Europe, Georgia, Visa for Indians
Comments 30

Georgia E-Visa for Indians: Is it Worth the Hassle?

The official Georgia visa requirements for Indian citizens state that Indian passport holders are eligible for the Georgia e-visa. Yet, many Indians have been deported from Tbilisi airport, for not meeting the Georgia tourist visa requirements. Why is this happening, is it still worth it for Indians to travel to Georgia, and how to make sure your Georgia visa as an Indian passport holder will be accepted in Tbilisi?

Perched on a mountain overlooking Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city, is a prominent statue of the ‘Mother of Georgia’. In one hand, she holds a cup of wine, and in the other, a sword. The wine is to welcome friends; the sword is to deter enemies.

Four years ago, when I first travelled there on my humble navy blue Indian passport, I immediately felt welcomed like a friend. When cabbies heard I was from India, they would sing me Raj Kapoor songs from old Bollywood movies. In Racha, I drank whiskey shots with my host family for breakfast, in celebration of being their first ever Indian guest. Deep in the Caucasus Mountains, despite no common language between us, I made soul connections with local priests on a vow of silence.

georgia tbilisi visa, georgia e visa for indian, tbilisi airbnb

Working on my terrace with a view of Tbilisi below!

Then something happened.

Easier Georgia visa for Indian citizens

Four years ago, in order to get a visa to enter Georgia on my Indian passport, I had to spend a few frustrating hours outside the small compound of the Georgian embassy in Delhi. Sweating in the oppressive Delhi summer heat, my only fellow applicants were two farmers from Punjab, hoping to buy agricultural land in Georgia and start a new life.

When I finally spoke to the visa officer, it took some convincing to be granted a month-long visa. But I was ecstatic to receive it and be on my way.

Things have changed drastically since. While I was still in the country, Georgia relaxed its visa rules and granted entry to Indians with a valid (and used) visa to the US, UK or the Schengen zone of Europe.

Also read: How I Manage Visas on My Indian Passport as I Travel Around the Globe

Georgia people, Georgia culture, Georgia visa requirements for Indian citizens

A shot of whiskey / chacha for breakfast, anyone?

Then in 2015, Georgia opened up an e-visa option for Indian passport holders.

You no longer have to wait in the sweltering heat outside the Georgian embassy in Delhi, nor have the coveted US or UK visa on your passport to enter Georgia. All it takes is an online visa application. But…

Indians with e-visa are being denied entry into Georgia

I was shocked when I first heard it. Months ago, a solo traveller from Mumbai posted on Facebook how she had been deported from Tbilisi airport back to India, despite an e-visa and valid documents (accommodation, return flight ticket and bank statements). She described the immigration officials as rude and unwilling to listen.

Her report was soon followed by others – all Indian passport holders on e-visa, deported without reason.

In fact, when I travelled back to Georgia in November 2017 and started sharing my stories on Instagram, multiple travellers messaged me to share how they had been deported from the airport and had their travel plans shattered.

Also read: Advice for the Young and Penniless Who Want to Travel

fall colors georgia, georgia visa for indian passport holders

Fall colors and a blazing sunset in Georgia.

Growing anti-Indian sentiment in Georgia

I’ve often felt some sort of racist undercurrents against Indians in countries frequented by Indian travellers. I hate it, but I do understand why the stereotype exists. Some Indian travellers tend to be overly demanding and disrespectful of the local culture. I felt those undercurrents even on my first day in Tbilisi this year – unlike my first trip in the country.

During my time in Georgia, I tried to get to the root of the problem. I heard from locals (and in the local news) how farmers from India have rapidly been buying agricultural land and putting Georgian farmers out of business. I also heard about the surge of Indian travellers into the country since e-visa began, some of whom were illegally transiting through Georgia to enter the EU.

But it wasn’t until I was leaving, at the airport immigration, that it became obvious. The immigration officer was friendly at first, but his expressions changed when he saw “India” on my passport. He began asking me questions, like why I would spend a month in Georgia, who gets a one month holiday, my itinerary in the country… I found such interrogation at EXIT immigration strange. It left a bittersweet taste.

It seems to me that immigration officials at Tbilisi airport have been specifically asked to investigate Indian travellers. Every country’s visa rules state that immigration officers have the final say in letting you into their country… and in Georgia they haven’t hesitated in using it to deport travellers.

Also read: The Joy of Slow Travel

Georgia country winter, Kazbegi winter, Georgia visa for Indians

Waking up to fresh snow on the Caucasus mountains <3

Is it still worth travelling to Georgia?

To tell you the truth, I’ve hated typing this post. Despite the negative undercurrents in some interactions, I love Georgia. It’s a gorgeous country, with mountain towns right out of a postcard, warm-hearted locals, delicious (and plenty of vegan) food, a feeling of abundance (think juicy red apples in every front yard in the fall), fascinating legends and a growing alternative food and music scene in Tbilisi.

The tourism infrastructure is comparable to the rest of Europe, at a third of the prices. And for a country where tourism is growing rapidly, I’ve hardly ever encountered a tout or felt cheated.

To tell you the truth, I can’t wait to go back.

Also read: Dreamy Airbnbs to Experience Europe Like a Local

Georgia food, Georgian cuisine, badrijani nigvzit

Badrijani nigvzit and pkhali (eggplant & spinach with walnut paste) – vegan and delicious.

How to ensure you’ll be able to enter Georgia on an Indian passport

Forget about entering with an e-visa. A record number of Indian travellers have been deported from Tbilisi this year, and immigration officials are not inclined to honour the e-visa. It isn’t worth risking your flight costs, hotel bookings or work leave. Besides, it might shatter your Caucasus dream.

Use the alternate option to enter Georgia – a valid and used visa for the US, UK or Europe (Schengen) on your Indian passport.

While entering the country, the immigration official looked at my passport with some concern at first. But as he flipped through and saw my US visa, he relaxed. No more questions asked, no documents checked.

I know it sucks on many levels, it sounds unwelcoming, it seems tedious. But what can I say, it’s worth the hassle if you want to experience the breathtaking beauty of Georgia and its people.

Caucasus mountains, Georgia e visa for Indians, Georgia country travel blog

Scenes from a mashrutka (shared taxi) along the countryside of Georgia.

Would you consider travelling to Georgia despite the visa hassle? How do you deal with visas on the Indian passport?

Follow my nomadic adventures live on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

OTHER VISA TIPS FOR INDIANS
US Tourist Visa for Indians: Tips and Requirements
How to Score a Schengen Visa on an Indian Passport
Canada Tourist Visa for Indians

30 Comments

  1. Totally remember your first visit and so sad to read about the current scene about Indians. It definitely leaves a bad taste, I hope things improve but I don’t think I have the nerve to go through being cross questioned. it’s so sad

    • Shivya Nath says

      I hear you. But Indians often tend to get cross-questioned in many countries – the US, Europe etc. Those “random” security checks are never really random. Deportation takes it to another level though, sigh.

  2. When I’d first read your post, I’d put Georgia in my travel list. But the terrible attitude and treatment meted out to Indians makes me reconsider that seriously. When there are so many places in the world, why go to a place where ppl hate Indians and make us feel unwelcome.
    I don’t think I want to go there anymore.

    • Shivya Nath says

      I know what you’re thinking Nandita, but that attitude is restricted to immigration, not the rest of the country, especially the rural countryside. I guess the same is true for many countries around the world, especially the US, but also Western Europe, Latin America etc. Unfortunately a bad name/reputation precedes us Indians in many parts of the world. Ultimately it’s upon us to decide if we still want to keep travelling (and perhaps change that reputation).

  3. I have reading your articles and about Georgia too. Though I do feel like travelling to Georgia someday, the recent posts on social media have not left a positive impact on me. The treatment by the immigration authorities is not justified. One of the traveller who was deported mentioned that he was allowed at first due to his US visa but his wife who did not have a valid US visa was not allowed. When he raised the issue, the authorities deported him too.
    I am sorry but how much ever you try to portray it as a beautiful and amazing country, it does not seem worth it.

    • Shivya Nath says

      It’s a shame really, because beyond immigration, it’s an incredible country. My hope is that they scrap e-visa altogether and not create a hassle for those entering with a valid US/Schengen visa.

      • The immigration is your introduction to any country. If the experience is not good, however gorgeous the country is, it always leaves a bad taste. Hope things get sorted soon.

    • Shivya Nath says

      I hear you Mallee, but I’m not sure I agree. Every country has their skeletons. I feel that at the end of the day, it’s about how you travel – whether you contribute to the government or directly to the locals.

  4. Vishnu Nair says

    Just for the record not if you hold resident permits from any GCC countries ( Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait & Oman) you do not need visa to entry Georgia for 180 days.

    • Shivya Nath says

      In theory that’s true, but I recently read about a GCC resident family also getting deported. Sigh 🙁

  5. i read you all post specially Georgia too.. one day i’ll go there.. infact in reality i really don’t know anything about georgia thanks for sharing a lot…….!

  6. Looks like a gamble with the immigration authorities. I mean if I’m planning a travel to any place, I automatically get into a mindset of being away from my everyday city life and explore a new place, and for which I put in a lot of my savings.
    Is the gamble of being turned away by an immigration officer really worth it?

    I would obviously chose another country (there are plenty!) to travel to.

    Having said that, Georgia has really been on my mind for a long time. Your pics have motivated me even more to travel there. If or when I would actually do it is another question…

    • Shivya Nath says

      I agree, it’s not worth the gamble on an e-visa. But as of now, travelling with a valid US visa instead, doesn’t seem like a gamble.

  7. Thankfully I have a used and valid US visa! This is very useful information! Georgia looks like a fantastic destination.

    “I hate it, but I do understand why the stereotype exists.” I experience it almost everywhere I travel but then I see things around me and I understand. Alas! We live with what we have.

  8. Thanks for this information, Shivya. And I am glad that you didn’t end the post on a negative note. I am thinking of going to Georgia this May, and had been worried about the visa requirements. I do have a valid and used US visa, so I guess I won’t need a visa. But still, it is worrisome if the immigration guy is in a bad mood the day I arrive. I think you haven’t been to Armenia, right? That’s where I plan to land and fly out – Georgia is an overnight train idea. Sigh.

  9. Pranita says

    After reading your post I don’t know what to do. I hav already booked my tickets and applied for my visa. But am yet to get my visa. And yes I applied for e-visa which is again sad.

  10. Ronne says

    My sister with Indian passport was planning to travel to Georgia in second week of May. She had applied for evisa, but it got rejected. Reason stated was that information provided was incorrect. It is funny because all that had to be entered in the evisa form were travel dates and basic details like name and passport validity. She had entered it correctly as per passport.

  11. darrell says

    great article. ive read a couple of your other articles too and found them very informative. Ill be visiting Georgia this june and was very excited until i read many articles of indians being deported. shame really but like you said, its sometimes understandable why theres a hatred towards indian tourists. (among others of course). still excited about georgia and hope i dont have any problems with my US visa attached.

  12. Debayan Biswas says

    Shivya – just a clarification, if I have a valid and used US visa, do I need to just show up at the airport, that’s it?

    • Abir says

      I had used my Canadian visa though.
      They do not asked any single question, once they saw that.

  13. Ranga says

    wonderful narration. i traveled and worked in other countries like uzbek and khazak and feel the same slow and quick attitudinal changes. the way they treat you (locals) make us feel embarrassed with good food and taxi rides etc. immigration has a different duty to do and prove to their bosses. i wish always to travel to the great lands like you do.

  14. Ismail says

    Hi shivya,

    I was issued with a us visa twice on my passport. One i used for 5 yrs and it finished. The second i used for 2 yrs and then I got it cancelled.

    I am planning to visit Georgia with my family. Our passports have Singapore, China, Tanzania, Bali and some other visas. My wife and daughter never had us visa. So what should be the approach…?

    We don’t have UK or Schengen visa.

    Your help will be appreciated.

    Thanx

    Ismail

  15. dr. sanjiv lewin says

    My wife an academician associate professor, a paediatrician with 14 years experience working with childhood disability has been not allowed into Georgia courtesy Georgian Immigration at Tbilisi at 2am ……not allowed a courtesy phone call….inspite of a New Delhi visa in her passport and all documents in suppory if her finances. Accomudation. Conference invitation and registration. The embassy in Armenia emergency person told me that it has been ocvuribg the past 7 months and continues in spite of EAM informing their foreign ministry. Should not a strong travel advisory be intinated to all travel agents? Is this discrimination? Such a beautiful country from photographs and a pity…….Lesson learnt…..never return to Georgia and encourage all to visit so many other places where respect is genuine. Of course, our own immigration need similar reflections.

  16. Liza says

    Hi! I’m traveling next week to Georgia. I have an eVisa. And I read somewhere that I need to provide an invitation letter at the airport. Is that really necessary?

  17. mrinmoy says

    hi
    if i apply through VFS is that a better option?
    i have stamps of schengen, uk , sri lanka and tanzania

  18. Abir says

    I know this everything is happening now a days with and only Indian visitors. There must be some issues for sure. But trust me guys locals over there are very warm welcoming people. My wife she is a Georgian too. But it almost more than two years I have been visited there. But any ways this year I have to got there tomorrow bring my wife back as she is travelling with our kids. I hope Georgian immigration let me enter. I really don’t want to loose my temper.🧐🧐

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.