whether this is return back to the UK or your next onward journey. Either way, you will need to have your proof of when you are leaving India.
You can only apply for TWO E-tourist visas in one year. If you are planning on visiting India more than twice in one year, then an E-tourist visa will not be suitable for you.
And that is all you need to know really about applying for an Indian tourist visa. I do not believe it is as daunting when you know exactly how it works, something which is not first clear when searching on the India government website. The important things to remember are to apply before leaving for India and to do so in the correct amount of time.
Enjoy your trip to India, it is truly a magical country and one I cannot wait to go back to one day and see more.
If you are still planning your trip to India you may find some of these guides helpful: