The Brit visa? Why so expensive? And telemarketing infested?

If you read the visa word and came over, take note this is not a credit card hawking post. Just a simple rant! Now that we have that out of the way, lets begin.

For the upcoming oneworld MegaDo, I signed on for the optional segment across the pond in London. A few days ago, while flipping through my passport, I realised my UK visa had expired and I needed a new sticker. Usually, since I travel often on work, I count on the office to pay for my visa expenses, but this being a personal trip, I started to read the rules. Here is what came up at the section for visa charges:

Visa Charges

Now here is my problem. This is plainly the most expensive visa I have every applied for. I am a limited globetrotter. I’ve been to only some 15-20 countries in my few years of travel. Maybe I’ll do a 100 by the time I retire from travelling. When I queued up to get my visa for the USA last year, they gave me a 10 year multiple entry B1/B2 for about 6000 Rs (150$) approximately. When I applied for this one, I got a 6 months visa for the same amount of money. If I really wanted to save myself the hassle and get a 5 year long visa, lets say, it’d hit me by 800$ at least. I think i pay 30$ including agent fees for a Singapore Visa. You can’t even pay the UK High Commission via a card, its cold cash.

They really got to explain to me why don’t they love tourists/business visitors to come in especially when they could do with some more of my money being spent in the Harrods store or Madame Tussauds rather than going to the exchequer via these fees. What gives?

There is no end to the nickel and diming they do though. In spite of these high fees, they charge me a good INR 250 (5$) to courier my passport back locally. VFS, their handling agent in India ( is responsible for this, and I’d imagine they earn a cool $4.5 of the $5. And who says it takes INR 100 ($2) to send me 3 text messages on the update of my application when you buy them for less than 1 cent using a bulk SMS gateway! I paid for the courier (it’d cost me the same to pick it up on a cab ride, and the time separately), but I passed the texting service.

You got to turn up in person to submit documents and give your fingerprints, but what beats me is the commercial nature of the whole centre. Again, a VFS property, it was plastered with Kingfisher Airlines posters promoting their UK flights. I’ve never seen that in a Visa Application Centre before, except the UK one! And then, once you’re done, you’re hawked telephone simcards, visit UK packages and more. And inspite of filling up a form where I said do not call me, I got at least 3 telemarketing calls asking me about when I was going and if I needed something. Dudes, if you’re reading this, please note, I like doing my own research on my trips. Never ever bother me again.

All right now, your turn. Tell me the most expensive visa you paid for? So that I look out when my next trip to that country materialises!

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. This is just a fuck*ng Business. It is not fair. There are many other beautiful countries much better that you can visit. The thing is if you buy a ticket that make 1 stop in UK better buy another to do it in Frankfurt or Paris, that is the only way to stop that injustice. Our contries should add a 2000 Dollars fee to every UK citizen as an answer for that abusive treatment with other world citizens. Not because of the UK citizens, but because of the government who set this rules. IT is ridiculous.

  2. I just had to apply for a UK visa (10yr one) . I have a Turkish passport. We enjoy around 80 countries visa free.. The reason i had to go for a 10 yr one was because my wife is from there. 1260usd for the visa fee as opposed to a 150usd from the US consulate. On top VFS charges a further fee. What does my stupid government charge for UK tourists entering Turkey? 20 USD!! (granted that is for 3 months however you can infinitely re do it online in 20mins) whereas us Turks (we cannot be trusted to enter UK!) have to do that 10 page visa thing,produce all sorts of documents and provide biometrics (on EVERY application). I am NOT impressed!!!

  3. You’re right. It’s ridiculous, especially since the same work goes into processing the 6 month visa as the 10 year visa. If the US can issue you with one for the same price, the UK can, but they are clearly looking to gouge you. I, as a US citizen, do got a ton of visa-free access compared to you as an Indian citizen, but where I DO need a visa, like for Russia and China, I have to shell out a couple of hundred dollars because of reciprocity. Well, if it doesn’t actually cost that much to process the visas, and you’re just charging these amounts for spite, I am happy to boycott you as a country until I can really afford the visa costs, or I become a citizen of a country that warrants lower fees. The UK is cool (at least London is), but enjoy your six month visit, and then go to more interesting countries, I say.

  4. Guys, I agree with reciprocity, but this is not the case between british visa and indians. India’s consulate charges 30 GBP for a 6 month visa, for which I paid 77 GBP. 2.5 times over….

  5. I’m guessing this is reciprocal as I seem to be paying between $500 & &700 dollars everytime I apply for an Indian Visa – I’m a Brit living in the US – and they are currently holding me to 6 month visas so it currently means $500 per 6 months

  6. I’ve paid USD 100 for Tanzania visa, USD130 for China & USD 140 for Brazil. It’s reciprocal– tit for tat. I know the US started it with Brazil. I don’t know about the others.

  7. Don’t know this particular visa. But typically visa fee are reciprocal. India increased their visa fee for US citizens because US increased visa fee for Indian citizens etc. Do you know if that is in play here?

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