Visa on arrival and e-Visa : Explained


Can an Indian passport holder travel to 58 countries without Visa ??

Recently a news has been circulated that Indian Passport holder can travel some 58 countries without Visa. But it is somewhat a misleading headline. The issue is taken from a report which defined a  country’s passport power ranking based on the amount of countries it lets you travel to without a visa (including the country itself). According to it India currently ranks at 59 and all Indian passport holders can travel to 58 foreign countries without a visa or via visa on arrival.

Visa is an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. There are two types of Visa facility; first is kind of ‘Advance Visa’ and second is ‘Visa on arrival’, one another is ‘e-Visa’ facility also. So for Indian travellers, most countries  are providing ‘Visa on arrival’ rather than ‘Visa not required’ facility. Obviously ‘Visa on arrival’ facility makes the procedure very easy but both are different thing. 

For obtaining a visa on arrival, visitors would typically need to furnish return flight tickets, proof of hotel reservations, evidence of sufficient funds to cover their stay, passport sized photographs, a passport with adequate empty pages and the money for fee if required by the country.

India also provides the facility of visa on arrival to many countries and now plan is to extend this to about 180 countries soon. Visa on arrival scheme in other countries allowed tourist to land and then get visa but in Indian case it created a lot of confusion.


Eligible citizens traveling for leisure/tourism purposes have the option to apply for an Indian visa online, and have their visa granted electronically. The applicant has to provide all information online and he/she will receive the authorisation to travel by e-mail within 72 hours. When the Indian government implemented this new electronic process, they called it Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), and because the visa sticker was placed inside the traveler’s passport at the airport upon arrival to India, the application form also referred to this process as ‘Visa on Arrival’. This could be confusing to travelers; it is very important to understand that the visa must be applied for and approved before traveling to India. This cannot be done simply upon arrival.

The nomenclature of the ‘ETA’ scheme in India was misleading. There were several instances of tourists flying into India, only to be asked by the immigration authorities for their e-visa. Of late, the home ministry had even directed the authorities to grant visas to such tourists on the spot and save them unnecessary inconvenience.

So the official name for this process has changed to ‘e-Tourist Visa (eTV). The online process has not changed, and the traveler’s biometric information will still be taken at the airport and the visa stamped inside the passport upon arrival in India.

In reality the actual ‘Visa free’ travel for other countries can be seen in the given figure. 

Visa free India

Citizens of around 113 countries and territories who hold ordinary passports are eligible to obtain the e-Tourist Visa (unless they are of Pakistani origin).  A total of 22,286 tourists used e-Visa facility to visit India in August this year, compared to 2705 in August, 2014.

 (Courtesy: NDTV, Wikipedia,, Ministry of External Affairs )

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