India has been on our list for quite awhile. Even though we don’t know much about the country, it seems to call to us. Images of the bright and almost fluorescent colors mixing with the blazing heat and the smells of spices and curries are enough to drive anyone into a frenzy! After 5 months in Southeast Asia, we were ready! We have allotted about 6 weeks and have a crazy itinerary that will take us clockwise around the giant sub-continent and see a lot of the country. Now we need to get our visas!
India grants e-visas to over 130 countries as long as the applicant is not of Pakistani origin. The application for an e-visa must be made at least 4 calendar days in advance of the date of arrival and can be made as early as 120 days in advance. The visa is valid for 60 calendar days from the date of arrival, and can be obtained twice in a calendar year. Double entry is permitted on e-Tourist Visas and e-Business Visas. Triple entry is permitted on e-Medical Visas. The duration of stay cannot be extended. The costs are divided into four categories based on nationality and reciprocity: $0, $25, $80 and$100. E-visas for Americans are $100.
In order to apply, you must have a valid passport with six months of validity from the date of arrival and two blank pages. You will need to have an electronic copy of your passport picture and the passport itself – more on that later.
Be ready to spend 45 minutes to an hour to get through this process. It is very thorough, and even with this guide, it can be a bit frustrating. Please reach out if you have any issues, and I can certainly do my best to help. I did not have any help, and the first application took me 3 hours! That is why I am making this guide, to help others and save you from a headache, or worse yet, a denied application! You need to be very careful and triple-check EVERYTHING. If your application gets denied, you can say goodbye to your $100! It is not refundable!
Beware also of scams and fake agencies willing to take your money. This is the official e-visa website for The Government of India.
Let’s get started!
First things first. Let’s get your copies ready. If your passport photo and passport scan are not correct, they will not be uploaded or even recognized. This is where MANY of the headaches lie in this process, so let’s get them set up correctly.
Your passport photo:
The digital photograph to be uploaded, along with the e-visa application, should meet the following requirements:
- Format: JPEG
- Minimum 10 KB
- Maximum 1 MB
- The height and width of the photo must be equal.
- Photo should present full face, front view, eyes open, and without glasses.
- Center head within frame and present full head from top of hair to bottom of chin.
- Background should be plain light-colored or white background.
- No shadows on the face or on the background.
- No borders around the photo.
The things to note here are JPEG between 10KB and 1MB and the height and width should be equal. I used http://resizeimage.net/ to crop my photo to 500×500 and compress it below 1MB. When that is done, save the image on your desktop for later.
Scan of your passport:
Scanned bio page of the passport showing the photograph and details.
- Format: PDF
- Size : Minimum 10 KB, Maximum 300 KB
You only need the details page, not the whole passport with signature. This is just half of the page. It needs to be a PDF, so use https://smallpdf.com/ to convert and compress it below 300KB.
Now that we have the hard part done, let’s get to the pages of the application.
Page 1 is basic. Ordinary passport is applicable for most people, unless you have a diplomatic or some other variation. (You would know.) If you don’t know, you probably have an ordinary passport. Nationality and place of entry: Make sure you know where you are landing and double-check that you have selected the right one. Chennai, for instance, has a seaport as well as an airport. When you select your visa type (most likely tourist), you will get a pop-up that wants you to expand. Click Okay and select the clarification from the new drop-down under e-tourist visa. We selected Recreation / Sight seeing.
After filling out the captcha and clicking the confirmation of understanding at the bottom, click Continue.
At the top of page 2, you will see a temporary application ID. Write this number down, as you may need it if you need to come back to the process after stepping away. From the e-visa home site, you can click on the partially-completed form button and enter the temp ID to bring you back to where you left off.
NOTE: Pay particular attention to the capital Os and zeros in your ID. It took me a few tries, as I did not pay close enough attention to the difference.
Make sure you enter your information exactly as it appears on your passport. Surname is your last name and Given Name/s are your first AND middle name, if they are both on your passport. Note the red stars indicating required fields. I used my passport number for my national ID number even though it is below, and it worked fine. For Visible Identification Marks, I included my tattoo. If you have none, simply enter “none.”
Educational status is different here than what I was used to on other applications. Simply choose the closest thing to your level of education. I chose Professional.
The question about having lived 2 years in the country you are applying to means India in this case. Most likely, you will select No.
Passport Number and Place of Issue was the US for me. It could be different if it was at an embassy, but you would just say that. It will also ask for information regarding a second passport if you have one. If not, leave it blank and move on.
You can click Continue or Save and Temporarily Exit. If you need to come back later, this is when you would need to make sure you have your temporary application ID written down so you can easily come back to this point.
The first part of page 3 asks for your present and permanent address.
Next, you will be asked about your parents’ nationality, as well as your spouse’s, if you have one. They are making sure you are not of Pakistani origin. Don’t worry about exact locations of your parents’ births; just the state will be fine.
Finally, it will ask about your profession and occupation. Note again the required fields. If you are retired, for instance, an employer will still be required. Use your last employer. Do that also if you are taking a gap year or mini-retirement. These get approved in a very short period of time, and they are not actually calling your employer. This is information that is gathered on the chance that they need to find you in the country and know that you have a means of supporting yourself for the time that you are in India.
You will also need to inform them of any involvement with any military, police, or security organizations you may be affiliated with.
Save and Continue for page 4, or Save and Temporarily Exit.
List the places you intend to visit separated by spaces only. Alpha characters only are allowed here. You may max out the character count, and if you do, simply continue onto the second line.
Choose your expected port of exit. Note that an outbound trip or continuing trip is a requirement of this e-visa. You should have your ticket for leaving before arriving, as Immigration is in their full right to demand to see it. If you cannot produce one, you may be denied access to India until one is purchased.
SAARC – The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia. Its member states include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
I have no idea what effect this may or may not have on your approval. If this is a concern, you may want to contact the Indian Consulate for clarification.
REFERENCE!!?? I don’t know anyone there. How can I find a reference?
Relax, just use the hotel of your first stop in the country. I used the name of the hotel, address, and phone number found online, and it worked fine.
Now for the uploads!
We have already prepped your images before we got started, so this should be a snap! Choose the file location, and click Upload Photo. If you have issues, it is because it is in the wrong format, it is too big or too small, or it is not exactly as wide as it is high.
After upload, this page will appear. Grab the corner and expand it to cover and center the entire image.
Same process here: Locate and upload. If you follow the directions, you will have no problems. PDF format, between 10KB and 300KB, and just of the page containing personal details are to be uploaded.
Click that you verify the documents are uploaded per the requirement and Confirm.
Next, you will see your application details. This is where you need to double-check everything, as it is your last chance to do so. Go through all of the details here twice. Remember, if you get denied, the Indian government keeps your $$$.
After accepting, you will see a pop-up window notifying you that an application ID has been generated and of the required fees.
Click OK, and you will be taken here.
Notice at this point you now have a Application ID. This is different from your Temporary ID, so take note and write it down. Read through the disclaimer and agreement.
You have the choice to pay now or later. I can only assume that the later button will exit and you can come back with your Application ID, but I chose Pay Now.
Below Pay Now, you have two options for paying: SBI e-pay and Axis Bank. SBI (State Bank of India) e-pay is preferred for US banking travelers, and Axis is for European and Asian Travelers.
The next window will be for SBI.
We personally prefer to use PayPal when we can, so we did. Clicking on the PayPal button took us to sign into our account and choose our payment. We were then directed back to SBI.
At this point you should receive an email that your application has been received and that it will be processed. It can take up to 72 hours, but all three of ours came back the very next morning in under 24.
I hope that this post proves helpful for you. I wish I had a bit of help getting through that first one! This is meant to be a help and is no way a guarantee that your e-visa will be approved. These are the steps I took to get our own visas submitted and accepted. Each application is different and approval lies 100% with the government of India. If you have questions that are not covered here or are having issues, you should contact the India e-visa helpdesk.