Applying for a tourist visa can be a daunting process at first however once you know where to go and the forms to complete it is super simple. So don't waste money on hiring a third party agent to submit your application on your behalf as they can cost hundreds of dollars. You can apply via the post in ALL states and do not need an appointment to go into the Indian Embassy. Although that is an option if you live locally to an Indian Mission. If you are literate than there is certainly no need to hire these agents. Please note whilst all effort is made to ensure information is complete and accurate I cannot make any guarantees. This information is purely as a guide only based on my own experiences of applying for a tourist visa. Information supplied is current as at the time of writing the article.
How To Apply For An Indian Tourist Visa From Australia
Who Can Apply
A tourist visa can only be granted to a foreigner who does not have a residence or occupation in India and whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sightseeing, casual visit to meet friends and relatives etc. No other activity is permissible on a tourist visa. A tourist visa may be issued normally for six months with multiple entries and is non extendable and non convertible.
Where To Start
I went through VFS Global who at the time of applying for my tourist visa was the agent acting on behalf of the Indian Mission and processes all tourist visas submitted online/via post.
Website - http://www.vfsglobal.com/
Email - email@example.com
Helpline - (02) 9037 2579
For current information jump onto the VFS website and search for Indian Tourist Visa. The best place to start is by printing out the checklist which must be initialed at each step of the process then signed and submitted with your application. It basically outlines the whole process for you in one checklist. You can download the form here.
Forms And Application
The application itself is to be completed online ONLY and then printed. You cannot handwrite any of the sections. To access the application online this is through Indian Visa Online. VFS Global do supply the links for Indian Visa Online but just as an FYI don't be concerned when you are redirected to an external page to submit your application. This application must be completed in full then submitted online and printed. It is important to print this application as you must affix your passport photo and sign it. The checklist printed from VFS Global will advise you if you need to print any supplementary forms however the basics are just the application form and checklist.
This one is extremely important as the wrong size photo affixed to your application form will result in them returning your paperwork straight back to you. The Indian Embassy is very strict. When you are going to get your passport photos done simply ask for the Indian Passport size as many retailers will issue you standard Australian size photos even after you specify it is for an Indian Tourist Visa. The specific sizing is 2 x 2 inches.
Fees & Charges
VFS Global does provide a fee estimate calculator so you will know the exact fee involved for processing. The fee usually consists of a processing fee, handling fees and the cost of the visa itself. Which for a basic tourist visa with no supplementary forms was approximately $105 both times I applied.
Submitting Your Application
Depending on which state you are submitting your application from will determine which Indian Mission to submit your application to. VFS Global have this information nicely listed for you with the contact details of each Indian Mission. Living in Brisbane there is no Indian Mission so I had to post my application to Canberra. So be sure to read the details carefully as they do not forward your application on to other centres. Once you have the address details of which Indian Mission to post your application to make sure you have all the relevant paperwork signed and collated then head down to the post office and use an Express Post Envelope via registered mail.
Important Things To Remember
- The date of your tourist visa commences from the date that the Indian Mission process your application not the date you request. So if you send your application too early from the date you depart for India you will find that you will need to bring forward your return flight.
- Ensure you have longer than 6 months expiry on your current passport as this can be easily overlooked and you will be declined.
- You must have purchased both your departing and returning flights before applying for your tourist visa.
- Photos must be EXACTLY 2 x 2 inches otherwise your application will be returned.
- Be sure to SIGN and INITIAL every section where they request it - again if you miss a spot it will be returned. Even if you just miss an initial on the check list.
- It takes approximately 7 business days to process AND return your application so I always leave my application till about the 2-3 week mark before departure.
- You can purchase insurance from Australia Post for important documents in the event your passport is lost in the mail and you need to pay for passport reconstruction costs. And YOU CAN purchase more than the standard $100 insurance that is given on the registered express post envelope. I have had difficulties purchasing this insurance on both occasions however it does exist. Just because it is a document does not mean you cannot insure it given replacement costs for important documents are usually quite high.
Moving to India, read 10 Things To Expect As An Expat Moving To India.