Should You Carry Your Passport With You in India? – India requires a passport for travelers to enter the country, and in addition, it requires a tourist visa (requires two blank passport pages) for visitors. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the date of your visa application. All visitors must enter the country with either a paper visa or an e-tourist visa (for visits of 60 days or less)–standard Indian visas are valid for 10 years for U.S. citizens. 

Should you carry your passport with you in India?

While there is no explicit governmental requirement in India that travelers have their passports on them at all times, it is recommended that you do so.

And be very wary of pickpockets, as passports (especially U.S. passports are among the most commonly stolen items in India. 

Does India Require You to Keep Your Passport and Visa on You?

India is not a country that is explicitly particular about stopping individuals for ID checks, though there are many countries (like China) that are. That said, it probably could never hurt to have your passport (or at least a photocopy of your passport) handy in case you need to present it for any reason.

If you carry your passport on you, be sure to carry it securely, in a money belt or security pocket inside your pants for safekeeping against pickpockets.  

According to the U.S. State Department, you should treat your passport as you would any other valuable: keep your passport secure under lock and key at your hotel while traveling.

Related: Should You Carry Your Passport With You In China?

How Do I Get a Visa to Visit India?

All travelers are required to present a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and leave India for virtually all purposes. You’ll want to make sure you have the appropriate visa type aligned with your plans while in India, because you may be refused entry if you don’t have the right type of visa.

Virtually all visitors from the United States, including travelers who are on official business for the U.S. government, are required to apply for their visas at an Indian embassy or consulate in another country outside of India before they can enter India.

Indian visas can be applied for and obtained in the U.S. at the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and at the Indian Consulates General in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Houston.

All forms for requesting a tourist visa to visit India visa are available through the Indian government’s visa portal.

Note that India changes its visa regulations often, and usually with little to no advance notice, so keep in mind that recently implemented changes tend to be poorly disseminated and are often enforced inconsistently (your experience may depend in large part on the agent with whom you are interacting).

It’s highly recommended that you check the Washington, D.C. Indian Embassy’s website before your departure to India so you can access the most current information. 

As mentioned, visitors wishing to travel to India are required to request the correct type of visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate, as you won’t be able to change your visitor category (e.g., from work visa to student visa) once you have entered India.

Once you get your traveler visa, double-check it to make sure that the type of visa you’ve received and that the number of entries aligns with your travel plans. 

Travelers seeking to visit India as tourists only, with the intent to stay no longer than 60 days, can apply for an electronic travel visa (e-tourist visa) at least four days before their arrival instead of the typical application process at an Indian embassy or consulate.

Information about the e-tourist visa and application process can be found at the website of the Indian government–requirements and eligibilities can also be found at this website. 

You cannot get an e-travel visa (or a standard visa, for that matter) once you’ve arrived in India, so be sure to get it cleared ahead of time. Without a valid passport and visa, you may not be admitted into the country. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in India won’t be able to do much to help you if you don’t have the appropriate documents in hand.

Having copies handy of your passport and visa can expedite the process of replacing them if they are lost or stolen. To leave India, you’ll also need your traveler visa, and its replacement can take at least 3-4 business days. 

How Can I Carry My Passport Safely?

If you want to carry your passport safely, first and foremost, look into getting a security pocket for your pants, or a money/security belt to wear around your waist. It’s also a good idea to keep a photocopy of your passport and travel visa in a safe at your hotel, and even to carry a photocopy with you securely in another pocket.

Finally, scan your passport, visa, and travel insurance documentation and email them to yourself so you can easily access them electronically if you need to. 

You’ll probably be OK to leave your passport and visa in a safe at your hotel and carry a photocopy, but you might feel more comfortable carrying the originals safely with you wherever you travel. 

Tips for Entry, Exit, and Traveling Through India

1- Petty crimes, especially pickpocketing and theft of tourists’ personal items like wallets and passports, are very common. Trains, buses, airports, and major tourist areas are prime locations scouted out by would-be thieves. Pickpockets in India (and in other countries) can be very sly, resulting in reports of items being lifted off individuals in crowded areas in even overt ways (bags snatched, purse straps cut, etc.) without their even knowing.  

2 – For those traveling by air, be extra vigilant of your baggage in the arrival and departure areas inside and outside airports. 

3 – For those traveling by train, keep your sleeping compartments locked and carry your valuables with you securely (in a money belt or secure pocket inside your clothing. 

4 – India is not a country known for violent crimes, though there has been a slight increase in recent years, especially toward foreigners. Be very cautious about showing cash or expensive jewelry out in the open so you can help avoid being the target of a robbery or other crime. Also, always be aware of your surroundings while using an ATM. Note that ATM card scams are often used to duplicate credit card details in order to withdraw money after you’ve left.  

So, Should You Carry Your Passport With You in India?

There is no specific requirement made by the Indian government to carry your passport with you at all times, but you will need a traveler visa (of the appropriate type for your intended activity) to enter AND EXIT India. It is recommended that you at least have your passport locked up in your hotel with photocopies and even e-copies readily available in case you need to present it for anything.

Be very careful of India’s clever pickpockets, as you can have important documentation lifted from your person in the blink of an eye, without your even noticing. 


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