First: This is the EXACT way that I received my visa for India in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in August 2012. Visa requirements change all the time, particularly for India, so go check out the official India Consulate in Chiang Mai website. Hopefully, they’ve updated their procedure and made things easier.
Some Things to Know About Getting Your India Visa in Chiang Mai:
- You just about CANNOT get a visa for India in Malaysia. Forget that there are so many Indian people living in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Non-Malaysians applying for a visa there are nearly always turned down — go grab a cheap flight to Chiang Mai!
- You can only get a three-month visa for India in Chiang Mai without jumping through a lot of additional hoops. If you need a six-month visa, Bangkok may be a better choice.
- If you don’t mind receiving only three months, Chiang Mai, Thailand, is one of the easiest and most relaxed places in Southeast Asia to get your India visa.
After the recent changes to the India visa application process, it sometimes feels like they are actively trying to discourage you from visiting their amazing country. The bureaucracy and frustrations have never been worse — and a tiny mistake on your application that causes it to be rejected could cost you US $100 per each attempt!
Don’t take any chances with your travel funds, do it right the first time!
What You Need to Take to the India Consulate in Chiang Mai:
- Passport (with 2 blank pages and valid for 6 months after departing India)
- Two recent, passport-size photos (2 inches x 2 inches) with white background
- One signed photocopy of your passport
- Signed photocopies (one each) of your Thai visa, Thailand entrance stamp, and departure card
- If they won’t all fit on the form, an official letter with additional countries you have visited in the last 10 years.
- Enough Thai baht to cover your fees (more about that later)
- Fortunately, you DO NOT have to have a pre-booked flight, return ticket, or itinerary when applying in Chiang Mai.
Step 1: Complete an Online Visa Application Form
Although the place is rather relaxed compared to other consulates, don’t just turn up at the India consulate in Chiang Mai looking for forms or help!
You must complete the lengthy application form online rather than by hand. Despite the form being saved electronically in their system, it must be printed and delivered by hand.
Some Very Important Tips for the India Visa Application
- Once you verify the form for the last time, you cannot go back and correct any mistakes. Make sure that everything is correct the first time, otherwise you have to start a new form.
- Be careful: the online form will default and change some of your entries when you go back to verify information. One of those questions is “Were your Grandparents Pakistani nationals?” Imagine.
- When you finish the application, you will be given an appointment at the consulate and a filing number. You can choose the day but not the time. This appointment time is printed on the application form. If you made a mistake and had to complete a new form, you can stick to your original appointment time (disregard the second) but you must bring both the good application and the one with mistakes with you.
- Minor mistakes on your form can be corrected by pen once at the consulate. Do so in front of the assistant at the consulate and sign next to every correction in pen.
- Don’t panic if the saved PDF version of your completed visa form has missing fields or questions that you were never asked — this is normal!
- Don’t worry about uploading a photo at the end. Instead, take the two passport photos with you and let the consulate attach them. Do not staple them yourself.
Navigating the Visa for India Application Form
Make no mistake about it, this thing is a nightmare. Even racial and religious profiling is sprinkled throughout. Pay special attention to the following:
- Choose the India Mission as: “Thailand – Chiang Mai”
- You must choose a religion. ‘None” is not an option!
- The default answers for bubble questions such as ‘were you in the military’ or ‘have you been denied entry before’ are yes! Be sure to toggle the answers to ‘no’. If you have to go back in the form at any point, it will default your answers to ‘yes’ again.
- Don’t worry about background checks. Better to answer ‘no’ even if you are a military veteran.
- Don’t choose a profession from the limited list. Notice how many choices point to journalistic-type jobs (i.e., writer, cameraman, reporter). Even if you are proud of that travel blog, forget it; you will be pushed to apply for a journalist visa. Do not choose ‘unemployed’ — make something up! Be creative, but do not choose a job that you could possibly do while in India. Even my friend who listed ‘social worker’ was scrutinized and asked if she intended to do any social work in India.
- Your present address should be the guesthouse where you are staying in Chiang Mai. Take a card or letter from the guesthouse for proof, just in case.
- Your permanent address should be in your home country. No proof is required unless you are applying while still at home.
- Reference in Thailand can be your guest house in Chiang Mai.
- Reference in India can be any guesthouse in your first city. Choose a place with a phone number from a hostel booking website or your guidebook.
- Consider listing only popular, touristy places in the ‘intended places to visit’ part of the form. Shy away from listing disputed or border areas.
- The field for ‘countries visited in the last 10 years’ is quite limited. If you’re a serious vagabond and cannot list all of the countries, type a separate official letter with your list of countries and attach it to the application. The official letter should be courteous and include your passport number and visa filing number. If you have a stamp for a country you visited in your passport — list it!
Step 2: Gather Your Documents
Two Passport Photos: You can get passport photos taken at various photo shops around town; if you don’t find one in the Old City, try the night bazaar street (Chang Klang Road). Photos need to be on a white background, 2 inches x 2 inches, and no smiling. Get some extra copies — you’ll need them for applying for various permits and other things in India.
Other Copies: You’ll find a very friendly and travel-savy woman at Alternative Travel (phone: 053-449725) who does copies and printing from USB stick on Loykroh Soi 3, down a small street on the right side between the Old City and the night bazaar. Your documents should be saved as Acrobat PDF or Microsoft Word. Copies are 5 baht each.
Step 3: Go to the India Consulate in Chiang Mai
Now that you’re thoroughly prepared, relax! The Indian consulate in Chiang Mai is a chilled out little place that looks more like a house rather than a nest of bureaucracy. The staff are friendly enough. You may even get a smile when you enter.
If you turn up earlier than your appointment time (which you should, to complete the non-resident form), you can wait in a nice sitting area with loads of reading material on hand. Go directly to the assistant’s desk, present yourself, and ask for the non-resident form. He/she will do a precursory glance at your document to ensure that everything is in order, and attach your photos to the application form. You will be asked to sign beneath the photos.
Visa for India applications are only accepted between 9 a.m and 12 p.m.
India Consulate in Chiang Mai
33/1 Thung Hotel Road; Wat Kate, Muang Chiang Mai, 50000
Phone: +66 (0)53-243066 or +66 (0)53-242469
India Consulate website.
The India consulate is about a 45-minute walk, or I paid 60 baht for a tuk-tuk (with very minimal negotiation) from the Old City. A tuk-tuk takes around 20 minutes.
To get to the consulate, go through Tapae Gate, stay on TaPae Road all the way until you cross the river, then go some more. Take a left onto Thung Hotel Road. The consulate is on the left side, directly opposite the Thai Chamber of Commerce building with a sign for handicrafts. The embassy entrance is partially down a small, shady street. If you reach Soi 3 on Thung Hotel Road, you went too far. The sign on Thung Hotel Road is small, white, and faces the wrong direction — easy to miss!
Chances are, your tuk-tuk driver will need directions. You can try having your guesthouse staff write Thung Hotel Road in Thai on a piece of paper to show.
India Visa Fees
For some glorious reason, Americans applying for the visa for India in Chiang Mai get to pay an additional 1000 baht more than Europeans.
At the time of writing, I paid 3,170 baht as an American.
There is a convenient ATM across the street from the embassy if you did not bring enough cash.
Safeguard the fee payment receipt that they give you — you must bring your receipt with you in seven days to collect your passport!
Getting the visa for India in Chiang Mai sounds complicated, but it is the best option when compared to Bangkok and less friendly places. Your application is not approved in Chiang Mai; they are the first line and then send it to a higher power.
The visa application in Chiang Mai takes around 7 days; you can check the status online, however, it will only say ‘processed’ not if the visa was granted or not.
- See some more India travel advice for backpacking travel.
- Lean about some India travel tips for families.
Meet the Author:
Greg Rodgers is the editor of this fine travel site. He left Corporate America to begin traveling in 2006 and has been happily living from a rucksack since!