Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ) - A Basic Guide

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#1 Apr 3rd, 2013, 12:11
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#1
The purpose of this post is to provide consolidated basic Information on this topic for visitors to India. It is based on information gleaned from elsewhere on India Mike as well as some limited personal experience. Please respond if you see any way to improve this post. Most recent update 8th December 2014.

A cautionary word
FTQ is not a magic bullet solution for people who can't be bothered to book ahead. It can only be booked at a limited number of places, on a limited number of trains and applies to a very small number of seats/berths. There is no guarantee that it hasn't already been booked by somebody else when you get to India. If you know where you want to go and when you would do better to book ahead.

You cannot assume that because a train has FTQ in one direction that it will have FTQ for its return journey.

Who qualifies?
The Foreign Tourist Quota (commonly referred to as FTQ) allows visitors to India who hold tourist visas to book seats/berths on certain trains from a special quota that is not available to Indian Residents. FTQ is also available to Indian Passport holders who can prove NRI status. FTQ tickets are often available when the General Quota for a train is fully booked. The allocations are usually very small and do not necessarily apply to all classes of accommodation on a given train.

The situation regarding the entitlement of OCI holders is not clear. See #23 onwards below.

People resident in India on an X visa probably do not qualify. See #52 below.

Individual FTQ tickets cannot be booked on-line or by agents. They are only available through a limited number of International Desks operated by Indian Railways within India. To book it is necessary to attend in person and carry your passport complete with valid tourist visa. If you need tickets for more than one qualifying person you will need to take their passport. Photocopies are not accepted. There have been reports that some offices require you to hand over a photocopy of your passport photo and visa pages.

In theory it is possible to pay in US $s, GB ús and Euros as well as Rupees. If you use Rupees you may be required to produce an exchange certificate or an ATM receipt. My personal experience in Kolkata was that there was a notice to say that only Rupees were accepted and that credit/debit cards were not accepted. I was not asked to produce any exchange certificate or ATM receipt.

FTQ tickets are charged at the same price as a General Quota ticket would be.

FTQ can be booked from the same date as normal bookings open. For most trains this is currently 60 days before the train leaves its original source station. This will change with effect from 1st April 2015 when it reverts to 120 days There are no Waitlist or RAC tickets in FTQ. If you get a ticket it will be confirmed.

Unused FTQ berths are used to help clear the waitlist when charting takes place. This is usually 3-4 hours before departure but for early morning trains it can happen the evening before.

Which trains?
There is no publicly available list of all trains carrying FTQ allocations although IndiaMike member aloke_m has started to compile such a list. See Foreign Tourist Quota (FTQ) - A Basic Guide.

You need to search using an on-line site to find out whether FTQ is available on a given train. These sites include www.indianrail.gov.in www.erail.in and www.indiarailinfo.com. My own preference is to use indiarailinfo and there is a guide to using that site here. A User's Guide to Indiarailinfo

The first example I have used shows all trains running from Delhi to Amritsar on 9th April 2013. Note that not all of these trains depart from NDLS. The green bricks indicate that there is availability on this train in this class.

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To find out how many you must hover your curser over individual “bricks”.

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Alternatively I might know the train that I want and be flexible on dates. The site allows you to search for availability over 6 days from your selected date. If the train does not run every day you will be shown the next 6 running days. You cannot search more than 60 days ahead. A few trains have shorter booking windows. I have chosen train 14659 from Delhi to Jaisalmer as an example.

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Booking
Note down the train number and the station codes for your departure and arrival points, also the departure date of the train that you wish to take and the class of travel that you wish to book. It is worth listing your second preference for each trip in case your first choice is already fully booked.

You will need to complete a Reservation Form

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Take a ball point pen and something to rest on These forms are incredibly flimsy and require minuscule handwriting. In fact take more than one pen – there are always people wanting to borrow them.

If the office is busy it may take some time for you to get to the front of the queue. When I looked in at the New Delhi office in January I was told by some people that they had been waiting for more than 2 hours. On the other hand I went to the Kolkata office a few days later where there was only one person ahead of me and I was in and out with my booking in about 15 minutes.

Where can I book?

The Indian Railways website www.indianrail.gov.in has a list of locations where FTQ tickets can be bought. It is not comprehensive. See below for more detail. The same site also says this “A separate foreign tourist quota has been provided in all classes and almost all the trains for the facility of the tourists.” This statement is inaccurate.

Contrary to the information in some guide books Delhi's IGI Airport does not have an FTQ booking counter.

Different offices have different opening times and some of the smaller ones may not offer a full service. This list may not be comprehensive. Contributions from other members are very welcome and the list will be revised as they are received.

New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS). The station is notorious for touts and con-men who will try to persuade you to go elsewhere so that their associates can fleece you. Have nothing to do with them. Walk along the outside of the Paharganj (west) side of the station and look for this sign.

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Go up the stairs indicated and at the top of the first flight you will see this sign.

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Opens 08.00 -20.00 Monday – Saturday 08.00 – 14.00 Sunday although there have been reports that it sometimes closes early. IMer Naugastyle has posted about her experience here

Kolkata - 8 Fairlie Place, near BBD Bagh in the city centre. Not at a railway station. On the left hand side of the street as you walk towards the Hooghly River. Do not confuse with the nearby general booking office.
Opens 10.00 – 17.00 Monday to Saturday 10.00 – 14.00 on Sunday

Mumbai CST – Desk 52 , upstairs in the Reservations centre near the main taxi rank.

Mumbai Churchgate – within the Reservation centre on the east side of Maharshi Karve Rd just outside the station.

Chennai Central - An office round the back of the main counters, on the first floor of the reservation centre, which is the big administrative building to the left of the main red and white brick station, as you face its front entrance.
Opens 08.00 -14.00 and 14.15 – 20.00 Mondays to Saturdays and 08.00 – 14.00 on Sundays.

Bangalore City – Counter No. 2 (marked Senior Citizens and Disabled) in the station building not in the Main Reservation Office..

Agra Cantonment -

Ajmer - see details posted by Jeraboa in # 72

Jaipur -

Jodhpur -

Udaipur -

Ahmedabad -

Hyderabad Decan Nampally (HYB) - See Uligaen's post at #91

Secunderabad - At the Railway Reservation Complex which is a building located at one end of the Secunderabad Railway Station, just adjacent to Rathifile Bus station

Varanasi - See details posted by Beau in #69

Lucknow Charbagh - Se details posted by Jeraboa in #65

Gaya - See this thread Getting FTQ tickets at Gaya Station?

Bodh Gaya - on main street at the turn off of temple street (the street with the giant Buddha at the other end). It shares a building with the Bank of India. The ticket window is to the right as you face the building under a green roof. There's no sign.

Dehra Dun -

Madgaon - It is reported that only tickets for trains on the North-South Konkan Railway can be booked here. The counter is upstairs in the reservation office and clearly marked. See #2 below.

Vasco da Gama -

Trivandrum -

Ernakulam Junction (ERS) - The main railway station for Kochi.

Varkala - See comment by member bigsleep1 here Please Help! Cochin/Munnar to Delhi

See posts below for more.

There is also information on this (old) thread FT (foreign tourist) quota reservation offices
Last edited by Dave W; Mar 17th, 2015 at 23:28.. Reason: Update for ARP change due on 1st April 2015
#2 Apr 3rd, 2013, 15:26
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#2
Very useful post, I wish this had been there before a whole bunch of foreign friends visited (resulting in a lot of pointless running around as there's very little accurate information available about FTQ). I can add a bit more information here that might be helpful:

Bangalore should be changed to Bangalore City, as Yesvantpur and Bangalore Cantonment are also fairly important stations in the city, but don't permit FTQ bookings. When I went there to book at Bangalore City the passports just got a cursory glance and no photocopies were required, but I've heard they're just lazier here

Madgaon, I think the counter for FTQ is counter 5 in the reservation office (on the first floor) not 100% sure of the counter number, but it's clearly mentioned on the glass that foreign tourists use this counter. When I went (and after waiting in the line for 45 minutes!) I was told that FTQ tickets were issued only for trains on the Konkan Railway route - not sure if these include all trains that pass through, or just the Mandovi and Konkan Kanya Express - and that if I wanted FTQ tickets on any other train I would have to try at Vasco (which I had no pressing desire to do just then). Some friends of mine who tried at Madgaon also had trouble.

Udaipur also allows FTQ bookings, my friend managed to get roundtrip FTQ tickets on the JU-JSM Express.

Trivandrum and Ernakulam Junction (South) also have the authority to sell FTQ tickets in the south. Surprisingly Pondicherry which does see a fair number of foreigners visiting does not issue FTQ tickets.

At other important stations that don't have a counter that explicitly mentions that it sells FTQ tickets, it's worth checking with the Chief Reservation Supervisor (fortunately or unfortunately, foreigners tend to get better treatment in this regard than regular Indians)
#3 Apr 3rd, 2013, 15:31
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#3
Excellent Dave.

I'm pretty sure FTQ can be booked at Dehradun (maybe someone else can confirm). The booking office is a separate building opposite the station.

One route where FTQ gets booked up very quickly is between Kolkata and Delhi as this is popular with Bangladeshis. So it's a good idea not to rely on last minute FTQ bookings on this route unless you are quite flexible as regards dates, classes and which train to take.
#4 Apr 3rd, 2013, 15:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aloke_m View Post At other important stations that don't have a counter that explicitly mentions that it sells FTQ tickets, it's worth checking with the Chief Reservation Supervisor
It's also worth joining the queue at the ticket window for VIPs, disabled, freedom-fighters etc (if there is one). I have done this in Bhopal and bought tickets successfully. I'm not sure if they were FTQ tickets or some other quota - we were in a compartment full of army types .

Quote:
(fortunately or unfortunately, foreigners tend to get better treatment in this regard than regular Indians)
True, and I'm not condoning it. Just giving information.
#5 Apr 3rd, 2013, 15:42
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#5
aloke, julia

Thanks for the contributions. I have amended the original post to incorporate the info on specific locations.
#6 Apr 4th, 2013, 00:34
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#6
Seems you had been to the Fairlee Place Office. I absolutely love the cool breeze coming from the River as one takes the left turn from the main road to proceed straight towards the Hooghly River. :-)
http://www.mediafire.com/download/vz..._2013-2014.pdf

Trains at a Glance (TAAG) 2013-2014
#7 Apr 4th, 2013, 00:50
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#7
Excellent Dave......I have a few questions.

1. Are Indian born US passport holders with OCI card eligible for FTQ?

2. Where are these FTQ berths located? Are they the INSIDE berths or are they only the SIDE berths? The reason I ask is because a tall person may request an INSIDE berth.

Thanks.
#8 Apr 4th, 2013, 00:58
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JagguDada

As far as I can see there is no mention of OCI card holders on the Indian Railways website. I am absolutely not an expert on Visas/NRI/PIO/OCI and will have to give that question a swerve.

As far as the location of berths is concerned I have read somewhere that they are located together (e.g. If there are 4 FTQ berths in 3AC they will be adjacent) but I have no idea whether there are specific berths earmarked for FTQ. The trial booking that I made was in a Chair Car.

I would stress again that these berths are no real substitute for booking ahead on IRCTC or Cleartrip if you have a plan.

Hopefully somebody else will come up with definitive answers for these questions.
#9 Apr 4th, 2013, 01:07
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#9
Thanks Dave,

So basically anyone with a FOREIGN ( NON INDIAN) PASSPORT qualifies for FTQ?
#10 Apr 4th, 2013, 01:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JagguDada View Post So basically anyone with a FOREIGN ( NON INDIAN) PASSPORT qualifies for FTQ?
As I understand it you need a non-Indian passport and a Tourist Visa.
#11 Apr 4th, 2013, 01:44
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The only time I have availed of the FTQ was in January 2003. I still had an Indian passport then. So an Indian passport holder resident abroad was (is?) eligible. OCIs and PIOs resident outside India must be eligible too.
#12 Apr 4th, 2013, 01:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golghar View Post The only time I have availed of the FTQ was in January 2003. I still had an Indian passport then. So an Indian passport holder resident abroad was (is?) eligible. OCIs and PIOs resident outside India must be eligible too.
The Indian Railways website states that NRIs qualify as far as FTQ is concerned. As I understand things NRIs are Indian passport holders who can prove residence abroad but I have no idea what the detailed rules are either now or what they were in 2003.

Aren't PIOs and OCIs holders of non-Indian passports?

Perhaps we should move this thread to the Passports & Visas section.
#13 Apr 4th, 2013, 01:57
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Aren't PIOs and OCIs holders of non-Indian passports?
They are indeed, but their PIO or OCI status means they don't need tourist visas, or any kind of visa.

Dave, do you know whether people on employment / business visas etc can use FTQ?
#14 Apr 4th, 2013, 02:08
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JuliaF View Post Dave, do you know whether people on employment / business visas etc can use FTQ?
I'm beginning to wish that I had stayed in bed this morning.

Here is what it says on the Indian Railways website.

Quote:
International Tourist Bureaus issue reserved tickets to the Foreign Tourists and NRIs holding valid passport against payment in US dollars, Pounds, Sterling,Euros and indian Rupees. These Bureaus also sell Indrail passes which are issued to foreign tourists / NRIs on production of valid passport and valid visa.
That can be read in different ways. I suspect there are Indian legal practices who are making fortunes out of that part paragraph as we speak.

The same website also states

Quote:
A separate foreign tourist quota has been provided in all classes and almost all the trains for the facility of the tourists.
which is demonstrably untrue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuliaF View Post They are indeed, but their PIO or OCI status means they don't need tourist visas, or any kind of visa.
Neither do Indian Citizens who never leave India and they don't qualify for FTQ either.
#15 Apr 4th, 2013, 02:22
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#15
My bad.....I started this with the OCI stuff....I have no more questions about FTQ.
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