The Indian e-tourist visa
Leaving it too late to apply for a normal visa I applied instead online for the new e-tourist visa. I was disappointed that there is only an option for a one month visa for online applications whereas if you apply via www.vfsglobal.com you can get a 6 or 12 month multiple entry visa.
Prepare before applying !
It took over 3 & 1/2 hours to complete the appliction. Uploading photo and copy of passport in pdf format – which had to be under 300kb – was time consuming. I’m in my 50’s so thought perhaps it was just me not being very tech savvy but have asked around and it’s not just me . In hindsight I could have completed in stages – and had the photo and passport pdf ready before i started filling in the form. Hopefully the info below in this blog will help you.
How easy is it to fill in the form ?
The form is relatively easy and straightforward to fill in – note where it asks for ‘referee in India’ I have filled in the name of hotel where i was first travelling to. I have filled in Indian visa application forms before and this is acceptable. If you are staying with someone you know that is obviously better. I have previously asked and if you are travelling around and do not know where you are staying it is also perfectly acceptable to just write in here that you are doing that and just write in roughly where you are heading first. However – when travelling to India it is actually quite a good idea to book ahead online somewhere to stay for the first couple of days at least while you get your bearings and then find alternative accommodation when you are there – this also makes filling in the ‘referee in India’ easier.
Laptop or phone best ?
I filled in the form using my laptop – on my phone the text is tiny and large form which needed to be moved around the screen to view) and used apps on my iphone to take passport photo in required square format and also take photo of passport and convert to required pdf size. See snapshots of the apps below. I then sent both to myself via facebook messenger from my phone and opened messenger on laptop and downloaded the photos. There is very probably an easier way but i was mid form and had to work this out as i went along.
The square passport photo was reasonably easy and straight forward – just follow the instructions on the free app – pictured below – which will give you the option of taking a photo with dimensions specific for India.
The PDF shot of the passport not so easy. I used the Free APP in the photo below. It took several attempts – each time sending the photo to myself from my phone to my laptop via facebook messenger and then saving in documents where i could then see how big the document was – the first was 876 kb , far too big and was rejected by the e-visa website . Several attempts later I managed to get it to the correct size by moving the camera further and further away from the passport ( the app will flash up a message to move the camera closer – ignore it , you will need to move it further away) and then crop the photo of any background stuff. Eventually you will get a pdf copy of the photo under 300kb which will be accepted by the e-visa website.
How much does e-tourist visa cost ?
The online visa cost me £49.37 and a 99p non-sterling transaction fee ( cost variable I guess due to currency conversion ). The good news is it arrives very quickly via email taking about a day and a half – a friend received hers quicker than that.
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Remember to print copies off
I forgot to print the email and attachment off ( thinking I could just show the email )and had do do this at Heathrow as Emirites will not let you check-in without a hard copy – had to email it to them at the desk and they printed it off for me.
Passport storage tip
Lastly I purchased an neck pouch passport holder – the one in the link above – as I was constantly showing my passport at the airports and it’s a lot easier to have it easily to hand rather than in a bag. I chose a RFID blocking passport holder for extra security and I strongly advise you do too. The Radio Frequency Shielding Material will block any attempts to steal passport data stored in the microchip in your passport and for extra security you can also store debit/credit cards in there for the same reason. Contactless credit and debit cards have RFID chips embedded in the card which can be read by fraudsters standing next to you with RFID readers. The last thing you want to have happen to you at any time but particularly when you are off on your travels.
And lastly !
On arrival in India you will have to head for e-tourist visa queue and have your biometrics taken. Be prepared for a long wait ! Read my blogpost Indian e-tourist e-visa biometrics problems for more info.
For great advice on choosing your backpack click here