Navigating the Delhi Airport

Finding your way out of any airport can be a challenge, but when you factor in the loooong international flight, little (or no) sleep, and the general excitement & anxiety of entering India, it can be downright intimidating.  No need, though!  Let us walk you through what you can expect before we meet you on the other side.

1.  During your flight, you will be given an “arrival card,” used for customs & immigration.  Take time to fill this out while you’re on the plane…after all…you probably have some time to kill, right?  Bring a pen! You’ll need information from your ticket and your passport, so have those guys handy.  We will provide you with an Indian address and phone number to use for questions #14 & 15.    Unless you know otherwise, your visa type is “Tourist” and you can check off “Leisure/Holiday” on the form.  Here’s the information you’ll need (this is all one form, but broken into 2 pictures for legibility).  You’ll see the bottom part of the form is for customs; fill that part out, too.  Remember this card–you’ll be handing it to someone soon.

india immigration and customs  form


india immigration form


2.  You’ll disembark from the plane and head toward the airport.  You’re probably a pro at this part already.  Look for these signs and head toward Baggage | Exit.

arriving at delhi airport


3.  There is a restroom on your way to immigration/customs/baggage, so no worries if that’s a priority!

delhi airport bathrooms


4.  Get your exercise after that long flight or jump on the people movers, but either way, you have a stretch to go as you follow those Baggage | Exit signs.

delhi airport moving walkways


5.  Just a little bit further to go until you get to the escalator that will take you down to your first stop, Immigration.  This is what it will look like as you approach….

delhi airport

headed to delhi airport immigration


6.  Get on the escalator (or elevator) and head down to the beautiful Immigration area; it’s not always this crowded, but this isn’t an uncommon sight.  Use your intuition and pick whichever line you think will be fastest (we all know how that usually turns out).  Actually, lines furthest from the escalator tend to be the shortest–more walking will reward you. When you get to the Immigration counter, you will hand the nice lady or gentleman your passport along with your completed arrival card (the one you got on the plane).  A smile and a “Namaskar!” doesn’t hurt, either.  They typically don’t ask you anything, and will hand you back your passport and the bottom portion of the arrival card, the customs form.  Take that and head forward (through some duty free shops) to the baggage area.

delhi airport immigration

7.   Baggage time!  There will be a monitor with your flight number and corresponding carousel belt number.  By the time you get there, a good number of bags may have already been taken off the belt and placed on the ground on the far side; don’t forget to see if yours is already there (it often is).  Go ahead and grab a luggage cart if need be–they’re free.  You have to depress the handle for it to roll–otherwise the brakes are on. Smart design, huh?

delhi airport luggage carousel

delhi airport baggage luggage

Your baggage may have already been taken off the carousel--don't forget to check (aka, don't panic if you don't see it on the belt!)

Your baggage may have already been taken off the carousel–don’t forget to check (aka, don’t panic if you don’t see it on the belt!)

8.  Ok, you’ve cleared immigration, gotten your bags, now you need to get through customs.  This part is very easy.  Get out that little customs form you were given back at the Immigration counter; follow the Green line and give that customs card to whoever is collecting them.  That’s about all it takes; no one goes through your baggage. (*note: don’t tear the customs form off yourself–they will do that at the Immigration desk.)

Follow the Painted Green Line (sung to the tune of Follow the Yellow Brick Road)

Follow the Painted Green Line (sung to the tune of Follow the Yellow Brick Road)

Delhi airport customs

9.  Alright!  You’ve been released upon India!  There are two places we will be able to get you; sometimes we can get a driver into the inner portion to flag you down with a sign.  Most times we’ll be right outside the airport in that waiting area with a sign.  Don’t worry–we’ll be able to see you before you see us and we’ll get your attention/yell your name/throw things at you/generally make a fool of ourselves (ok, so just Lauren will).

Drivers inside the Delhi airport, between baggage and customs

waiting at delhi airport

And there you have it!  We don’t advise you to change money at the airport (not always the best rate); most things at the airport, no matter which country, are going to be overpriced.  We can change money for you at whatever the best going rate is.

If you’ve stumbled upon this page and you’re not going on an Insight Travels tour (and why not, may I ask?), we advise that you go to the pre-paid taxi service kiosk to the left of customs if you need a ride.  Here, you tell them where you need to go, they set the price, you pay them, and they tell you which numbered cab to take outside (the numbered yellow signs, across the street).   This is a good way to proceed so you’re not forced to haggle after such a long journey.  Again–this is only for those traveling independently, not anyone on a tour with us.

So, feel more comfortable now?  Good.  Enjoy your time at the Delhi airport, and we’ll see you on the other side!

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