American citizens and most Non-USA Passport Holders must have a valid Tourist Visa to travel to India for a sightseeing visit. The Indian government offers two kinds of visa for tourists:
- An e-Visa which is issued electronically
- A traditional visa
Full details for an e-Visa are at the Indian government web site
Note: Non-refundable tickets or reservations should not be purchased until all visas and passports have been secured and are in your possession.
Which type of VISA is right for you?
Generally, the e-Tourist Visa is the more convenient way to obtain your tourist visa. You can assess if an e-Tourist Visa is suitable for you:
- Sightseeing or recreation visit
- Staying less than 60 days in India
- Planning to visit India within the next 120 days
- Will be entering India only 1 or 2 times in the next 120 days
- Will enter India at one of the following airports: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi. Or one of these seaports: Cochin, Goa and Mangalor
- You do not foresee needing more than 2 e-Tourist Visas per year. If you plan on visiting India more than 2 times per year or if you need a multiple entry visa, you should consider the traditional “paper” visa
If your travel plan does not fit the assessment, then consider getting a traditional paper tourist visa or a 10-year multiple entry tourist visa.
Before you apply, you should have:
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of your stay in India
- Your passport must have blank pages for entry stamps
- Scanned copy of your passport style photograph to be uploaded with your application (see India government web site for technical details)
The amount of the visa fee depends on nationality, for American passports the fee is $100 (at time of writing) plus a bank transaction fee of 2.5% of the visa fee.
You should apply for your visa as soon as your travel dates are confirmed, and at least 2 weeks before your departure; and within 120 days of your arrival date.
Once your e-Visa is issued, print your e-Visa. At your port of entry in India, look for e-Visa line at the Customs and Immigration. You need to present your printed e-Visa and confirmed round-trip or onward airline ticket.
If an e-Visa is not suitable for you then read on:
Indian Embassies do not accept visa application directly from travelers. They collaborate with Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) to handle the traditional visa application. https://www.in.ckgs.us. Once your visa is issued, follow the instructions to keep the necessary documents. At your port of entry in India, look for the Non-Indian Citizen line at the Customs and Immigration. You need to present your Visa and confirmed round-trip or onward airline ticket.