Brazil Visa for Indian Citizens – Ruthlessly Efficient Process

Target Country: Brazil
Passport: Indian Passport
Visa Type: Tourist Visa
Processing Consulate/Embassy: Consulate of Brazil, New York, USA
I went to the embassy over-prepared with loads of documents including hotel bookings, insurance, marriage certificate, cover letter, bank statements, employment letter etc etc. But the lady at the visa counter was ruthless and only took the exact documents listed on their website (http://novayork.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/tourism_visa.xml) Note: She didn’t ask for a proof of residence, eventhough that is listed on the website

 

Documents they actually took:

  • Tickets to and from Brazil (in our case, we are flying into Argentina and out of Brazil. They refused to accept any domestic flight tickets or hotel bookings)
  • $20 fee per head, in a US Post Money Order
  • Online application confirmation page
  • Valid passport, with US Visa

Experience:
Very smooth. I didn’t need an appointment. There was a wait of about 20 mins before our turn came. Took me 25 mins total to submit the application. The officer was ruthlessly efficient and quickly took the exact documents she needed, and sent us away. The visa was processed in 5 days and it was easy enough to pick my passport up, with the receipt they had given upon submission.

Need inspiration? See these photos I took in Brazil:
Classic Rio
Misty Iguazu Falls
The Real Macaw!!

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Argentina Visa – Straightforward to apply but long wait at the consulate

Target Country: Argentina
Passport: Indian Passport
Visa Type: Tourist Visa
Processing Consulate/Embassy: Consulate of Argentina, New York, USA
Visa Received: 90 Day Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
Documents submitted:

Tickets to and from Argentina (in our case, we are flying into Argentina and out of Brazil, so I included all our domestic flight booking as well).
Hotel bookings for every night spent in Argentina (I also included Brazil, for completeness, as Brazil is part of my trip).

No fee required for Indian Citizens
Filled application form
Valid passport
Notarized letter of employment (also translated into Spanish)
Bank statements for the last 6 months.
1 Photo (4cm x 4cm — US Visa style)
Proof of Travel Insurance (Certificate stating my name and details of policy) – this wasn’t asked for, but I included it anyway.
Also, I included 6 months worth of payslips and my marriage certificate – but these were not asked for

Experience:
Very smooth. I didn’t need an appointment. There was literally no queue here either. Took me 1 hour to submit the application – the officer took her own sweet time to call us in and then to review our documents. The visa was processed in 7 days and it was easy enough to pick my passport up.

The staff were nice, polite and competent, but don’t go in expecting a fully professional process.

Need Inspiration to go? See these photos from Argentinian Patagonia…
Walking on Water?Perito Moreno Glacier

Where Aryan (Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom2) can go on visa-free crime sprees

I was watching ‘Dhoom 2’ yesterday. How the heck is Aryan (the character played by Bollywood super-hunk Hrithik Roshan) such a far-reaching international criminal, when he is clearly an Indian? Doesn’t he need a visa for each country he’s planning a robbery in?

Here are the top 8 places where Mr. Aryan can go on a visa-free crime spree, and enjoy beautiful vistas too.

Bahrain
This middle-eastern country is known for pearls. Mr. Aryan can steal pearls and enjoy views of a majestic skyline. If travelling for business purposes, visa can be obtained on arrival by Indian passport holders.

Bermuda
Beautiful Island nation, famous for its ‘triangle’ where ships & aircraft are fabled to go missing. Mr. Aryan can rob one of the wealthy off-shore banks, where rich Brits & Americans stash their dosh. Visa not required for upto 6 months, generally speaking, for Indian passport holders.

Hong Kong
International financial hub with excellent food, nightlife and city views. Mr. Aryan can hold a rich Chinese businessman to ransom and earn millions of Renminbi. Indians don’t need a visa for upto 14 days.

Iran
Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, and owner of large oil reserves. This fascinating country is full of history. Also great views near the Caspian sea and the Azerbaijan border. Mr. Aryan can come to steal one of the WMDs that Iran is allegedly developing (though I’m not aware of any proof of existence). Visa on arrival available for tourist visits of upto 7 days, for Indian passport holders.

Jamaica
Beautiful Caribbean nation, known for reggae music and stunning beaches. Not much for Aryan to steal, but he can come here to relax. No visa required for upto 14 days for Indian passport holders.

Macao
Casino Island off the coast of China, near Hong Kong. Has a charming old Portuguese part of the city. Mr. Aryan can come to pull an Oceans-11 at one of the ginormous casinos here. No visa required for visits upto 30 days for Indian passport holders.

British Virgin Islands
Laid back Caribbean archipelago, famous for being a tax-haven and for local resident Richard Branson. Mr. Aryan can hob-nob with Branson and chill on the beach. 1 month visa-free access for Indian passport holders.

Ecuador
Famous for the Galapagos Islands with all their fauna. Additionally, Mr. Aryan can make vital contacts with local mafia, near the Colombian border. Visa free for 90 days for Indian passport holders.

French Polynesia Visa for Indian Citizens

Updated – see the end of this post My wife has Bora Bora at the top of her list of ‘dream destinations’. I have been trying to figure out if we need a visa, and how to get the visa. Turns out the French embassies issue a ‘Dom Tom’ visa applicable to some of its overseas territories.

The ‘Dom Tom’ visa is applicable to the following overseas regions of France: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion Island, Guyana, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, St. Pierre and Miquelon or Mayotte. The application for this should be made at your nearest French embassy.

The more travel-savvy reader would know that Bora Bora is part of French Polynesia, along with Tahiti and a bunch of other islands and atolls.

If you hold a Schengen visa, you can not use it for French Polynesia (or any other Dom Tom territories). Similarly, a Dom Tom visa will not get you into main land France or the Schengen zone.

See this link for more details: http://www.ambafrance-uk.org/Different-types-of-visa.html

We received the following information from the TLS contact centre in London, where the France Visa applications are made

The French Polynesia visa process is exactly the same as a Schengan visa, except that in the registration one has to mention ‘French Overseas territory’ as the destination. The visa appointment can be made online: www.tlscontact.com/gb2fr Indian passport holders have to apply in person.The list of required documents will be revealed when the application is filled in online (I will share this in a couple of days). Here is much more information on the Dom-Tom visas: https://www.tlscontact.com/gb2fr/help.php?id=def_DOM_TOM_CTOM Update Just applied and got this visa. It is as explained above. Process is identical to Schengen, but the cost is lower (around £7.5 + TLS contact centre fees). In London, the French embassy has outsourced visa applications to TLS. Hence one needs to apply through them. Validity of visa starts on my intended date of arrival in Tahiti and ends about 2 weeks after my intended date of departure.

Need inspiration to put yourself through the process? See these pics I took.

First breakfast of 2012, being delivered by room service The home away from home, Bora Bora Swimming with Jaws

Countries where Indians do not need a visa

Apparently there are places we Indians can travel to without visas. There are surprisingly more than 50 of these, if we are to believe Wikipedia (click here for list of countries).

Most interesting one is Turkey. I think this is a recent change in their law. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign affairs website states that Indian passport holders with a UK/Schengen or US visa can get a 1-month visa upon arrival. I wanted to visit Turkey back in April 2010, and then I was advised by the embassy, the travel agent and the Turkey MFA website that I do need to apply for a visa, despite having a UK resident visa.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the Wikipedia list ….

  • Egypt (Sinai resorts area)
  • Seychelles
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Ecuador
  • Jamaica
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Bhutan
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Ireland — special case — only if you have a valid UK tourist/business (short term) visa.
  • Fiji
  • Vanuatu

All the above are fascinating tourist destinations. If they are not on your bucket-list already, put them on there. They definitely are on mine!

Most painful visa process ever! (Chile Visa Experience)

Target Country: Chile
Passport: Indian Passport
Visa Type: Tourist Visa
Processing Consulate/Embassy: Melbourne, Australia
Documents submitted:

  1. Onwards tickets (electronic itinerary was acceptable).
  2. Letter from a friend in Chile inviting me to stay. (luckily I knew someone there).
  3. AUD$48 fee.
  4. Filled application form
  5. Valid passport
  6. Letter from my employer saying that I’m employed
  7. A letter from me explaining why I want to visit Chile
  8. Bank statements (certified by the bank) for the last 6 months

Experience:
Very painful. Obviously no one at the consulate knew what they were doing. It took me 1 week to get a list of required documents and the application process from them (at least 5 phone calls, and emails). Even then, they gave me an incomplete list of documents. Wasted another week because I needed an appointment to go submit my application. Then they tell me I need more documents. So another week wasted to make another appointment. Then they had to seek approval from their ministry in Chile. That took 10 days or so. I had to go in again to submit my passport and payment. Then I had to go again a week later to get my passport with the visa back from them.

All this for a 6 day transit in Chile.

Recommendation: If you need a visa for Chile, you better have lots of spare time on your hands, and you better have a friend in Chile.

Time frame: 6 weeks.
Number of embassy visits: 4

But, the visa process is totally worth it. See my pictures from Chile below.

Torres Del paine - over Lago grey Lago Grey & Glacier Grey Guanacos

In Llama land …(Peru visa experience)

Target Country: Peru
Passport: Indian Passport
Visa Type: Tourist Visa
Visa Processing Consulate/Embassy: Sydney, Australia
Documents submitted:

  1. Signed letter from current employer stating employment status and salary
  2. Return tickets (electronic itinerary was acceptable).
  3. Detailed itinerary of travel plans within Peru (including transportation and accommodation).
  4. AUD $45 fee (money order or bank draft).
  5. Filled application form (http://www.embaperu.org.au/embassy/visas.html#tourist)
  6. Two passport-sized photos
  7. Valid passport

Experience:
Don’t take the information posted on the embassy website for granted. Double check! Always!
My travel agent asked me for documents listed on the website. But then I had to later supply 1 more photo and that letter from my employer. This delayed the process by 1 week. So the total time to get the visa was 2 weeks.

Time frame: 2 weeks.