The visa application can be a harrowing experience for Filipino travelers. Aside from coming up with a number of requirements to prove you’re not going to overstay (e.g., for a Schengen visa) or that you have enough money to cover your trip (e.g., Chinese visa), you would also need to spend time and money to apply for it.
I was very glad, then, to learn that India has allowed tourist visa on arrival (TVOA) for selected nationalities. Aside from the Philippines, ten other countries can take advantage of this great convenience: Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
Processing the Tourist Visa on Arrival in India
First off, there are only four international airports where the visa on arrival (valid for 30 days from the time of entry) can be processed. These are in Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai.
Based on my research, I brought all these with me, to make sure I have everything that the immigration officials may ask from me:
- Cash payment of US$60
- Photocopies of my passport
- 2 pcs. passport-sized photos
- Bank statement
- Credit card statements for the past 2 months
- Printout of my first night’s hotel booking
When I arrived at the Immigration in Kolkata, I immediately asked an officer where I can get a visa on arrival. He pointed to an office just left to the immigration counters. There were around four staff members there, and when I stated my business, one gave me a form to fill out while another took my passport to photocopy. After I had filled out the form, I attached my picture and that was it.
Tips in Getting the Tourist Visa on Arrival in India
Do note that they accept only rupees, not US dollars as some websites report. As I only had US dollars with me, one of the staff there had to accompany me to the money changer in the arrival area to change my money. A process that could have taken 30 minutes took over an hour because of it.
Note that you can only take advantage of the tourist visa on arrival in India twice in a calendar year, with at least two months’ gap between each visit.
To summarize, these are the things you need to get the tourist visa on arrival in India:
- Cash payment of INR3,300 (change your money somewhere prior to your arrival to save time)
- Passport-sized color photo, 1 pc.
Nothing could be much easier, eh?
One more tip: give exact change. I gave INR3,500 and later, when I asked for my change, the staff said he had already given it to me. I insisted that he hadn’t yet, and after a few back-and-forth, he finally relented to give my change.
How to Commute to the City from the Kolkata Airport
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a taxicab getting out of the airport (it’s very far from the city), take a bus. Once you exit the airport, turn right until you see a few buses parked at the curb. Not all of them pass by the metro, so just ask the driver or conductor.
As they may not speak English, it would be enough to say “Metro?” If they give you a long answer, that probably means no. The second bus conductor I asked just gestured me inside the bus, nodding all the while. Fare from the airport to the nearest metro station (probably the Mahatma Gandhi) is INR40.
Have you tried the visa on arrival in India? What was your experience?
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Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!