Bangladesh Tourist Visa for Indians (from Chennai)

Sometime back, I saw a cheap flight ticket to Dhaka, Bangladesh- around INR 7800 return on Spicejet from Kolkata. I did a quick check on Bangladesh tourist visa- initial readings gave me following info
- Bangladesh tourist visa is free for Indians, no fee is to be paid
- There's a website https://www.visa.gov.bd/ on which we can apply.

Since it appeared visa is free and online, and I had a cheap ticket ahead of me, I made a decision to make a short visit to Bangladesh. Since there was enough time for travel date, I decided to worry about the visa details closer to travel date.

With about a month to go for travel, I began checking seriously on Bangladesh Tourist visa- then following realities dawned upon me:

Fact 01: The official website everyone is talking about https://www.visa.gov.bd/ will NOT issue a visa. It can only be used to fill in details and generate application form.

Fact 02: Bangladesh Tourist visa is indeed free, but you will need to visit Visa Office in person. Bangladesh Visa office is located in 4 cities in India- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Agarthala and Guwahati.

You will have to visit twice- once to submit your application and passport and once more after few days to collect the passport with stamped visa.

Online videos and posts narrated how one should go and stand in line at 4 AM in front of Visa office in Kolkata in order to get our form accepted same day.

Now came the challenge-I am based in Chennai. While I had planned to visit Bangladesh via Kolkata only, I was not in a position to spare two days in Kolkata to visit Embassy once to submit form, once to collect it- exact date of collection can't be planned in advance.

Now I had to decide from 3 choices
Option 1: Skip Bangladesh visit- loss of about 7000 Rs paid for ticket (after some airport tax refund)
Option 2: Reschedule Kolkata travel plan such that two visits to Bangladesh Embassy could be factored- will cost a few k in travel, stay etc
Option 3: Avail services of a visa agency by paying their fees

I checked online for a few agencies- one was quoting INR 5999 as service fee, another agency didn't reply to email requesting a quote and timeline. Then I checked with BehindTrips- an agency whose services I had earlier availed for NZ, China and Brunei Visas. They charged me 2750 INR and got the work done in about a week.

Bangladesh Tourist Visa application process
  • You can either fill up all the details on https://www.visa.gov.bd/ and download the application form, or simply download the application form and fill in it directly.
  • Provide standard stuff like flight ticket, hotel booking, proof of funds
  • Passport with 6 month validity and min 2 empty page
  • You can specify if you need 3 month or 6 month visa (I didn't have any plans of second visit within 6 months so I selected 3 months)
If you're going in person, good- you can save the money you've to pay the agency. But if you're based in city where Bangladesh doesn't have a consulate, you've to decide between making an extra travel for visa purpose vs availing services of an agency for a fee. 

Expected processing time is about a week. My guess is Kolkata consulate will have maximum load- if you can apply in Mumbai or Delhi it should be quicker.

I got a 3 month, multiple entry visa (30 days max stay per entry). If I had got a longer duration like 1 year I might have considered another trip possibly.

Bangladesh being India's neighbor could have kept a more simpler process for tourist visa- like Visa on Arrival (like Thailand, Maldives or Nepal) or Electronic Travel Authorization (like Srilanka). But then, Bangladesh is not a tourism focused country. Even if they give visa on arrival it is not like everyone will start visiting Bangladesh instead of Thailand or Srilanka. Naturally Bangladesh Authorities don't want Indian workforce coming over and taking away jobs there, so their decision to mandate a stamped visa is fair. Each country has its own compulsions and thought process.

With visa in place, I will be heading to Bangladesh for 3 days/2 nights. Will explore a bit in and around capital Dhaka. Bangladesh does have a few secondary cities worth exploring like Chittagong- but may be next time.
Flying to Bangladesh
From India, Indigo, Spicejet, Air India operate flights to Dhaka, via Kolkata. Few flights are available from Guwahati

US Bangla airline operates flights to few Indian cities, including direct flight to Chennai (Details)

You can also fly to Bangladesh on other international airlines such as Srilankan, Thai Airways, Malindo, Air Asia etc via their respective hubs.

If you can get a return ticket for under 8000 it is very good (possible ex-Kolkata). Otherwise normal return fare is around 12000-15000 INR from various cities in India.

You can also enter Bangladesh via various land Borders with India.

More Bangladesh posts: Public Transport in Dhaka * Good veg restaurants in Dhaka

11 comments:

  1. Nice to read about Bangladesh Tourist Visa.

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  2. Thanks for the detailed blog post. It cleared my doubts.

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  3. Sir, thanks for the inf provided. I got many details which saved my time

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experience about the visa application procedure for Indians. I am also from Chennai and would like to apply for Bangladesh visa. Can you please share the contact details of Behind Trips or how to contact them.

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  5. Thankyou for the detailed info. Did you book flights before applying for the visa? Or a tentative plan is enough?

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    Replies
    1. Tickets is one of the required documents. I had confirmed tickets so used it.
      If you don't probably you can explain the reason with additional letter- like if you are entering via land etc

      Delete

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