India is a fairly exotic and somewhat chaotic destination so it’s no surprise that a visa is required for most nationalities to step onto their colourful land.
Here are a few things to be aware of as you work through the Indian eVisa process.
Do-It-Yourself Visa: You don’t need to pay someone to obtain your eVisa on your behalf. It is a relatively straight-forward process with an online application form, but make sure you go through the official Indian Government website.
- Beware of Fake Websites: As mentioned above, there are a large number of fake “Indian Government” websites out there who will charge you an exorbitant amount of money for your ‘visa’ which may not be valid. Plus, you have revealed a fair amount of personal and important data to a complete stranger and a full-time scammer. Not a good idea.
Allow some time to complete the application: While the online application process is pretty straight forward, it is detailed. They even want to know where your parents were born etc. and if you are in an older age bracket, that may take some research! You can partially complete the form, save it and then go back later once you have gathered all the relevant information.
- Cost: A standard 60-day eVisa for tourists with a double entry should cost around $AUD120. That is what I paid back in October 2018. Again, beware of scammers charging much more or much less. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Timing: When you complete the online application form and pay the fee, they state that authorisation could take at least three days. Each time I have applied for an eVisa, I have received authorisation the same day or the next day. While this is fabulous service and I was suitably impressed, you have to be careful that you don’t apply too far in advance. The authorisation to enter starts from the authorisation date and you are only given four months from that date for your first arrival. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too organised!
- South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Classification (SAARC): Prior to completing this application, I had never head of SAARC and this question had me stumped. The question wants to know if you have visited SAARC countries in the last three years. SAARC is “the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration”. (Source: Wikipedia).
Entry to India: Tourist eVisas are accepted at 28 eVisa designated airports throughout India, but still allow plenty of time to be processed through Immigration. Even though your eVisa is bar-coded and includes your photograph, it is still processed manually. At Delhi airport this is an incredibly slow process and involved queuing for around 40 minutes, more photographs, finger-printing scans and stamping of passports.
Allow plenty of time to connect to other flights or transport. Even though we moved quickly through the airport, we still got caught in a long, slow queue and by the time we got to collect our luggage, the area was deserted and our suitcases waited forlornly on their lonesome.
Read the Fine Print: From the time of applying for an eVisa in mid-2017 and then again in late-2018, the rules had changed. Initially you only had to print the confirmation email and present that on check in at Sydney airport and on arrival in India. Now, once you receive the confirmation email you must log back into the eVisa website, enter the authorisation number and print out a whole new eVisa document that includes your photo, barcode and QR code.
I wasn’t aware of these changes and it did cause a bit of stress on our recent departure from Sydney. The Singapore Airlines staff were lovely and incredibly patient as I ran around like a mad thing to find somewhere in Sydney International Airport (the Post Office shop) that had access to a computer, the internet and a printer! Phew!
I’m sorry if I have made this sound bit more complicated and dramatic than it actually is, but I just wanted to give you a heads up about a few of the hoops you need to jump through.
Enjoy India. It is the most stunning, colourful, overwhelming and loud country!
It is unforgettable!
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