All visitors need a visa for India, except citizens of neighboring Nepal and Bhutan. The Indian government has introduced 60 day, double entry E-Tourist visas for citizens of 161 countries.
- Read More: India E-Visa Essential Information
Otherwise, if you want a longer visa or you're not from one of those countries, 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 (a confirmed airline booking for the onward journey must be shown when applying), otherwise an Indian Tourist visa is necessary.
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.
10 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. Other countries that have biometric enrollment facilities have started issuing five year Tourist visas as well.
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 five 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, Intern visas, Research visas, Student visas, Journalist visas, and Film 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.
Some countries, such as Japan and Mongolia have special agreements with India that allow their citizens to pay significantly less for a visa. Citizens of Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Seychelles (up to 3 months), South Africa and Uruguay do not have to pay a visa fee.
How and Where to Apply for an Indian Visa
The Indian visa application process is outsourced to private processing agencies in most countries. The Indian government has replaced most foreign companies, including Travisa and VFS Global (which handles India visa processing in many other countries), with Indian companies. This initially resulted in numerous problems and inefficiencies, although the process has improved since.
In the United States, Indian visa applications are handled by Cox and Kings Global Services.
This company replaced beleaguered BLS International effective from May 21, 2014.
When applying for an Indian Visa, you'll need to complete an on-line application form. See Tips and Instructions for Completing the Indian Visa 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.
Permits for Protected/Restricted Areas in India
Even if you have a valid visa, there are some remote areas in India that require foreigners to obtain a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit them.
These areas are usually near borders, or have other security concerns associated with them.
Such areas include Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and some parts of northern Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, In many cases, individual tourists are not allowed, only tour/trekking groups.
You should apply for your PAP at the same time as you apply for your visa.