Cruise tourists with e-visas exempt from biometric enrolment requirement

Cruise tourists with e-visas exempt from biometric enrolment requirement

To make India attractive to cruise passengers and to promote cruise tourism, the Home Affairs Ministry has at the request of the Ministry of Shipping exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visas from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years till December 31, 2020.

This will facilitate expeditious immigration clearance of cruise passengers with e-visas, enabling them to spend more time on shore. Exemption of biometric requirement on arrival of a cruise is an important deciding criteria for cruise lines to include a destination in their itinerary.

The Shipping Ministry has been working towards providing a customer-friendly and hassle-free logistic process for embarking and disembarking passengers through a simplified immigration clearance procedure. According to the schedule of arrival of cruise ships for the current cruise season 2017-18 and 2019-20, many of the cruise ships coming to India are mega ships with 2,000-4,000 passengers on board. E-visas are in place in the five major ports of Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Kochi and Chennai.

Most cruise passengers are expected to arrive on e-visas. Biometrics of the passengers were required at the port of first arrival for immigration clearance. With existing facilities at the cruise terminals at the five major ports, the immigration procedure had taken more than the internationally accepted norm for clearing all cruise passengers in a maximum of 90 minutes.

This simplified immigration clearance procedure is among a series of steps taken to attract and enhance the cruise passenger’s experience at the major ports. Earlier, the standard operating procedure to handle cruise liners was revised and is being implemented uniformly at all ports. In November last year major ports reduced their tariffs for three years by 42–67 per cent to make it attractive for cruise lines to visit India. Major ports now charge a single comprehensive uniform rate of $0.35 per GRT.

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