Feb 12 2009

Don't Forget Your Visa (Part I)

In the fury of planning your holiday some people forget almost the single most important thing: a visa to get into the country. If you don't have it, "you ain't coming in, not tonight son, your name's not down". (Sorry, slipped into remembering my abortive attempts at getting into nightclubs when too young, claiming I was on the guess list.)

Before you start wondering about getting a visa, you have got a passport, haven't you? Also this article only deals with my experience of a UK national getting a tourist visa for India.

Few IndiaMikers can forget the legend of Boston Harry and the Expired Passport, but it just goes to prove that you can get caught up in lesser important stuff like "how many ATMs are there", "how should I carry my money around" etc.

For me the visa situation was plain and simple but it was the one thing that gained a huge sigh of relief when it was completed. You just don't know what reasons may be taken into account and what information do they have? Do they dislike members of Amnesty International or Greenpeace? Will they know that I downloaded a copy of Slumdog Millionaire? Of course, I didn't actually do this, that's illegal isn't it?, but I do belong to both Amnesty and Greenpeace, but I've got my visa so who cares?

Applying Online

A first glance at the form on the VFS Global India Visa web site, leads to confusion with questions like "I don't have the names for any referees in India". But applying couldn't be simpler. The form has many pages but each one has a help page which is well worth reading first. Hey, even I read it and I'm a bloke and an geeky IT person to boot. Of course, if you run into confusion/trouble there's a visa section on IndiaMike all about it with a particularly good Q&A article for people in the UK applying for a visa.

When To Apply

I would have happily applied as soon as I booked my flights but I couldn't apply that early. I only wanted a six month single-entry tourist visa but the visa starts from the time they put it in your passport. Really you need to apply within six months of the date you'll arrive back in your home country, otherwise it will run out before you return. The turnaround time for me was 8 days, including posting both ways, and that's for four passports/visas.

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