Unless you're on a charter flight, getting to Goa requires flying in to one of India's major international gateways – Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi or Delhi – and taking a connecting flight or overland transport from there. The most popular entry point is Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.

Once in India, you can enter Goa with no border restrictions.

Customs Regulations

  • Duty-free allowance is 2L of wine or spirits and 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco) per person.
  • Foreign currency totalling more than US$10,000 must be declared.
  • Antiques more than 100 years old are not permitted to be exported from India without an export clearance certificate. See the Central Board of Excise and Customs website (www.cbec.gov.in) for more information.

Visas

Almost everyone, except nationals of Nepal and Bhutan, needs a visa before arriving in India. Note that your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay, and have two blank pages.

e-Visa (ETA)

Citizens of most countries, including Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, United Kingdom, USA and most European nationalities, are currently able to apply online for a 60-day double-entry e-Visa, or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), for arrival at 26 airports, including Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum.

You need to apply online at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in a minimum/maximum four/120 days before you are due to travel. The fee varies by country (for most countries it's US$80 but for UK, USA and Russia it's $US100), and you have to upload a photograph (headshot – you can do this yourself with a smartphone camera) as well as a scanned copy of your passport. Follow online instructions carefully as your fee won't be refunded if the application is rejected for any reason. The e-Visa is valid from the date of arrival and cannot be extended.

Other Visa Types

If you want to stay longer than 60 days (up to six months), or are not covered by the e-Visa scheme, you must get a visa before arriving in India. Visas are available at Indian missions worldwide, though in many countries applications are processed by a separate private company. In some countries, including the UK, you must apply in person at the designated office as well as filing an application online.

Most people are issued with a standard six-month tourist visa, which for most nationalities permits multiple entry. Tourist visas are valid from the date of issue, not the date you arrive in India. Student and business visas have strict conditions (consult the Indian embassy for details).

Five- and 10-year tourist visas are available to US citizens only under a bilateral arrangement; however, you can still only stay in the country for up to 180 days continuously. Currently you are required to submit two passport photographs with your visa 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).

For visas lasting more than six months, you’re supposed to register at the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in Delhi or Goa within 14 days of arriving in India; enquire about these special conditions when you apply for your visa.

Visa Extensions

Officially, you can only get another six-month tourist visa by leaving the country and coming back in on a new visa, and many long-term travellers head off on a quick ‘visa run’ to Sri Lanka, Nepal or home, to replenish their tourist visa. Business and employment visas can be extended in Goa, but not tourist visas.

Visa Registration

People travelling on tourist visas are not required to register with the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO); the form that you fill out each time you check into a hotel, beach hut or guesthouse takes the place of this. Only foreigners with visas valid for longer than 180 days are officially required to register, as are nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan. For more information, see the Bureau of Immigration website at http://boi.gov.in.