India Relaxes Visa Rules to Drive Tourism Growth

Global EAT - India Relaxed Visa Rules Expected to Drive Tourism Growth
India's iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh reflects the Mughal emperor Shan Jahan enduring love for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A UNESCO Heritage Site, it displays the the best of traditional Persian and earlier Mughal architecture. (nonmisvegliate/pixabay)
Updated: August 26, 2023

India relaxes visa rules with new changes to ramp up foreign exchange earnings from tourism

World Tourism Day was celebrated in New Delhi on September 27 with the theme: Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all. Tourism has been given a huge focus in India, said Manjish Grover, Head of Chancery, Commerce & Culture for the Consulate General of India in Vancouver.

The tourism sector is a key contributor to India’s gross domestic product, foreign exchange earnings and employment.  Bangladesh, United States, United Kingdom, China, Sir Lanka, France and Canada are among the top source markets for foreign arrivals.

Global EAT - India Relaxed Visa Rules Expected to Drive Tourism Growth
Grover said that along with tourism, peripheral infrastructures are also getting developed. The railway system in India is one of the most amazing and complex systems you can find anywhere in the world, he added. (Nikao Media)
The country welcomed 10.6 million foreign visitors in 2018-19 compared to 10.4 million in 2017-18. Visitor arrivals are up but, foreign exchange earnings declined from 28.7 billion in 2017-18 to US$27.7 billion in 2018-19, according to India’s Ministry of Finance.

Why Visitors Are Not Spending More in India?

This can be attributed to world economic slowdown, global political issues, and steep competition from neighbouring countries. Getting an Indian visa is a cumbersome process.  The Government of India recently made changes to reduce visa fee charges and streamline visa process to boost tourism growth.

Here are some key points Arun Kumar, Consul (Visa/Attestation) for Consulate General of India, Vancouver highlighted at the ‘Know India’ seminar held at the consulate on September 27, 2019.

Regular Paper Visa

Regular visitor visa length ranges from 30 days to 10 years with multi-entry permitted.  Application is to be submitted to BLS International Services Canada Inc. ( for screening.  The Delhi-based private company has offices in Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton and Calgary .

The screened application is then sent to the respective Indian embassy, high commission or consulate in the applicant’s region for visa approval.  BLS accepts postal application for one year visa duration. The company Does Not handle E-Visa.

Global EAT - India Relaxed Visa Rules Expected to Drive Tourism Growth
E-visa application and processing has been simplified for travellers to India. (Pexels/pixabay/Nikao Media)

E-Visa Details

The Government of India processes the E-visa application directly through their official website:

Kumar pointed out that the e-visa system is centralized. A dedicated team based in India monitors, controls and handles visa granting. Said Kumar,

DO NOT “Google” for the word: e-visa

He cautioned that there are many fake websites offering illegitimate e-visa services.  Kumar suggested going to authorized Indian embassy, high commission or consulate websites to find the genuine India e-visa link.

India’s e-visa application fees range from US$10 to 80 depending on the e-visa type, country of origin and travel season. E-visa is available to passport holders of 167 countries and territories. Application is free for select countries like Indonesia, Nauru and Mauritius.

Qualified Activities

E-Visa is valid for individuals visiting India for the following purposes:

  • Recreation, business and tourism such as sightseeing, visiting friends and families
  • Attend short term non-qualifying educational courses of less than six months. Student visa application is recommended if an individual plans to take a qualifying educational course
  • Short term voluntary work under a month that does not involve monetary or in-kind payment
  • Medical treatment (western or traditional) and accompanying a patient undergoing treatment

E-Visa is non-extendable, non-convertible and invalid for visiting Protected/Restricted and Cantonment Areas, such as areas in North Eastern India.

E-Visa Requirements and Validity

  • Applicant must have their own passport which is valid for six months starting from the date of arrival in India
  • Passport must have a minimum of two blank pages for official immigration stamps
  • Recent front facing digital photo: JPEG format, size: 10 KB minimum and 1 MB maximum. Info: Click here
  • Application timeline: Minimum is four days and maximum is 120 days prior to arrival date
  • A printed copy of your Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) must be with you at all times
  • Visa application showing an ‘Accepted’ status is invalid. Ensure ETA displays a confirmed ‘GRANTED’ status on the e-visa website before you start your trip.
  • Your biometric details will be taken on arrival in India
Global EAT - India Relaxed Visa Rules Expected to Drive Tourism Growth
Indian cuisine is as diverse and rich as the people who inhabit the land. Each dish has its own distinctive flavour depending on the region and cultural background. (PublicDomainPictures/pixabay)

Five Types of E-Visa

  • Fee: USD 10 to 80
  • Double entry permitted to facilitate travel to neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Validity: Maximum 120 days stay per visit for USA, UK, Canada and Japan citizens. Other countries: 90 days
  • Thirty (30) days e-visa: fee is based on month of travel. Cost is USD 10 for travel between April to June. Fees are higher at other times, example, during peak travel season.
  • One year (365 days) e-visa fee costs USD 40 with multiple entry permitted. Validity starts from the day the visa receives the official ‘Granted’ status.
  • Five year visa is USD 80 with multiple entry permitted
  • Requirements:
    –  Scan copy of your passport bio page featuring your photo and   personal details
    –  Letter from the organization that you registered for your short term non-qualifying course
  • Fee is USD 80 with multiple entry permitted
  • E-visa is valid for 365 days starting from the visa ‘Granted’ date
  • Scan copy of your passport bio page featuring your photo and personal details
  • Copy of your business card and letter of invitation from your Indian party (optional)
  • Validity: Continuous stay per visit not exceeding 180 day. For stay beyond 180 days: register with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office within two weeks from expiry of your 180 days stay.
  • Fee is USD 80 with single entry permitted only
  • E-visa is valid for 30 days starting from your date of arrival in India
  • Requirements:
    –  Scan copy of your passport bio page featuring your photo and personal details
    –  Detailed invitation letter from event organizer
  • Clearance document from India’s Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs which you obtain from the conference organizer
  • Activities defined under the e-Tourist category are permitted, e.g. pre and post conference tours.
  • Fee is USD 80 with triple entry permitted
  • Valid for 60 days from date of arrival in India
  • Requirements:
    – Scan copy of your passport bio page featuring your photo and personal details
    – Letter from medical institution’s letterhead indicating tentative treatment admission date
E-Medical Attendant
  • Fee is USD 80 with triple entry permitted
  • Valid for 60 days from date of arrival in India
  • Requirement: scan copy of your passport bio page featuring your photo and personal details

Questions and contact for e-visa is available through:

+ 91-11-24300666

Acceptable payment: Visa or Master credit card or debit card
Payment help desk tel: +91-22-2752-3816 and + 91 1800-22-401

Payment processing can take up to two hours. Call the payment help desk if you encounter issues.

Global EAT - India
Kodaikanal in Tamil language means “The Gift of the Forest”. It’s a city nestled in the hills of Dindigui district in India’s Tamil Nadu state. (sathish_artisanz/pixabay)

Incredible India Has Something for Everyone

There are many great reasons for visiting Incredible India, said Roman Pereira, tourist information officer for India Tourism in New York. From adventure, delicious cuisine, UNESCO heritage sites, spectacular festivals to wellness tourism, India has something for everyone.

Related: Kerala: Basking in the Beauty and Flavours of India’s Malabar Coast

“….the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions…” – Mark Twain

Photographer Peter Langer said India is worth more than one or four trips as the Indian subcontinent is so diverse and large. Langer recommended concentrating on regional tours.

Example, focusing on one region, North Eastern India where you can discover the ‘living root bridges’ of Cherrapunji. The Pushkar Camel fair, the world’s largest camel fair is must experience event in Rajasthan, he added.