With Indiaʼs coronavirus numbers dropping significantly, the government has announced its intention to issue tourist visas again. Tourist travel to India has not been possible since March 2020
India well on its way to containing Covid-19
In few countries did the coronavirus strike so hard as in India. The high population density and other factors allowed the virus to spread very quickly. The country has the second-highest number of infections after the United States and the third-highest number of deaths, behind America and Brazil. After a very intense third wave in the spring, it seemed that India still had a long way to go to contain the virus.
However, in recent months, India has made great progress in getting the coronavirus under control in the country. Both the number of new infections and deaths from Covid-19 are at an all-time low. This has allowed the government to relax many corona measures. Schools have reopened, as have many tourist attractions. Recently, the government announced that 31 districts in the largest state, Uttar Pradesh, are completely coronavirus-free. Several countries, including the United Kingdom, adjusted their negative travel advice for India.
Tourist visas possibly available again soon
With all these positive developments, the government of India has announced that tourist visas for India may soon be issued again. The government believes that the coronavirus outbreak in the country is now sufficiently under control and that the possibilities of allowing tourists back into the country should be explored. The Indian tourism sector desperately needs this. India closed its borders soon after the outbreak, and although in some cases it is now possible to travel to India again, tourists are not welcome for the time being. Before the coronavirus outbreak, India welcomed over 700,000 tourists every month. By May 2021, the number had dropped to 13,307.
Not everyone will be able to travel to India for a holiday right away. The government has said it will implement plans to reopen the borders to tourists in stages to ensure the safety and health of its own people. To begin with, only fully vaccinated tourists will be able to travel to India. The government of India has announced that it will soon publish a list of accepted vaccines. Only travellers who have been fully vaccinated with one of these vaccines will be allowed to enter the country. It is not yet known if there are any further measures that travellers will have to adhere to in order to be allowed to travel to India. It is expected that the standard requirements that other countries impose on visitors, such as taking a PCR test before departure, will also apply to tourist travel to India.
Whether the tourist Indian e-visa will be issued again is also not yet known. India has three electronic visas: the eMedical visa for medical treatment, the eBusiness visa for business travel and the eTourist visa for tourist travel to India. After the coronavirus outbreak, India had temporarily taken the e-visa system offline. The eMedical visa and eBusiness visa can again be applied for, the same as before. However, the eTourist visa is still not available at the moment.
Apply for an Indian visa: online or paper visa?
India has two types of visas: electronic and physical. Electronic visas can be applied for online and are sent by e-mail after approval. For physical or paper visas, you must go to the embassy or consulate to have a sticker affixed in the passport. Since applying for a visa online is much quicker and easier than a physical visa application, most eligible people opt for the electronic visa.
However, there are some conditions attached to the electronic visa. The eTourist visa allows a maximum stay of 90 days in India, and the eBusiness visa allows a maximum stay of 180 days. For longer stays, one has to apply for a physical visa. It is therefore important to read the visa requirements for India carefully before submitting the application, to avoid surprises.