The first step for a trip to India, whether for tourism or otherwise, is to apply for a visa. As with many other countries in the world, it is not possible to enter India without this document, but, as you will see, requesting and obtaining it is nothing transcendental. Before 2017 the procedure was more complex because you had to go to the Consulate in person (and you immediately entered the "Indian mood"), then fortunately the electronic visa (e-visa, Called ETA: Electronic Travel Authorization ) and can be requested (and received) from the comfort of your home computer. But let's see in detail what needs to be done to apply for a visa for India.
NB Golden rule that applies to any trip: before leaving, always take a look at the country card on the Viaggiare Sicuri website.
Who can apply for the electronic visa (e-visa) for India: all requirements
There are 4 types of e-Visa:
- Travel visa (e-Tourist Visa)
- Work visa (e-Business Visa)
- Medical treatment visa (e-Medical Visa)
- Visa for those going to a conference / congress (e-Conference Visa)
Regarding the requirements, for all 4 e-visas there are these rules to be respected:
- You can only enter India through these 28 airports (Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Port Blair, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi e Visakhapatname) e these 5 ports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore, Chennai and Mumbai).
- Each trip must actually have the travel purpose that has been entered in the application form
- At each entry into India the passport must have a residual validity of at least 6 months
- Each time you enter India your passport must contain at least 2 blank pages
- At each entrance the visitor must have a return or transit ticket
- It is not allowed to be employed by Indian companies / organizations
- Volunteering is not allowed, not even unpaid
- Enrollment at an educational institution in India is not permitted
How long is the electronic visa (e-visa) for India?
Regarding the period of validity of the visa and the maximum duration of each stay in India there are differences between the different e-visas, in particular:
- e-Tourist Visa - Validity of 365 days - maximum duration of each stay: 90 days
- e-Business Visa - Validity of 365 days - maximum duration of stays: 180 days in total (consecutive or added). Those wishing to stay longer must register at one of the FRRO or FRO offices in India (ie "Foreigner Regional Registration Office" and "Foreigner Registration Office")
- e-Medical Visa- Valid for 60 days from entry
- e-Conference Visa - Valid for 30 days from entry
When to apply for an e-visa
The visa application can be done up to 120 days before arrival in the country, but calculate that the period of validity begins on the date of approval so ... do the math well! If you have no special needs, my advice is to request it 2-4 weeks in advance. Technically it takes 72h to get the visa (also called ETA: Electronic Travel Authorization) but there could be some hitches if you fill out forms incorrectly, make typing errors or the like, so better avoid asking for it at the last minute (although there is a way to avoid these errors, as we will see later).
How to apply for the electronic Visa (e-Visa) for India
You can apply for an electronic visa through the Official website of the Indian Government or from the website of some agencies.In both cases you will have to fill out a questionnaire with various questions and information, upload a passport photo in jpg (size between 10K and 1 MB you will find all the specifications in the “Instruction for Applicant”), upload the scan of your passport in pdf (size between 10 and 300 KB) and, finally, pay by credit card or PayPal. Before proceeding with the application make sure you have at hand:
- your personal data (date of birth, contact details, etc.)
- the passport
- your parents' name, date and place of birth
- the places you intend to visit
- the name of your contact person in India. If you do not have it, please indicate the name of the hotel where you intend to stay at least 1 night
- the dates of travel and the point of access in the country
- contact details of the employer (in the case of the e-Business Visa)
If you make the application from the Official Indian Government website you will find everything written in English. If you are applying for the electronic India Visa, you will find all the forms. This agency also:
- Check all submitted application forms to verify that there are no common typing errors and verify the quality and compliance of all documents provided (scans and passport photo, whose requirements are very strict) and the correctness of the data of the passport.
- Promptly and personally contact applicants in case of alleged compilation or delivery errors (by phone, email and SMS) and are available 24 hours a day, 24 days a week.
- It allows you to submit an urgent request.
- Accept multiple payment methods (such as Visa, Mastercard, CartaSi, American Express, Postepay and PayPal) and refund the entire amount in case of refusal of the request (by applying on the Indian government website you will not get any refund in case of refusal ).
In summary, if you are not very familiar with English and visa applications or if you need to apply for a visa for India urgently, you should definitely use the agency, even if the price is obviously higher. In other cases you can easily request it through the Indian Government website.
How long does it take to get the visa?
The e-Visa is normally approved (or denied) within 72h from the moment of the request on the Indian Government website. You can check the status using the reference number they will give you when you have finished the application and payment via this page. Through agency usually within 1 week.
You will then receive the electronic visa for India by email (see photo below) and you will have to check that in the Application Status item there is written Granted (ie granted). Print the visa in color (it is an A4 sheet) and bring it with you along with your passport; when you arrive in India you will then have to go to the counters dedicated to e-visa at the airport where they will measure your biometric data (fingerprints and facial recognition) and they will put the visa on your passport. At this point the game is done!
How much does the India e-Visa cost?
By requesting the visa from the Indian Government website, the cost is between $ 41 and $ 81 per visa, to which you must add the transaction costs and exchange fees (2,5% paying by credit or debit card, 3,5, XNUMX% when paying with PayPal). .
How to organize a trip to India: some advice
As you know I am a great lover of India, I have been there several times (to be exact twice south in Kerala, Goa, etc. and once in the north, in the Rajasthan) and I gained some experience. India is by far the country with the furthest culture to travel to from ours, and perhaps that's what makes it so fascinating. At the same time, some rules that apply to organizing a trip to any other country in the world ... rarely apply to India. In this regard, I am therefore pleased to share with you some tips to better organize your trip to India.
- Apply for a visa at least 2 weeks in advance of the departure date.
- Choose the right time of year to visit a specific region (find more info in the articles on Rajasthan and Kerala). Traveling during the monsoons can certainly be an authentic experience but also very uncomfortable!
- Study a travel itinerary but be flexible: in India it is really difficult to keep time! The journeys are long and the unexpected always lurking.
- If you do not have much time available, opt for the rental of a car with driver to optimize time.
- Buy good travel insurance (find more info in this article).
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