This post is an incredibly detailed guide, step by step, for how to apply for an Indian visa from USA for US citizens. I have applied myself and taken notes and screenshots of every step of the way. You don’t find a more detailed guide than this online. If you are from the UK, check out my article how to apply for an Indian visa for UK citizens where my English boyfriend documented another detailed step by step guide. This post is updated often to stay up to date.
This paper visa application is if you are going LONGER than 60 days. If you are going for less, you need a 60 day e-visa. Disregard everything below and use iVisa for a stress free e-visa or go through the government site. iVisa charges a fee but takes care of everything for you so you don’t have to deal with the Indian embassy. The major benefit of iVisa is you can do it way ahead of time but they will submit later so you can full 60 days & a “zero frustration” policy aka they do everything for you.
How to Apply for Indian Tourist Visa from USA – Step by Step guide
Everything is being outsourced to Cox and King. Any questions I had while writing this, I called up Cox and King to get the answers so that all information is correct.
This is a step by step guide on how to apply for Indian tourist Visa from USA. Again, you can check the post about how to get a visa for India from the UK on this post.
How to Apply for Indian Tourist Visa from USA
Step 1. Start at the India Visa Center for Cox and King website to see what type of visa you need. I’m only discussing tourist visas in this post, so be sure that’s the type you’ll want. Next, under submit by post click “online application step 1” which takes you to the application website- and a redirect button will pop up.
Step 2. Make sure your passport is okay for use: “Original, signed passport valid for 6 months from day of application, and with at least two blank visa pages for Indian visa stamps. Amendment pages are not acceptable for visa stamps.”
Step 3. Start the application paperwork. It says “Online Application Link” . Click that link. Another page will pop up which is the actual application with an orange banner across the top. At the top of the application you will see a “temporary application ID”, mine is in purple. You need to write this down and keep it. At the end of the form when you review everything, it will ask if it’s all correct. Once you say YES, you cannot change anything later. You will have to start over on a new form. Fill out the information very carefully.
You’re on this page for all of 2 seconds, click where I said and you’ll be on the application form as pictured below.
Step 4. At the very top, above the temporary ID is a “select missions office”. To find your jurisdiction click this link. See which state you apply from is correlated to which embassy. For example, Ohio is to send documents to New York. So on your application over temporary ID select USA: NY.
Step 5. While filling out this application, refer to FAQ About the Visa Application form and read number 9. It starts with how many months should I enter if I go only two weeks? Note: when filling out date of your passport, they ask for DAY/MONTH/YEAR which is not the typical way we write dates in the U.S (month/day). Note from C&K: “If the applicant has a middle name, it needs to be written as the “Given name” in the online application and it MUST match up with the name in the passport.” Lastly, on the that page it will ask if you have another passport and once you click “no” if you don’t, the other questions will disappear and you’ll copy the captcha “access” code and click “Save and Continue”. Now you are on page 2.
Step 6. Fill out page 2 with your address (click box for “same” if permanent and present are same), parents details, etc until it’s finished and refer to those FAQ for any section you are unsure of.
Step 7. Click save and continue and move on to page 3. Type of visa: tourist visa. Places to visit, just say the cities in India you are interested in, whatever fits in the box. Duration of visa in months: 6 (is what I’ve always done, but they do offer more now). Number of entries: multiple (this is for backpackers who may cross over to Nepal or something. You could pick single entry if you KNOW 100% you are going into India one time only in that 6 months.) Purpose: Tourism. Next when you’re flying there and what airport you plan to fly into. The middle parts are easy, then at the end you put your contact person in India. You can put a hotel, but put an accurate address. If you don’t have anywhere planned to stay, find a hotel online and enter something. If you are visiting a friend, put their information. Lastly, a reference to a friend in America that can vouch you’re not a terrorist.
* Remember the date issued STARTS the 6 months you have in India, not the date you arrive in India. Also, it says to make sure you put your e-mail and cell phone number, which should be in the application form.
Step 8. Upload photo. I had issues with this (shocking, I know) so I did not. I glued my printed 2×2 on the application. They say this can delay the process, but after two applications I feel okay that it does not. When you click save and continue, it takes you to the page of “is everything correct?” This is that last chance to make changes or you have to do the WHOLE thing over if you notice something after printing. Check and double check then verify and continue. I can’t do that because I filled out a nonsense application to be able to go through this with you all. I’m guessing it takes you to a print page because the application is done. Print two copies just in case. It should also show you a FILE NUMBER/ Reference ID. This is not the same as the temporary ID and needs to also be written down and kept in case you need to print another copy of this later. Note from C&K: “Please make sure that the Application Form prints completely with the port of entry and exit completely printed at the bottom as well as the bar code.”
Step 9. Be sure to sign on BOTH PAGES: Under the photo on the first page, and at the bottom of the second page. Other than the signature do NOT write on the application. Do NOT make handwritten changes on the application or it will not be accepted, so the website says.
Step 10. Attach your 2×2 photo on glossy paper with a white background and no glasses to the designated spot. Use paper clips or glue but do NOT staple.
Step 11. Gather you proof of residence document & any other you need. Here is a list of documents needed via Cox and King; at the top select “tourist visa”. It will show you a list of everything you need to include in your packet. I am very thorough so I usually send extra proof of residency, just in case, although they only need one. Here is what they call proof: “State Issued Identity cards i.e. Valid driving license, Utility Bills for water, Gas, Electric, Sewage, copy of valid lease, with signature of Landlord AND tenant to be provided. Do not cut any document to smaller size like Driving size, passport copy. Utility bill must be from last 90 days.” Here are some documents which they will NOT take: Cell phone bill, credit card Statement, bank Statement, cable bill, insurance forms, any address with a P.O. Box. A commenter added that if you send a photocopy of your driver’s license- they want it in COLOR.
Step 12. If you are a minor (under 18) refer back to the FAQ’s on the documents page (from step 3 on the website), which adds a few extra documents.Applicants who have dual citizenship with the US and another country must apply on their US passport, if living in the US except for applicants who hold dual citizenship with Pakistan. Pakistani citizens who have also acquired US citizenship must apply for a visa on their Pakistani passport only. If the applicant is a student, retired, self-employed / freelancer or house-wife, bank statement for the last three months is required to be submitted.
Step 13. The Order form. The order form was one of the documents needed (from step 2 on the website). You can see under Step 3 on the very first page of information I linked you to, the information on fees. Your visa is $60 for a six month visa and the service fee is $17 if you are a US resident. The form has you fill out the amount yourself. It will come to 80 USD if you can put $0 USD for the the renunciation, penalty, and reference fee (FYI mom and dad you can put $0 for those). It will ask at the bottom for the payment and shipping information. You can check the box yes for shipping at $15 (to have the package shipped back to you). Then it asks for total fees (H+I) and you will add them together (in this case $95) and write your address and payment details.
NOTE!! I talked on the phone to a Cox & King rep who assured me, if you send TWO passports together, only check $15 on one of the order forms. On a secondary call, a new rep said the first rep was wrong and EACH person MUST pay $15 even if two, three, or four passports come in together, all of them must pay $15 each to get their passports sent back.
Step 14. Payment options: “You can make the payment by following below mentioned payment methods : Credit Card / Money Orders / Pay Orders / Cashier’s Check / Banker’s Check favoring “Cox & Kings Global Services USA LLC.” There is only one order form per applicant allowed, so if you are sending two passports, you fill out two of these forms. To pay with a credit card you’ll see on the right hand side bar it says make online payment, or you can just click this link to get there (At this time, the online payment URL is sending to a 404 error page, meaning there is something wrong with the website so I’ve removed this link).
NOTE: I talked on the phone with a rep who says that URL goes down sometimes and to send another form of payment if it happens.
Step 15. Once you’ve paid, you MUST print and send a copy of that payment receipt with your bundle of visa documents. Note from C&K: “If you aren’t paying by credit card they also ask that you send a photocopy of the Cashier’s Check / Money Order / Banker’s Check. Please note that PERSONAL CHECKS are not acceptable.”
Step 16. Fill out the Additional Particulars Form under step 3 of the website’s documents list. Print this and keep it to mail in. This is for EVERYONE, not just POI and OCI. There is a question (with choices A and B) which makes no sense for typical American visa applications- I asked a rep on the phone who said, and I quote, “just leave it blank”.
Step 17. You’ll see that step 4 on that initial page is telling you about the consular jurisdiction, but we already looked at that for the application, so you can move on
Step 18. On your initial page (link again, if you forget) we are on to the website’s step 5. Click courier/ return courier service. This new courier service page pops up. Select your state, service (visa), service category (tourist visa), service type (however long you want to ask for- but remember it MUST match what you put on your application in Step 1.) If you’re coming for a short vacation, you will pick single entry, and double or multiple if you’re going in and out of India at during the time of your visa. For the next steps of the courier service, you need your reference number from the top on your application form near the bar code. Complete this form and PRINT it. The rep assures me that label will come out at this time which can be pasted to your package.
Step 19. Gather all the documents for the parcel to be sent out. So far you have your application with photo and signatures, your proof of residency, your order form, your additional particulars form, your PASSPORT, a copy of the payment receipt, and your courier service form. Double check the address for your jurisdiction and paste the address on the front. Note on address writing: “At this time all CKGS Application Center, USA locations, are unable to use manual hand written labels from any courier. Please provide a computer generated label from the courier website or retail store with your postal application.” If you need to reprint the label, enter the requested information or you can ask FedEx to make you a label at a fee. The address you return the passports to must be the same address you use for proof of residency.
Tips: when you ship your package from FedEx make sure the envelope has a plastic seal so rain or snow doesn’t ruin your documents and separate the packets within the envelope for different applicants applying together. I ALWAYS use priority (express, whatever it’s called) 2 day delivery. Your passport isn’t something to put in slow mail services!
Step 20. IF YOU DO NOT PAY $15, Put inside the package a pre-paid self address traceable envelope and airbill.
A note on sending more than one at a time: “If there is a group / family of four applicants and applying for the same service (only Visa or only OCI) applicants can send 1 prepaid return envelope but if they are applying for different services then they need to send different return prepaid envelopes. In 1 envelope we can send only 4 passports; if there are more than four passports we require separate envelopes.” If you are a family of four needed the same type of visa you can send them together with one envelope for them to be sent back in.
Step 21. IF YOU DO NOT PAY $15, It’s a FedEx airbill you need if you think you can get it returned cheaper than $15 or if it makes sense because you have multiple passports. If you go into the shop they will help you. Here is a note from the folks at Cox and King about your airbill: “Applicants must not provide a handwritten or manual FedEX air bill. Airbills with credit card information, handwritten airbills or blank airbills with information typed in cannot be used by CKGS office. All such passports will be held back in CKGS office and may lead to delays. CKGS strongly recommends using a traceable airbill from FedEX. CKGS also recommends that return shipping package is insured.” You CANNOT pay with credit card; I actually set up an account with FedEx and the money was deducted from my bank account, but from what I remember it wasn’t easy and for one passport, $15 is a good price (and half what Travisa charged).
Step 22. On the outside of the envelope they ask you specify department name. For visa applications, write VISA. Send your package and track it via step 6 on the website. It may take longer as offices are merging and Cox and King is officially taking all other visa companies outsourced applications. According to the Cox and King rep I spoke with, it should take from 5 business days up to two weeks max.
Omg, thank god I’m finally done writing this! Why can’t they make getting a visa easier!? I have to say, the whole system is a nightmare & the people at the call center are confused on what’s right and wrong. Finally, though this post is accurate and up to date! I hope it helps someone.
Now that you have your passport and visa, here are 15 documents you need to take with you abroad. This has nothing to do with the visa, so not to confuse, but it’s photo ID you’ll need abroad, copies of things in case you lose your credit card, etc.
- Disclaimer: The Cox & King site & India Visa regulations change often so make sure that you’ve completed everything per their standards, not the standards of this post. This is only a guide to help not a direct source of Cox and King information. I did call them a couple times to verify things but they are located at a call center in Bombay and nothing they say can be proven! Prepare to be on hold about 20 minutes.
Does all of this seem like too much hassle? If you come to India for less than 60 days, you can get an evisa and avoid this. iVisa charges a fee but takes care of everything for you if going for less than 30 days: click here for iVisa. They have a “zero frustration” policy aka they do everything for you.
Ready for the next step of planning you India trip?
I’ve been in India for over five years and have traveled a huge amount of this country. My blog has over 800 articles with tips on travel, most of them about India. From how to dress to how to book a train and where to stay in every town – it’s all here. I’ll link some tops blog posts to get your trip started as well as resources for planning out more on travel insurance and flights.
- Step by step guide to plan your India trip from scratch
- 100 tips for traveling in India
- You need travel insurance. World Nomads is recommended by Lonely Planet, Nat Geo, and me! You can get a quick quote here. Check out what exactly it covers and doesn’t.
- Budget travels, check out this hostel guide to India here which has top chain hostel brands in India. Otherwise, I love using Agoda to compare different hotels.
- Want a tour? G Adventures is for you!
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