India is one of the biggest countries in the world, and there are countless reasons to visit. Whether for tourism or for family purposes, India is a bucket list destination for a big portion of travelers. Before you can visit India, you may need to apply for an Indian E-Visa.
Particularly, all US citizens need to secure a visa before visiting India. The Indian government has put several options in place for international travelers, with the most popular being the e-tourist visa.
What Is a Visa?
A travel visa is essentially a document permitting you entry into a country. Many countries allow visa-free travel, which enables your valid passport to act as your visa. However, in many cases, you need to take extra steps to secure a visa before you can pass through a country’s immigration enforcement.
Visas come in different forms, and it is important to decide what type of visa you need before you depart on your trip. Visas can be issued for tourism, study, business, and other reasons, and it’s crucial that you get the right type of visa to avoid breaking any immigration laws. If you want to make money while in the country, for example, most countries require you to apply for a business visa instead of a tourist visa.
India is no different. The government of India offers visas for business purposes, education purposes, tourism, and more to US passport holders. This post will specifically dive into the India EVisa, which is the most common Indian visa for American citizens.
Ways to Get an Indian Tourist Visa
Most travelers to India are tourists. This is the case with most countries, and the same story is true for India. Because of this, the Indian government makes it very easy to apply for a tourist visa.
There are types of tourist visas available to most foreigners traveling to India. They are the Indian EVisa and the physical, in-passport visa issued by an Indian embassy or consulate. There are pros and cons to each type of tourist visa, but the tourist E-Visa is generally much better than the regular visa issued by an Indian consulate.
Applying for the India E-Visa
The most common type of visa to India is the E-Visa. The E-Visa is an electronic visa that is issued online in advance of your trip. This visa can be purchased from the comfort of your home, and is not very difficult to apply for.
You can apply for the Indian E-Visa using the online application form on the Indian government’s E-Visa portal. The online application form takes about 20 minutes to complete. Before starting your application, I recommend gathering all of your travel documents and trip details, as you will need to fill in many details during the application.
There are several fields you should be prepared to fill in, including:
- Personal details, such as date of birth, nationality, name, gender, education history, and address
- Family details, including the personal information of your parents (if you understand Indian culture, this makes more sense!)
- Passport details, including expiry date, issue date, passport number, and passport country
- Trip details, including the expected date of travel to India, expected port of entry (airport or border crossing), duration of stay, and proof of a return ticket home
You will also need to upload a couple of documents. Regardless of your nationality, you will need to upload the photo page of your passport. If you come from certain countries, you will also need to upload your yellow fever vaccination card.
Once you complete and submit the online application form, you need to pay for the visa. Payment of the fee can be made with either a Visa or Mastercard, or with a PayPal account. You can then check your payment status by clicking the verify payment link on the portal.
Indian E-Visa Categories
The Indian government issues E-Visas for six different categories:
- Indian E-Tourist Visa
- Indian E-Business Visa
- Indian E-Medical Visa
- Indian E-Conference Visa
- Indian E-Medical Attendant Visa
- Indian E-Emergency X-Misc Visa
Each visa has its own unique application requirements. All of the information can be found on the Indian government’s application portal.
Indian E-Visa Fee for Tourists
The Indian E-Visa fee varies depending on what type of visa you need, how long you need it for, and how many times you intend to enter India. In addition to the visa fees, there are bank transaction charges of about 2.5%. Payment for your electronic entry visa is made online with a valid credit card or PayPal.
There are four different prices for India E-Tourist Visas:
- 30-day E-Tourist Visa for a visit during the months from July to March: $25
- 30-day E-Tourist Visa for a visit during the months from April to June: $10
- One-year E-Tourist Visa: $40
- Five-year E-tourist Visa: $80
Indian E-Visa Requirements
To apply for an Indian E-Visa, foreign nationals have to meet a few requirements. Firstly, you need to have a valid passport with at least two blank pages and 6 months of validity past the date of arrival in India. If your current passport doesn’t have over 6 months of validity past your trip to India, be sure to apply for a new passport.
You also need to be from a country or territory to which India issues E-Visas. This isn’t a problem for most travelers, as India issues E-Visas to over 160 nationalities. This list includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and virtually every other country in the world.
For some countries, there are added restrictions. If you are coming from or live in a country affected by yellow fever, you will need to bring your yellow fever vaccination card. In such cases, this is also one of the required uploaded documents during the application process.
You are also obliged to pay the applicable e-visa fees, which vary depending on visa type. I’ve already broken out the tourist visa fees above. For other visa types, there may be different fees and required documents.
Avoid Agencies Offering Indian E-Visas
There are many online visa agencies offering to help you apply for your Indian E-Visa. Personally, I think you should avoid these agencies at all costs.
Applying for an Indian E-Visa is incredibly easy and straightforward. You really shouldn’t need much help throughout the process. By applying directly on the Indian government’s E-Visa portal, you get to avoid any fees or hassle from agencies looking to make a quick buck.
The only place you should apply for an Indian visa is on the official website. The website looks a little sketchy, but it is safe to use and is the most reliable source online. If you work with an agency, you get very little additional help, as you still need to provide them with all the information that the Indian government asks you on their E-Visa portal.
Applying for a Visa Granted Through an Indian Embassy or Consulate
Aside from the E-Visa, the only way to apply for an Indian visa is at your local Indian consulate or embassy. These places are the international offices of the government of India, and they have the civil authority to grant all types of visas to travelers. Historically, the only way to get a visa was by visiting an embassy or consulate, but that has changed with modern technology.
There are 6 locations in the U.S. where you can apply for an Indian visa. The Indian Embassy is in Washington D.C., and there are consulates in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Houston. Each consular office has its own jurisdiction, and you are required to visit the office that is in charge of your state.
Disadvantages of Applying for an Indian Visa at the Consulate
There are a couple of reasons to apply for an Indian visa at a consulate, but there are many more drawbacks. Firstly, the process takes longer and requires many more documents. When you apply at an embassy, you will need additional documents, you’ll have to correspond back and forth with consular officials, and you may have to pay a higher processing fee.
On top of that, this method usually requires travel. Unless you live in one of the six cities where there are Indian consulates, you will either have to mail your important documents around or travel to one of the six cities. This is all unnecessary when the online Indian visa application is so easy.
Reasons to Apply for an Indian Visa at the Consulate
With that being said, sometimes applying for a regular visa through a consulate is the best or only option. If you need a special visa that doesn’t have a corresponding e-visa type, for example, you will have to go through a consulate. You may also want to visit a consulate if you have a valid visa in an old passport and would like to transfer it to a new passport.
Also, you can apply at the consulate much earlier than you can apply online. As soon as your travel information is booked, you can apply locally for your Indian tourist visa and avoid a hassle right before your trip. The E-Visa can only be purchased within a month of traveling to India.
What Is the Best Way to Get an Indian Visa?
Of the two different ways you can apply for a visa to India, there is a clear best option. As long as you qualify, the E-Visa is the clear best choice. It requires very little time to apply, can be granted to just about every nationality, and only requires a couple of documents.
On top of that, you don’t have to correspond with any Indian consulate or embassy officials. As long as you have your visa when talking to the immigration officer in any of India’s international airports, you’re set.
The least preferable way to get your visa is at a consulate or embassy in advance. If you need a special type of Indian visa, this is your only option. If all you need is a tourist visa, and you’re from one of the 160+ countries that are eligible for an E-visa, go that route.
Personally, I love planning travel, and I get a high out of applying for visas. I love a pretty sticker in my passport, but it isn’t worth the hassle when the E-Visa is so easy. I think it is already enough of a task to keep track of my family members’ travel documents, and I’d much rather just handle it online a couple of weeks before my trip.
If you do decide to get an online e-visa to India, make sure to use the official government website instead of an agency. The process is easy to do on your own, and agencies add fees that you simply shouldn’t have to pay.
Hopefully this post answered the question any questions you have about how to get an Indian tourist E-Visa. If you have any questions about getting an Indian visa, let us know by dropping a comment below!