Travellers are often clueless about the need to obtain an India Transit Visa. Is an India Transit Visa an essential piece of document that a traveller must obtain if their journey involves passing through India, to travel to another country? The answer is both YES and NO. It can be confusing because different sets of rules, apply to different circumstances. You may or may not be required to obtain an India transit visa, depending on varying factors, such as length of the layover or whether you exit the airport etc.
Let’s walk you down through different situations, so you have a better understanding and clarity, about India Transit Visa.
When do you not need an India Transit Visa?
This section explains the conditions under which you can transit through India, without obtaining a Transit Visa. You do not need an India Transit Visa if –
- The layover time should not exceed 24 hours, as per your travel itinerary. That means that the time gap between the scheduled arrival of your flight and the scheduled departure of your connecting flight must be less than 24 hours
- You should be in possession of confirmed flight tickets, to a different country
- You must remain in the specified transit area, while at the airport. That means not going through custom and immigration and/or rechecking your luggage
Please note that you will need to meet all of the aforementioned conditions to be able to transit through India, without obtaining a transit visa.
When is an India Transit Visa required?
It is clear that you will require an India Transit Visa if you are unable to comply with any of the abovementioned conditions.
Know that you will require an India Transit Visa if you leave the transit area or go through custom and immigration because when you do that, you officially enter India, which you cannot do without a valid visa.
Often, there are procedures that would require you to exit the transit area and you cannot do this without a transit visa. For instance, you may be required to collect your checked-in baggage on your arrival in India. Baggage can be claimed only after immigration, and immigration is possible only if you have a visa.
You will have to re-check your baggage for the connecting flight. The airline will do it for you, if you have booked through the same airline or through a partner airline, with codeshare. However, in instances where you have booked flights on airlines that do not partner with each other, it becomes your responsibility to collect your checked-in baggage and have it re-checked for the connecting flight.
You will also need to check-in your baggage if your connecting flight is scheduled for the following day. In such a case, you may choose to check into a hotel, for the night, instead of spending hours waiting in the transit zone. This would require you to clear custom and immigration, to enter India, and for this, you will need an India Transit Visa.
It makes sense to apply for an India Transit Visa, prior to your arrival.
Word of advice
When you book your flight, with a layover at an airport in India, ensure that your transit time within India is less than 24 hours
Make sure to book your flight to India, and the connecting flight out of the country, on one ticket. Such bookings are termed as ‘single bookings. A single booking ticket is advantageous, as it can be used to board a connecting flight, without having to clear custom and immigration or claim your checked-in baggage, only to have it checked-in again.
If your connecting flight is booked separately, the responsibility to transfer your checked-in baggage from one flight to the next might fall on your shoulder. That means you will need to go through the rigmarole of immigration, custom, baggage check-in etc., and require an India Transit Visa. Unless, of course, the airlines concerned are codeshare and have an arrangement for baggage transfer.
Sometimes airline ground staff come to the assistance of passengers and help them transfer their baggage to connecting flights, but that is not always possible. You do not want to bank on, something that is not a certainty.
Therefore, to save yourself from harrowing moments, it is advisable to apply for a visa, to transit through India.
What is India Transit Visa?
- The India Transit Visa is a document issued by the Republic of India that allows its holder to travel through India to reach their eventual destination.
- India Transit Visa is valid for a single/double entry into the country.
- The Transit Visa can be used to enter India, within 15 days from the date of issuance. Note, that the validity of the Visa begins from the date it is issued and not from the date you enter the country.
- The Transit Visa can be used only for direct transit, for no more than 3 days. That means that you cannot prolong your stay in India, beyond 3 days.
- The purpose of the Visa cannot be modified – it must be used only for transit.
- Travellers who intend to prolong their stay in India, are required to apply for an appropriate visa, such as a travel visa. Such travellers can apply for an e-Visa through the online mode, before arrival.
Difference between single entry and double entry transit visa
A single-entry transit visa allows you to enter the country once. A double entry transit visa can be used to enter the country on two separate occasions. Apply for a single-entry transit visa if you will pass through India only once. Apply for a double entry transit visa if your return journey passes through India as well.
India Transit Visa Fee
Citizens of the United States of America are charged a total fee of $47.70 for both 15 days single/double entry visa. The fee includes, Consular fee, ICWF fee and service fee.
Citizens of the United Kingdom pay a fee of $95.70 for both 15 days single/double entry. The fee includes Consular fee, ICWF fee and service fee.
The fee for India Transit Visa for non-US citizens is $27.70 and $37.70 for Sri Lankan citizen, for15 days single/double entry. The fee includes Consular fee, ICWF fee and service fee.