Onboard your flight, you will be given a landing / arrival card for India that you give, along with your passport, to the agent at the counter when you go through customs. It is nice when the airline provides this form early in your flight, so you have plenty of time to fill it out and put it away with your passport. But, alas, it is often handed out shortly before landing, when you are trying to gather your belongings, make a final trip to the lavatory, and rub the sleep out of your eyes, while eating the breakfast they serve – despite that it is really the middle of the night!
Making it Easier
In order to fill out your arrival card, you will need to refer to your passport and you will need your flight number; you will also need a pen. Keep these items close at hand. It can be a real inconvenience to have to hunt through a bag in the overhead compartment when you are trying to make sure your things are all together before landing. Also, don’t think you can rely on your memory. Regardless of how many times you have referred to your flight number, when you are groggy and sleep deprived after a 24 hour journey, you may not even remember your own name.
Your arrival card asks for:
- Name as in passport
- Passport number
- Date of issue of passport
- Date of birth
- Countries visited in last 6 days (arriving Indians only)
- Flight number and date of arrival
- Date of boarding and port of final destination
- Visa number
- Date of visa expiry
- Purpose of visit (Tourist, Business, Education, etc.)
- Address in India
- Proposed length of stay
- Signature of passenger
Be certain the agent stamps your passport before you leave the counter. He will tear a small slip from your arrival card and slip it into your passport. Keep this safely through baggage claim. You will provide it to an officer when you exit. Further information on immigration formalities is available from the Bureau of Immigration, India.
Your Address in India
A surprise to many of us, is that we are asked for – and MUST PROVIDE – an address for where we are staying in India! You may be staying with friends, who are picking you up at the airport. You may be staying at a hotel that is providing airport shuttle service directly from the airport. There are many scenarios in which it doesn’t occur to you that you need to know the address for where you are staying in India – and it is frustrating to know that the person with the information you require is likely outside the airport in the early morning dampness, possibly holding a placard with your name on it!
A particularly helpful agent, might ask for the name of your hotel again – even after you’ve insisted you are staying with friends and don’t have the address. He’s trying to get you to say Sheraton, so he can ask, “The one on this road or that?” You pick one, and he will send you on your merry way.
Carry the address of your hotel, guest house, or a friend with whom you are staying in your wallet, so you can fill it in when you need to, and avoid this introductory dance with Indian bureaucracy. If you are traveling to several places, it is only necessary to provide the address for your first stop. Agents need something to fill in, or they can’t allow travelers to enter India!
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