Customs Regulations

  • Technically you’re supposed to declare any amount of cash over US$5000, or total amount of currency over US$10,000 on arrival.
  • Indian rupees shouldn’t be taken out of India; however, this is rarely policed.
  • Officials 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.

Visas

Many nationalities obtain 30-day visas through India's e-tourist visa scheme (eTV). For longer trips, most people get a six-month tourist visa, valid from the date of issue.

E-Tourist Visa Scheme

  • Citizens of around 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-tourist visa (eTV) at www.indianvisaonline.gov.in a minimum of four days and maximum 30 days before they are due to travel.
  • The nonrefundable fee ranges between US$48 and US$60 for most countries plus a 2.5% bank transaction charge.
  • You have to upload a photograph as well as a copy of your passport.
  • The single-entry eTV is valid for entry through 16 designated airports including Bengaluru (Bangalore), Chennai (Madras), Kochi (Cochin), Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Trichy (Tiruchirappalli), Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and Varanasi.
  • The eTV is valid from the date of arrival; your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival.
  • There is talk of further simplification of India's visa scheme and a name change to 'e-visa scheme' (see how much easier that is?). Check online for updates.

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 the Andaman Islands or Lakshadweep, and for trekking in the Wayanad region of Kerala.

Other Visas

If you want to stay longer than 30 days, or are not covered by the eTV 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, depending on which arm of Indian bureaucracy is dealing with it), with at least two blank pages.
  • 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: journalist, missionary and research visas, among others, require biometric enrolment as of 2016. Consult the Indian embassy for details.
  • Five- and 10-year tourist visas are available to US citizens under a bilateral arrangement, and five-year visas are available to some European and Latin American nationalities applying in Australia; 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 5.08 cm (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 (excluding those in Pakistan and Bangladesh) who hold a non-Indian passport and live abroad.
  • For visas lasting more than six months, you’re supposed to register at the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office in Delhi within 14 days of arriving in India; enquire about these special conditions when you apply for your visa.

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 re-entry into India within two months of their last exit.

Visa Extensions

  • India has traditionally been very stringent with visa extensions. At the time of research, 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 should contact the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Delhi. This is also the place to come for a replacement visa, and if you need your lost/stolen passport replaced (required before you can leave the country). 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). You must bring your confirmed air ticket, one passport photo (take two, just in case), and a photocopy of your passport identity and visa pages. 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.