Citizens of more than 150 countries can enter India using the handy e-Visa scheme, which allows two entries and a stay of up 60 days, and must be applied for online four to 120 days before arrival in India. For extended stays or purposes other than tourism, other visas are usually required.

Customs Regulations

  • Technically on arrival you’re supposed to declare any amount of cash over US$5000, or anything over US$10,000 in all forms of currency (including cash, drafts and travellers cheques).
  • Indian rupees shouldn’t be taken out of India; however, this is rarely policed.
  • Officials may very occasionally ask tourists to enter expensive items such as video cameras and laptop computers on a ‘Tourist Baggage Re-export’ form to ensure they’re taken out of India at the time of departure.
  • The export of certain antiques is prohibited; see the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) website (http://asi.nic.in) for details.

Visas

Many nationalities can obtain 60-day visas through India's e-Visa scheme. For longer trips, most people get a six-month tourist visa, valid from the date of issue (not arrival).

E-Visa Scheme

  • Citizens of more than 150 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA, in addition to most European countries, must apply for an e-Visa at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in a minimum of four days and maximum of 120 days before they are due to arrive in India.
  • The nonrefundable fee ranges between US$80 and US$100 for most countries, plus a 2.5% bank transaction charge.
  • You have to upload a photograph as well as a copy of your passport.
  • At the time of writing, the two-entry e-Visa is valid for entry through 26 designated airports including Bengaluru (Bangalore), Chennai, Kochi (Cochin), Kozhikode (Calicut), Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Trichy (Tiruchirappalli), Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and Varanasi.
  • The e-Visa is valid for 60 days from the date of your arrival; your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and you must carry a copy of your Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
  • You can exit India through any authorised immigration check-post.
  • E-Visas can be requested a maximum of three times per calendar year.

Travel Permits

Even with a visa, you’re not permitted to travel everywhere in South India.

  • Some national parks and forest reserves call for a permit.
  • A special permit is required to visit Lakshadweep and for trekking in Kerala's Wayanad region.
  • In 2018 the old requirement of a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) was removed for most tourist destinations in the Andaman Islands, though some places still require additional permits, and change is ongoing.

Other Visas

If you want to stay longer than 60 days, or are not covered by the e-Visa scheme, you must get a visa before arriving in India (apart from Nepali or Bhutanese citizens, who do not need visas). Visas are available from Indian missions worldwide, though in many countries applications are processed by a separate private company. In some countries or where biometrics are required, you must apply in person at the designated office as well as filing an application online.

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your visa application (or from the date of issue of your visa, or its date of expiry, or your date of arrival in India, depending on which arm of Indian bureaucracy is dealing with it), with at least two blank pages.
  • Most people are issued a standard six-month tourist visa, which for most nationalities permits multiple entry.
  • Tourist visas are valid from the date of issue, not from the date you arrive in India (unlike e-Visas).
  • Student and business visas have strict conditions: journalist, missionary and research visas, among others, require biometric enrolment. Consult the Indian embassy for details.
  • Five- and 10-year tourist visas are available to US citizens under a bilateral arrangement; however, you can still only stay in India for up to 180 days continuously.
  • Currently visa applicants are required to submit two passport photographs with their application; these must be in colour and must be 5.08cm by 5.08cm (2in by 2in; larger than regular passport photos).
  • An onward travel ticket is a requirement for some visas, but this isn’t always enforced (check in advance).
  • Additional restrictions apply to travellers from Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as certain Eastern European, African and Central Asian countries. Check any special conditions for your nationality with the Indian embassy in your country.
  • Visas are priced in the local currency and may have an added service fee.
  • Extended visas are possible for people of Indian origin who hold a non-Indian passport and live abroad (excluding those in Pakistan and Bangladesh).
  • For visas lasting more than six months, travellers no longer need to register at the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office in Delhi; instead, you register online through the e-FRRO scheme (https://indianfrro.gov.in), launched in 2018.

Re-entry Requirements

Most tourists are permitted to transit freely between India and its neighbouring countries. However, citizens of China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sudan (and foreigners of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin) are barred from reentry into India within two months of their last exit.

Visa Extensions

  • India has traditionally been very stringent with visa extensions. At the time of writing, the government was granting extensions only in circumstances such as medical emergencies or theft of passport just before the expiry of an applicant's visa.
  • If you do need to extend your visa due to any such exigency, you can now apply to do so through the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) online portal (e-FRRO; https://indianfrro.gov.in). You must supply a passport photo; copies of your passport identity, visa and Indian immigration stamp pages; and various other supporting documents, usually including your onward-travel air ticket. At research time, the portal offered 27 visa-related services, including replacement visas and replacements of lost/stolen passports (required before you can leave the country). Otherwise, contact the FRRO office in Delhi; regional FRROs are even less likely to grant an extension.
  • Assuming you meet the stringent criteria, the FRRO is permitted to issue an extension of 14 days (free for nationals of most countries). Note that this system is designed to get you out of the country promptly with the correct official stamps, not to give you two extra weeks of travel and leisure.