A mix of old and new, progressive and conservative, India offers fantastic exporting opportunities thanks to its pro-business government and expanding infrastructure. Current prospects are high for the Indian market with its young population, middle class spending and large labour force contributing to its growing economy.
Don’t start talking business immediately on meeting Indian contacts – they prefer personal conversation first, so ask about them and their lives. Patience is key when doing business here so be prepared for negotiations. It does take time to develop an established business relationship but it will be worth the effort.
Use formal titles (e.g ‘Mr’, ‘Dr’, ‘Professor’ etc). These are respected in India. Equally, ensure you dress smart and conservative for meetings. The usual formal greeting between men is a handshake. When meeting a woman, wait for her to extend her hand - she may not wish to shake hands. Instead, she may greet you by simply saying ‘Namaste’.
Many Indian business people speak English and interpreters will usually be available if required.
Keep an open mind – the culture is based on an ancient and complex history.
Enjoy and appreciate the levels of service you encounter and remember to tip!
The best time to visit is between late October and mid-March. April and May are hot and monsoon rains start in late May, gradually moving north over the next six weeks. It rarely rains all day, every day.
Stay in a four / five star hotel – it will be worth it, as they offer services and facilities on a par with international business standards.
Pay hotel bills and similar expenses in foreign currency, either via Credit Card, Travellers’ Cheques or cash.
Don’t drink tap water. Use only bottled water and that includes when brushing your teeth!
Before travelling, you must obtain a business visa with two blank pages. Your passport must also be valid for at least another 180 days (six months) at the time you apply for the visa.
Visas may be valid for between six and twelve months, with single or multiple entries. For each visit, the maximum period of stay in India is 180 days.
Including services charges, a six month visa costs £117.20 and a 12 month visa £287.20. You will need two recent passport-style colour photographs (50mm x 50mm).
You must supply an original signed letter from the company in the UK, explaining the nature of business and duration of visit to India. You must also supply a signed ‘Letter of Invitation’ from an Indian company on their official company letter-head clearly stating the purpose and duration for which the visa is required.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir and Northern India. Phalgam, Gulmarg an Sonamarg all fall within areas the FCO advise against visiting.
If you travel to India from Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Somalia, you will need a valid polio vaccination certificate. Contact your GP about any vaccinations you may require before travelling.
don’t forget to see the sights! India is a beautiful country and homes some of the greatest global monuments in the world including The Taj Mahal in New Delhi, Kanha National park, Rudyard Kipling’s inspiration for the ‘The Jungle Book’ and its vast array of temples and mosques.
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