Getting an Indian tourist visa as a foreigner in Dhaka (April 2019)

3 April 2019

April 2019.

There isn’t much detailed information about getting an Indian tourist visa in Dhaka.  Even the info on the official site isn’t complete, so in case it’s useful for other travellers we have put together what we learned from our recent experience.

Indian visas are not issued from the consulate in Dhaka, but rather from an outsourced operation – Indian Visa Application Centre (IVAC).

At the time of writing, Dhaka is the only place in Bangladesh that issues visas for foreigners. There are other IVAC in Bangladesh (Kulna, Chittagong, Sylhet, to name a few), but they cater for Bangladeshis only.

The main branch is on the lower-ground floor at Jamuna Futures Park, which is a massive shopping centre on the north-eastern side of the city. We had thought there was a branch in the Gulshan area but the family we are staying with directed us to this one, so we think the Gulshan office may now be closed.

On arrival there is a huge queue lining up at a desk outside the main entrance to the shopping centre.  Ignore that queue and make your way straight to the main building and go downstairs.  The shopping centre doesn’t open until 11am so if it’s before that (IVAC office opens at 9am) there is a well-sign posted entrance to the right hand side where you go through some security and will need to just show your online form and passport so they know you are in the right place.

Once downstairs you should again skip the huge queue and go straight to the entrance. The reason you can skip the queue is that there is a dedicated counter for the few foreigners that come here (counter 1) so the process is slightly different than for the locals.

So the requirements and the process for the visa application are:

1. Complete and print off the online form before you visit the IVAC

It’s worth concentrating on this so that you don’t have any mistakes or ambiguities as if you do, you will need to redo it online from scratch and reprint. On our first attempt we didn’t include U.K. postcodes as we didn’t think they were necessary – they are and we couldn’t just write them on the form!

You will need:

– An address in India.

– A digital photo to upload. The digital photo must be the same as the printed photo which you glue to the form.  (Printed photo is not a standard size passport photo, so make sure you get the correct size 51x51mm).

– A local phone number.  It doesn’t have to be your own phone number, just a number they can contact you on to confirm your application and let you know when your passport is ready for collection.

2. Along with the completed form you will need to submit the following documents:

– Your current passport, with a minimum of 6 months validity as well as a copy of it.

– If you have a second passport and mention it in the application form you will need to submit this original passport as well.

– A copy of your  driving licence or birth certificate as proof of identity. (Or national ID card).

– Proof that you can fund your trip….so a copy of a recent bank or credit statement AND a photocopy of your physical credit or debit card (front and back with the CSV code scribbled out).

– A copy of your current Bangladeshi visa.

– Proof of a local address in Bangladesh.  We were staying with a local family so we had to get a copy of their electricity bill for this, so if you are staying in an AirBnB, this might cause a problem. We assume hotel booking confirmation is probably an easier option.

– A copy of your last Indian visa if you have had one previously.

A couple of important things to know, which can affect your ability to submit the application:

1. You can only submit visa applications between 9am and 1pm, Sunday – Thursday, so make sure that you don’t have any mistakes or ambiguities on your form.  If you do, you will need to completely redo it online and reprint. On our first attempt we didn’t include U.K. postcodes as we didn’t think they were necessary – they are and we couldn’t just write them on the form, so we had to redo and wait until the next day to submit because we didn’t have time before the 1pm cut off.

2. Payment is cash only.  Cards are not accepted.  Our 12-month visas as U.K. citizens cost 15,000 Takas each.  (3-and 6-month visas cost the same, but other nationalities may have different prices.  Check online and have it ready in cash).  There is a City Bank ATM in the shopping centre, which accepts international cards.

Once submitted then it’s a waiting game.  We applied on a Monday (after a false start on the Sunday when we didn’t have all the required papart work) and collected them the following Monday when we got a text and call to say they were ready. So be prepared to hang around Dhaka for a week, which isn’t much of a hardship really as it’s quite a pleasant city!

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