India To Add Visa On Arrival And Electronic Travel Authorization

Earlier today I posted about Turkey’s new electronic visa process. In the comments section, reader StargoldUA shared some really exciting news from India.

On Wednesday the Indian government cleared two initiatives which will make visiting India much easier.

Via The Times of India:

In a significant step towards liberalization of the visa regime, the government on Wednesday cleared two initiatives: visa on arrival and electronic travel authorization for all countries barring eight “prior reference” countries including Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and China.

ETA will allow foreign travelers to apply for a visa from home and receive an online confirmation in five working days.

“We have decided to extend visa-on-arrival to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months to put the infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October,” planning minister Rajiv Shukla said.

This new program will initially be available at nine Indian airports, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum.

Electronic travel authorization and visa-on-arrival will be available for a 30-day period from the date of the tourist’s arrival in India.

Anyway, I’m very excited about this. I was in India a couple of years back and absolutely loved it, and can’t help but encourage others to visit as well. That being said I hate getting traditional visas. Either you have to queue at a consulate or use a passport service to get it done. While I don’t like queuing at a consulate, I also don’t like being without my passport for upwards of a week, so frankly countries with “traditional” visa policies have generally slipped to the bottom of my list of places to visit.

Electronic travel authorizations and visa-on-arrival are the way of the future, so I’m very excited to see India adopt this. It won’t benefit me personally all that much since I have a 10 year visa for India good through 2021, but I’m certainly happy that this will make it easier for others to visit India as well (especially so y’all can come visit me when I move to India). šŸ˜‰

Filed Under: Travel
  1. I have an Indian passport – so does not help me much but I am hoping that with such liberalization from India for other countries – perhaps some of those will reciprocate and allow Indian nationals to get visas in a more convenient manner, rather than asking for documents that weigh a few pounds for a 10 day single entry EU/other visa!!! Go INDIA!

  2. Liberalization? Tell that to the supreme court which just made being gay a crime punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Always wanted to visit but won’t now until this law is over turned.

  3. I tell you what – over the summer the company that was contracted to do the visas for India (BLS) came on board and has been doing a HORRIBLE job in getting folks from the US visas in a timely manner. Check out their google reviews and you will see that this is nothing but a positive step in the right direction.
    I worked with India Travisa Outsourcing a few years back and they were good. BLS was nothing short of a nightmare! They were doing nothing positive to promote tourism in India.
    VERY glad to hear of this change if for no other reason BLS stops representing India!

  4. Step in the right direction for India. Unfortunately, it’s not much use to those who are gay and don’t want to be thrown in prison, those who are women and don’t want to be raped, and those who sympathize with these two populations. If none of the above applies to you, go for it!

  5. Very good news. I agree with you about “traditional” visas. Who wants to part with their passport and pay fees for this? Seems very 19th century. Now if only China would make some progress. Wishful thinking.

  6. @ snic – your snarky comment belies the fact that tons of gay people and women visit India perfectly safely ever year. It goes without saying that the recent Supreme Court verdict was a step back but to imply that India is a rabidly dangerous and homophobic country is incorrect and misleading.

  7. @snic I guess that means no gays should visit any southern US states as well. And of course, if you’re black and don’t want to be tied to the back of a pickup truck and pulled down the street or you sympathize with blacks that don’t want this to happen, you shouldn’t visit the US either. What an idiot.

  8. This is great news. I too have a 10 year visa to enter India, but this will enable some of my friends to visit without the hassles of having to visit Travisa. I’m a gay Indian-American, and would strongly encourage all people, whether LGBT or not, to add India to the list of places they visit. It’s a great country!

  9. My passport is waiting for me to pick up, but annoyingly they would only give a 5 year visa, not 10. Hope in 5 years this electronic visa will be fully functioning.

  10. Just wondering why every blogger on BoardingArea writes about the same things. In the past few days many bloggers wrote about that blockbuster important groundbreaking news about the Delta Skymiles AX elminating foreign transaction fees and now all of those same bloggers are writing about this Indian visa. I check BoardingArea less and less due to the non-original content and the parroting (aka copying) of one bloggers news by another. I much more enjoy your trip reports and original ideas than stuff that everyone else is propagating.

  11. @ TrvlGuru — I appreciate the feedback. My goal with the blog is to be a “one stop shop” for all the major news with miles, points, and travel. I realize I’ll never succeed at that 100%, but the thing to keep in mind is that a vast majority of my readers don’t visit the Boarding Area front page or read other travel blogs. You might be surprised to know that only 15% of my readers come through Boarding Area.

    Anyway, hope that at least sheds some light on why some content might be redundant for those that visit posts from the front page of Boarding Area.

  12. I’ve been to India many times and never had a problem. That doesn’t stop me from feeling that India deserves a travel boycott for (a) being extremely backwards about gay rights, and (b) not doing enough to prevent rape. And I’m talking about rape of Indian women, not tourists (although that of course is beyond unacceptable as well).

  13. India does have a problem with the way women are treated. However, the rates of rape per 1000 population are lower than the USA and even Sweden. What has happened of late is an explosion of media attention (a very good thing) on rapes. So while the problem is grave, it’s no worse than many other parts of the world. As for the Supreme court ruling that gay sex is illegal- it was a shameful verdict that will hopefully be corrected legislatively sometime soon.

  14. I’m sure China may loosen their visa procedure if the U.S. does the same with Chinese wanting a visa to visit U.S. Right now they have to go through all sorts of hassle.

  15. @snic Usually, people that are so adamant about focusing on other countries problems instead of focusing on their own countries shortcomings are doing so because of inherent bias (racism) and not genuine care about the underlying topic. Said simply, it is much more likely that you’re more interested in putting down other cultures and not as interested in the underlying values (gay rights, safety, women’s rights). If you want to fight bigotry, start in your own back yard… the US has a lot of work we need to focus on rather than pointing out the faults of other cultures. Instead of an India travel ban, how about a travel ban to Mississippi? Its the southern Baptist groups that are going to countries like Nigeria to promote the passage of laws to criminalize homosexuality.

  16. it is weird to exclude chinaā€¦and made me embarrassed as i am chinese..after checking a few different sites it seems some sites says “voa to countries like u.s. u.k. china. etc.” while other sites says “eight prior reference countries like china pk srilanka iran..’ checking in chinese websites personally i do believe china is among the 180 countries..really surprised if not so..but do you know which sites to believe..

  17. Having just gone through the Indian Visa process with their outside contractor BLS in NYC, I can attest to what a great development this is. The process was far from smooth and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at various points in the process, but at least I now have a 10-yr visa though. šŸ™‚

  18. What most people don’t realize is that the visa process was put in place due to check the threat of terrorism from foreign nationals. It was further tightened after the Mumbai attacks in which a caucasian looking American with a Xitian name (but was the offspring of a Pakistani muslim father and an American mother) slipped in and out of India to plan the logistics for the Mumbai attack. Granted that it inconvenienced many tourists and their choice of BLS to process visas was a big blunder. BLS is known to have accepted kickbacks to put you on the fast track and I presume that they got the visa processing contract by bribing some of the embassy officials. Rethinking about and changing their policies is a step in the right direction and hopefully it will be implemented in a timely manner. Sometimes ad hoc measures taken in the aftermath of 9/11 or Mumbai type attacks seem valid at the time and are revisited long after the wounds from such calamities have healed. So, have patience folks, happy days are about to be ushered in.

  19. How can you get a clear scan of a passport under 300KB. SERIOUSLY. Its like they are taunting us with a great service that no one can use. I’ve looked online and everyone is having problems with this system. Par for the course for a country that consistently seems to make it as hard as possible for people from the US to travel to them to spend their American Dollars.

  20. The Electronic Travel Authorization or ETA is indeed a good news to all those planning to travel to India. At least now they will be able to apply for their visa online at the comforts of their home. Thank you for sharing this news Ben.

  21. I think the ETA is a really good idea and has made it easier for those who are working full time and want to visit India to apply for it on the internet! It must save a lot of time as well. Excellent idea and can imagine it has become extremely popular.

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