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Travelling to India?

Travelling to India?

Going to India? Got your VISA? Feel like Flu coming on?
Do not make the same mistake I have made…. consider applying for your visa well before you intend to leave. I had not realised the somewhat antiquated mechanism for gaining a tourist visa to India and so fell foul of the long application process.
Simply…you need to allow a good fortnight to ensure you have no problems.

I was been informed that it would be 7 to 8 working days for processing and delivery of the visa back to me but then when discussing this with the chap handling my application a the Visa Application Center (IVAC), he informed me that he has frequently seen delivery occur a number of days either side of these limits so beware.

Sample Indian Visa

Sample Indian Visa

It is much better to have the visa in your hands before you stump up the hard earned cash for your flight tickets….unlike me!!

I am now at risk of forfeiting another £120 reallocation fee with Emirates airline to push my flight back if my visa finds a sluggish worker in the Indian High Commission… I’m still optimistic though despite my mistake.

There is the potential to fast track your visa by contacting the embassy direct or using one of the visa facilitators to be found on the web but you are likely to wish to process things yourself to keep costs in check so simply do it early.

EVERYONE must fill in the on-line form regardless of whether you use an agency or conduct the process yourself.

Go to their website and determine all the EXACT requirements because they are likely just to reject your application through a badly completed form and this would then mean start all over again. Generally speaking though the following will be required whether you deal with a fast track agency or a do the application yourself:

What you need

  • A completed Indian Visa Application Form with signature the same as the one on your passport.
  • Two recent, quality, identical passport photographs (50mm x 50mm) taken against a white background (the background must be white!) and affixed to the space indicated on the application form (many photo booths, eg Boots have the facility to produce Indian Visa compliant piccies…cost £7)
  • Your valid original passport(s). It must be valid for at least the next 6 months when you apply for the visa, with at least two blank pages remaining. Non-UK nationals will also need to provide a copy of the following documents as proof of 2 years residence in the UK :
  • Stamp of Indefinite stay. OR
  • Utility bills pertaining to Current month, AND One for at least two years back (Check website for concise definition of what is acceptable because it changes from time to time)
  • Utility Bills not to include bank statements/credit card statements since these will NOT be considered as proof of stay.
  • Utility bills are not admissible if they are a mixture of services.
  • In absence of 2 years residence proof in UK, case to be treated as Non UK National and this takes a minimum of 15 working days to process.

This facility to deal on line will still need you to print out your filled in application and will also need non standard 2”x2” visa photographs…your passport also accompanies the application so don’t think you can go travelling whilst waiting for your visa.

The following paragraph from the Government of India website caused me concern

“The duly signed physical copy of the application form completed in all respect and submitted successfully, is to be submitted at the concerned Indian Visa Application Center (IVAC) or directly to Indian Mission/ Post, on the scheduled date of interview along with the requisite supporting documents. The instructions for filling the form and scheduling the appointment can be seen at Instructions for Online Visa Application. Important technical information for filling online Indian visa application can be referred at Technical Instructions.”

and gave the impression that you had to arrange an interview date and time. For this reason, we decided to call at our closest Visa Application Center (IVAC) where we were able to duly process our documents and have them posted then and there (you need your valid passport and visa sized photos…and dosh)

Contrary to the above paragraph, there was no interview requirement but interestingly I pointed out that I had been in the Royal Air Force and there was a section in the on-line form asking about military involvement. I was directed by the administrator at the IVAC to write a letter to the Indian High Commissioner explaining that I was no longer in service nor had any military connections…..I would not have known to do this had I not called at the IVAC and MAY have experienced delays with my application.

Also note…the IVACs do NOT have a phone number to call for advice so perhaps using one of the on-line fast visa agencies may well suit better since they do have the experience to get the visas processed in a timely fashion.

You are also obliged to provide details of two referees in India, so you must include these details and I suggest you use your first booked hotel or accommodation and one other. If you only have your first night accommodation then consider using the following as one of your referees:

British High Commission
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, 11002

Tel No: +911124192100

Past experience of border control

Friendlier immigration control than I experienced!

Friendlier immigration control than I experienced!

Once, when I arrived in Toronto, Canada and was crossing the US border to visit houses that I owned I made the mistake, when asked at control “where are you staying in the US” of  saying I was just going to pitch up at a hotel and book a few nights…NOT a wise move. I spent hours persuading the border terriers that I had a genuine reason for the visit and that I was no threat to security.

The same thing applies in India…you MUST NOT say you have not booked your accommodation in advance. There could be instances where it will be accepted that you will “do things on the fly” when you get into the country but you will be obliged to make written declarations etc and it really is not worth the hassle.

Top tip:

If you still intend to make things up as you go along then go here and book a hotel which has no cancellation fee and then you satisfy all the border control criteria and have a nights rest after a long flight if you cant cope with then mayhem when you leave the Indian airport…could be a very wise move.

There are four offices (India Centres) which will help to process your application and they will forward your application on your behalf at the cost of the postage and we chose to use our nearest one in Splott, Cardiff, but if you are not close to any of them you will have to rely on the internet and postage. Again, I would give it plenty of time.

Offices through Indian Government site:
London
Cardiff
Birmingham
Edinburgh

The Cost

This is dependent upon the type of visa you are seeking but for a standard 6 month multiple entry visa the cost is £101 including postage charges other visa charges are outlined in the website containing the application form.
One thing to note is that you get a reference number which you can use to track and the handlers use a series of auto generating mail notifiers to inform you where your visa is in the process.

Top Tip:

Unless you are using a visa provision agency then after 2 working days make a point of phoning the VFS, who deal with the applications, to at least establish that your application has been received and registered prior to being forwarded to the Indian High Commission for their stamp of approval.

Nothing worse that phoning the day before you leave only to find that no one has even seen your visa application….AHHHH!!!

Visa Information Services
Call centre number has been changed to 09057570045.
Email Help Desk: info.inuk@vfshelpline.com

Swine Flu

Also be aware that due to previous and current Swine flu pandemics the Indian Immigration will subject all visitors to screening for the illness and if you display any of the symptoms you may well be quarantined.

HealthScreeningCard

Travel Insurance

Ensure your travel insurance has this covered.

Mains Plug

Finally….have you checked for the mains electric input in India? In most parts a 2 pins Europlug will suffice but there are areas using a 3 pin round type plug and so you may well need an adaptor. The following Mains Adaptor has received glowing reports from purchasers on Amazon and I myself have one of these and can recommend their use, not least because of their small size and ease of packing.

I will report any news and changes in the process as I discover them but if you have a comment or more up to date valid information please take the time to write a comment and we can adjust the post to take account of your thoughts.

thanks Gary  :)

Any questions or feedback can be directed to the comments section below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  :-D

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About Gary

Gary
I represent the 50+ age group of travellers and travel writers on this site. After 30yrs in the Air Force and further years in big business I have twice jacked in highly paid jobs to travel extensively...read how I done so here. In this past year alone I will have travelled to and lived for substantial periods of time in Greece, Greek Islands, Italy, India, Nepal and Thailand and will be posting a... View My Full Profile

6 comments

  1. Gary

    Just an update for anyone concerned that my relative stupidity had cost me this trip…I received a mail just a minute ago from the Indian Embassy

    Dear MR. GARY JOHN THOMSON,
    Your processed application reference no.ACDF/04032013/0008/01 dispatched to you via Royal Mail/DX on 06/03/2013 Please note this is an auto generated e-mail. Please do NOT reply to this email.

    They have been excellent in keeping us updated on what is happening with our application so if I was buying from ebay I would give the Embassy a good 5* rating.
    So provided the post isn’t lost I will have a visa to go!! The advice in the article still stands though… get the visa in place in good time to make your arrangements.

    Gary :) :)

    • You must be very pleased now and can look forward to your trip in India. No more worrying as to whether it will arrive on time or not

  2. Gary

    You got it gal…. look out for the India posts shortly…still waiting for your posts on Ireland and elsewhere though!! ha
    Gary recently posted…India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand – Here we comeMy Profile

    • Paul kindly sent me a link to create an account, which I have done, so I can create straight onto the site now and then an author can review it and post it. Always down to the women, come on guys there are four of you lot.

  3. Gary

    Passport and Visa arrived this morning by courier so drama over and can get excited over the trip to India and beyond.
    Gary recently posted…India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand – Here we comeMy Profile

  4. This design is steller! You definitely know how to keep a reader
    entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!
    Hotel In Pataya recently posted…Hotel In PatayaMy Profile

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