The government of India defines 'tourist' as a person, not normally resident in India, who enters the country for a stay of not more than six months in any twelve-month period for purely non-immigration purposes, such as touring, recreation, sports, health, family reasons, study, religious pilgrimage or business. The entry of this 'tourist' is governed by a number of regulations
All foreign nationals, including those from Commonwealth Nations, require visa to enter India . However there are some relaxation for Bhutanese and Nepalese nationals. Visas are not issued on arrival. Tourist visas are generally valid for a stay of 120 to 180 days. The cost of the visa is US$ 30 for up to six months. If you are planning to visit a neighbouring country, such as Nepal , and then re-entering India , a double/multiple entry visa should be obtained.
As a rule, no extension of stay is granted on a Tourist visa. Tourist visas are available for a maximum period of 180 days. No charges are levied for visa extension within the maximum period of 180 days. You need to keep identical passport photographs. However, in case of an extension beyond 180 days, which is allowed only in exceptional cases, an extension fee is charged the, the amount of which varies from country to country.
If a foreigner wishes to come for a purpose other than tourism, he should obtain an appropriate visa for the same.
Business Visa — a multiple-entry visa is valid for five years,
Student Visa — can be obtained on the production of the proof of admission and means of sustenance while in India, Conference Visa — delegates coming to attend international conferences are granted conference visa as well as for tourism purposes,
Employment Visa — this is initially granted for one year and can be extended up to the period of contract.
Foreigners wanting to study yoga, music, Vedic culture, dance etc, or undertake trekking, botanical expeditions, rafting etc, or sportspersons may obtain their appropriate visas.
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Customs on Arrival
There are two customs clearance channels. The green channel is for travellers carrying non-dutiable items while the red channel is for visitors carrying dutiable items. Duty Free include items such as clothing and other articles which may reasonably be required during the stay, provided that, if not consumed in India, they are re-exported on departure. Professional materials, which have a high value, can only be imported duty free if the traveler gives a written undertaking that these articles will be re-exported. This formality should better be done in the home country in consultation with Indian Mission. Take care to obtain an Export Certificate for these items if you are travelling to neighbouring countries and intend a multiple entry.
Visitors are generally required to make a declaration in respect of Foreign Currency in their possession; if it is more than the permitted limit (cash or travellers cheques over US$ 10,000 or equivalent), they will have to obtain a currency declaration form before leaving customs. The import of Prohibited Articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, gold/silver bullion and coins, not in current use, is either totally prohibited or restricted. Weapons brought into the country should be licensed and declared. Possession of narcotics is strictly prohibited. Separate regulations govern the importation of Commercial Samples and Merchandise. This travelers should consult with High Commission/Embassy before departure.
As regards, Cigarettes, Cigars, Tobacco and Alcohol, tourist may import the following without paying any duty : (a) 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; and, (b) 1 litre of wine; and (c) 1 litre of alcoholic liquor.
The import or export of Indian currency is forbidden without the prior permission of the Reserve Bank of India.
In case your baggage has been lost or mishandled by the airline, please obtain a certificate to this effect from the airline for follow up with the airline. You should also have the certificate countersigned by the Customs, indicating specifically how much of your duty-free allowance is un-utilized. Customs Enquiry/Complaints: Assistant Collector of Customs at the international airport OR Commissioner of Customs, Near Customs House, Near IGI Airport, New Delhi – 110037.
Customs on Departure
By law, visitors are banned from taking gold jewellery (above Rs. 6,000), wildlife products and antiques (over 100 years old) out of the country - any infringement is punishable by fines and imprisonment.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment up to 7 years. Foreigners are, therefore, advised not to buy any wildlife or wildlife products or derivatives — specially ivory articles, fur and skin articles derived from wild animals such as Shahtoosh.
A Foreign Travel Tax must be paid by all tourists on departure — Rs. 150 for departures to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives and Rs. 500 for all other countries.
Travel Tips while traveling In India
* Carry attested photocopies of your travel documents such as your passport and visa in person and keep the originals in a safely locked baggage.
* You must carry some identification on you at all times.
* On arrival in India, foreign nationals are required to fill up a Currency Declaration Form along and a Disembarkation Card besides making an oral declaration of the luggage they’re carrying.
* Tourists traveling to India with a visa permit for 180 days need to obtain a Registration certificate and residential permit and submit four passport size photographs for the same. The registration certificate has to be returned to the issuing authority while leaving the country.
* Foreign tourists can make payments through traveler’s cheques, credit cards or foreign currency. Indian rupees can be used in case of proof of legal currency exchange.
* Air / rail or travel tickets should only be bought from an authorized travel agent only.
* It is advisable to drink packaged mineral water bottles that are available all over India.
* You are advised to carry your medication with you.
* Avoid hot & spicy food.
* Those touring attractions in restricted areas such as Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland must procure special Restricted Area tour permits that are issued by authorized India Tourist Offices.
* All the government and administrative offices in India work from 0930 to 1700 hours on weekdays.