Applying for an Indian Visa in Kandy, Sri Lanka

So you’ve decided to go to India! The food is mind-blowing, the big cities nerve-wracking, the transport always eventful and never on time. It is a land of extremes, both good and bad – but before you can dive head-first into this mind-bendingly gorgeous mess you have to face one of the more frustrating aspects of India – its vast and stubbornly inefficient bureaucracy.

Since the introduction of the online visa application form (which you then have to print out and submit in paper, aaargh!) things have become more complicated than ever. The form goes into minute detail, including “visible identification marks”, religion, job and education, the names and birth places of your parents and the countries you have been to in the past 10 years. Not all correct answers are necessarily the right ones and your form might be rejected by the guard before you even get to submit it in person.

A very helpful step-by-step guide to filling out the form can be found here.

I’d suggest reading it thoroughly before you start filling out the form, because the form expires if you take too long on one page, which means you have to start from scratch again (at which point I would not blame you for wanting to go over to the visa agency and hit someone over the head with your computer).

At first glance it might seem incredible that all the stoners in Goa ever manage to even get an Indian visa. But, as with most things, it looks more complicated than it actually is.

The rest of this post deals specifically with the practicalities of applying for an Indian visa in Kandy, Sri Lanka.


What you need:

TIME – The visa application takes 7 working days to process, but you don’t have to leave your passport there during that time. Also keep in mind that the visa is valid from the date of issue, not the date of entry into India.

MONEY – in cash, and in Sri Lankan Rupees. You can check the fees here – my condolences to the Brits and the Russians.

PAPERWORK – sooo much paperwork

The official requirements for Non-Sri Lankan nationals:

  • An online application form (filled out online and printed out)
  • A FAX reference form (printed out and filled out by hand, just because)
  • Three recent photographs (no, your passport photos won’t do – the dimensions have to be 2inch x 2inch, with a white background)
  • Photocopy of your passport (Bio page and the Sri Lankan visa)
  • Travel and tour itinerary
  • Copy of your hotel booking

Ok, now, chill out. Before you go on a hostelworld booking spree and cement you itinerary in stone read the rest of this blog and then head down to the Kandy train station (and grab a couple of rotis on the way… this might take a while).

Submitting the Application

First of all, don’t even bother with the online application – odds are, you’ll get it wrong anyways. No need to print out the FAX form either.

Take your passport, money (or credit card – there is an ATM near the IVS office), and the details of any hotel you might have already booked in India (if you haven’t, don’t worry). I’d also suggest taking a black-ink pen, since the FAX form has to be filled in black ink and there are no black pens to be found around the IVS office. No, blue ink won’t do. Black! Because it says so on the form! And because the guard checking your paperwork before submission has decided to exercise his one iota of power and authority over you and your blue-ink pen.

With all your documents in tow you can now either get a tuk-tuk down to the IVS office, or just walk to the railway station and flag down a bus going down William Gopallawa Mawatha (the IVS office is on No. 675) – check with the driver that they stop at “Royal Mall” station. The bus fare is somewhere between 10 – 15 Rs. and the ride takes about 15 minutes.

Get off at Royal Mall and ask around for the IVS Lanka office – its on the second floor of a pretty nondescript building.

First it’s time to get your paperwork in order. Luckily there are a couple of kiosks just down the road from the office, staffed with people whose job it is to fill out the online application forms in a way that will be deemed satisfactory by the impenetrable standards of Indian bureaucracy. Take a seat, hand over your passport and leave it to the pros.

For the “Travel Itinerary” section just mention the places you might be going to – “um, so, Kerala and Tamil Nadu I guess, and then kind of heading north?” worked just fine for me.

If you don’t have a hotel booking they will just put the address of a random hotel in the “address in India” section – you don’t have to submit proof of a booking.

If you are a student or currently unemployed just make something up for the form – if you put down “student” you will have to provide your father’s job and address.

There you can also have your photo taken and copy the relevant pages of your passport.

The filled and printed application form, 3 photos and 2 photocopies only cost around 4 Euro and will save you a lot of hassle.

Once you make your way to the IVS Lanka office you can buy the FAX form for 10Rs. Your paperwork will then be checked by a perpetually cranky guard and with some luck he will find it worthy of submission. Once at the counter you hand over your money and get a receipt with the date on which you can pick up your visa.

You are done for the day! To get back to Kandy just flag down any bus going in the right direction.


Picking up the visa

You have to submit your passport between 8:30 and 12:00.

If the weather is nice and you’re getting sick of Kandy you could spend the afternoon in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, about 2 kilometres from the IVS Lanka office. It’s less of a botanical garden and more of a big park and a nice place for a picnic and a stroll, though the prices for foreigners are pretty steep.

You have to pick up your passport between 16:00 and 17:00.

Congrads, you are now the proud owner of an Indian visa! I hope this post was helpful in negotiating the Visa Application obstacle course.




Any questions or tips of your own? Comment below!


40 thoughts on “Applying for an Indian Visa in Kandy, Sri Lanka

  1. Hojla, Kaycha, pa ti to res dobro delaš, celo suhoparna viza dobro zveni – vsa čast! Sem bil v mestu s prjatli in sta mi Džordži in Andreja (poznaš? Moj nekdanji vodič in njegova machka) rekla, da te bereta tvoj blog in spotoma namignila, da je bil tvoj Iran nekako … khm, no … bolj zanimiv od mojega … khm, khm — hej, meni se je pa tako dobro zdelo? Nč fovšije, a se lahko kar dokončno zmeniva, da bom jaz v familiji fotograf, ti pa bodoči Nobelov nagrajenec za literaturo, ok? Eto, zdaj pa dost in grem spat, je cajt. ti se pa skrajno lepo imej. Ata

  2. Hi – thanks for a very helpful and informative article. Do you mind me asking what sort of visa duration they issued for you? 6 months? A lot of Indian visa offices are only issuing 3 months these days, and I’d like to know what Kandy are issuing before I book my ticket there. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Chloe, thanks for your comment – I got a 6 month multiple entry visa without a problem back in December. Kandy was even the hot new visa run destination for the Goan crowd because it was one of the few places that even issued 6 month visas to people who had back-to-back visas. So to the best of my knowledge Kandy is one of the best places to get a 6 month visa in the area, but as you probably know the Indian visa authorities like to keep us on our toes, so this might have changed by now… Good luck, and if you find the time please do post an update when you get your visa! 🙂

  3. Dear Kaja,

    Thank you so much for al information.
    How long have we to wait from the day of visa application?


  4. Hello Kaja!
    Thank you so much for all this info, I couldn’t find too many threads talking about the best place to apply for a new visa! Do you know anything about Colombo? Do you know of anyone getting 6 months visa there? I read somewhere that it was better to apply there!
    And one thing Kaja, for how long did you stay in Sri Lanka?/Just as a reference, sometimes that makes the difference!
    😉 Love!

    • Hey Raquel, glad I could be of help! Back in December Colombo had a reputation for only giving out 3 month visas… but as I always point out on this thread, things change fast!Talking to some people in KTM in April, Kandy was apparently still the most reliable place. I was in Sri Lanka for 1 month – note that I didn’t have any other indian visas in my passport.
      Good luck, and have some rotis for me!

      • Thank you Kaja, then I will do it in Kandy, if as you say is more reliable for people with other Indian visas, I already have 3, that is why I am a little worried 😉 If you say that people with other visas got it there, it might be better! I am in Colombo right now, just arrived, not chances to talk to too many people yet but one Turkish guy applied here on Colombo with one visa more in the passport and yesterday got 6 months! 😉
        Thank you so much!!!!

        • Thank you for the info Kaja! I am interested Raquel to know if you got the six month visa… I need to take the decition if I have chances to get a 6 months visa in Sri Lanka or better just go Nepal.
          Have a nice day!

          • Hi Auri! Yes, I got the six months visa and I had some other Indian visas in my passport! I think Kandy is a great place to apply and as far as I know they grant 6 months visa to everyone, I met a couple of guys more and they also get 6 months there. I also met a few people who applied in Colombo but don´t really know if eventually they were granted 6 months there.
            Apply in Kandy, the process is really easy, follow the amazing instructions in this blog and I bet you will get it! 🙂 Hope this helps you out! Good luck!

  5. Thanks Raquel for your great help and also K for the great blogg!
    I just arrived in Colombo and I just read that some people provide an exit ticket and proved funds (like bank statements) when they applyed. Did you do the same?
    Enjoy your visa!

    • They didn´t ask for anything in Kandy, at least I didn´t provide anything. I had everything ready, just in case but it wasn´t necessary. They didn´t ask me anything either and I already had previous visas in my passport. As Kaja said, there are a few shops around that would check the application for you and fill it again if you made any mistake.
      Good luck Auri! 🙂

  6. hey
    i just applied for it , here in kandy and got a date for collection for 8 days later, that is 9.10

    i wonder if i have to collect that bloody sticker on that date exactly or can i do it later also?


    • hey Joe, when I was applying you could just drop by whenever after the date… I went up to northern Sri Lanka and only picked up my visa two weeks later, no problem. It’s always a good idea to give them a call and check though, or maybe I’m just paranoid when it comes to Indian bureaucracy 🙂

  7. Hi people – thanks for the helpful information. I have just got back from a visa run to Bangkok where I found out the Indian Embassy has stopped issuing ANY tourist visas to foreigners! I had to get a 30 day e-tourist visa which isn’t great. They said visa centres around asia will start following the same rule – but it sounds like they are still issuing them in Kandy? If so I will head there next. Does anyone think they could be persuaded to process more quickly than 9 days? Or has anyone had their back more quickly? I have small kids in school in India and dont want to be away from them too long. Thanks a million!

    • Hi Chloe, so sorry to hear that! I don’t understand why it is getting so difficult to get tourist visas but I also have the feeling that it is getting hard little by little…
      As far as I know it is not possible to get it before, I didn’t see any option for an urgent visa. I got mine in June and you could pick up as late as you wanted but not before.

  8. Hi Kaja, ….and the rest,
    I am currently at Haputale and seriously thinking of going to India.
    Therefore will apply in Kandy. Have never been to India before. I am Australian and retired. ( Occupation section? ) I have also talked to a few travellers I met and some have mentioned that a return or onward ticket will/might be ask by the processing officer. I don’t know which city I will be exiting from and don’t want to purchase one in case I get knocked back. Do Indian immigration asked to show outward ticket on arrival at airport? I am planning to fly Colombo to Madurai. Pls advise. Thanks.

  9. Hi John – in my experience of having maybe 20 India tourist visas over the years, the only time you would be asked for a outward ticket is when you apply for the visa, not at immigration when you land. And of course, being India, the rules differ depending on the embassy/visa centre at which you are applying. For example in Bangkok (back when they were issuing tourist visas to non-Thai nationals) it was mandatory – you couldn’t even photoshop an e-ticket because they would check it with the airline. BUT they did say they also accept bus tickets for exit from India overland (eg into Nepal). However at other visa centres they have never asked for any type of exit ticket. I’ve always supplied a typed itinerary showing my travel plan including departure from India but to be honest I dont think they even look at it. If it is your first visa for India I think you would be ok – but its always best to check first. Kandy visa office have been very prompt in replying to email enquiries so maybe try that first before you book a ticket you may not use. All the best!

    • They didn’t ask me for a return ticket John, not when applying for the visa and not in immigration. I flew to Delhi instead of Madurai, I don’t know if that was the difference. I have heard that in Madurai sometimes the immigration officers have asked for that. But like Chloe says, I dont think you will have any problems if it is going to be your first visit to India and you don’t have any other Indian visas.
      Enjoy your trip!

    • Ditto. Also, for a multiple entry six month visa, you can stay in India the entire 6 months without leaving, right?

      Another question, how long for US citizens do you have to be out of the country before you can re-enter on the same visa? Does anyone know?

      I just want to double check, i know getting a visa for india in malaysia will result in a multi entry 3 month visa, with maximum stays of 45 days at a time.


  10. Hello,

    I have heard that there are some problems for UK/ US citizens with 5 or 10 year tourist visas when they exit the country for just a few days to Nepal (after the 180 day max rule). I.e. I’ve heard that they prefer you to leave for a longer period before returning. Is this true? Does anyone have any recent information on this?

    Also does anyone have recent info n the best place to get a 6 month visa nearby India?

  11. Thanks for this. Helped a bunch – process exactly as described.

    For others still interested, I got a 6 month multiple entry visa issued in Kandy (May 14th 2016 – UK Passport…ouch!)

  12. Anyone know why when entering a country you have to have a valid 6 month passport? My son’s passport expires in Nov. and we have to exit India in Aug. Our Indian visas are expired. We will go to Sir Lanka to apply for tourists visas to return to India and then we can get him a new passport from the embassy in India. We have done this several times. Just a little worried we may have some problems along the way.

  13. Hi there – I am 99.9% sure that you need at least six months validity on a passport before they will grant you any sort of visa. That’s the standard for most countries I believe. I don’t think they would even give you a 30 day visa in August on a passport expiring in November. I would seek the advice of an immigration lawyer to see if you have any other options. Can you not apply for emergency passport now before you leave?
    Last year I applied for a 12 month visa but they only gave me 9 months due to my passport expiring (they only granted the visa up to three months before it expired)
    Good luck!

  14. Does anyone have a recent update on getting an Indian visa in Sri Lanka? I gather it is not possible in Thailand or Malaysia any more unless you are resident. Any advice would be great as I’m in SEA now and hoping to go to India for a couple of months.

  15. I ve got yesterday 6 month visa on kandy office..multiple entrance..the hole tramit cost me 950 srlk rupies.. (700 for fotocopies,photos,forms,and help on filling the form,recomended..the formulary can be confusing and avoid you come back again because of the mistakes they always find…outside in the road theres shops that do the same maybe a litle bit cheaper..i went the 2 of january and they ask me can back the 9 in the morning, leave my passport and return one morrrre tiiiiiiiiime in the afternoon to pick it with the lovely 6 month visa on it!! yujuujjuu!

  16. Hello beautyful people
    Firstly thank you to everyone for contributing. Travelling would be a mind field without all the awsome information … I’m heading to Sri Lanka very soon to hopefully get a 6month visa for India. Wondering whether to head to Colombo or Kandy. I’m a UK passport holder. Has anyone had any experience lately obtaining a 6 months visa in either of those places?

    Blessings and love Hara

  17. Hi friends! I am in India with Italian passaport and the visa is soon expiring…
    When you are in Sri Lanka and submit the request for the visa, how long does it take to have it? I have to buy the plane ticket and don’t know which return date to choose… how many days you suggest to stay in Sri Lanka to be sure to get the visa? And, I don’t know if would be better to go to Colombo or Kandi. Suggestions? Thanks!!!

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