Do I Need a Visa to Visit India?

Out of 196 countries in the world, India was ranked #40 in tourism by the United Nations World Trade Organization Barometer, according to a press release released by the Press Information Bureau, Government of India. Being such a popular destination for foreign tourist arrivals, the country cannot do away with the process of issuing visas entirely. Thus, the Indian government requires all foreign nationals to have a valid visa issued in their name prior to their arrival, although there are some exceptions to this formality. Read on to understand who needs an Indian visa and who doesn’t.

Who Does Not Need an Indian Visa?

  • Bhutan – Bhutanese citizens do not require a visa to enter India or even live and work in the country, for an indefinite period, unless they depart from mainland China.
  • Nepal – As a provision in the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Nepali nationals do not require a visa to enter, work and stay indefinitely in India, unless they arrive in a flight that departed from mainland China.
  • Maldives – Maldivian citizens arriving from anywhere, except mainland China, and staying for a maximum of 90 days, do not require any visa.
  • Japan – Japanese nationals do require a visa but they do not need to apply for one prior to their visit. They can get a visa on arrival.
  • Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) – Foreign citizens with an Overseas Citizen of India registration certificate do not require a visa and are allowed multiple entries to the country and have the right of domicile here. You can learn more about OCI and register for a certificate here. (Citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, mainland China, Nepal or Pakistan are generally not entitled to hold Overseas Indian Citizenship.)
  • Persons of Indian Origin – All persons of Indian origin are also entitled to an OCI certificate and enjoy all the same rights and privileges.

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Who Needs an Indian Visa?

  • Citizens of all nations, other than the ones mentioned above, are required to apply for and obtain a visa prior to their visit to India. These nations include the United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, China and many more.
  • Pakistani nationals not only require a visa for entering India but their visa application needs a special clearance, to be given by the Government of India.
  • The Government of India facilitates an all-electronic procedure to apply, pay for and obtain an India e-Visa. However, citizens of some countries are not eligible to apply for an e-Visa. These include the Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Ethiopia, Uganda, Algeria and more.
  • For a better understanding of India’s visa policy for a specific country, take a look at this map.  

The Economic Times says, India is the 7th largest tourism economy in the world, hence its own economy relies heavily on tourism. What one can infer from this is that it is probably not that difficult to obtain an Indian visa. Just follow the guidelines laid down for your country and apply for a visa well in advance. Or if you are from Nepal, Bhutan or Maldives, just walk in!

To know the procedure to applying for an Indian visa, please read this article – Procedure for applying Indian visa.

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Mani Karthik

About the Author

Mani Karthik

Ex “NRI” and Founder of the “Back to India” movement. I share my experience about immigrating to USA here.

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