India restores eVisa for British travellers

British travellers to India will now be able to make holiday and business visits without attending an in-person appointment at a visa centre.

Since the end of the Covid crisis, UK passport holders have been barred from the eVisa scheme due to a political dispute on access to Britain for Indian travellers.

The option was restored for nationals of 156 countries, including all 27 European Union members. But the UK was in a small minority of nations whose citizens must apply in person for a visa.

The process is far more expensive and time-consuming than the online eVisa, and there is a long waiting list for appointments at Indian visa centres in the UK.

But the High Commissioner for India in London, Vikram Doraiswami, has now issued a video message saying: “This service will be made available for you forthwith.

“That should enable friends from the UK to travel far more easily to India.

“So welcome back: eVisas are up ahead.

“We look forward to a good winter season in which everybody gets to celebrate their festivals in India, which is the land of festivals.”

The video was accompanied by a tweet saying: “eVisa facility will again be available for UK nationals travelling to India. System upgrade is underway and the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK”.

But it is not clear exactly when operations will resume. The UK does not appear on the list of nationalities for which the eVisa is an option.

The decision has come too late for tens of thousands of travellers who have had to cancel their holidays in India because they couldn’t get appointments for personal visa application.

The tourism season for India gets under way in earnest in October, and the demand for appointments led to very long waits – and caused serious damage to business in the UK and India that rely on British visitors to the sub-continent.

Last month Rakesh Kumar Verma, additional secretary at the Ministry of Tourism in India, told The Independent: “We are aware of this challenge, and it is under consideration at a very high level, and I am sure this will be addressed very soon.”

Egypt, Sri Lanka and Thailand have benefited from what some saw as an effective ban by the government in Delhi on British travellers.

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