Getting a visa to India should be a straightforward process, unless you have family connections with Pakistan. This article aims to answer some of the frequently asked questions about obtaining an Indian tourist visa. 

Do I need A visa to visit India? 

YES! Unless you are an Indian Citizen with a valid Indian Passport, or have a Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card, or an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card. Nationals of Bhutan and Nepal do not require a visa for entry to India. Nationals of Maldives do not require a visa for entry to India for a period up to 90 days.

Citizens of many countries are eligible for a 30-day e-tourist visa, eTV. Citizens of most countries can apply for the eTV online within the month before travel, carry the approval printout during travel, and be granted a visa on arrival at selected major airports. As of 2015, citizens of twelve countries are eligible for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival without prior online ETA. Travellers of Pakistan or Bangladesh origin should apply for a regular tourist visa and not rely on the eTV or visa on arrival.

The eTV and visa on arrival are strictly non-extendible, so travellers wishing to spend more than 30 days in India have to apply for a tourist visa in advance, from an Indian consulate r visa agency.

Where can I get a tourist visa to India? 

 Frequently Asked Questions about Tourist Visas to India By jitamanyu
An Indian visa is issued by the Indian embassy or a consulate. In many countries, the job of collecting the application form and fees has been outsourced to a visa agency. Check the website of the Indian embassy or consulate nearest to you (depending upon the country from where you are applying.)

What documentation do I need for obtaining an Indian Visa? 

The general documentary requirements for obtaining a tourist visa to India are as follows:

  1. A valid passport that has a validity of 6 months remaining and at least two blank visa pages.
  2. Proof of residency, if you're not applying from your home country. Check with the Indian consulate in your country as to what factors apply in these cases. 
  3. Two passport size photos, 2" x 2", that were taken within the last 6 months. These should be without glasses.
  4. A completed Indian visa application form.
  5. Fees for the Indian visa, as stated on the visa website for your nationality and the country you are applying from. 
  6. Applicants in Denmark are now required to apply in person in Copenhagen in order have their "their biometric traits submitted."
  7. Applicants in Denmark are also now required to submit "(i) a copy of return air-ticket to India (ii) an invitation letter from host in India or details of confirmed hotel booking/s at the place/s of stay in India; and (iii) proof of availability of sufficient funds to meet expenses during his/her stay in India (letter from the applicant's bank to the effect will be acceptable)."

You must fill in your India tourist visa application form online and print a copy afterwards. Be very careful when completing the form as even a minor error in spelling or a typo can get your application rejected. All names and addresses should match your passports and other identification documents that you submit along with your application.

For minors, both parents’ passports and a letter from each parent granting permission is also required. For single parents, this can get very complicated, and almost crippingly so. You should check with your local Indian consulate for your country as to what do to in these cases. Also, read this thread about a single parent trying to get a visa for her child before you make your travel plans. 

Other than your passport, don't submit any original documents. Send color copies instead, as the embassies warn that they are not responsible for any original documents lost.

What length Indian tourist visas can I get? 

The type of visas (single, double, or multiple entry), and the length of validity of the visa varies from country to country, so make sure you check with your local Indian consulate for your country or visa outsourcing agency to be sure. 

Typically, for those applying from their home countries;

  • Persons of Indian ancestory may be eligible for a 5 year tourist visas, or more likely an X Visa. 
  • For US citizens, India has a bilateral agreement with the US under which US citizens can obtain a multiple entry tourist visa to India that is valid for 5 or 10 years, with a restriction of 180 days per visit. 
  • For UK citizens, 3 month, 6 month, or 1 year tourist visas can be obtained with single, double, or multiple entries - BUT check the VFS website, as of 1st April 2013 it states visas are available for 6 months (£92.20), up to 2 years (£287.20) and 2 to 5 years (£517.20).
  • For Australian citizens, multiple entry tourist visas with 6 months' validity is common, although the duration can vary and is at the discretion of the issuing consulate.
  • If applying for your visa while away from your home country, you should expect to receive a shorter duration visa than if you apply from home.

You should only apply for a tourist visa to India for the purpose of tourism, sightseeing or other temporary stays. If you're working with charities or NGOs and want to do volunteer work in India, are a journalist visiting India and have stated so in your application, or if you're traveling to India for business or other purposes, you will have to apply for the appropriate visa through the Indian consulate, or their designated IVAC.

How long will it take to get a tourist visa for India?

The processing times are faster if you are applying in person than if you are sending your application by mail.

Typically:

  • For US citizens, same day processing was always the norm if the application was made in person, but it could sometimes take up to 24 to 48 hours; and the new outsourcing company may take longer.  
  • For UK citizens, 5-7 days processing time is usual, but it can take up to 10 days.
  • Applicants with Pakistani parents, grandparents, or any family connections to Pakistan often experience delays of many months, and refusals of Indian visas.
  • Based on experiences described on IndiaMike forums, applicants whose work is journalism or even marginally related to journalism (e.g. graphic design at the BBC) may have their visas delayed, may be given a journalist visa rather than a tourist visa, and it may be shorter than the tourist visa applied for.

Processing times can vary greatly depending on the consulate, your ancestry, or your nationality. Again, make sure you check with your local Indian consulate or outsourcing agency and allow for plenty of time to get your visa. 

How long can I stay in India on a tourist visa?

A tourist visa to India allows you stay in India for a maximum period of 180 days or until your visa expires, whichever happens first. Tourist visas can be issued with less than 180 days stay. Please check with the embassy or High Commission in your country. The visa expiry countdown begins from the date of issue of the Indian tourist visa on your passport. So if you have a 5, 10, or even a one year Tourist visa, then the 180-day countdown begins from the time you enter India. 

For instance, if you have at least 6 months of validity left on your visa and you enter India on January 1, you will be required to leave on or before June 29, or in a leap year, June 30.

How much does a tourist visa to India cost?

Indian tourist visa fees differ from country to country and also depend upon your nationality. Tehe cost also depends upon the duration of the visa applied for. The fees for a tourist visa to India may include the basic fee, processing fees by the consulate and commission or processing fees levied by the outsourcing agency. An indicative basic fee is displayed when you complete the online Indian visa application process. But actual fees may vary and the final amount will be charged when you are submitting the application to the outsourcing agency or at the embassy.

For further information about the Indian visa application process, Indian visa fees or payment methods, please visit the Indian Embassy website for your country or contact your nearest India Visa Application Center (IVAC). If your country has an IVAC in place, it is essential you use that website for your information as, once an IVAC is in place, many embassies stop updating their own websites.