Applying for an Indian visa in Colombo

There seems to be an air of mystery around applying for an Indian visa, especially in Sri Lanka. I’ve been hearing contradicting reports about the success of applying for a 6 month visa and only receiving single entry, rather than the preferred double or multiple, so thought I’d share my recent experience. I’m a British citizen so the information below may be different for other nationalities.

The office

The Indian visa application office (VFS) is located on Galle Road 433 Colombo 03. From the Colombo Fort area it costs 200 rupees in a metered taxi, takes around 1 hour to walk or you can also take the train to Bambalapitiya (10 rupees) then walk left onto Galle Road for 10 minutes. There’s a “communication centre” around 2 minutes walk from the office providing computers and printing.

Indian visa application centre in Colombo

The application

Prior to attending the office you must complete the online visa application form here. Once complete (it can take up to an hour) you must print out the PDF document and present it to reception at the VFS office.

You will receive another form asking the same questions, just to confirm you’re not an idiot I guess. To make things awkward (or to make more money) you must supply 2 50mm x 50mm photos, the friendly staff in the office will take your photos and photocopy your passport for 200 rupees. Once these formalities are complete you’ll receive a number and must wait until you’re called. I was just in the process of downing my 5th glass of free water when I was called up, maybe a wait of less than 30 minutes. The clerk flicked through my passport and nonchalantly told me I wouldn’t be able to apply, WHAT!! Apparently you need both sides of 1 page of your passport completely void of stamps, I only had 1 page free but the opposite side was full. Stupid rules. Thankfully, after consulting her superior they agreed I should be ok. In other words, I pay the fee and see what happens.

At this point you confirm details, hand over all your forms and laugh at your passport photos then pay the 5979 Sri Lankan rupees. That cost includes 5350 rupees for the visa, 100 rupees consular surcharge, 350 rupees referral fee and 174 rupees service charges. The application process takes 5 working days, so you’ll be given a date for a week later. You must come back to the office between 9am and 10am on, or any day after the date given with your passport and receipt. To a different desk this time (with an even shorter waiting time - only 1 glass of water!) to hand over your passport and receive the visa… NOOOOOT. Back to the photocopy man to pay for a duplicate of your receipt and they will now accept your passport but won’t give you a visa. You must come back for a third visit on the same day, any time after 16:45 on the 1st floor, to collect your long awaited and fully deserved visa.

The outcome

Despite being told a 6 month multiple entry visa wasn’t possible, I decided to apply for it anyway. SUCCESS! I didn’t get multiple but I did receive a 6 month double entry visa, which is fine for me. Note, the visa starts from the day you hand over your passport and not when you make the initial application, this means you can apply for the visa then come back at any point (after a week) to receive the stamp and get the most out of your visa.

Celebrating with Ronald down Galle Road.


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