India Tourism Visa

A Big Roadblock to Traveling in India

UPDATE AS OF JUNE 2014: It seems that BLS has ended its disastrous reign as India’s visa service for foreigners and a new company called Cox & Kings has taken over. Click here to learn more.

A, long long time ago, the process of getting an India tourist visa was rather simple. As I wrote in this post from a couple years ago, US citizens could get their India tourist visas quickly and easily, either in-person or by mail, using a company called Travisa Outsourcing.

Unfortunately, these times are long gone.

This July, the Embassy of India replaced Travisa with a company called BLS International, a company whose handling of India visa processing has been met with almost universal disdain. Stories of months-long delays, gross mistakes and even outright passport loss have not been uncommon.

I recently obtained my India tourist visa from BLS International and while I was lucky enough to get my India tourist visa, when all was said and done, the road was not without obstacles. I hope my story of getting an India tourist visa from BLS international helps you.

Let Me Plan Your Trip to India
 

Applying for an India Visa from BLS International

On the surface, the process of getting an India tourist visa from BLS International is identical to how it worked with Travisa Outsourcing. After completing the online India visa application (which is, admittedly, a bit excessive in its length), you are given a BLS tracking number, as well as instructions for how to submit your India visa application via mail – i.e. what to include in the package, where to send it and other important information.

Another way BLS International seemed similar to Travisa is that it allows you to track the status of your India visa application online your passport number. Unfortunately, India visa tracking information is not always updated in real time. Mine updated only when they received the application, not when they sent it to the Indian Embassy for processing or even when they’d already mailed it back to me!

Is There a Working Phone Number for BLS International

I tried to be patient, but when my India visa status didn’t update for more than a week, I had little choice but to call BLS International directly. There was just one problem: The phone numbers on BLS International’s website don’t work!

The good news? I eventually got through to someone, using the BLS International phone number 1-855-436-0725. The bad news? I just tried that number again, today, and it doesn’t work. I had to call four times to find out the status of my India visa application, at which point the operator had BLS manually expedite my passport to the Indian embassy in Houston.

I ended up getting my India visa in the mail about two weeks after I sent it in, although I’m not sure how long I would’ve had to wait for it if I had never called the BLS International phone number.

The Bottom Line on India Visas from BLS

I worry about the long-term implications of BLS handling India visa processing, if they don’t get their act together. Most travelers I know would just as soon find other countries to visit than deal with this BS to obtain a visa to India.

If you live in one of the five cities where BLS has offices, I recommend you apply for your India visa in person there. Getting your India visa by mail from BLS International is simply too complicated!

About The Author

is the author of 520 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

  • http://renegadepilgrim.com/ RenegadePilgrim

    In 2010, I got my India visa while I was in Rome, Italy via the Indian Embassy there. It took a week. I was kinda stuck in Rome since they had my passport (which was not great, since I had already been there before) but it was so much easier and only cost a little bit more than if I had gotten it in the US. So, that’s another option.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Good point Heather!

  • Teebs

    As an American tourist in Dublin, Ireland, Can I get my India toursit visa at teh Indian Embassy in Dublin? Does each country vary in their ability to process non-residents? Thank you for nay help on this – I need by visa in 9 days.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Hi Teebs,

    I don’t know this answer for sure, but you can email them at visa@indianembassy.ie to see!

  • EClaireU

    Can you still go through Travisa? Is the processing time less if you go in person?

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Travisa no longer handles India visa applications, unfortunately.

  • Globe Trotter

    Hi Robert, Thanks for taking the time to write these articles, they are very helpful. Your site is well designed and informative, and the pictures amazing!
    I need to get a tourist Visa for a month-long trip to India, and am a little concerned that SSN seems to be required along with everything else. I am not comfortable giving this information to the Indian consulate, especially via a third-party company (BLS). After all, with all this information, anyone would be able to access my bank records! I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have for me.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Unfortunately, going through BLS is the only way :-(

  • Kimnoo

    If Travisa is no longer handling the Indian visa process then why the hell seriously why the hell can I still print an application for my Indian visa on their website, complete with how much they will charge for the service??

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Because it’s all a mess, haha

  • Pingback: How to Get an India Visa for US Citizens

  • vtnyc

    The new company ckgs is a mess too..3 weeks and no visa or sign of my passport….been at their office three times last week, till midnight when they call out names from passports stuffed intheir filing cabinets..awful…if my ecuadorian visa werent in the passport, I would try to get another passport…my flight leaves in a week..im based in nyc

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    I’m so sorry! Good luck!

  • Boo

    How can a Thai national residing in USA get an Indian tourist visa ?

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Contact the nearest India Embassy to you for advice, please!

  • Ramie K

    I thought BLS had closed down entirely, but I think you can directly apply to cox & Kings they have all the information and a step by step instructions on what to do and you can either send it by mail to them directly or make an appt. and go to the nearest location.I actually thought BLS was closed so I applied directly to Cox and Kings.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Good luck!

  • David W

    Several updates. Travisa IS STILL handling visas to India for US citizens (my wife) and US residents (me). Travisa is responsive and returns email questions within hours. Travisa may not be the cheapest BUT they are responsive and helpful. Out visas are being processed by them right now. Having said that; the other folks are a known disaster to the Consulate General of India, S.F.; from their website ”

    Complaints againts M/S Cox & Kings Global Service please

    Complaints againts M/S BLS Service International Ltd please

  • David W

    We will, of course, let you know how it all goes, including time and costs.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Thank you!

  • Julie S

    I am going to Europe in September and will be there for a couple of months. I’d like to go to India from there to visit a friend (for about a month) and am wondering if I can get my visa for India while I’m in Paris or London, rather than trying to get it here in the US before i leave. I’m afraid if I send in my passport I might not get it back in time, and going to San Francisco in person is doable, but a hassle. Do you know if I can get it while I’m there? I also heard that starting in October, the process will (hopefully) be simplified to an online visa application only (taking 3 days). Any advice would be appreciated.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Hi Julie:

    I do believe you can get this done in Europe, but being that it relates to India, it will be complicated. A couple readers of mine were going to do it in Madrid, but actually decided to fly to Rabat, Morocco to do it instead on account of the complication!

  • Ana Cor Eta

    Hi robert,

    2 questions, first is: Do I need to book first my flight to obtain the Visa to India? , and the second question : I just quit my job , and they ask for a “Financial Requirements” do you think I will be OK with my bank statement? thanks! ACPJ

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Hi Ana:

    1) You do need to have flight info, although they have no way of verifying you actually booked your flight.

    2) I have never had to provide financial info.

  • Ashley Cruz

    I am a US citizen traveling around the world for 10 months. I am currently in London but would love to go to India. I am unsure of the options I have on receiving an Indian Visa. I’ve asked Travisa for clarification and they haven’t responded to me. Can I simply go into the India Consulate here in London? Do I have to fill out the application and have my passport mailed all the way back to the states? I’m so confused.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    I am not sure about London. I know you can get one in Spain or Morocco! Why don’t you call the consulate in London?

  • Christina Z.

    Anyone have a timeline on how long an in-person application takes to get the passport with the new visa back? Say in Atlanta? Thank you!

  • Uzbeth

    I’d love to hear what you found out or hear from others who have had this same scenario. I am also traveling around for the next 9 months. I am currently in France and would love to go to India.

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    I am curious to see where this drama all leads!

  • lex

    BLS International

  • lex

    The indian government just does not want people to go there it seems. Lex

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    :-

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