experiences

Part 1: What NOT to Do Planning a Trip to India

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That’s a question I never thought I’d be asking for myself. But it finally happened. I, so used to carrying my passport with me everywhere I go (just in case a great last minute fare comes up!), didn’t bother to check how full that said passport was.

Already down to the wire for getting my Indian visa application submitted, I overnighted everything to Allied Passport & Visa only to get a call the next morning.

Steve: Keri I’ve got some good and bad news. The good news is your application is perfect, the bad news is you don’t have any blank pages.

Me: What!? I thought there was a page in the back! (like he wouldn’t have checked)

Steve: There is a page in the back with only one stamp but that’s not even a visa page.

Me: {panicked silence}

Steve: But fortunately I think you can still get extra pages added if you go to the State Department.

I’ll admit, I had been skeptical if it was worth the extra cost to use a third party service to apply for my visa to India. That quickly vanished, and this was only the first in an embarrassing number of events where Steve from Allied Passport & Visa smoothed the way and made it happen.

Within minutes he had sent an email affirming since I was less than 4 weeks from departure I didn’t officially need an appointment (which the Washington Passport Agency website didn’t really make clear) and sent me a link to fill out my application online.

I called anyway to see the first available appointment time, which was about 5 days before my departure. Thank goodness Steve had told me they accepted walk-ins! Within an hour I had my application printed and I swung by Allied Passports to grab my passport and head to the Washington Passport Agency at 600 19th St, N.W.

Washington Passport Agency Front

The road was a zoo of taxi dropoffs, waiting cars, etc but I was able to get a metered parking spot close to the door. I went through security, and got in line to get a number. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Two hours later I was called to the window, answered some cursory questions, had my application accepted and then asked for same day service. I was refused since I wasn’t leaving for another 3 weeks. “But I have to apply for an Indian Visa!!”

I was granted next day pick up at 11:30AM and headed home emailing Steve the good news.

Next day at 11:35 I presented myself at the Washington Passport Agency again, having put an hour in the meter “just in case.” There was a huge backlog apparently and they weren’t through processing everything from yesterday. An hour and a half later I had my passport in hand (which was now bulky and looked like the pages had been taped in).

Steve was nice enough to meet me outside his office to pick it up so I didn’t have to hunt for parking on the crowded streets. Whew.

So, learning from my mistake and Allied Passport’s advice:

How to get extra passport pages last minute

It costs $82 to add 24 blank visa pages and $60 for expedited service. If you don’t want to have to pick up the passport yourself, you can pay an additional $14.85 for overnight delivery.

Shameless plug for Allied Passport and the amazing Steve: If you need a foreign visa for an upcoming trip, treat yourself to some peace of mind and go through Allied Passport & Visa! Use this link and you’ll get $5 off.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

3 Comments

  1. Darth Chocolate

    March 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Be aware that the option to add pages ends on 31 Dec 2015 (or so I have heard). New passports automatically have more pages (56 I think).

  2. KJ

    March 31, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Most Indian entry points now have visa on arrival too. It is costly to get visa on arrival.
    More details here.
    https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

    They make it easy now in India that is what I hear.

    • Keri Anderson

      March 31, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Yep, unfortunately that change is new and I was on an itinerary that had me doing dual entry within 15 days.

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