All visitors need a visa for India, except citizens of neighboring Nepal and Bhutan. India has a limited Visa on Arrival facility for tourists who are citizens of 11 counties. Otherwise, your Indian visa must be obtained before arriving in India. Here's what you need to know to prepare your India visa application.
What Type of Visa is Required for India
Visitors staying in India for less than 72 hours can obtain a Transit Visa, otherwise an Indian Tourist Visa is necessary. See more about how long is an Indian transit visa valid for?
Tourist visas are generally issued for six months, depending on what nationality you are. Some countries issue visas for shorter durations such as three months, and longer durations such as one year. Most visas are multiple entry visas.
Ten year visas are obtainable from the United States. In addition, five year visas are available for people from 18 countries. These are France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam.
However, no matter what the duration of your Tourist visa is, you're not allowed to remain in India for more than 6 months (180 days) at a time. Furthermore, the above mentioned 5 year tourist visa only allows stays of up to 3 months (90 days) at a time. Also note that although a two month gap previously applied between visits to India on Tourist visas, this has now been removed.
Other types of visas that are available for visitors to India include Business Visas, Employment Visas, Research Visas, and Student Visas.
How Much Does an Indian Tourist Visa Cost
The cost of an Indian Tourist Visa varies between countries according to the arrangement between governments. For a six month Tourist Visa you can expect to pay $76 in the United States, 92 pounds in the United Kingdom (revised upwards in January 2013), and $95 in Australia. This includes service fees.
Some countries, such as Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Jamaica, and Mongolia have special agreements with India that allow their citizens to pay significantly less for a visa.
How to Apply for an Indian Visa
The Indian visa application process is outsourced to private processing agencies in most countries.
In the United States, Indian visa applications are handled by Travisa Outsourcing. In many other countries, the responsibility is handled by VFS Global.
However, recently, the Indian government decided to stop awarding outsourcing contracts to foreign companies. It's now in the process of replacing all foreign companies, including Travisa and VFS, with Indian companies. This has already happened in countries including Canada, South Africa and China, where an Indian company called BLS International Services Limited has taken over visa services. So far, feedback about the change has not been positive.
When applying for an Indian Visa, you'll need to complete an on-line application form.
Along with your application and fee, for an Indian Tourist Visa you'll need to submit your passport that's valid for a least six months and has at least two blank pages, a recent passport sized photo, and details of your itinerary. In some countries, copies of flight tickets and proof of residential address may also be required. Your visa application form may have the space for Indian referees, but this section usually isn't required to be completed for tourist visas.