TTG – Sponsored Features – Travel to India: What You Need to Know About Visa

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With tourists able to travel to India again, make sure you are up to date with current visa regulations for the destination

In a move hailed by travel agents, tour operators and airlines around the world, India once again opened its borders to international tourists on October 15. The destination also announced changes to the validity of a Indian tourist visa. Read on to find out which Indian visa your clients should apply for to travel later this year or next year.

THE BIG REOPENING

For a while, it looked like India was going to collapse under the pressure of Covid-19. The number of infections and deaths has increased rapidly, just behind the United States, and after the Delta variant outbreak earlier this year, fears have only intensified. However, India managed to weather the storm, and today the destination historically has few coronavirus infections and deaths. Indeed, things are going so well that India has decided to take the last step that other countries like Canada have already taken: welcoming international tourists again.

Tourists on chartered flights were able to enter the country from October 15, while tourists on commercial flights will be allowed from November 15. It sounds simple enough, but India has made some announcements regarding visas as well.

NO LONGER VALID

When selling India vacations, it is important to note that previously issued tourist e-visas will not always be valid. Under normal circumstances, the India tourist e-visa is valid for a total of 365 days, however, the Indian government has announced that all electronic visas issued before October 6, 2021 are no longer valid. So even if you or your client applied for and received an electronic visa earlier this year, or even before, it is no longer valid, regardless of the validity period stated on the visa.

The same goes for the physical visa, also known as the paper tourist visa (type T), which is also only valid if issued from October 6, 2021. If the visa was issued before on this date you or your client will need to apply for a new one in order to travel to India.

A different date applies for medical visas. These must have been issued on or after October 6, 2020, while persons holding a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Indian Citizen (OCI) card can travel to India without Visa.

APPLY FOR AN E-VISA

After the global Covid-19 outbreak, India shut down its electronic visa portal so that no new electronic visa applications were being processed. The country has since reopened parts of this system and currently eBusiness and eMedical visas can be re-applied for normally. However, the eTourist visa is not yet available. It is expected that with the reopening of the borders, the Indian government will make the eTourist visa available soon.

SPECIAL RULES FOR UK NATIONALS

Following the UK government’s decision to impose travel restrictions on Indian nationals traveling to the UK, the Indian government responded in kind and imposed its own restrictions on UK nationals traveling to India. Currently UK nationals cannot use India Electronic Visa Portal. Their only option to obtain a visa is to apply for a paper / physical visa from the Embassy. India has also announced additional quarantine rules for British nationals arriving in India, meaning they must pass a total of three Covid-19 tests: one before departure, one on arrival and one on the eighth day after their arrival. They must also quarantine themselves for 10 days, even if the test result is negative.

Recently, the UK government relaxed these restrictions on arrivals of Indian nationals and so India is expected to follow suit and soon relax its own travel restrictions for UK nationals in the not-so-distant future.

To learn more and apply for an Indian e-visa, visit e-visa.co.uk/inde.

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