India is a huge country, and there are many tourist places scattered all over the country. The best way to be able to see and experience these places is by moving on trains. Railway happens to be the most affordable and also the most convenient way to travel between different destinations in India. If you are planning a trip to India, it is advisable to book your tickets online in advance to get a reservation. Till now, foreigners and even Indians living abroad easily booked their train tickets online through the official website of Indian Railways (IRCTC) and the website of Clear Trip (Cleartrip.com). However, with effect from 2012, it is mandatory to have an Indian mobile number to book train tickets in advance. However, if you are a foreigner, you can send an application to IRCTC with a scanned copy of your passport to get mobile verification code. This code allows you to book tickets in Indian trains. Now, let us have a look at the process to book Indian train tickets from overseas.
Register Yourself with the Official Website of Indian Railways
To be eligible to book tickets in Indian trains, you need to register with https://www.irctc.co.in/. After signing up, you can start looking for berth availability on specified dates and specified trains. Once your email ID and mobile number have been verified, you are free to book your reservations.
Knowledge of Trains and Time Tables
You can book train reservation 60 days in advance of your actual date of journey. This is called advance reservation period (ARP), and some trains have ARP of thirty, fifteen, or even just ten days. You need to confirm this fact before booking your ticket. You can get all information about trains and their timetables with the help of the following websites. This website also gives information about fares in different classes of Indian Railways.
Check the Availability of Berth
It is better to check the availability of berth for a long distance journey before attempting to book the ticket. There is a website that allows you to know the availability of berths in selected trains on specified dates. Just log on to http://www.indianrail.gov.in/ and know if berths are available on the date of journey or not. You are not asked to enter your details to get information about berth availability.
Concessions in Fare
Seniors, children, and handicapped individuals are provided special concessions in train fare by Indian Railways. If you are eligible in any of these categories, you should mention it at the time of booking though you are required to carry the age proof and disability proof along with you while travelling.
How to Make Payment at the Time of Booking
IRCTS is the agency responsible for the sale of tickets in Indian Railways. The only non-Indian credit card accepted by IRCTC for payments is American Express. You cannot make payments with your non-Indian debit cards. You need to notify Amex before conducting transactions with IRCTC. Of lates, IRCTS is allowing only those Amex cards that have enhanced security feature called Safe Key. This feature is not available to US and Canadian citizens. You can use your Amex card only if it has been issued in China, Australia, Germany, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, UK, Russia, Netherlands, Spain, Vietnam, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Italy, France, and Hong Kong.
Use cleartrip.com if You Do Not Have Amex
You can still book tickets using Cleartrip.com, but you need to synchronize your account with your IRCTC account. You can use your MasterCard and Visa credit cards for bookings in this site though it does not allow Amex for the purpose of booking. Cancelling a booked ticket is costlier on Cleartrip.com as they do not refund their fees.