If you’re wondering how to get an Indian visa from USA or many other countries, I’m here to help! The Indian Visa application process is always changing and can seem complicated. It’s also complicated because there are many sites which look “official” offering the Indian visas. In this post I’ll share how to get the 30 day E-Tourist visa which is new from December 2015. It’s much easier than the paper mail-in visa you still need to do for visiting India longer than one month.
UPDATE APRIL 4th 2017: E-visas are now for up to 60 days, can possibly be multiple-entry, give you more time to apply and are for medical and business visas now also. See all changes here. I’ll write a new post soon on medical and business visas.
If you’re looking for a visa for MORE than 30 days, check out this post on how to get a visa for India for longer than 1 month. I give a step by step guide on how to fill out the paperwork.
How to Get a 30 Day E-Tourist Visa
The first thing you need to keep in mind is this is an “E-visa” NOT a visa on arrival. Visa on Arrival is often used when talking about this Indian visa and even is on the signs in Mumbai airport BUT you do not get your visa on arrival in India like you do in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Jordan and many countries.
You MUST get this visa sorted BEFORE you come to India.
Trust me, people get this confused. I get many e-mails from people who didn’t realize until the night before and have had to change their flights. Even if you rush it for an “emergency visa” it’s going to take 24-48 hours. Typically, this visa takes a week to get but sometimes you can get it faster. I’ve had people tell me they were approved the very next day even though they didn’t “rush” the visa application.
Visas are valid from the DATE OF ARRIVAL but there is a very specific window for this. That means you should NOT apply for this visa too far ahead of time. Here is how they explain it:
- Applicants of the eligible countries/territories may apply online minimum 4 days in advance of the date of arrival with a window of 30 days. Example : If you are applying on 1st Sept then applicant can select arrival date from 5th Sept to 4th Oct.”
Most countries are eligible for the e-tourst visa, but not all. Check this list of countries valid for e-visa to India to see if your country is.
Surfing in Varkala, India
How to apply for the Indian E-Visa Online Before Your Trip
There are two ways:
- On the Indian Government website. You do it yourself and follow the instructions they lay out. If you mess up or forget a piece of paperwork, they will not give you a second chance for free, you must pay again. You need to remember to do this exactly FOUR days before you are leaving.
- On the iVisa website. This is the easiest way as they have a “zero frustration policy”. You just tell them the date you are flying in and they take care of it for you. If you’re rejected for an error they pay to try again. The biggest benefit of iVisa is you can apply to them anytime and they will be the ones who get the visa for you four days before, so you can cross that off your to-do list and not have to be worrying about it right before you leave for India.
What you need to know ahead of time about Indian e-visa for tourists:
- You passport must have at least 6 months expiration left on it from the date of arrival.
- You must have a return ticket or onward journey booked. This is a serious part of the Indian visa application process and they take it quite seriously. You will often be asking by the airline before you can even board your flight to India.
- You should print a paper copy of this E-visa once it’s issued to show the immigration officers when you land in India.
- This is a single entry visa. You cannot go to Nepal or Sri Lanka (or anywhere) and re-enter within the 30 days.
- The E-Visa is NOT valid for restricted and protected areas which includes my favorite place NE India, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, and parts of Himachal among others.
- With the E-Visa you can only fly into these 16 airports:Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi
- You can only apply for TWO E-tourist visas in one year.
These are pretty much the only things you need to know before coming to India for a one month or smaller trip. Make sure you do not forget to get the visa. SO many people somehow do! I recommend applying with iVisa as soon as you’ve booked your flight so that it’s going to 100% be taken care of.
The Indian visa application process has always been daunting. The paperwork visa for longer than 1 month is very difficult and you have to mail in your passport to the embassy which is why I wrote a step by step guide for getting a longer Indian visa. The 30 day e-visa was meant to be hassle-free but it’s still not really. Hopefully in the future they will have a true visa on arrival where you can just buy it in person when you land.
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