Close your eyes and picture yourself driving past picturesque seaside villages lined up against a backdrop of the panoramic Alpine view, or maybe exploring the sights and smells of the Spice Bazaar or hiking the Machu Picchu or simply sipping on mint tea in the heart of the Fes Medina.

Ever desired to go abroad but was put off by the amount of paperwork required? While the Indian Passport is not yet a ‘Golden Document’ like those of the US, UK, EU, Japan, etc. there are ways to overcome the stress! With more and more countries realising the potential of tourism for their economic growth, many have eased their visa process.

This means that in some cases, a person can travel legally and without a visa to certain countries that still require a visa for an Indian citizen. How does one go about doing that?

Travelling to Europe (Schengen visa): With a Schengen C-visa (which allows a person to stay in the 26-member Schengen region for a maximum of 90 days in a period of 180 days), a person can also visit the 3 microstates of Vatican city, Monaco and San Marino. Additionally, with a multiple entry visa, one can enter Andorra, Gibraltar and the East European countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Belarus, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia.

In short, a person can travel to 42 countries in Europe using the Schengen visa alone despite the Schengen region comprising only 26 nations.

Few other countries outside Europe that one can visit using the Schengen visa include Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines.

Japanese visa: In addition to entering the Land of the Rising Sun, the Japanese visa can be used by Indian passport holders to enter South Korea, Philippines, Georgia, Mexico and Costa Rica.

US and UK visa: Most of the countries that can be visited with a valid Schengen and Japanese visa can also be entered using a valid US and UK visa. Under the British-Irish Visa Scheme (BVIS), an Indian Passport holder can enter Ireland with a British visa and vice versa.

Countries that offer E-visa/ETA: Many countries have started issuing electronic visas/authorizations. In the comfort of your home, submit the user-friendly form and pay online without having to bear extra agency charges and without the headache of having to send your passport and other documents to the consulate. Your visa is usually emailed to within 72 hours. Some of the countries that issue e-visa to Indian passport holders are Malaysia, Myanmar, Bahrain, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Singapore (only through an approved agency) and Brazil (starting March 2018).

Turkey, Peru and Taiwan offer e-visas/ETAs only if one has a valid supporting visa (like US/Schengen/UK or Japanese/Australian etc.) Vietnam provides visa-on-approval. For Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, one requires an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) but without the need of a supporting visa.

Countries that offer Visa-on-Arrival to Indian citizens for a limited number of days include Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, UAE (if one has a valid US visa or is a Green Card holder), Ukraine, Jordan, Seychelles, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Bolivia among others.

Visa-Free countries/regions: Several countries that welcome Indian tourists with a visa-free entry include Bhutan, Nepal, Macau, Indonesia, Fiji, Maldives, Mauritius, South Korea (only Jeju Island), Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, Russia (only St. Petersburg if arriving by ferry from Helsinki/Tallinn and Vladivostok & far Eastern regions from July 2017) among others.

So now that we’ve simplified travelling across the globe for you, hurry up, pack your bags and get on that plane to begin your own travel adventure!

Note: All information is as of June 2017. Visas discussed are for short term tourism purposes only for an Indian passport holder residing in India. 

Binoy Lobo