Updated March 2017.
Back in 2013 when I went to India, Filipinos could get a tourist visa on arrival in most airports. As of 2015, however, India required Filipino visitors (as well as other nationalities, except those with Pakistani passports) to apply for an Electronic Tourist Visa.
Thus, if you’re planning to visit India, apply for a visa online first, because you can no longer get it at the airport.
The process is simple. According to the e-Visa India page, it’s as simple as the following:
What you need to know before applying for an electronic tourist visa:
- You must apply for the ETV at least 4 days before your intended arrival date in India. You must arrive in India within 120 days of your application; that is, if you are applying on May 1, you can select an arrival date from May 5 to September 4.
- Apply here: e-Visa India and choose e-Tourist visa.
- You will have to upload a passport-sized photo with a white background as well as the photo page of your passport.
- The e-Visa fee is country or territory specific and can be paid via debit card or credit card. For the Philippines, it’s $50. For other countries, check out this page: ETV revised fee.
- You will receive the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) via your email, and you should print out a copy of this to take along with you. Make sure your ETA status is shown as GRANTED. Check your visa status here.
- The India e-Visa is valid for entry through 24 designated Airports — Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Chandigarh,Cochin, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, and Varanasi. It is also valid through 3 designated seaports — Cochin, Goa, and Mangalore.
So, don’t forget: apply for an India electronic tourist visa at least 4 days before your intended departure, and when you receive the authorization, print it out and bring it with you together with a return ticket. You can apply for an Electronic Tourist Visa twice in one year.
For Filipinos, bring as well a printout of confirmed hotel bookings, bank certificate, and certificate of your leave of absence from work in case the immigration officers ask for it. I didn’t bring any of those when I went to India, but it’s better to be prepared than be offloaded, especially for those with no extensive travel history.
The following was my experience applying for a visa on arrival in India, back when they still allowed TVOA. It’s no longer applicable today.
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?