Tips for getting an Indian E-Visa: It can be harder than you think! (2017 Update)

I have heard repeated reports that getting an Indian E-Visa can be extremely difficult. There are cases where the website won’t accept payment and even where it won’t work on a Mac computer only on Windows!

A friend of mine who just went through the process shared the below tips:

  1. Leave plenty of time before your planned travel to fill out your application form online. 
  2. 
Carefully read the requirements on the indianvisaonline.gov.in website. Make sure your passport PDF and photo JPEG comply with their specifications. 
  3. 
PC’s seem to work better than mac’s to fill out the form. 
  4. 
Try and complete the application in one sitting, carefully recording your application ID #. 
  5. 
When choosing to pay, only use the SBI e-pay button and preferably pay by PayPal. 
  6. 
If, for some reason, your payment does not appear to go through or you get a message that the payment failed, don’t panic. Do not fill out a new application. Visit the “Visa Enquiry” button at the top of the e-visa page at least 4 hours or the next day after you made your submission. Also check with your bank to see if the payment went through. 
  7. 
If the Visa enquiry says the payment is not done then go to the Pay/Verify Payment button and try again. Payment can be made several days after your application has been submitted. 
  8. 
If your payment appears in your bank details but not on the indian e-Visa website, then it seems very difficult to contact anyone either by email or phone call to follow up the matter. It maybe easier to just pay the amount again. 
  9. 
Many people seem to have some sort of difficulty with the online application. Suggestions are regularly posted on the internet to help with different matters. A solution to any problem you may be experiencing sometimes is found there. 
  10. 
Be Patient and good luck!

Sorry it can be so crazy but that’s Indian bureaucracy for you.

If you have your own tips, please share in the comments below! 🙂

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9 Comments on “Tips for getting an Indian E-Visa: It can be harder than you think! (2017 Update)

  1. Thanks for your tips which helped calm me (a little bit) when going through Indian e-visa application hell… nice to know others share in the frustration. I finally received my visa after about four days of non stop efforts. “Hang in there” seems to be the best advice.

  2. INDIA’S SECRET WAR TO DISCOURAGE TOURISTS CONTINUES, E-VISA MADNESS V-4
    1 March 2018
    In the past three years, we have been flying to Asia – missing out on 6 cruises we would have taken but passed up, only because they had port stops in India. Even if you didn’t plan to disembark & get off the boat, most cruise lines going from Europe to Asia or vice versa insist you need a visa just to be in “India’s Waters.”
    Then as of this year  we heard that India has introduced a new enlightened policy to issue visas online. They still won’t offer cruise passengers free visas on arrival, like every other port-stop does, but now India the advertised simplified visa procedure. One can supposedly get visas100% online. This caused us to sign up after 3 years of forgoing cruises to Asia, that had even one port stop in India. Because of many bad experiences, we decided we would not disembark during the next  port stop in 2018.
    Then we learned that even with this new policy,
    INDIA’S SECRET WAR TO DISCOURAGE TOURISTS CONTINUES UNABATED.
    First, there is no “free visa” even if you don’t get off the ship. The price is $50 to $75 or more — depending upon your passport. But this unwarranted visa fee was by far not the worst of it. The online application site proved to be the most formidable, unfriendly   site on the net. You start out by going to . You then check “e-visa” and you get an encouraging, understandable message asking you to download a visa application form. That’s when the Byzantine nonsense starts:
    Instructions say you can only file within a certain time frame, and from the country where you have lived for at least the last 2 years. Neither the time frame nor the country fits my situation and needs. So I soldiered on, ignoring these requirements.
    We selected the port of arrival from the list, but the app form then disappears from our screen with no explanation. After a few hours of trying we replaced the port we expected to arrive at with the nearest airport to the port. Then, hoping that having an airport instead of the correct seaport would be accepted upon arrival, at least page 1 was accepted. We then received a 15 digit “Temporary Return to delayed application ID number.” This was supposed to get us back to our partially filled out application form. But did it? NO! It took  of experimentation to figure out that  prepared the form managed to use letters that looked like numbers and numbers that looked like letters. And so, 0ll turned out to be O11. Experimenting with different numbers and letters to get the form back on screen took a few hours, during which we got at least 5 messages: “Session expired.”
    The date of embarkation and arrival seems to be calculated for airplanes, not boats, so a long delay between trip departure and arrival in India causes the form to disappear (again!) without further explanation. A lot of experimentation on how to outsmart the form processing software results in getting to the next page after the ID number to restore the incomplete app fails several times.
    The ID number to get back to your original pending application kept changing — always with the number or letter I, confused with 1, and/or the same problem with Zero and the letter “O.”
    Then came the confusing questions:
    What is your residence address? O.K. This was not hard to answer until you read the attached requirement that you must say you have “lived at your present address for at least two years prior to the application.” If applying from a vacation destination, you are forced to lie.
    Were any of your grandparents ever in the area now known as Pakistan? In my case, my grandparents have been dead (before I was born) about 180 years ago. How the heck would I know where they were a couple centuries ago? So I just put “No.” But I don’t like being asked questions that I can’t possibly know the answer to. You are forced to lie.
    What is your religion? Why do they need me to put that private info on a semi-public site (as all email is! Why do they have to know the religion of a guy who is going to be in “Indian Waters” for a few hours, without disembarking on land –? Did that question mean if I answered wrong, I would be denied a visa and lose my non-refundable cruise boat fare? My religion “Agnostic” was not among the few choices given, and so I chose a religion I knew was common in India. I don’t like to be forced to lie, but there was again, no choice to insert “other.”. What if I was a “Jedi Knight” as a third of all Australians claim to be when asked their religion? You are forced to lie.

    Where were your parents born? What is their citizenship? What was their prior citizenship?  I knew the answers, but as both my parents died during my childhood, maybe people like me would not know. But leaving an answer blank meant you would lose the form again and might not be able to get it back. I had to start over several times because of this.  the only answer is to make something up on the spur of the moment. Don’t like lying? The Indian visa app forces you to lie.
    Were you ever in India before? Give dates, visa numbers, etc.? If I had a port stop many years ago, where would I get that old visa data? It might be in an old passport long since lost or destroyed. If I visited India seventy years ago as a serviceman– when I did not need a visa, and I answered ‘yes I visited’ (but couldn’t fill in the blanks with the visa dates and numbers) the application again shuts down for lack of old visa numbers. Unfriendly site? You are forced to lie or give up…
    Then you get to the document downloads: Picture & Passport?. Another long day of frustration. Anywhere else you are asked to download pictures, you simply do it. The recipient’s software takes care of resizing or getting it into the form they need, Not India. Your photo download has to be 2” X 2” a certain number of kilobytes, 350 X 350 Pixels and in JPG format. It takes a good knowledge and a paid download of photoshop to be able to take the photo and download it to the point where it is not rejected by India – as mine was a dozen times. I finally hired a technician to get my photo to the exact specs required. Then came the next required document, a photo of the passport. This time more new pixel requirements and surprise, surprise? It must be in a different format from your photo. Not JPG but PDF. Uploading the needed foto/documents in the “required format,” was an all-day task needing  downloaded apps like  Acrobat and outside technical support…
    Give two references in India? Leave it blank and application disappears again. Where do you get 2  references?  We put in the name of 2 travel agents we got off the internet –in the port city., These were accepted. You are forced to lie.
    Supply the airport and relative notification details to which you will be flown if you get a serious medical problem or otherwise. If you put in someone at the final seaport of the cruise, your application is again rejected and the page goes blank. The name and an airport  to be in your country of citizenship, even if it is on the other side of the world from where you live, expect to arrive or have friends & relatives waiting. You are forced to lie.
    Then came time to pay with Visa, MC or pay-pal. Normally that is easy, but the Visa App asks you to choose a method of payment: SBI or AXIS? What’s that? Another hour of research. SBI = State Bank of India, I still don’t know what Axis is. But I checked SBI and payment  finally accepted. Whew. Only 3 days wasted on filling out their form.
    Then a completed app (with  you supplied) comes up on screen with a warning that if any information is found to be incorrect, the applicant may face criminal charges in India.  you are warned that you have only completed an application, and upon arrival in  you will need an additional “approval” paper which is promised within 72 hours. You get another secret ID Number (the fifth in my case) to use to access this letter. At  it came!
    Upon arrival at the seaport in India, old partially disabled people like me are obliged to stand up in a long line aboard ship for up to two hours waiting for the huge battery of Indian officials to “check papers” by passing them around to other officials.
    Upon disembarkation, people with E-visas were shunted into a separate processing area where they are made to wait again (in one case we heard of – for three hours in a hot steamy, uncomfortable room) only to be interrogated prior to getting a visa stamp in their passports.
    Observation: The typical Indian Bureaucrat seems to get his kicks by delaying people and causing problems. Israel, with far greater security concerns  gives everyone a free visa upon arrival without any formalities. At the port there is ONE attractive woman official who simply looks you over, doesn’t bother with any papers, smiles, and says “Welcome To Israel.”
    What’s the bottom line?
    1. INDIA’S SECRET WAR TO DISCOURAGE TOURISTS CONTINUES UNABATED.
    2. The only clear path seems to be:
    NEVER BOOK A CRUISE WITH ANY PORT STOPS IN INDIA
    UNLESS YOU WANT ENDLESS FRUSTRATION!
    3. To Cruise Ship Lines- Never schedule any port stops in India unless  
    you want many unhappy cruisers.

  3. you are a genius I tried like 300 times unsuccesfully to pay the fee and your tip to do it with paypal made my night! thanks a lot!!

  4. FRUSTRATIONS GALORE TRYING TO GET THERI SITE TO WORK,
    LIKE EVERYONE ELSE i WISH i NEVER HAD TO VISIT INDIA

  5. I’ve been looking at getting a tourist E-visa for our short visit in mid August. Did some research and found lots of agencies/websites that claimed that they help with the application, only the price they are charging does not seem to line up with what the price listed on the government website. The official government website said not to believe in agency that claims to expedite application with a fee and Cox & King said not to go directly to the government website to apply for it… But from the sound of this post, it is possible to get the E-visa on our own without going through an agency. I’m so confused…… So my question is – can I apply for the E-visa myself or should I go through an agency?

    Thanks for any feedback you might have!

    • You can definitely do it yourself. Most people do it themselves but as I point out, it can be frustrating. I’ve never used a service for getting an evisa but it is possible they would help take the headache out for their fee.

      Cheers

      Asher

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