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Getting here and advice about your stay

Entry requirements

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Due to COVID-19, India’s entry requirements are constantly being changed and updated in order to be in line with the country's guidelines during the pandemic. For more information see guidance from the FCDO at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/entry-requirements, for up-to-date guidelines for entering India.


Visas

Make sure you have a visa before travelling to India and that it is the correct type, and is valid for your stay. You may be detained, deported and blacklisted if it is incorrect. It is an offence to overstay your visa; leave the country before it expires.

In order to meet entry requirements, check with the High Commission of India at: https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/ and the Indian Bureau of Immigration at: https://boi.gov.in/

Check you meet the criteria when applying for an e-visa. You may not be eligible if you do not have a full ‘British Citizen’ passport. Find out more information on the Indian Government’s e-visa website at: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html.

If you are hospitalised and travelling on a tourist visa, check with a local Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO): https://indianfrro.gov.in/eservices/home.jsp,  whether you will need to convert your visa.

You will be denied entry if your passport is not machine readable. Any carrier transporting foreign nationals without a readable passport may be fined.

Applicants of Pakistani origin

Any applicant with dual British-Pakistani nationality must apply with their Pakistani passport for an Indian visa, processing can last between 7-8 weeks. Proof is required if your Pakistani passport has been cancelled or you have renounced your Pakistani nationality.

For more information visit: https://www.hcilondon.gov.in/


Passport validity

Make sure your passport is machine readable and contains at least 2 blank pages for your visa. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 180 days when applying for a visa, as well as 180 days from when you enter India, to avoid problems at immigration.


Airport tax

There are User Development Fees (UDF) at many Indian airports of INR 1,000 per international passenger. For domestic passengers the cost is between INR 150-260. The fee should be included in your airline ticket. If not, it will be collected from you at the airport check-in counter.


Polio vaccination

If you are travelling to India from Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Somalia, make sure you have a valid polio vaccination certificate. 

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/105/india#Vaccine_recommendations, to check whether you require a yellow fever certificate.

Accommodation and C-Forms

You must stay in accommodation that is licensed by the Indian authorities and registered with the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO): https://indianfrro.gov.in/eservices/home.jsp. Check that your accommodation provider can register ‘C-Forms’ with the FRRO.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs)

With the relevant Indian visa, UK ETDs are valid for entry and exit, although you cannot do both with the same ETD. You will need to apply for an exit permit from the local authorities if you are leaving India on a different passport or ETD to the one you entered with. This must be done online and make sure you consider your timeframe for leaving. 

See the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO): https://indianfrro.gov.in/eservices/home.jsp for more information.

Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders

OCI cardholders do not need a visa to enter India. Make sure you present your valid passport and OCI card. Visit the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs’ website: https://mha.gov.in/ for more information.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]

 

Money

The currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR).

Visitors, including tourists, cannot bring any amount of Indian currency into the country. Indian residents can bring up to INR 25,000.

If you are visiting India, you can bring Pounds Sterling or another foreign currency in the form of cash or travellers’ cheques and a bank/credit card in order to withdraw Indian Rupees once inside the country. You will have to declare US $5,000 in notes, or US $10,000 in notes and travellers’ cheques combined.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]

 

Local laws and customs

All drugs are illegal in India, regardless of their classification. The minimum sentence for possessing a small amount is six months. Larger amounts can lead to a sentence of up to ten years. Pre-trial detention may last several years as the judicial system in India is slow.

Alcohol laws differ between states; consumption is prohibited in Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland and the union territory of Lakshadweep. Some districts of Manipur have a partial ban. Consumption or possession in these areas can lead to arrest without bail and a prison sentence of 5-10 years. 

In some states, foreign nationals and non-residents may be able to buy a 30-day alcohol permit.

The selling of alcohol may be banned during major religious festivals, national holidays and elections.

Do not buy, sell or capture any protected wild animal, or trade its parts without a licence. India is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and has strong regulations and restrictions framework regarding trade. You will receive a prison sentence or fine if you are caught purchasing or trafficking animal goods illegally.

Same-sex marriage is illegal in India, although homosexuality is not. Indian society is still very conservative and the attitudes of the public can be less tolerant than in the UK. Be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted attention. See DIT’s information and advice for LGBT travellers at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-foreign-travel-advice before you travel.

Do not bring satellite phones into the country as it is illegal to possess and operate them in India. You may be arrested if you use a satellite phone without the permission of the Indian authorities. See the Indian Department of Telecommunications: http://dot.gov.in/ for more information.

You will need permission to bring listening/recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras or binoculars into India. Hobbies such as birdwatching or plane spotting using a camera or binoculars may be misunderstood and can lead to arrest, especially if you are close to military sites, government buildings, airports and railway stations.

If child custody becomes an issue, be aware that Indian family law is very different to that of the UK.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]

 

Safety and security

Crime

Female travellers must be cautious when travelling in India, either when alone or in a group. See the FCDO’s advice for women travelling abroad: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/advice-for-women-travelling-abroad

Try not to travel alone on public transport, or in taxis and auto-rickshaws, especially at night. Make sure you get taxis from the hotel taxi rank, and be cautious when using pre-paid taxis at airports. There have been cases of scams carried out by taxi drivers offering cheap hotels and transport, unwanted tours and longer journeys. Be aware that threats and violence have been used towards those who do not pay.

Avoid hailing cabs, and make sure taxi drivers who collect you from the airport identify themselves. When online booking, there is a facility that allows you to let your family and friends know the details of your journey — selected contacts can then pinpoint where you are.

If you are a victim of abuse call 100 for the police.

Make sure you keep your luggage and handbags safely with you, especially in large crowds, and on buses and trains.

Keep photocopies of your passport, visa and flight ticket safe and with someone you trust at home. Store copies electronically in order to access them easily. If your passport is lost or stolen you must notify the police immediately. Make sure you obtain a police report. 

Be aware of those that claim they will deliver jewellery abroad for an initial cash deposit, especially in Agra and Jaipur. The jewellery is worthless and your deposit will usually be high.

Local travel

Jammu and Kashmir

All travel to Jammu and Kashmir is advised against by the FCDO, unless you are travelling within the city of Jammu, travelling to Jammu by air, or travelling within the Ladakh region. The FCDO also advise against travelling to the tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarh, as well as the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

In both Jammu and Kashmir there have been reported terrorist attacks against army bases and other targets. 

Restrictions such as curfews can change frequently. Remain vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities or your travel company.

As of 2016, foreign nationals no longer need a protected area permit to visit the Nubra valley.

Rural areas outside of major cities and away from tourist destinations remain vulnerable places for foreigners. The British Government’s long-standing policy is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers and the level of consular assistance available from the British High Commission for those in Jammu and Kashmir is severely limited.


Other northern states

All travel in the immediate vicinity of the Pakistan border is advised against, other than across the international border at Wagah.

Be aware that in Rajasthan the border may be unmarked, and visitors can stray accidently over the border, which can be dangerous.

Always trek in groups and with a local guide from a reputable agency. Make sure you leave a message and an itinerary of your plans at your accommodation. Register your location with the online C-Form as phone signal can be poor in mountainous areas. Above 3,000 m, the chance of the following hazards increases: sudden weather changes, avalanches, snow drifts, landslides, rock fall and thunderstorms. For more intrepid activities, you will need a special permit.

There are no commercial rescue services that will operate above 3,000 m. In some areas, only the Indian Air Force are permitted to carry out air rescue, although they are not obligated to do so. This is due to limited resources and they can only get clearance during certain hours. Your insurance policy must cover mountain rescue and helicopter costs if you plan to climb over 2,400 m.

East and northeast India

Any travel to the state of Manipur that is not essential is advised against, with the exception of those travelling to the state capital Imphal or to the Meiti Valley areas, including Loktak Lake, Keibul Lamjao National Park and the Imphal War Cemetery. You should, however, check the latest security conditions when travelling to these areas, and do so only by air. In Manipur, there is a risk of terrorism and organised crime which is heightened in rural areas. Although foreigners are not necessarily targets, attacks are indiscriminate.

Manipur and Assam, alongside other areas in the northeastern states, can experience sudden violence. Ensure you have reviewed your security arrangements and take advice from local authorities. Try to avoid large crowds. 

You will require an Indian Government permit if you intend to travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. If you are in India, you can apply at the liaison office of the state for which you require a permit or the Foreigner Regional Registration Office and you should do so at least three months in advance. On arrival in Port Blair, you can obtain a permit for Andaman and Nicobar; however, this is not the case for all states. As permit regulations can change, you should contact the respective state liaison office or the Indian Bureau of Immigration for the latest guidance.

Western Region

Gujarat at the India/Pakistani border is partially unmarked. Approaching the border can be dangerous and you could enter Pakistan illegally.

Allow sufficient time when travelling to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai International Airport) if transiting between flights in separate terminals.

Be aware of unofficial taxi drivers who may charge high fares. 

Goa

British nationals usually do not face any problems when visiting Goa.

Keep your passport and valuables safe and hidden. Take care of handbags as there have been cases where they have been snatched by people riding past on bikes. Make sure you avoid unlit and remote areas and beaches at night.

There have been reports of drink spiking in India; never leave a drink unattended as this has led to British nationals being robbed and assaulted.

Road travel

There have been a number of car and motorbike accidents involving British nationals in India. Avoid travelling at night, and ensure your vehicle is well maintained and has seat belts. When travelling by motorbike, wear a helmet and appropriate footwear. 


Sea travel

It is rare for tourist vessels or other small crafts to carry life-saving equipment. 

Piracy has not currently affected India’s waters, but it does pose a threat in parts of the Indian Ocean, so you should ensure you take the appropriate precautions and follow agreed shipping industry guidelines. 

Ships and their crew are required to have authorisation and paperwork before entering Indian territorial waters. They must also abide by Indian laws, including regulations regarding weapons, for as long as they are in those waters.


Swimming

Strong currents can occur off many coasts, and beaches often do not have any signs, flags or life-saving equipment.


Rail travel

Avoid food and drink offered to you by strangers as this can be a method of drugging and robbing rail passengers, especially on overnight trains. Take care of your passport and valuables and avoid individuals offering tickets and tours at the station. 


Political situation

In India, political rallies, strikes or ‘bandh’ and demonstrations occur often and can disrupt public services and turn violent, especially surrounding elections or deaths of government leaders. You should avoid protests and large gatherings, and follow the advice of the local authorities. 

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]

 

Natural disasters

Monsoons

Travel can be hazardous during June to October’s monsoon season. Flooding and landslides can occur, and can cut off access to towns and villages. Transport, such as railways and roads, can be affected, including the metro in cities. Monitor the Indian Meteorological Department: https://mausam.imd.gov.in/ to check for weather updates. Listen to the advice of local authorities and take extra care when travelling.

Cyclones and tropical storms

Between September and December, cyclones and tropical storms are common, mainly on the east coast. In the Bay of Bengal, these also occur between April and June. See gov.uk’s tropical cyclone page for more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tropical-cyclones.


Earthquakes

There are several parts of India that lie on highly active fault zones, the most active being across the Himalayas. These areas are subject to earth tremors that cause landslides. Impacts are increased due to the lack of emergency response vehicles, equipment and medical facilities. See the US Federal Emergency Management Agency website: https://www.ready.gov/earthquakes for more information.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]

 

Health

Check the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s (NaTHNaC) advice on their TravelHealthPro website: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries at least eight weeks before travelling to India. See the NHS (Scotland)’s FitForTravel website: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx and the NHS Choices’ website at: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/ for further information.

Medicines that can be used in the UK may have a different legal status and regulations in India. If you plan to travel with a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, the NaTHNaC has guidance on how to travel with medication: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad. You can also contact the British High Commission New Delhi to get advice on the legal status of certain medication: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-high-commission-new-delhi.

Local medical facilities are not up to UK standards, and specialist psychiatric treatment may not be accessible, especially outside of major cities. Private medical care is available, but expensive. You can find a list of hospitals compiled by the British High Commission New Delhi, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/india-list-of-hospitals.

Ensure your travel insurance covers the duration of your stay in India. 

Altitude sickness and health issues relating to air pollution can occur in certain areas. Take precautions if you have any existing medical conditions. 

There is a risk of dengue fever, Zika virus, chikungunya virus and nipah virus, as cases have occurred in India, especially in New Delhi.

If you need emergency medical assistance, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred for medical treatment, contact your insurance or medical assistance provider promptly.

COVID-19

India is affected by the global outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Make sure you comply with all screening measures that local authorities have put into place, see: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/coronavirus, for more information.

For more information when travelling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the UK Government’s advice at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

FCDO Foreign travel advice

If you are travelling to India for business, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website has travel advice to help you prepare for your visit overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.

For up-to-the-minute advice please visit the FCDO foreign travel pages on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india.

Travel insurance

Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel, as well as accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: India, gov.uk]


 

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