India is more than one of the most populous countries in the world: it is a destination of yearning for free spirits, home of Ayurvedic medicine and yoga, an Eldorado for vegetarians and lovers of exotic food, scenically incredibly diverse and culturally always worth the trip.
Before you can explore the subcontinent, you need to know and meet the entry requirements for India. Here you can find out everything you need to know: from forms and visas to customs regulations and the entry procedure.
First useful information for a successful entry
As with many destinations outside the European Union, you will need a valid passport to enter India. This must meet the usual regulations, that is, it must be valid at least six months after the expiry of the visa. Also, at least two blank pages must be present for the entry and exit stamps.
Exemptions apply to citizens of certain countries: locals from Seychelles, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives, as well as Indian citizens living abroad and people holding an Indian national identity card, do not need a visa to enter India. Basically, travellers from the following countries find it difficult to easily travel to India: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka and the USA.
Provided you do not have a diplomatic passport, you will need a visa in any case. There are a variety of visas, depending on the focus of your trip. Work visas and student visas, as well as visas for participation in voluntary services, are subject to different regulations than, for example, tourist visas.
The focus here should be on the tourist visa, which is usually valid for a stay of up to six months. If you plan to stay longer, you are required to apply for the appropriate visa and to report to the responsible residence authorities no later than four days after arrival.
Which visa suits your India vacation?
There are basically two types of visa that are suitable for tourists: the classic visa, which is applied for at the Indian embassy or consulate in Germany, and the electronic visa, which various service providers organize.
You will always be on the safe side if you apply for an entry permit through an official visa broker at the embassy or consulates general. The Embassy has its headquarters in Berlin, consulates can be found in Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt are Main. Where you need to apply for your visa depends on your registered residence from.
Online fill out the visa application, which requires information about yourself including the professional activity and nature and purpose of your stay in India. You print it out, enclose two valid and biometric, identical passport photos and send everything together with your passport and the payment receipt to the agency to the amount of the visa fees.
It is essential to allow sufficient time, as public holidays or strikes in the postal and telecommunications systems may possibly delay the return of your passport including visa. You can also hand in the documents personally to the embassy/consulate and collect them again personally by appointment.
If you spontaneously decide to travel to India, you can do a kind of Visa-On-Arrival apply. These are electronic visas, which must be applied for at least four days before arrival. However, you should not apply for the e-visa too early, otherwise, it may fall below the prescribed validity period during your stay.
A printout of the application must be kept. In addition, this visa can only be applied for and used under two conditions: firstly, the duration of stay in India is not more than 60 days, and secondly, entry is via one of the 16 specified airports. All of the information on India’s entry regulations provided here applies to both adults and children.
Even the little ones need their own passport including a visa. For some airports in areas that require a permit, a Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required. Staying without the authorization requirement can lead to a prison sentence.
On the safe side with the WHO vaccination certificate
The vaccination regulations in the context of the entry requirements for India are not very strict, but a few things should be observed. In any case, you should inform yourself well in advance of the start of your vacation on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office and the Robert Koch Institute and, if applicable, the responsible Indian authorities about current vaccination regulations.
Especially if you do not start your journey from Germany and may have travelled directly to a country that is considered a risk country for yellow fever. In each case the proof of a valid yellow fever vaccination is necessary.
A recent or refreshed measles and polio vaccine is also advisable to avoid any doubt about your health when entering India. It is also advisable, although not mandatory, to have rabies vaccinated. These three, not cheap syringes can truly save lives.
In India, many stray dogs run around, agile especially in the cool evening hours. There is no fundamental danger to these animals, but contact with an infected animal can be unpleasant. In addition, vaccination coverage usually covers a period of ten years.
Interesting to know if you plan to visit more exotic countries in the next few years. If you want to be on the safe side, you can request malaria prophylaxis at the responsible Tropical Institute. But it is also enough to take medication to treat the symptoms of a possible outbreak.
Malaria prophylaxis also depends heavily on which region in India you would like to travel to. For a city break to New Delhi or the stay in the highlands, it is certainly less necessary than for a stay in wetlands and the so-called backwaters of Kerala in the south of the country. The season also plays a role.
This may be in your luggage – or not:
Customs regulations, species protection and Co. Of course, there are countries where the value of your luggage is placed on their entry. Think of the biosafety of New Zealand or the increased security of the Americans.
On the other hand, India is quite moderate when it comes to importing certain foods, valuables and plant or animal products. Nevertheless, you can avoid inconvenience or even prosecution if you observe the following rules:
In principle, it is forbidden to use animal species and their products in Washington
Species protection agreements are listed, import or export. For you as a vacationer, this means primarily to put extra attention to processed leather products or jewellery.
Corals, snakeskin accessories and the like usually harbour a certain degree of uncertainty. If you still do not want to do without the antique jewellery or the writing set made of coral, a CETIS certificate is required, which confirms the proof of age and the harmlessness of the item to be carried. The same goes for souvenirs and items you want to export from India.
The wooden carved elephant instead of real tusk, in turn, holds no risk and is a popular souvenir for your own four walls and friends. Gold, unless it is of Indian descent, in the form of coins or bars may not be imported under any circumstances.
In addition, all sums of money, regardless of currency and form (including Traveller Checks) exceeding $ 5,000, must be registered upon entry. In addition, you can leave the erotic love movie and the nude photos at home or delete the files of the smartphone, tablet and Co.
And also, drugs have absolutely nothing to look for in your luggage or “by the man”. The Indian authorities are very strict in this case. Immediate departure is still the mildest punishment that can be applied.
Before you can start your holiday: the procedure at the airport
The flight is done. You have landed, are looking forward to the many new impressions and just pass passport and customs control to pass before the holiday can finally start. It may sound old-fashioned, but please do not share your exuberant joy over the coming days off when travelling as a gay couple.
Although homosexuality has no longer been punishable in India since 2018, it does not seem to have been received by everyone. If you are not greeted by the Indian officials with a smile when you enter the country, you should not worry: In this point, the Indians may handle it like the North Germans and only give a cool and emotionally neutral impression.
However, what distinguishes the Indians from the Germans more than clearly is a certain degree of arbitrariness. Even within your travel group, the entry of holidaymakers can be handled differently. You may find that each of you has a different visa validity period. Don’t let that irritate you, stay calm and polite and just have all the documents required by the official ready.
When it comes to communication, there shouldn’t be any problems, provided you have sufficient English skills and try to tolerate the Indian accent. In addition, do not be irritated by the striking shaking of the heads of the Indians: this usually signals approval rather than rejection and is not associated with a “no”, as in the Central European culture.
Another common procedure at the airport is taking your biometric data, i.e. a photo is taken and you have to give your fingerprints digitally. However, this is now a common practice when entering many countries.
Proof of sufficient financial means to be able to spend your vacation in India and ideally proof of accommodation, at least for the first night, is also of enormous advantage. About a return ticket or proof of onward journey (for example, a ticket to Sri Lanka or other popular destinations in the Indian Ocean), you will definitely have if you have an e-visa as this is a requirement. If you are travelling with a classic visa, you are doing yourself a favour, at least to have an open return ticket.
A handful of useful information on entry
The Federal Foreign Office warns of trips to Jammu and Kashmir, as the government is lifting the region’s security jams. The security situation in Ladakh remains stable.
Even if you are on a plane, have a valid visa and are getting closer to your destination every hour, this is not always the guarantee for a successful entry to India.
For example, you could be refused entry to the airport if you violate customs regulations, if you have intoxicants with you (provided these were not already discovered when you left Germany). It is also possible that entry to India could be refused if the passenger is heavily alcoholic and behaves at the airport accordingly.
In case of discrepancies concerning the validity of the passport and the visa, you will usually not be taken on board at the German airport.
Are animals allowed to go to India?
If you plan to take your four-legged or feathered friend with you to India, you must bring a pet ID with you. Valid vaccinations against rabies, distemper, leishmaniasis and leptospirosis are necessary.
As a rule, a quarantine for dogs and cats is not necessary for birds it could look different. Under certain circumstances, reimportation to Germany after the holiday for your pet is a bit more difficult than entering India, as it cannot be ruled out that your dog or cat has come into contact with rabies-infected animals on holiday.