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Do I Need a Transit Visa to India? Explained and Examples

International travelers transiting between different flights in airports in the Indian sub-continent need proper legal authorization from the country’s union government.

The documents needed for transferring between two flights depend on the length of the layover and whether foreign travelers plan to leave the airport between the flights. 

If the length of the stopover is less than 24 hours, they do not generally need an Indian transit visa.

They can present the onward flight tickets at the immigration counter and proceed to the departure terminal for the next flight. 

If they want to make good use of the layover period and wish to go out of the airport and explore the country a little bit, they need to get a transit visa. 

Here’s what international travelers need to know about transiting through India. 

When is a Transit Visa Needed?

International travelers who are on a long journey that includes two or more flights with a change in India or who have booked a connecting flight to another destination from an airport in the country need an India transit visa. 

In most scenarios the layover time in India is between 24 – 72 hours. 

If the stopover is less than 24 hours, they are not usually required to get a transit visa for India. Note that if they need to go through custom checks, they need an India transit visa even if their layover is less than 24 hours.  

For stopovers above 24 hours, travelers need a transit visa even if they are not planning to leave the airport. 

If the stopover time is more than 72 hours, they need another suitable visa. They can explore other options including visas on arrival or an e-Tourist visa (eTV).

When is a Transit Visa Not Needed?

A foreign traveler does not need an Indian transit visa if he/she meets the following conditions 

  • Layover time between the connection flights is less than 24 hours
  • If he/she can produce a confirmed flight ticket to another destination. The flight’s scheduled departure should be within 24 hours
  • If she/her does not need to clear customs or does not need to re-check their luggage
  • If she/he does not plan to go out of the specified transit area

Foreign travelers need an India transit visa if they need to leave the transit area and clear customs for some reasons, if they need to re-check their luggage to the destination country or if they plan to spend the night in a nearby hotel before the connection flight.  

International travelers entering India via a seaport are not required to get a transit visa if they remain onboard the ship. However, if travelers want to leave the vessel, a visa will be needed. Foreigners who already hold an Indian eVisa for tourism, business or medical treatment too do not need a transit visa for India. 

How to Get a Transit Visa for India?

A transit visa for India is issued to foreign travelers who are required to transit through the country to another destination if they are able to provide proof of their onward journey like a flight ticket. 

There are single and double entry Indian transit visas with a validity of 15 days. 

It is to be noted that the visa validity is calculated from the date of issuance and travelers who are not planning a trip after the validity period should not apply for it.  

In case they need a stopover during their return journey, that is after 15 days, they need to apply for a new India transit visa. 

Also, travelers need to provide onward tickets to another country to get an India transit visa. So, it is important to reserve the onward flight ticket before applying for the transit visa for India. 

How to Apply?

The application process for an Indian transit visa is simple and straightforward. Applicants need to fill out an online application form, take a print of it and other travel, identity and supporting documents and submit it at the nearest Indian consulate and embassy. 

The processing time for a transit visa for India is between three to six working days. 

Note that foreign travelers cannot get an Indian transit visa on arrival at the port of entry. They need to get the visa before departing from their home country. 

The India government issues tourist visas on arrival for citizens of certain eligible countries. This can be used instead of an Indian transit visa. However, only travelers from countries like Japan, Finland, Myanmar and Cambodia are entitled for this. 

Documents required for an Indian transit visa are as follows:  

  • A passport that is valid for at least six months
  • Two photographs
  • Completed visa application form
  • Flight tickets for an onward flight

Note that the India transit visa (both single and double entry) costs 40 USDs. The India government has outsourced the visa application process to a private agency in some countries. Applicants from those countries will have to pay service charges apart from the visa fee.  

How Does a Flight Transit Work? 

There are different transit procedures in India, based on whether the passengers booked a single flight for their entire journey or if they have booked separate flights for arrival at an Indian airport and onward journeys.  

Each ticket reservation creates a PNR (Passenger Name Record) number in the airline’s database. If they book two tickets, they will have two PNR numbers.  

Depending on the number of PNR numbers, international travelers will have to undergo immigration and customs processes in India.  

Passengers with a single PNR can directly go to counters dedicated to international transfers, pass through a security check and enter the departure lounge. Their luggage will be directly transferred to their onward flight.  

In the case of travelers with more than one PNRs, the Indian airport will be treated as their final destination. They will have to go through immigration checks and collect their luggage.

After that, they will have to go through customs checks as they have to check in their luggage again. They will have to again go through another security check before entering the departure lounge.  

Note that such foreign travelers have to obtain an India transit visa even if the departure of their onward flight is after 24 hours.   

All international passengers transiting through Indian airports are encouraged to get the boarding pass for their connection flights well in advance to avoid delays at the immigration counter.

What Other Options are Available? 

Based on the nature of the trip, duration of the stay and nationality of the applicant, the Indian government issues different types of visas.  

Citizens of eligible countries can apply for short-term visas for tourism, business and medical treatments. The application process is easy and online.  

There are three types of India e-Tourist visas. Foreign travelers can opt for tourism visas valid for one month, one year and five years. They can explore the country, study for short-term yoga courses, meet family and friends and get medical treatments with these visas.  

Separate visas for business, education and medical treatment are also available.  

Note that foreigners in possession of India e-Tourist visa, business visa, student visa or eMedical visa are not required to get a transit visa.  

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