During the journey of their own country, a traveler does not need any additional documents other than a valid air ticket. Nowadays, due to security reasons, there is a need for any identity proof such as an employer’s identity card, voting I-Card, Driving License, Ration Card, or any other valid document which can prove passenger identity.
If a journey is beyond one’s country’s boundary, i.e., to a foreign country or many countries, then the passenger must obtain proper documents. Though each state has its own requirement, which can be seen in the book ‘Travel Information Manual’ (T.I.M.). The need for documents depends on several factors, e.g., the political relationship between the countries (e.g., India with Pakistan or Nepal), the policy of destination country, purpose of the visitor, etc. Some states are very liberal, they want to encourage more tourist arrivals, because it is beneficial to tourism & related industries, e.g., Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. Some countries are stringent due to security reasons and the massive influx of illegal immigration, so they put several barriers, e.g., U.S.A., UK, Canada, Australia, etc.
The primary documents needed in almost all countries are Passport, VISA, health documents, etc.
It is the identity of a citizen. It is issued by all countries. Each person traveling abroad must have his or her own Passport. In India, a passport is released under the Passport Act, 1967. It is issued in the name of the President of India. Typically, it is valid for 10 years. The fee of Passport depends on several factors, e.g., it is fresh, renewed, or duplicate; it is for adult or for minor (below 18 years); it is a passport of 36 pages or for 60 pages, etc. The passport form can be obtained from the Regional Passport Office of State or the main post office of the city. The passport form should be accompanied by Bank Draft, Seven Latest Passport Size Photographs, Residential Proof (e.g., Ration Card, Employer’s Certificate, Voter I.Card, etc.), Birth Certificate, No Objection Certificate (for government servants), etc. The adequately filled passport form can be submitted to the local head post office or local passport office, and within three months, the applicant will get a Passport.
There are 3 types of Passport in India,
- The Navy Blue Colour passport for ordinary citizens,
- Maroon colored Passport to officials & diplomats of Govt. of India
- White-colored Passport for V.V.I.P.
In some countries, there are several other types of passports or documents, equivalent to passports. They are Alien Passport, Children’s Identity Cards, Diplomatic or Consular Passport, International Red Cross Passport, Joint Passport for Family, Parent and Minor Child Passport, etc.
Thus, while making a foreign itinerary, one must ensure that he has a valid Passport.
Any person who wants to visit other countries must obtain a VISA (Visitors intend to stay abroad) from the High Commission or Embassy at the country of origin. The High Commissions are foreign offices among British Commonwealth countries (e.g., High Commission of U.K., Sri Lanka, Australia, etc.) For obtaining a VISA, the traveler should fill up a VISA form with two photographs, Passport, proof of economic status (e.g., Income Tax Return and Bank Statement, etc.) The VISA is imprinted on the page of the Passport. Some stringent countries, e.g., the U.S.A., Canada, UK & Australia, need personal physical appearance at the office. Most of the other countries give VISA through the post office or travel agents. there are several countries by which Visa On Arrival service is provided at International Airports. If the passenger has onward or returns air ticket. The Govt. of India also issues VISA on arrival to citizens of 14 countries for two weeks, if they have proof of onward/return journey. The Govt. of India also issues a multi-entry VISA to nationals of 18 countries for 5 years, but each visit shall not exceed 90 days. These countries are France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg), Norway, Finland, Iceland, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand.
In Europe, the VISA formalities have been simplified by the ‘Schengen VISA’ system. With a Schengen VISA, one can enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen Zone. It means this zone is treated as a domestic trip. If one has a Schengen VISA for any country, then he can travel to other countries. The leading members of Schengen are 15 countries— Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. Thus, a Schengen VISA is an excellent benefit for tourists who want to visit Europe. For obtaining it, one should apply at the first point of entry or at the Embassy or consulate of the leading destination.
In the case of India, all foreigners (except the nationals of Bhutan & Nepal) need VISA, which can be obtained from the Indian Mission in the country of their residence. The Government of India issues VISA of several types:
- Tourist VISA- It is a multi-entry or single entry VISA, valid for 180 days from the date of issue. It is granted for the purpose of tourism. If a person stays more than 180 days, he must register at Foreign Regional Registration offices located at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai & Chennai, or local Superintendent of Police.
- Collective VISA- This facility is provided to a minimum of four passengers, and for this service, the service provider must be approved by the Govt of India. After collecting the ‘license to travel’ from the immigration authorities of India. The group split into small parts for visiting different destinations according to their desires. And after complete the tour, the group reassemble and depart as the original group.
- Transit VISA– This is granted for a maximum period of 15 days to such travels who travel via India, or transfer the aircraft.
- Landing Permit- it is available to those tourists who land without a VISA. This facility may be given up to 30 days.
- Business VISA- It is a multiple entry VISA valid for 5 years if a person comes for purpose or to meet their relatives.
- Student VISA- A student can obtain this VISA on the production of proof of admission in an institution or university, and means of sustenance while in India. It is valid for one year but can be extended up to the duration of course.
There are several other types of VISA which are issued by the Govt. of India; Conference VISA, Sportsman VISA, Yoga VISA, Employment VISA, Media VISA, etc.
P.I.O. card or persons of Indian Origin Card:
This scheme was launched in 1999. This card is valid for 15 years. Its fee is Rs. 15,000 for adults. It is issued to foreigners whose ancestors were Indian. But there is a blacklist of 8 countries where even if the applicant/ his parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were from these 8 countries, then they will not be given P.I.O. Card, they are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Iran & China.
This P.I.O. The card is a multi-entry VISA, the holders can enter and exit any time for any duration.
Now all countries are aware of health hazards. There can be such diseases, which may grow in the visited country due to a lack of checks. So, the authorities are well conscious of it. A large part of tropical countries of South America and Africa have yellow fever disease. So any traveler who belongs to these areas or travels through these areas needs a yellow fever vaccination card.
Similarly, a large part of the world is suffering from Malaria and mosquito generated diseases. It also needs a certificate or precaution. AIDS is worldwide increasing, so the H.I.V. test or certification is also required.
Besides, health certificates, several countries require proof of economic condition. They want to ensure that the applicant has sufficient money to stay in his country, e.g., U.K., U.S.A., etc.
Thus, while making a tour package of a foreign country, the tourist or travel agent knows all these formalities which may be required at the point of entry.
Reference: “D.D.E.K.U.K.” the content is written by “Prof. Ravi Kumar Bhushan” D.T.H.M., KUK