Ok .. a quick post which will be of interest to only a very limited audience, but I think VERY useful for those that it’s relevant to.

In a nutshell, almost all visitors to India need a visa.  Unlike many Western countries that have visa waver programs in place with NZ, India requires a visa to be obtained in 99% of cases, prior to your arrival in India.  This means filling out a form, sending it in to the nearest Indian embassy, with your passport, and the $60 US equivalent and then waiting a few weeks for it to be sent back.

Luckily (or so I thought) New Zealander’s get a special exemption, being one of five countries that are allowed to obtain Visa on Arrival.  Cool I thought – I will just do that.

Ummm, no, not quite.  In a nutshell: DON’T DO IT and here’s why:

  • It may be a visa on arrival, but its not an INSTANT via on arrival.  It took 3 hours (and this was at 2am when only one other person was applying)
  • Its quite a new thing from what I can tell.  Signs are so limited at Immigration, and few staff know about it in India, so you end up queuing 3 times before you even get to the right place
  • You still need two colour photos, proof of address etc, all the things you need for a normal visa – so all you are doing is putting off what you COULD have done prior to arrival, but are now doing them when you arrive – and anyone who has been to India will know they work at their own pace.
  • Most visas are more of an admin thing – but this is a full on interview (by 3 diff people), and then 5 diff staff filling our forms (by hand) while you wait .. and wait.
  • Did I mention it takes ages?

So yes, it works, but no, don’t do it. Be organised and apply for a visa to India before you go. (full info on Indian visas on this page) The only exception would be if you want to pop over to India on short notice – I guess it’s handy being a Kiwi then!

Black and White Version: Visa on Arrival for Kiwis entering India does work, but is so slow you are FAR better off applying for a visa the normal way.

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