How to obtain a visa for India in London

Update: Much of the information below is now wrong! Visas take much longer to get – the queues are longer, and if you don’t arrive really early, you’ll be given a ticket to come back at a later date. The best way to learn more is to look through the comments that other people have helpfully supplied – check the most recent ones.

If you ever decide to visit India, you’ll discover at the travel agent that you have to get a visa. At this point you’ll go through several well-defined stages; shock, anger, fear, irritation and acceptance. Then you’ll find out that you have to make the trip to an Indian Consulate (in my case, India House on Aldwych in London), and you’ll go through them all over again. This is a brief guide on how to get a visa for India and what’s involved. This was all applicable in November 2004 – things may have changed by the time you read this and I advise you not to just rely on this guide, just in case.

Quick Facts

1) Don’t worry, it’s not actually that difficult
2) You can be in and out within two hours
3) If you make sure you clearly and fully complete your application form, then things will go much quicker
4) Bring a magazine or a book

Before you go

I’m going to assume that you have already visited the High Commission of India’s website, downloaded the visa form and decided on when to go to the commission. The website also has a list of official holidays at the commission when they’ll be closed – check this because they have a number of holidays and you’ll feel really stupid if you turn up and no-one’s home.

Fill in your form, check it and double-check it. Get two passport-sized photos and make sure you have the correct amount of money for the application fee in cash – they don’t take cheques or credit cards.

When you decide on when you’re going to go get your visa, you might want to consider if there are any holidays around when you go. For example, I visited the commission after two days of holiday (Diwali). As a result, I suspect the queues were longer.

How can I find the commission at Aldwych?

It’s the thing with a huge queue of people snaking out from it (unless you get there absurdly early). It’s hard to miss. The really long queue is the one for visas, the short one is for people with Indian passport enquiries (i.e. not you).

The start of the first queue, disappearing into the distance.

The end of the first queue (you can see the window at the end of the curve)

What time should I turn up?

The commission in London opens at 8:30am. I arrived at 8:35am and there were already over 150 people in the queue in front of me. I think people start queueing up as early as 7:30am, and I talked to a girl who’d been queueing since 7:45am and she got out at 9:45am (i.e. two hours all told). The problem with turning up that early is that while there are fewer people in front of you, you still have to wait for the place to open.

As a result, I think that if you turn up at any time before, say, 9am, it’ll probably take you around two hours altogether. If you leave it any later, you’ll have to wait longer. I really don’t recommend turning up any later than 9:30am since there’s a good chance you won’t be able to pick up your visa that day, or at least you’ll have to wait for much longer than two hours.

What’s the process when I get there?

I heard many people in the queue criticising the commission for an illogical system. That’s not true – it’s perfectly logical and it even is vaguely organised. The only problem is that they seem to have no desire to inform anyone of how it works. Luckily, I do.

The process has three steps; queueing to get a queue number, queueing to hand in your visa application, and waiting to get your completed visa. You’ll notice there’s a lot of queueing involved.

The First Queue: Getting a Queue Number

This is the one outside of India House. I arrived at 8:35am and spent a little under an hour in this queue. It moves along quite regularly. The point of this queue is to show a guy in a window that you have a passport and then to collect a piece of paper with a queue number (or numbers, depending on how many passports and visa applications you’re making). The queue number you collect here (e.g. B69) is for the second queue, inside.

The Second Queue: Handing in your visa appplication

After you collect your queue number, you’ll be allowed inside and walk upstairs to a room with a bunch of commission staff behind windows. There are a lot of seats here and in a side room that also has vending machines.

Once you get upstairs, do not loiter around in front of window 1, which will be directly in front of you when you go through the door at the top of the stairs. Window 1 is for people collecting their completed visas and right now, that’s not you. Instead, go and wait in the main room and get a seat if you can. There’s a display in the corner of the room with the current queue number. Notice that a letter from A to E is also highlighted below the number. The queue number cycles through the letters and goes from A1 to E99, so do not make the all-too-typical mistake of going to a window when it’s your number but not your letter; the staff won’t be impressed.

Since many people there are submitting multiple visa applications (e.g. for friends or family) the queue number tends to go in bursts. I got inside at around 9:30am and the queue number was A77. My number, B69, took about 40 minutes to come up. When it’s your number, go straight to the next free window; don’t worry if they seem to have skipped past your number.

Once you’re at the window, hand over your application, passport, passport photos and money. Do not waste everyone’s time by searching through bags and wallets for the necessary stuff; you just spent at least an hour queueing before this so you don’t have an excuse. This bit only took me a couple of minutes because I’d filled in my form properly and hadn’t been denied a visa in the past. After she’s taken all your stuff, she’ll give you a receipt with your queue number (the same one as before) written on it. She will keep your passport – they need it to process your visa.

Waiting to get your completed visa

They hand out visas at window 1. For some inexplicable reason, there are always loads of people rammed up against this window despite the fact that there can be an hour long wait and also they always call out your number multiple times when they have your visa ready. Who knows why people do this – it certainly doesn’t speed things up.

The staff member who gave you your receipt will tell you how long you can expect to wait if you ask her. I was told it’d be 45 minutes; instead it was only 20 minutes. I put this down to my charming personality, or more likely, the fact that there weren’t any issues with my passport or application. You might as well sit down again at this point and wait for your number to be called out. Don’t fall asleep or listen to music, even if it seems it’ll take ages based on what numbers they’re calling out at the moment; they tend to skip around numbers a lot so they might be calling out B1 in one minute and B60 in the next.

When they call out your number, fight your way through the silly huddle of people around the window and get your passport with your visa inside. They’ll tell you to check it – do it! You are checking to make sure that they’ve gotten your passport number correct, and that the valid dates are correct for when you want to visit (they’ll actually be valid for ages longer than you’ll typically need it).

And then you can leave, all done! Like I said, it took me two hours altogether and I suspect it would be even quicker if I hadn’t gone through after two days of holiday.

Other Questions

Is there a toilet?

While I have not seen it myself I’m told there is one downstairs.

You’re wrong about x

Perhaps I am, I only went there once and things may have changed. Please do not rely on this guide for anything really urgent.

I can’t be bothered queueing up, is there some way I can mail my application in?

You can mail it directly to the commission, or you can use a visa service. The visa services are often much quicker and more expensive. Whether or not you want to use them depends on how much you value your time. I don’t know anything more about them so don’t ask me to recommend one.

Why did you bother writing this?

I estimate that at least 400 people go to the commission every day. That’s up to 100,000 per year. I was not been able to find anything decent online about the actual process of getting a visa before I visited, and for many of the people there, it’s quite a stressful and anxious procedure. I decided that a guide explaining all of the steps involved would make it a little clearer and more understandable for all concerned. Perhaps it might even speed things up!

Will you update this guide?

I sorely doubt it, unless there happens to be a good reason.

I would like to reprint this guide

Email me. There’s a link at the top of this page.

302 Replies to “How to obtain a visa for India in London”

  1. was there last week, at 5am! yes we really wanted to get the Visas! there were just 2 people in front of us. Be warned if you are coming early no matter how warm you are when you leave the house, it gets really cold when you are standing still for a few hours. really cold, i was lucky someone had left a deckchair behind, but the rain started, so bring shoes that are water resistant too and a flask, alas , nobody has pounced on the idea yet to make a packet selling coffees beside the Queue.

    If you def want to get your visas the same morning ie people who came later would not have got their visas til the afternoon or would even have been told to come back, you need to get there early ,at around 6:20 the queue starts to build after the tube opens, but the queue size varies each day. oh and watch out for queue jumpers we had a a guy with dreads get really shirty when he was asked to step back in the queue as we knew has had just arrived while we had been there for hours, as it turned out he barged his way in and then had 10 visas to get, obviously works for an agency, but then thats ten people who have to wait longer for their visas, really annoying!

    once inside its just a metter of waiting again but at least then its warm and dry! we were in at 8:30 out by 9:15.

  2. Oh and just to say we checked the queue when we left at 9:15 and there were hundreds in it, it could have been because it was a friday, i don’t know!

  3. Hi.

    Wonder if any could help. I got my visa processed no problem for an indian tourist visa, but there is a single letter spelling mistake in my surname will it make any difference when the time comes to travel. Incidently I sent my application of by post and got it back three of them six days later xx

  4. I am on a Malaysian passport & have permanent residency in the UK. I was expecting to apply for my visa today but only go back to collect it in 3-5 working days as I was not on a UK passport, but to my surprise, I was in & out of there in under 3 hours… with a 6 month tourist visa! How brilliant!

    I got in the back of a huge (& growing) queue at 7:45am, took a book & magazine with me so waiting wouldn’t be so bad, but instead I got chatting to a lovely couple all the way. By 9am I had my ticket number (190) and was sat down inside waiting for it to be called. When I got inside it was on number 59. I’ve never seen numbers called so quickly! By 10am I was at a window submitting my application & payment to the lady who was very efficient and friendly. That’s 2 applications per minute, I was very impressed! She told me I’d have my visa in 45mins, but based on the helpful information given above, I knew it could possibly be quicker so I hung around. True enough, I collected the visa before 10:30am. Done!

    Thanks for setting up this forum Adrian & to everyone else for sharing their own little experiences. Only because I came across this was I prepared for the worst, but it turned out to be a smooth process; and it was great chatting to other people who had already been to India.


  5. i have made my application for a tourist visa in december 07,i need to return to the HCI London to collect my passport,what times can passports be collected from the HCI london ???? thanks

  6. Hi!
    Ree, good to get the details about the queue. Do you know that even if you reach by 10 a.m., you still get a token that guarantees you a visa by the afternoon. Perhaps its better not to crowd around in the early dawn darkness, and reach by 9 a.m.

  7. Hi

    I went to get my visa sorted today and just a few things I thought I should point out:

    1) you don’t HAVE to wake up and slave over to the embassy at 5 in the morning. I went there at 10.30 and got a Q card instantly. I was told to return at 2 to get entry to the visa hall. Although I got there at the specified time, there was a massive queue. I was in very quick, though. And once inside, we waited till 2.45 until the staff got back from their break. After that the ‘handing in your application’ is fast since most people weren’t there. Also, whether you go in the afternoon or the morning, the length of time you’ll spend at the embassy is more or less the same. Personally, afternoon was easier for me.

    2) The Indian Consulate website is not the best source of information and I wouldn’t recommend calling them up since most people don’t know what they are talking about. Best way to get things done would be physically going to them and that is a major pain, as I found out the hard way. I thought they were perhaps the most unhelpful group of individuals I’ve ever come across.

    3) The process is easy but here is a few details that people with situations like mine should know about:

    If you hold a British Travel Document: They will want to see your Bank Statement. They will do this because they want to see if you have enough funds to finance your trip.

    If you are a student: They want to see a letter from your school/college/university. And if you’re like me (Gap Year Student), avoid mentioning it in your application since they don’t understand the concept. Just write Employed/Unemployed. There were 3 students in front of me and one was sent home without a visa while the others were informed that just because of that it would take 9 days processing time. My friend, (a gapper herself), went through this only a week ahead and none of this happened to her application.

    I would honestly not recommend people to go on their own if they could help otherwise. Just use a visa service. They are efficient and it will save you a hassle. Although only use that service if everything is in order and you DON’T have special situations.

    Just thought I’d write you my story. And yes, I do have to go in again and I’m not looking forward to it.

    Also, I thought I’d just mention it even if it sounds irrelevant: They actually lost a girl’s passport some days before and have yet to resolve it. She’s been coming in since that day.

  8. Is there a reason why they give out only 15 tickets for OCI applications? I went to HCI London in person and just missed out as I was 16 or 17. And they would not give me one for the next day. Is it really logical to queue from 5:30 am when OCI applications can only be submitted after 10:00 am and until12:00? They advised me to post it. What’s wrong with hand delivering it seeing that I was there already?
    And why 35mm x35mm size photos? Can’t find anywhere for this size or without white background. I don’t trust the postal system to return my passport on time – I am travelling in 10 days time to Europe and was hoping to get the application in and passport returned before then. Any suggestions?

  9. Hi,

    Found this website really useful so hope my experience helps.

    This is a much less busy time for people getting Visas than November so please do yourself a favour and don’t get there at 5am.

    We started to queue at 8.48am, I checked my watch because of this website, the number of people in front of us was a surprise. I would guess about 150. The line of people snaked up the stairs and round the corner… a long way round the corner.

    They opened, as this site says, at 8.30 so we were already moving as we joined. We got our Qtickets (378/379) at about 9.15-9.20. It said come back at 11.30 so we went off for breakfast. We returned at 11.15 and went inside.

    The room was rammed but I soon found out that there was a huge queue in it for Indian passports too so the amount of people in front of us wasn’t as large as I first thought.

    Our numbers were called and we were out of the place by 12.30. No problems. Total time = 3hrs 45mins of which 2 hours was spent in a cafe or walking along the South Bank.

    There are not enough chairs in the room but I would recommend that you don’t wait around window 1 when you are waiting to get your visa. The numbers are called out on a microphone, so you can hear from the other side of the room.

    I read on here how bad the system was and that it was a farce. I have to disagree, the system is exactly the same as the one for a US Visa except that there are a lot less chairs.

    Don’t get frustrated, it’s the way it is and everyone is in the same boat. Just take something to do (Book, Magazine, PSP etc) and pay attention to the numbers.

  10. I obtained my visa this morning. I arrived just after 5.30am and there were only 5 people ahead of me. By 6am there were at least 150 behind me and by 8.30 the queue was endless!
    However, if you’re ahead in the queue at least you can sit on the windowsills, and beleive it or not the 3 hours went really quickly. I had my visa by 9.15am.
    I had to arrive so early to be guaranteed my visa as I booked really late and only had 3 days to spare, otherwise, as I live in Brighton, I would have used a visa service.

  11. Hi
    I went down there yesterday 11/02/08 we arrived at 6.15am and there were 23 people in front of us, by 7.45 there were hundreds behind us maybe more.

    Got queue no’s 24 & 25 was in the visa hall by 8.40am at the counter by 8.50am and was handed my passport back with visa in at 9.15am.

    So get there early wait it out, dont let any cheeky Indian’s push in and your be done in no time.

    In the words of Gordon Ramsey… Done !

  12. Went to get visa on Monday 11th Feb. No problems at all. Arrived in the queue at 7.20am. There were about 100 people in front of me.

    Got into the visa hall by 8.45 and was given q card number 99. Paid for visa by 9.30 and had collected it by 10.30.

    Service was efficient and although it was a little cramped in the hall was a relatively easy process!

  13. Having read about the ridiculous times that people were arriving at the Indian Commission, I decided I would try the postal service.
    I filled in the forms, got my postal order and sent mine and my husbands passport by special delivery. The Indian Commission received them on Tuesday 5th and sent them back to me on Monday 11th. So why get up at the crack of dawn to queue in the freezing cold, when the postal service is so efficient!!!

  14. Thank you all for sharing information!!
    It was really useful.
    I went to HCI London to get visa yesterday.

    Started to queue at 6.40am.
    There were 35 people before me.
    Submitted documents and paid for visa by 8.55.
    (cost only 6pounds as my passport is Japanese)
    Collected it at 10.

    It was much easier than I thought!

  15. Arrived at High Commission London at 07:10 on 15th Feb. About 50 people in front of me. Got into the visa hall by 08:40, ticket # 54. Handed in application at counter at 09:05. Was told to come back in an hour. Went for some breakfast, back at 10:05 to collect it. Out by 10:20. Could have waited around and got out earlier, because when I went back they were handing out passports for ticket #s 100+. All relatively painless apart from the slightly early start!

  16. Rekha: Don’t know if this will help you now, but I’ll go ahead anyway.

    Photo – Getting an OCI gets you a visa sticker on your passport with your photo as well as a separate 4 page OCI passport booklet. The photo you submit is used on both of them. After extensive searching about the issue of the unusual photo requirements, I made sure that the photos were as close I could get them to their specifications. I trimmed the edges of a normal rectangular passport photo to get it as close to 35×35 while still showing some shoulder. The photo had a white background, but this was not an issue at all. Google tells me some resorted going to a studio to get the exact specifications, but going into a photo booth would be just fine, I’d say.

    Time – And as for the OCI tickets, there’s no need to queue up from 5.30. I’d say 9 or 9.30, but 8 at the earliest.

    Also, on average it takes 5-8 weeks for the OCI to be ready for collection from the time of submission. Since they don’t take in your passport to process the application, it’s not a hassle to travel while waiting for the OCI.

    Tickets – At the OCI cell, it takes between 2 and 5 minutes to process one OCI applicant. Since one ticket can include e.g. a family of 5 applicants, and since some people are not organised in their submission of application, namely, taking out staples, rummaging for documents and counting out cash, the process can get delayed. I suppose that’s why they limit it to 15 tickets for the 2 hours.

  17. Hi , i just wanted to know i am a pakistani national want to apply for indian visit visa to meet my fiance and i just want to know what is the format of sponsor letter and what all documents do i require her to send me . I stay in london with my family and have a valid visa till 2010 i want to go to the state of goa so let me know about the procedure and advise would be welcomed thank you

  18. Hi everyone,

    This is a great page and helped me loads when i went down today (25th Feb 2008) so wanted to contribute my experience.

    Went amazingly well and smooth, arrived at 6:30am and was 10th in the queue. queue slowly built up so by 7:30am the queue was round the block. Key point is that come early (ie about 6:30am) but don’t be insane and get there any earlier.

    Doors opened – be wary of queue jumpers, be assertive! I was in the building by 8:30am and sat down. Watch out for the numbers on the electronic board, will come out with a ticket number and the counter you have to go to – numbers go in order and go fast.

    handed over my stuff and got told it would take any hour but finished in 40min from counter 1.

    Tips I would consider useful:

    1. Have all your documents filled out and ready to go (cash or postal orders not cheques or cards)

    2. Try and sit on the front row so you can get to the counter quickly as the numbers go fast

    3. Make sure you fill out the form fully (someone trying to get a 5 year visa could only get 6 month as didn’t put parents town of birth!)

    4. To clarrify even if you are a first time application you can get a 6 month visa

    5. Check your VISA when it comes out, name, passport number, stamp and signiture on stamp.

    All in all I was out by 9:30am a very happy man! Well worth the effort to arrive early!

    Hope this helps


  19. The posts above were all really useful to me when I went to the get my visa on 21st Feb. But don’t get too concerned about arriving really early. I arrived at about 7.30ish and must have had around 50 people ahead of me (the queue was up the stairs onto the pavement but not much further), I was still indoors before 8.30 (they opened the doors early, ticket no. 57) and was processed around 9.15, before getting my passport back before 10.30.

    It was all very well organised if you knew what was going on (which I did thanks to this blog). The queue for visas is to the right and the shorter queue on the left is for Indian Nationals.

    There were several people who went through the process just as swiftly as I did but had arrived a good hour or so earlier – thats just a whole hour more that they had to wait in the cold to get it done in just the same amount of time as me. However I will say that by 7.45-8 the queue had grown a great deal and was snaking a long way down the road.

    All in all it was a fairly painless process.

    A note on Postal applications – my friends all went down this route and found it very efficient. Though it says it can take between 1-2 weeks my friends all seem to recieve theirs back within 6 or so days.

  20. Here’s how I found it. Quite painless. Arrived at 06:50ish as that’s when my train to London got me there. Was number 36 in the queue. Got to the ofifce where they issue “Q” numbers in about 2 mins after it opened – the queue moves very quickly. Yellow Tickets have to go up the stairs (Ground Floor!), white tickets downstairs (Basement). Had to wait until about 08:5o to be called to the counter. Top Tip – when you think your number is going to be called ready yourself by going to the front – it your not at the counter in about 30 seconds they call the next in line! This happened about 3 times in 20 mins when I was there.

    Process was simple – Passport, Completed Form, 2 photographs. There is a Photo-Me machine on the “Ground Floor” if you forget to bring two photos.

    Passport returned from Window One at 09:40 – a bit of a bundle and you have to be assertive as piles of passports arrive at the same time and people try to queue jump.

    No big hassle for me – I work in London 10 mins away by bus – but my best advice is PLAN AHEAD and use the postal service. If that fails use aVisa Courrier company. These guys were very apparent in the Embassy and were in and out inside of an hour (although they must have been in the queue outsdie since 6am!).

    Hope this helps – it’s not bad, and if you can’t hack the embassy in London you should think hard about how you are going to cope in India….

  21. 5th March:

    Started queuing at 7:10am. Fifty people or so ahead of me. By 7:45 the queue was as far as I could see behind.

    At 8:30am the queue started moving quickly. Was inside by 8:45am.

    Grab a seat if possible in side; there will be another longish wait, and soon the hall will fill to bursting point, so not comfortable to stand.

    Was seen at about 9:30am. The numbers go very quickly and this part of the system was efficient.

    Was told it would be an hour to collect from Bureau 1.

    Actually took about 1:30 mins, but in fairness I could have missed the initial call for my collection. This part of the system does not work well. Imagine 50 people squashed around a single window shouting out random numbers at a rate of knots.

    – Get there between 7 and 7:30am (earlier not necessary)
    – Dress for the cold weather
    – Bring book/PSP/etc
    – Grab a seat when you get inside
    – Be patience
    – Be prepared to be there for the morning

  22. Thank you for this very useful site.

    The following points from my experience might be helpful:

    1. It is important to get a Q ticket for EACH visa you want, otherwise you risk being sent back into the queue to get more.

    2. Currently there is a notice showing to the effect that from 1 June NO BAGS or BRIEFCASES will be allowed in the visa hall with the exception of “ladies purses” (American for handbags?). The notice says that there is no storage place for bags at the High Commission so users must “make their own arrangements” to leave bags elsewhere before entering the visa hall.

  23. Thanks for the all the facts above!

    I had been to the India House on 12th March at 7:00am, stood in cold windy weather and weathered it all :-). someone called this “endurance test”
    8:30 the counter opened and was given token 1041.
    By 9:00 my number was called and the visa was issued by 9:45am.
    My suggestion, if anyone wants to get the Visa on the same day, then go there early.
    Good luck!

  24. Just to say it seems to have calmed down and got better now. I fouled up and arrived late, 9.30, got number 1336 with an estimated time of between 10.30-11.00. Came back at 10.30 for the number to be only at 1100 something. Decided I may as well grab a seat if possible. My number came up at about 11.50. By that time they seemed to have got into the swing as they were shooting along quite well. Took all of 2 minutes to hand over form, photos and money and that was it. Either lunch or something back end then seemed to hold up the passports coming out as before they had generally been pretty quick but mine took just under the hour to get done. So all out by 1.
    The only advice I found was if you can get chatting it passes the time & makes it a bit more interesting. Met a few very interesting people up there. Bags didn’t seem to a problem. & the final counter where they call the numbers, definitely cram through when they call your number. I was being polite and stood at the back of the crowd only to find that most of them hadn’t had their number called yet but were just waiting hopefully. Push on through.
    Thanks for all the advice above though, it really set me up & helped me.


    I have just received my passport back from sending off a postal application via Special Delivery to the Indian High Commission in London.

    It took under 7 days in total.

    If you are not in a rush and are going to India in 3 weeks or a month ahead then the postal service was excellent.

    The only extra cost was the Special Delivery each way (£5 each way) and the postal order charge (£5).

    There really is no need to pay a visa agent £90 to do this for you unless of course you have just booked and are going next week.

    We are currently heading towards the end of the holiday season so it is much quieter at the commission.

    This website is fantastic and provides all the info you could ever need and more for your trip. Read the threads and note the dates when people were posting them and if you have the time send it by post!!!!!

  26. I found this article so helpful that i feel compelled to add to it! I went and got my visa this morning with no problems whatsoever. I arrived at India house at 7am and counted about 40 people ahead of me. However by 7.30 the queue had doubled, and grew rapidly. The door opened at 8.30 and i got handed my ticket on entry to the building at 8.35. I had my passport back with visa by 9.20. This was much quicker than expected so definately shows the value of getting there early.

    I would say a good benchmark for arrival is 7am, any earlier seems pretty pointless. Oh and make sure you get in the right queue for visas and not the one for passports. Ask around if your not sure! Hope all goes well.

  27. Hello – I’m a Canadian citizen, resident in UK for past 4 years. Have had 2 previous Indian Visa – one about 18 months ago. Is it still possible to get a visa in a day in London if you’re not a UK citizen. I am out of the country at the moment & will only have 3 days to handle the visa before i leave for india. Help!

  28. I followed your advice and got there at 0630 – 18th in the queue. It was cold – I wish someone sold coffee to the queuers! The visa section opened soon after 0830. They handed out a white or yellow ticket [visas are processed downstairs and upstairs]. I was seen by 0845 and had my visa by 0930. Many thanks for your helpful advice!

  29. I went with friends today who are all of pakistani origin and were hoping to accompany me on holiday this summer – i myself hold a 10 yr indian visa as i am of indian origin…
    my friends were treated disrespectfully to say the least, they were requested a series of documents which were not stated anywhere on their website or in any guideline documentation the HCI provide – in fact, it seemed the PRO (Public relations officer) just made things up as he went along! Needless to say, even after this whole rigmarole they were NOT issued visas.. I was really disgusted by the behaviour and attitude of the HCI staff.

  30. I’m in a similar situation as rahima. I’m an Australian citizen and am on a trip around the world and need to get an Indian visa very quickly. Does anyone know if I can still get a visa in a day if I rock up early enough? Please help.

    I’ve just been through the new, outsourced visa application service and I have to say, it was a lot less hassle than the old one described here.
    I hadn’t realised that the outsourcing had started so I’d filled in the old form by hand and went early this morning (as recommended here!)to the High Commission…only to find notices posted on the door telling me to go to one of the 2 new visa application offices. I went to the one in Goswell Road, a short walk North of the Barbican tube station. I arrived at 8:15, the doorman showed me in and I sat with the other 8 people who’d got there before me. At 8:30 the doorman went around personally distributing numbered tickets to everyone in the order they’d arrived!
    By 8:40 I was at one of the desks and by 8:55, I was out and on my way.
    NOTE: You can no longer get a visa while you wait…however:
    > I believe you can now fill in the forms and pay on-line.
    > You can pay with credit/debit cards at the desk (although most of their chip&pin machines weren’t working…they’d only been open for 3 days!)
    > You can either pick up your passport when it’s ready or have it posted to you – the application centre can supply the special delivery envelope when you get to the desk.
    > You can track the progress of your application online.
    In all, it appears to be a very simple and much improved service. All the staff at the centre, while obviously still learning the process themselves, seemed efficient and friendly.

  32. I have noticed that on the on-line application you have the option of 2y, 3y, and 5y VISA length (max stay 180 days). Is it actually possible to get these if you are a white westerner on non idian origin?

  33. I regret to inform you that I visited the Indian Embassy today on 9th June 2008. I was there at about 07.30am waiting in the queue and at about 08.30 one of the person waiting in the queue told me that this is not the queue for visa. I went to the man standing on the door of embassy and he showed me the two addresses one near Victoria station 60-62 wilton road and the other one near Old st. station 142-148 goswell rd. I went to one in wilton road near Victoria station. The doorman there told me that they do not do vise there. I was told that I have to apply through internet only and have to bring the reference no forvisa. I still do not know what is the correct procedure?. I wish someone will let me know the correct procedure.

    Thank you.

  34. Update to my previous comment: The visa arrived by recorded delivery at 7:30 on Friday morning…about 3 days after I’d made the application.
    The online tracking wasn’t very helpful but the overall process seems simple, efficient and hassle-free.
    (I’m in Hyderabad now!)

  35. Outsourced Visa application- 142 Goswell Rd.

    Arrived 10am ish on Wednesday, greeted by the friendly and helpful doorman who gave me queue ticket and I sat in the large enough waiting room. No problem with my small (nearly empty) bag, though I suspect it would have been inspected if bulkier than it was.

    The queue system was efficient with a large screen and loud announcements advising which ticket was up next at which desk.

    Tickets seem to be in three types; ‘Appointment’ ‘No appointment’ and ‘Collection’ (after 11am). It appears that Appointment tickets get priority (fair enough) with ‘No Appointment’ seen if time is available, which didn’t seem to be a problem as the three ‘No Appointment’ numbers in front of mine came up at around 6 minute intervals. But then nothing – only appointment tickets… for about 40 minutes more. I should’ve get there a few minutes earlier…

    At the desk the lady was also helpful and friendly, suggested gently I should’ve applied online and made an appointment too to save the wait, (again, fair point) but checked my forms and letters without fuss (business visa, but process seems identical for tourist visas) and I was away from the desk in 25 minutes.

    I received a tracking reference and expect to collect in 2 – 3 working days; hope to update on how that works later.

    My suggestions for others would include:

    Apply on line if you can (though I can’t vouch for it’s efficiency) as apparently that’s how you get an appointment.

    If you haven’t, download the word version of the form and fill it out in typed capitals before printing – they do not like handwritten forms, only sign and date by hand at the bottom. This is not actually as easy as it might seem, since the formatting jumps about, so allow time to put the formatting right.

    I put ‘N/A’ in the non applicable boxes which seemed ok. I don’t know if my day was good or bad, but if you have no appointment it would seem advisable to arrive before 9.30am to minimise waiting.

    Handling fee (on top of visa fee) is around £8 to £10 incl. VAT, and depends on type and length of visa required (So 12 month business visa totalled £59.09); they take cash or credit / debit cards, but not AmEx.

    I’d tried to phone the day before to ask on a couple of points, but no reply. I guess not quite perfect, but clearly a great improvement on the hassles noted in the old system!

  36. Travelling to London today to apply for 2y multiple entry tourist VISA tomorrow (Monday 16th). Will post details IF I get it….

  37. Just back from applying for the VISA. Was told that a 2y and 5y are a no, no as I am not of Indian origin. I have therefore applied for the 1y but was told by the lady that I may still only get a 6m one. Seems like I will have to travel to Sri Lanka for another in December. So if you are applying and NOT of Indian origan DO NOT apply for anything more than a 1y VISA.

    Can’t really say this ‘out sourcing’ in better as you cannot apply and get the VISA on the same day – which was very handy. Also there is not enough information on the web page and you can only apply with a PRINTED out pre filled online form. How are people with no internet going to manage or maybe they don’t want us?

    Oh well, the VISA is coming back via post and should be here by Friday. Will put another post then.

  38. As per the new system you must fill the online visa application form and then print the form and take it to the Embassy. You can also make appointment to submit during your online completion or walk in with the Printed application form. Do not walk in without completing the online application, I’ve seen so many people had been turn down by the security guard who had not got the online completed printed application form. You then will have to take a ticket and wait for your turn and once they call you to the booth, the officer will check the form and if they are happy with the form then ask you to pay the fee over the counter. Three days later go and collect the passport or pay £6 to send it by special delivery. If you hold a EU passport, please take 1 year utilities bill or bank statement or the resident permit.

    Please do not go there without completing the online application form ! They will not accept the hand written form.

    Good Luck!

  39. Hello,

    To anyone who has received a tourist visa through thew new system – how long did it take process? From day of drop-off to collection?


  40. Hi

    Got my VISA back today via Special delivery. It wasn’t a 6m but a 1y multiple entry. Would be worth those who visit alot trying for the 1y as it works out cheaper. 2 weeks and I will be there……


  41. Update to my post above – Online tracking was effective, visa declared ready for pickup on Monday (two full working days excluding arrival and collection); I arrived around 2pm, but had to wait around 90 minutes for queue number to be called (a number of couriers were in front of me, and they had to check a number of passports). Again, getting there earlier would prob have helped, but no complaints.

  42. I live in UK but carry a U.S. passport and tried to use the new visa service at Wilton Rd. on June 26. I waited in the queue outside for about 90 minutes before being allowed in and given a number. I had pre-filled my form but found out that I had downloaded the wrong form. I was allowed to complete the new form and submitted it. I was told that my visa would be ready early next week. After waiting a full week and not getting any updates on the website, I waited again on July 2. I was told that it could take another 1-2 weeks because I had not been resident in UK for one year. I asked to withdraw my application so I could have my passport for a flight this weekend to another country. I was informed that withdrawals of applications could not be processed due to the large volume of passports sitting at the HCI. Any advice on how to get my passport back quickly? I’d gladly give up the visa.

  43. thanks for the a british citizen born in pakistan,need to get medical visa to india, at birmingham,i will be visting delhi,agra,mumbai,vapi,surat.on the application what shall i fill in at the RESTRICTED AREA & PLACE PERMITED.thanks

  44. Read Gill Charlton in The Daily Telegraph 11/July about an unhappy reader with bad bad experiences with VFS GLOBAL – the new Visa Processing contractors employed by the Indian Govt.
    If the authorities @ the Indian High Commission do not take heed of the bad feelings created by VFS Global towards the British Visa Applicants – both NRI’s and others – I am afraid the British Media are going to take them apart and there will be bad and unnecessary publicity against the IHC – so VFS – either shape up or ship out.

  45. The staff issuing Visa tend to go off for coffee breaks and lunch together and they tend to shut during that period, and I remember it was my turn next and had to wait 1/2 hour until they re-opened again, so waiting could be around 2 hours plus the time the staff take for their coffee and lunch breaks (unless things have changed recently!).

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