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India Entry Requirements - Required Travel Documents for Travel to India

Taj Mahal Agra IndiaU.S. citizens, including U.S. government officials, must have a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India. Visas must be granted by the Indian Embassy or consulate prior to travel, and cannot be secured upon arrival. The Indian Embassy currently outsources its visa services to Cox and Kings Global Services. A tourist visa allows a U.S. citizen to stay in India for six months, a period which is rarely extended.

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Those traveling solely for tourism purposes and planning on staying no more than 60 days may apply for an electronic travel authorizaton (ETA) in lieu of a tourist visa at least 4 days prior to arrival in India.

Those arriving without a valid passport and valid visa/ETA are subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without proper documentation.

Each visitor should carry photocopies of the bio-data page of the traveler's U.S. passport and the page containing the Indian visa and immigration stamp in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian government in the event of theft or loss of the passport. Replacing a lost visa in order to exit the country takes up to three business days.

Americans must know and request the correct type of visa for their visit, since visas types cannot be changed after arrival. The Indian Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. outsource the visa application process. Diplomatic and official visa applications, however, are still accepted directly at the Indian Embassy and Consulates.

Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with a tourist visa and conducted religious activities.

American travelers to India who work in "designated institutes and technology areas" will be subject to a two week waiting period in the visa application process and will be required to submit supplemental information with their visa application.

Scholars planning to conduct research in India often need research clearances in addition to their visas. Specific information is available at the Indian Embassy and Consulates.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register, generally within 14 days of arrival, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying. The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (known as the "Chennai Immigration Office"), Kolkata and Amritsar.

In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function. General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules, including the addresses and telephone numbers for the FRRO offices, can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs web site for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

If a foreign citizen (e.g., an American) overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa regulations, the traveler may require a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Such travelers generally must pay a fine, and in some cases, may be jailed until their deportation can be arranged.

Visa violators seeking an exit clearance can visit the following office any weekday from 10 a.m. - 12 noon: Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi 110 011 (tel. +91-11-2338-5748).

For the most current information on entry and exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-9806 or the Indian Consulate in Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Houston. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.

In a hurry? Apply online for expedited visa service

About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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