Famed for its complicated bureaucracy, India is no different when it comes to applying for a visa – with holidaymakers often having to wait two weeks or more to receive approval to visit the country.
But now in a bid to boost tourism and business, the government is launching a visa-on-arrival scheme for visitors from 180 countries, including the UK.
The scheme is expected to be rolled out by October, in time for India’s peak tourist season. It will allow holidaymakers to pick up a 30-day visa at the airport upon arrival.
The current visa process involves submitting an online form, sending your passport to the Indian High Commission along with photos and a pre-paid envelope for your documents to be returned. The visa itself costs £80 and there is a £12.20 handling fee.
The application can be so complicated that some tourists choose to pay companies to fill out their visa form on their behalf, costing around £45.
The new system will still involve a fee – although the amount is still unconfirmed – and tourists will be encouraged to visit an official website to apply and pay the charge before they fly. The visa will then be available for pick up at one of 26 major airports after three days.
There are only 11 countries currently eligible for a visa on arrival, including Finland, Singapore and Japan. But with the extension of the scheme, most countries will be included except nationals from Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi said: ‘This is a very good step. The visa-on-arrival for 180 countries will definitely boost the foreign tourist arrivals in the country.’