How to get Bangladesh overland visa on arrival in Indian border

How to get Bangladesh overland visa on arrival in Indian border

According to the new visa rule for Bangladesh, it is now possible to get on arrival visa of Bangladesh in the land borders with India beside the airports. Europeans, Americans, Russians, and some Asian country citizens can get the on arrival visa in some selected land borders with India. Although it is little bit tricky and you need to have enough confidence while in the Indian side of the border to let you go, there are few reports from the western travelers who have recently got the on arrival visa for Bangladesh in the land borders.

Who are eligible to get Bangladesh overland visa on arrival

Visa policy of Bangladesh has been eased recently to help people to get Bangladesh visa more easily, specially to encourage tourists and business travelers. Citizens of Europe, America, Russia, and some Asian countries are eligible to get Bangladesh on arrival visa on the land borders too beside the airports. Please note that Indians are NOT eligible to get Bangladesh visa on arrival in the land borders. They need to apply for a regular visa on the Bangladesh consulates in India. Here is the list of people who are eligible to get Bangladesh visa on arrival – both in land borders and in airports:

  • The nationals of those countries where there is no diplomatic mission of Bangladesh may be granted visa on arrival after examining the genuineness of their visit.
  • Only for the purpose of official duty, business, investment and tourism, citizens arriving from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russian Federation, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia (KSA), Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the countries of Europe may issue Bangladesh visa on arrival after examining and being satisfied by the immigration authority at the Airports and Land Ports.
  • If any foreign national arrives in Bangladesh from a country other than his/her own country, where there is no mission of Bangladesh may be issued visa on arrival.
  • Bangladeshi origin foreign citizens, their spouses and their offspring may be issued visa on arrival, on the proof of their being Bangladeshi origin.
  • On the basis of invitation letters of interested/required body being attested by the Board of Investment/BEPZA, the foreign investors/businessmen may be allowed to issue visa on arrival. In this case, interested/inviting organization must inform in advance the arrival of the foreign visitor(s) to the immigration and passport authority.
  • The staffs/officials of the foreign missions, UN or its affiliated organizations located in Bangladesh may be issued visa on arrival after examining their appointment letters or other related documents. Only UN passport holders will get such facilities gratis (free of charge).


Which border to get Bangladesh on arrival visa

Bangladesh has many land borders with India, but it will not be possible to get on arrival visa in every border. Immigration offices require to have some facilities to issue on arrival visa for Bangladesh which are not available in every border right now. You can get Bangladesh visa on arrival in the Benapole / Petrapole border only, which is close to Kolkata.

Reports of getting Bangladesh on arrival visa in the land borders

So far there has been several reports of Bangladesh on arrival visa in the Indian borders on different travel forums. Some of the reports are as follows with their original source:

I recently did this – went in November by bus from Kolkata to the Bangladesh border, got a visa on arrival, carried on all the way to Dhaka by local buses, one hop at a time.. getting the VOA was no problem, the Bangla officials were kind and helpful, I didn’t have to show anything other than my passport, but it did cost $50 and another $8 tax when I came back the same way. I have India multiple entry visa so no issue with Indian immigration either. I went by the biggest land crossing at Benapole/Petrapol.. got the Greenline bus to there at 6am from very near Sudder St in Kolkata.. initially I tried to get a visa from Bangla consulate in Kolkata and they had refused saying just get a VOA at Dhaka airport – they were very busy and didn’t want to answer any questions regarding land crossing, I didn’t want to fly so I just went by bus and it worked fine.

– Peter Lee, United Kingdom (January, 2015)

Firstly: it is possible for citizens of certain countries (definitely the EU, where we’re from, check the official websites for the full list) to get a 30 day visa on arrival at certain land borders of Bangladesh. This does not include the border crossing the Maitree Express, the direct train from Dhaka to Calcutta, uses. We found out the hard way when we were kicked off the train at the Indian side of the border and sent to a different crossing, at Petrapole-Benapole.

If you are travelling overland from Calcutta getting the visa on arrival seems to be the only option, since the Bangladeshi High Commission in Calcutta would not even let us in the door, as we were Europeans and thus did not need a visa. They also told us we would definitely be able to get a VoA where the train crosses, though, so double-check all information they give you.

At Petrapole-Benapole, we had to be very firm with the Indian customs agents, who were convinced that it was impossible for us to get the VoA just a few hundred meters down the road, and did not want to let us leave the country. Eventually they called their Bangladeshi counterparts and asked, and then let us through. We convinced them mostly because we had a multiple entry visa for India, and so would always be able to come back. If you have a single entry visa they may cause you more trouble.

Once on the Bangladeshi side everything was very easy – since the Indians had called ahead we were expected and just made to sit in an office for an hour while a lot of forms were filled out for us. Everyone was very friendly, and even the police seemed mostly just excited to meet tourists. We found a bus to Dhaka (7 hours) and got there just after midnight, 17 hours after leaving Calcutta, though you can save a lot of time by not getting on the wrong train first;)

If you already have a visa the Maitree Express is probably a more comfortable way to get across the border. Tickets are not sold online, but you have to go to the office on Fairlie Place in Calcutta, and enter on the left side rather than the right where most of the other tourists will be (again, we got this wrong initially and queued for an extra hour). We managed to get a ticket one day before departure, 2nd class but still with quite comfortable tour bus-type seats.

– Edulis, Netherlands (February, 2015)

Have you ever got Bangladesh overland visa on arrival in the Indian border? How was your experience? Share with us in comments.

7 thoughts on “How to get Bangladesh overland visa on arrival in Indian border”

  1. Useful information but discouraging that Bangladesh offers visa on arrival on its border with India to the citizens of Europe, North America, Russia, and “some Asian countries” but not to citizens of India. I work for an international organization and frequently visited Bangladesh between 2010 and 2013 to help that country’s development efforts, but getting a visa for that country became increasingly difficult, even for me – an international civil servant but a national of India. Initially, I used to get a one-year multiple entry visa for Bangladesh, which got reduced to a 6-month multiple entry visa, and finally to a one-month single entry visa. And, mind you, even for giving me a one-month single entry visa, the Bangladesh embassy in the country where I work would retain my passport for 15 days for processing my visa. This became so discouraging that ultimately, I stopped going to Bangladesh. I am not sure about the motivation of the Bangladesh visa authorities or about their government’s policy for giving visas to foreigners to visit their country.

    • Visa policy of Bangladesh is reciprocal. As you know, India does not provide on arrival visa to Bangladeshis, so Bangladesh does the same thing for the Indians. There are some countries in South Asia who provide on arrival visa to Bangladeshis, so Bangladesh provide them on arrival visa too. However Bangladesh has a far easier visa policy than India to the people of other countries, as we have on arrival visa facilities for citizens of western countries. They can get an on arrival visa in land border or in the airport for 30 days without any question asked and it takes just ten minutes! It is sad that you’ve stopped coming to Bangladesh. You can just apply for a regular visa and get it easily.

      • Just for the sake of argument: no European or North American country or Russia offers visa on arrival to Bangladesh nationals. So, the issue of reciprocity does not arise. Bangladesh seems to offer visa on arrival to nationals of some western countries unilaterally due to the net worth of those individuals and their impact on the tourism potential of the country. There are countries, like Thailand, that offer visa on arrival even to nationals of countries with which they do not have any reciprocal arrangement, mainly because their economy depends to a great extent on the tourist traffic.

        • Just to clarify, western countries get privilege on getting on arrival visa for the sake of tourism and business. Only visa fee is reciprocal for them. Bangladesh charge them same amount of money as visa fee they charge us. For other countries, visa policy is reciprocal too. For example, Srilanka provides on arrival visa to Bangladeshis, so Bangladesh does the same. India does not provide on arrival visa to Bangladeshis, who are the #1 source country of tourists coming to India; so does Bangladesh the same thing. India even has restrictions on Bangladeshi citizens to enter some of it’s states, even after having a proper visa of the country! If you want to complain, you actually need to complain about your own government’s visa policy – not Bangladesh’s. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I believe the reasoning of ‘reciprocity’ cited by Mr Hasan is inaccurate in this context. Reciprocity in visa policy can mean either for fees or for the right to enter (visa). While Bangladesh provides visa on arrival to western countries and Russia none of these countries reciprocate the privilege. The question of visa fee is quite different and has nothing to do with the visa policy itself. Clearly Bangladesh is subscribing to a view that either western nationals are more desirable as visitors or that Indian nationals are undesirable – if so there is no shame in being honest about it. But to cite ‘reciprocity’ is misleading.

    Personally given the great disparity in the size, economy and per capita GDP of India and Bangladesh I believe it makes sense to give Indian citizens visa on arrival even if India does not reciprocate. The reason is simply that the inflow of tourists to Bangladesh from India is likely to exceed Bangladeshis visiting India – as more Indians by sheer numbers will be able to afford travel. As for the ‘restrictions’ cited by Mr Hasan [on travel within India even for Bangladeshis having valid visas] that is only for Protected Areas which altogether constitute less than 0.04% of Indian territory.

    • Well, you can say, the Western tourists and businessmen are privileged, and out of this equation. Bangladesh definitely welcomes them to come and spend their money here. Reciprocity applies for the other countries for the right to enter (visa) as you said, and visa price for every one in general.

      I understand the frustration of the Indian nationals – for not being able to get VOA in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the fifth largest source of their migrant worker’s income. Lots of Indians work here. But not much tourists who want to come here and spend some good money. The big spenders of them go somewhere else – like the Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia. So the contribution of the Indian tourists in Bangladesh economy is nothing much to consider for the Bangladeshi govt, despite the large GDP you mentioned. So the govt. of Bangladesh has really no strong point to provide Indians VOA.

      On the other hand, Bangladeshi tourists are the largest number of tourists visiting India among all their foreign tourists. India not only provide them VOA, but also the the visa system provided for Bangladeshis in Dhaka and other cities in Bangladesh is not only corrupted, but also harassing. Bangladeshis need to bribe the touts to get a serial to apply for the visa in the Indian embassy – leave alone VOA.

      Bangladesh provides visa on arrival for smaller countries in South Asia too – e.g. Nepal, Bhutan, Srilanka, because they provide VOA to Bangladeshis, which is reciprocal. Indian nationals can get VOA in Bangladesh too, if your govt. decides to provide VOA for the Bangladeshis, as it is more logical for providing VOA to Bangladeshis in India considering the largest number of tourists visiting India each year just on tour to spend money, then to the Indians visiting Bangladesh who just work here and bring money from here to their country.

      My point is, if you want to blame someone for the Indian nationals not getting VOA in Bangladesh, this should be the govt. of India – not Bangladesh.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Thanks for replying. Assuming you are correct about the big spending Indian tourists not preferring Bangladesh, there are still many day/weekend travellers from the many Indian states that border Bangladesh who I’m certain would quite like to visit Bangladesh for a short trip but are put off by the visa process.

        While you may be correct that the big spenders prefer from a tourism policy perspective I don’t see how Bangladesh would be adversely affected by encouraging the small-budget travelers. They will still bring in forex (though smaller amounts) and they will still go back with happy memories of bangladesh and that’s a great way of gaining soft power.

        From a political perspective it is easier for Bangladesh to take the step in announcing VOA or even e-visa for Indian tourists (similar to Sri Lanka for example). Given the (not unfounded) perception of migration from Bangladesh to India it would be politically difficult for any Indian government to provide such a facility till there is some agreement that this will not be misused (much the way western countries do not provide VOA for Indians or Bangladeshis) – an unfortunate state of affairs but reflective of the times we live in.

        My belief is that everything cannot work on basis of reciprocity – that works when the bargaining parties are equal. Examples of non-reciprocal visa arrangements in Asia reflect such fact. India allows evisa to Chinese tourists but China does not reciprocate. SL offered evisa to India before this was reciprocated. There’s nothing to be gained by insisting on reciprocity – and sometimes, in context of friendly neighbouring countries the goodwill gained is quite substantial [Sri Lanka has become more and more popular for low and mid-budget Indian tourists thanks to the very easy evisa and VOA facility provided].

        I take your point about the high number of Bangladesh tourists in India (#2 last year). I believe a first step in this direction by Bangladesh will put pressure on the Indian government to reciprocate.

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