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India Visa Application Process for South Africans

The Indian and South African flags next to each other

South African citizens require an up to date passort and a visa, in order to enter India. This webpage indicates the process to obtain a business, conference, employment, entry, journalist, medical, research, transit or tourist visa (there are different documentation required for each).

e-Tourist Visa

South Africans are eligible to use India's new e-Tourist Visa facility (since the 26th Feb 2016). As the name suggests, it may only be used if you are applying for a tourist visa, a "casual business visit" or a "short-duration medical procedure". You'll require return tickets, and to have sufficient funds to support you during your stay in India. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages in it, and be valid for at least 6 months after your date of arrival in India.

If you are struggling with the e-Tourist visa process, then contact:

You may only use an e-Tourist visa if you are flying into India through one of the follow airports: "Varanasi, Trivandrum, Tiruchirapalli, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kokata, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Goa, Gaya, Delhi, Cochin, Chennai, Bengaluru, Amritsar or Ahmedabad". If you're entering via a different town, then let us know - it will be interesting to hear about it. Even though you are restricted as to which airports you can enter the country, you can exit from any Indian immigration check-point (stand you want to exit India from.

When to apply

You may apply a minimum of 4 days before your flight to India, and a maximum of 30 days before. The visa will be valid for thirty days after your arrival in India. You may only use an e-Tourist visa for a maximum of 2 entries into India over a calendar year (to be clear; for the second entry you'll need to apply a second time).

The application process for an e-tourist visa works as follows:

Step 1 : Apply online

Click here to register for an e-Tourist visa. Note that you'll need to upload a picture of the photo page of your passport and a recent photo of yourself. If the photo of yourself or the photo page of your passport isn't clear, your application will be rejected.

  • The photo should have no borders, there should be no shadows, the background should be light/white, show your full face with eyes open, have an equal width and height, be in .jpeg format, be a maximum of 1mb and a minimum of 10kn.

  • The photo page of your passport should be scanned in in pdf format, with the file size being a maximum of 300kb and a minimum of 10kb.

Step 2 : Pay visa fee online

Fortunately the cost for South Africans is mahala, R0.

Step 3 : An e-Tourist visa will be emailed to you
Step 4 : You are ready to hop onto a flight to India

Be sure to print out the e-Tourist visa and carry it with you on the flight, to present to Indian immigration on arrival. With an electronic application it's not possible to take your biometric data, so this will be done at Indian immigration after your flight there. Then your passport will be stamped, and voila - time to see India.

VFS Global

Alternatively, if you don't want to use the online e-Tourist visa, or if you can't because it doesn't cater for your requirements, then you can do it the old fashioned way by applying through VFS Global.

India outsources the administration of its visa application service in South Africa to VFS Global, to whom all documentation must be submitted. It was previously BLS International, but this was changed on the 1st Oct 2016. Important contact details for assistance are:

Note that VFS Visa Processing SA only collects the information, and they then submit it to the Indian Mission, who then decide whether you are accepted or rejected.

First Steps

Step 1

Familiarise yourself with the VFS Global requirements and processes for a South African to visit India.

Step 2

Have 2 colour photos taken which meet the Indian Government requirements. Note that these are not standard passport sized photos. Click here to see detailed requirements.

Step 3

Fill in the online form application form here. Sign it in 2 spots: (1) below your photograph on the 1st page, (2) below your declaration on the second page. Signatures must be the same as that in your passport. Use Pritt or any other suitable adhesive to stick your photo to the top right of the application form.

Step 4

Pay VFS Global's fee via EFT, using your passport number as the beneficiary's reference number. Save your proof of payment, and print out 2 copies of it (this is one of the supporting documents you'll require). The Indian Commission charges nothing (which is why some claim it is free) for South Africans, but a fee must be paid to VFS for them processing it (and there's no way around it, all applications must go through them). At the time of writing (9 March 2017) VFS were charging a fee of R117; and you could optionally pay an extra R50 to use their courier service (same day dispatch) or an extra R36 for next day dispatch. Click here to see current VFS fees. The money should be deposited into the following bank account:

Bank : Nedbank
Branch Code : 198765
Account Number : 1103673696
Account Holder : VFS Visa Processing SA Pty Ltd

Step 5

Ensure that you have all the documentation listed below, and then visit the relevant VFS Global offices. You must visit in person as biometric data is required, so you can't have somebody else going for you. You will either visit VFS Global's Cape Town, Durban or Johannesburg office, depending on which South African province you live in. The physical street addresses are:

  • In Cape Town they are at 47 Strand Street in the city centre, on the 1st floor (opposite Strand Tower Hotel & Conference Centre). This is for those staying in the NC or WC province.

  • In Durban they are at numbers 91 to 123 Problem Mkhize (previously known as "Cowey") Rd, on the 3rd Floor of Cowey Park (Essenwood) in Berea. This is for those staying in the Free State, KZN or EC province.

  • In Johannesburg they are in Park Town on the corner of Boundary Road and Carse O'Gowrie Road; at the Isle of Houghton Office Park. This is for those staying in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga or NW province.

Applications for an Indian visa may be submitted Mondays to Fridays from 08h00 to 16h00; and documents may be collected from 11h00 until 16h00; excepting from 13h00 to 1400 and not on South African or Indian public holidays (click here to see a list). When you apply you'll be given a receipt, do not lose the receipt, as you'll be required to produce it when you got to collect your visa, along with your South African identification document. If you'd like somebody else to collect your visa on your behalf then they must have:

  • the application receipt

  • a signed letter from the application permitting them to collect it, along with proof of the applicant's ID as well as proof of the collector's ID..

To save yourself hassle, we suggest rather paying a bit extra and going for the courier service, instead of going to collect the visa.

Documentation Required for an Indian Tourist Visa

Be sure to have all the correct documentation on you, when visiting the application centre - if you don't you'll have to make a second visit. Note that this list is only applicable for a tourist visa, and requirements may have changed since this was written - phone/email the contact details to check. You may not apply for a tourist visa if you're from Pakistan, accompanying a parent/spouse with an Indian passport or Employment Visa, or doing NGO or voluntary work, or doing journalistic type work.

To apply for a travel visa you need to submit the following documents:

  • Declaration form, permitting the Indian mission and VFS to use your data.

  • The original signed spplication form, which you completed online to submit to the Indian Consulate/Embassy. You can do that here.

  • A South African Passport, not older than 10 years, with at least 3 blank pages (ie one more than the 2 blank pages which most countries require) and valid for at least 6 months after the date you leave India. Also, a certified copy of the passport.

  • A copy of your SA ID card or the old book.

  • Two colour photos which meet the Indian Government requirements.

  • Proof that you paid the visa fee (must be original documentation) via EFT. Use your passport number as the payment reference number. Visa fees are non-refundable.

  • Copy of round-trip airline tickets (not one-way, they want to see that you'll be leaving) & detailed itinerary, including specifying when you're entering & when you're leaving India. Proof of where you'll be staying - hotel vouchers or a signed letter from who you'll be staying with in India; inviting you to stay, including their address and a copy of their Identification Document. Click here to compare airline prices to India.

  • Bank statements for the last 3 months with sufficient funds. It is not clear what sufficient funds are, but through experience it seems like it's at least R5000. You need to go into the bank and they must stamp the statement.

  • A certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate of children younger than 18 - this contains full particulars of the of the individual, parents, ID numbers, names in full, city/town of birth & their citizenship. The abridged certificate, by contrast, only shows the child and mother's ID numbers, names of birth and country of birth. A document providing consent should be provided by any of the child's parents not travelling with the child. Certified copies of the ID of both parents.

  • Details of where you stay, proven by providing a FICA document or utility bill (which must have been posted). A printed statement with the address or a letter from the bank are not accepted.

  • If you were previously an Indian national, proof that you surrendered your Indian passport documents. If you hold dual citizenship, then clearly state this in your submission, and provide a certified copy of your other passport (or the original, if the other passport is an Indian passport).

At the bottom of each copied document write "This is a true copy of the original", and sign your name below that.

Click here to download the forms.

Note that if your profession is in any way related to journalism; then you must apply for a Journalist visa.

It's entirely possible that these rules have changed since this page was published, and it's therefore crucial to check with the relevant Indian mission for latest rules before applying.

Business visa

Required documents additional to those for the tourist visa are:

  • Bank statements going back 6 month (ie not just 3 months).

  • Letter from the SA company you work for, describing the company, setting out why you need to visit India, your travel dates and the details of your passport.

  • Original or a facsimile of a letter from a known Indian company, inviting you, specifying why you're visiting India, details of your passport and your dates of travel.

Conference

For those travelling to attend a conference. Additional documents required (to tourist visa documents) are:

  • An invitation from the entity in India which is hosting the conference; providing details of where and when it is taking place, and other details of the content of the conference.

  • A copy of the political clearance provided by India's Ministry of External Affairs, to the organisers of the conference.

  • Letter from your work stating that they will cover your costs; or if you're not travelling for work then a personally written motivational letter.

Employment visa

All the tourist visa documents are required, as well as:

  • A Clearance from the South African Police.

  • An English copy of your Curriculum Vitae (CV).

  • A copy of your passport's biometric data, certified by a commissioner of oaths.

  • Proof of academic qualifications, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have apostilled it.

  • The company's registration document or certificate of incorporation.

  • An english copy of your contract of employment; which has been signed by yourself and your employer; indicating that you are earning at least USD25,000 per annum. Note that the Indian Mission will keep this document.

  • A letter showing where you will be based, the salary structure of the position, what the job is about; written on a company letterhead.

Entry Visa

Entry visas allow you to stay in India for a longer time period (e.g. a year or more), and so are retricted to certain circumstances, each of which requires their own unique additional documentation: All the tourist visa documents are required, as well as:

  1. Indian origin: The birth certificate or marriage certificate proving your link to India.

  2. Sport: Letter from the Indian sports body inviting you to India, stating the purposing of your visit, the length of your visit, the locations where the sporting activity will take place, the corresponding sports body in SA, and specifying your details.

  3. Accompanying parent/spouse of somebody with an Entry Visa: copy of their contract documents, employment visa and unabridged brith certificate or marriage certificate.

  4. Other purposes: provide all documents supporting it.

Journalist Visa

Irrespective of your reason for visiting India; if you are a journalist you must apply for a journalist visa. All the tourist visa documents are required, as well as:

  • Your curriculum vitae

  • Any supporting documents for the work you'll be doing.

  • If you are a journalist visiting India for tourism reasons, then there should be a letter stating this.

  • An affidavit pointing out that you'll be getting paid into your SA bank account, not into an Indian bank account. If you are getting paid into an Indian bank account, then you should point that out and indicate that you are aware you will be taxed on the proceeds before you leave India. The affidavit should be notarized by a notary lawyer.

  • A letter from both the organisation in India involved as well as your employer in South Africa (on an official letterhead) stating why you're visiting, when (start and end dates) and where. Include the journalistic credentials of the organisation, the letter from the entity in India, should be inviting you to cover the event in India.

  • A copy of the last 4 articles which you've written.

Research Visa

Are you going to India for the purposes of carrying out academic research? Here's a list of additional documents which you should submit with your visa application (in addition to those required for a tourist visa):

  • A letter guaranteeing that the costs of your stay in India will be covered by your sponsor or by the foreign entity.
  • Proof of your educational qualifications, which are required to carry out the research.
  • A letter from your academic entity in SA explaining the purpose of your visit.
  • An invitation from the entity in India, including its certification, which you'll be visiting; setting out the type of research you'll be doing, the location, when you'll arrive and when you'll leave. Any other documentation from the entity showing that the necessary go-ahead has been given by the correct authority in India.

Student Visa

Collect all the documents required for a tourist visa, and then additional documents required are:

  • The academic entity you've enrolled at should provide a registration certificate, letter of adminission and an invitation letter setting out the location where studying will take place, the course details and how long the course is expected to last.

  • A letter guaranteeing financial support for the cost of the stay in India from either (a) a family member (as well as an up to date copy of their bank account, with a bank balance above zero); (b) a foreign company; (c) a sponsor.

  • Proof that you have achieved the prerequisite qualifications required to attend the course.

Transit Visa

Do you have a long layover on an international flight via an Indian Airport? You might want to make a very short trip (less than 72 hours) out of the international part of the airport; in which case you'll require a transit visa. Additional

  • Include the transit in your itinerary.

If you are flying via India, and going to stay in the international section of the airport, then you don't require an Indian visa. However, if you are going to switch from the international to the domestic terminal, you require a transit visa.

Medical Visa

If you'd like to come to India to get some medical work done, then you'll require a medical visa. Collect the documents required for a tourist visa, and then additional documents you'll require are:

  • A letter from your local doctor describing your medical condition, as well as a referral letter to the Indian medical centre.

  • A letter from the medical centre in India describing the medical procederure, including how long it will take.

  • If you are the attendant of a patient, then you must supply the above, with the documents indicating that you are the attendant of the patient.

When to apply

There are limitations to the amount of time each visa can be valid for, and the validity date starts from the date the visa is issued (not the date that you arrive in India); so don't apply too long before the date you are leaving for India.

How long will it take

It will take a minmum of 5 days for South African passport holders. BUT they do not guarantee this, and can take however long they want and may not ultimately provide you with a visa!

High Commission & Consulates

India has Consulates General in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, and a High Commission in Tshwane/Pretoria. Whilst VFS does the administrative processing, the Indian mission are the final arbiters over whether or not you get a visa.

You can phone the India High Commission in Pretoria at 012-342-5392, 012-342-5393, 012-342-5394 or 012-342-5395; or pay them a visit at number 852 Francis Baard St (was previously called Schoeman Street), on the Corner of Eastwood St & Baard St (opposite Venning Park) in Tshwane/Pretoria. Note that Francis Baard Str is a one-way, which you'll have to enter on the western side of the High Commission. Note that if you are a citizen of Lesotho, you have to apply for your visa at the Pretoria Indian High Commission.

India's Consulate General in Johannesburg can be contacted on 011-482-8484 or 011-482-8485; its street address is at the Corner of Eton Rd and Jan Smuts Ave - 1 Eton Rd in Park Town (opposite Labour Net).

Capetonians can phone India's Consulate General in Cape Town on 021-419-8110 or 021-419-8111, email at admin@hcict.org.za. Alternatively, pay them a visit at 34 Bree St (on the 9th Floor of The Terraces building) in the city centre.

Other countries

Here's our comprehensive guide to getting a Schengen visa (if you're South African).

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