People traveling to India on a tourist visa cannot reenter the country until two months have past after exiting.
The change occurred after the arrest of American man David Coleman Headley.  India has changed its Visa rules after learning that the American terror suspect freely exited and entered India several times without arousing suspicion.  Headley, who was on regular 6 month multiple entry visas, took part in the 2008 26/11 terror attacks killing 173 people.

What does this mean for Travelers?

This poses a problem for the normal 6 month multiple entry Visa holders.  With the new rules, a person cannot re enter India within two months of leaving.
If you stay for the entire 180 days of your Visa, you will also need give two months before being allowed back in unless you have obtained special permission.

Travelers (like us) who wish to visit neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal and then return to India could face a problem.

How this will affect you the traveler?

The government has stated that even though they have passed the new legislation, the 2-month gap rule will be flexible for tourists traveling on a 6 month visa.  If the person keeps all documents and a detailed itinerary of their travels, they will be able to re enter India after visiting another country like Sri Lanka or Thailand.
It looks like the multiple entry Visa will fall by the wayside as the government plans to issue travelers with only two or three entries.

What you should do

If you are trying to re-enter India within two months time of departure, seek approval from the consulate in the country that you will be traveling from.  For example, if you left India for Nepal for a two week trek and want to come back to India afterward find the Indian Consulate and obtain permission to re-enter India.  That way you will save yourself a trip and wasted ticket if you are turned away at the border.

Once you do re-enter from another country, you must report to a Foreigners Regional Registration office within 14 days of arrival.

In the past, we had heard that it was easy to extend your Visa, however now with the new regulations, you do not want to take the chance of over staying your time.  Rules will be enforced more strictly and you may face deportation.

Things Won’t Change too Much

While the new rules sound harsh, for the average traveler it shouldn’t be a problem.  If you need to reenter more than 2 or 3 times in a 6 month period during your travels, you should probably reevaluate your itinerary.  That is a lot of backtracking and hopping about. If you are only reentering India one or two times, you should be O.K.
If you keep all of your documents and papers showing that you have been legitimately traveling through a neighboring country, you should have no problem entering India.

It never hurts to register with a government office during your travels so a visit to the Foreigners Regional Registration isn’t such a bad idea.

Just follow the rules, check with the Indian consulate from your country and visit their website to keep up to date on further information and your trip to India should be painless and hassle free.

Note: Visa Rules are constantly changing in India.

To find our more recent findings, check out the updates below

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  2. Shannon OD

    Wow, that’s really going to change up the game – as you mentioned, the trekking in Nepal is a really popular trip out of India for backpackers – then they head back to India and continue exploring! Good to know! Also just a tip: the Indian embassy in Kathmandu can be difficult – you MUST wake up and get there early (5am) if you hope to get an early number and be seen!! :-)
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Question…Should You Start Your Own Travel Blog Before Your Trip? =-.

  3. Akila

    Thanks so much for posting about this because we are doing exactly this – flying into Chennai, then heading to Southeast Asia, then heading back to Delhi and going north from that. If you hadn’t posted about the visa rule change, we would have come back earlier than 2 months and we would have had a heck of trouble coming back into India. IndiaMike has an awesome message board post about this whole visa fiasco, its implications, and how to handle the new rules. Thanks again!

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