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Has anyone had any experience with India's (newish) Visa-On-Arrival scheme (details here)?

I'm travelling on a New Zealand passport into Chennai (and meet the other requirements), and was thinking I would take advantage of the scheme. However, I could also apply for a visa in advance. However since I am resident in the UK, the waiting times are a bit longer and would run close to my departure date (plus I'd have to get photos taken and take time off work to queue up - the queue visible on street view is not encouraging).

So I am wondering if anyone has done the visa-on-arrival before and if they had any problems (like long waiting times, or refusal)? Also do they really need US dollars in cash for it, or can I pay on a credit card?

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While I haven't used the visa-on-arrival (I'm an Indian citizen), payments to Indian customs and immigration is only done in cash, usually. This could be changing in some of the more modern airports like Bangalore or Delhi, I certainly won't expect it in Chennai. Also, most immigration offices in SE Asia I haven't seen them accept card payments, only cash. You'll have to pay in USD since exchanging Indian currency abroad is not easy - see travel.stackexchange.com/q/2720/108 –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 30 '12 at 15:19
    
@AnkurBanerjee cheers. I'll certainly make sure I have USD if I try it. –  Ray Jan 30 '12 at 15:30
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'll take a crack at this from what I have gathered.

I've flown in/out of India at Delhi and Chennai airports. Both have a separate queue that I have seen for visa-on-arrival tourists to queue up and apply for, although Chennai airport's new terminal is currently under construction and the immigration desks at the existing, old terminal you'll fly into are far fewer than those in Delhi.

I spoke to a friend from Singapore who used this service at Chennai airport and she said she didn't have to wait more than 25 minutes for the visa to be issued. You may also find this experience on TripAdvisor of a traveller who availed visa-on-arrival to be useful.

According to some other travellers, your point of problem may be a transit airport instead! If the airline check-in staff don't know about India's visa-on-arrival scheme (only a few countries are on the list), so get a printout of visa advisory from the official Indian tourism website Incredible India to back you up in case you get into that argument anywhere along the way.

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Thanks, your answer and the TripAdvisor answer are certainly useful. Considering it's taking me 4 flights and more than 30 hours to get to India, I'm really looking for the immigration process to be as smooth as possible. –  Ray Jan 31 '12 at 12:12
    
Yeah, since I have to change planes a few times around the world and any of them could question my lack of Visa, a printout is going to be a good idea. Also, I think the traveler in your second link used the wrong words. I wouldn't say "don't need a visa" or "visa waiver" which technically aren't correct, I would say "get a visa on arrival". –  Ray Jan 31 '12 at 16:42
    
Wording is very important, yes, when dealing with airline staff. In case of disputes, ask the staff to check IATA's TimaticWeb database; if the airline subscribes to it, that's what check-in staff compare requirements to. –  Ankur Banerjee Jan 31 '12 at 16:45
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