India Visas can be somewhat daunting, but hopefully this step-by-step guide will help you negotiate getting a visa.
There are two main visa options which you should apply for, the new and simpler e-Tourist Visa (eTV) and alternatively the Regular Tourist Visa. The e-tourist visa can be applied for online and is by far the simplest, cheapest and quickest way to get a visa. Here are the main requirements to opt for the eTV:
- You must apply no less than four days before arrival into India, and no more than 30 days before arrival
- It is a flat US$60 fee that you pay on the website
- After approval you receive an ETA confirmation via email. Print this out and carry with you at all times
- It can be used a maximum of two times a year, and must have a two month gap between visits
- You must enter India at one of these airports: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin,
Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi
- You must be a national of the approved countries such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia.
- It is only valid for 30 days in India
- It is not a multi-entry visa meaning if you are travelling onto Bhutan or Nepal and wanting to come back you will need to apply for a standard multiple entry visa.
- It is not applicable if you have any links to Pakistan such as your parents nationality or were born there.
- It is not applicable to Protected/Restricted areas such as Sikkim or the Andaman Islands
You apply through the eTV website – https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
The Regular Tourist Visa is valid for 180 days and is always multiple-entry. Regular Tourists visas are outsourced to VFS Global who have offices in London (Paddington, Goswell Road, Hounslow), Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Belfast, Bristol, Bradford, Newcastle, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leicester and Glasgow. You still apply online are required to book an appointment in one of the offices to submit your documents and passports. They will then send back your passport with the visa included in the post by special delivery (or you can get in again and pick it up). The process usually takes about 3 working days to process. You can also send in the application by post (to the London Hounslow office), and expect this to take 2-3 weeks to process and return your passport. The cost of the visa £109.44 plus any charges for special delivery. Please also note that there are additional documents required if you are travelling as a family – see here for what is required – http://www.vfsglobal.com/India/UK/Tourist.html
There are also options to use a visa service. You will still need to complete the online application form and send to the visa service who will go into the office for you. Costs are approximately £246 per person. A good company is CIBT (http://cibtvisas.co.uk)
When going to the main India Visa site ( https://indianvisaonline.gov.in) sure you select either the Regular Tourist Visa on the left hand side in orange or the e-tourist visa (eTV) on the right hand side in blue.
If you are applying the the Regular Tourist Visa the form will look like this (note it says Online Visa Application instead of E-Tourist Visa) and you will need to select which Indian Mission you need to apply for, as well as the type of Visa. Note that if you want to apply for any office in Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford and Newcastle you should select UK-Birmingham. If you want to apply for London, Bristol, Cardiff or Belfast you should select UK-London. If you are applying for Edinburgh or Glasgow select UK-Edinburgh. Also note that if you live in many counties in the Midlands you have to apply to Birmingham – see this link for more information – http://www.vfsglobal.com/India/UK/how_to_apply.html
Should you be applying for the E-Tourist Visa the form will look like this, where you have to select your passport type (select Ordinary) and the Port of Arrival:
Once you proceed you will now come to the main visa form which is identical for both Regular Tourist Visas and E-TV Visas. Please write down the Temporary Application ID shown in red and you can retrieve the application should you want to continue the form later on.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the form. The information you put down on the form should match your passport identically.
Surname: Surname is the same as Family Name or Last Name. (The spelling must be exactly the same as the last name in the applicant’s passport)
Given Name: On the Indian Visa application Form, Given Name is the same as First Name and Middle Name; please type in the First Name and any Middle Name(s) here. (The name must be exactly as it is in the applicant’s passport)
For example, if John Edward Smith is the traveler:
Given Name: John Edward
Have you ever changed your name? If the applicant’s name is different from when they were born, click the “yes” box and enter the Surname/Last Name and Given Name/First and Middle Name(s) that were previously used.
Country of birth: Select the country where the applicant was born. This must match the information on the passport.
Email Address: Even though this is not a mandatory field on the online form, some Consulates do in fact require your email address. Please enter an email address.
Citizenship/National Id No.: If you do not have an additional National ID issued type NA
Religion: Select the religion of the applicant. If the applicant’s religion is not listed, select “OTHERS” and type in the religious information in the field directly below the pull down menu.
Visible identification marks: If the applicant has a visible identification mark (such as birthmark or tattoo) please type in the information here. Otherwise, type “NONE”.
When selecting occupation, be very careful about selecting the following (which will always need more documentation and delays to the process often requiring a signed letter from your employer saying you are going to India for tourism only: Air Force, Cameraman, Charity/Social Worker, Diplomat, Film Producer, Media, Journalist, Military, Navy, Missionary, Reporter, Writer. If in doubt, just put Business Person!
Uploading your photo
This is possibly the most technical element to the process and the detailed guide on how to do this can be found here –https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/VSS_IMAGE.pdf
The good news is that you can use a camera phone to take the photo and as long as you follow the guidelines it usually works. They will email you if the photo doesn’t meet their standards and you can then retry.
You can then move to the final ‘Confirm Details’ page. There will be another Application ID which you should take a note of (this will be different to the temporary ID you wrote down at the start). You can then pay for the visa and select Print Acknowledgment. You will then get an email which says that the application has been successful and will take 72 hours for processing.