India Tourist Visa from Canada
For my upcoming trip to Asia in November, I just finished going through the process of applying for an Indian tourist visa. And I decided to write about it to give those who will be visiting India in the future some ideas. I will only mention my own experience obtaining a regular tourist visa.
There are other types of tourist visas (such as e-Visa, medical visa, etc.) and/or different procedures for obtaining them, which I am not talking about here. This process is applicable in Canada and possibly very similar to other European countries or the USA. The process and links mentioned below to obtain a visa from the country you are reading from could be very different. For that matter, the process in Canada may have totally changed by the time you are reading this. So check the Consulate General of India website first before starting your application.
To break it down to its simplest terms, here are the steps you need to go through to obtain an Indian tourist visa:
1. Except for a handful countries, citizens of most other countries require a visa before arriving in India. See the BLS link for those countries whose citizens can be issued a visa upon arrival. Link 1: http://www.blsindia-canada.com/touristvisa.php
2. You need to fill out and submit an online visa application and get a printout. Link 2: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html Obtain other documents, such as an appropriate picture, passport, fees, and anything else mentioned under the Requirements tab on the Link 1 website.
3. BLS International, an outsourcing company, looks after India visa processing, and you need to submit everything required to BLS Centres assigned to your area. You can find your BLS Centre by visiting the Contact section under Link 1. If you have any questions, call BLS to clarify before going there.
4. Once you submit, your passport with visa will be mailed out to you or you can pick it up at BLS once available.
There is the option to mail out everything to BLS instead of physically going there, but I do not recommend this because everything will be delayed if they found any mistakes on your application. The benefits of physically submitting an online printout at BLS is that if there are any errors, BLS will tell you right away and you can correct it by submitting another online application on the same day if time permits.
My application was declined the first time, as I put Canada as place of issue instead of Gatineau. I had one hour left before the cut-off time for that day. I rushed to a computer store next door to resubmit online with a new printout (once you apply online it cannot be modified if there was a mistake and you need to redo the whole thing again) and was still able to make it.
The full process is not that difficult. However, with a Canadian passport I am not used to getting a visa because I can travel most places without a visa. For those few countries where a visa is required, I feel slightly weird about going through the process of obtaining it. I have a video on this as well for which I will provide a link on the top left of this article.