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Tourism Regulations in India

indian-passportInbound-Outbound Travel Regulations

A tourist is governed mandatorily by the laws and regulations of the country he is paying a visit to. For instance, a traveler from USA has to follow the travel regulations of India if He is visiting India or a visitor from India has to follow the same protocols of the other countries as well if he is doing an outbound tour. This is one critical concern that every tourist performing either Inbound or Outbound should be aware of. There can be basic travel requirements like Visas and Passports but sometimes there could be special permits as well. With these requirements being made, a tourist can enjoy a hassle free travel throughout.


Passport & Visa Requirements

Passports and Visas are legal requirements to enter India for almost every visitor. Nepal and Bhutanese Citizens have to show their Valid Identity Cards to verify their nationality while entering India by land. However, if they are entering India by flight from their own country or any other apart from China, they have to show a valid passport but no visa is required. But if they are flying from China to India then these travelers need to have both the passport and a visa. There are many kinds of visas issued in India (refer to the picture).

visa-typesFor travelers whose sole purpose is to visit India for tourism activities like recreation, VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives), Sightseeing, Exploring, specific interests (yoga, cooking, healing etc.), a Tourist Visa is issued. Travel agents of foreign travel agencies and foreign tourists visiting India frequently for genuine tourism may be granted multiple-entry tourist visa with the condition that stay on each visit should not exceed 180 days. Visa on Arrival for tourist has been inducted on an experimental basis for the following nationals of 12 countries viz. US (recently inducted after Prime Minister Modi visited the States), Luxembourg, NZ, Finland, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Cambodia. This type of visa is valid for a period of 30 days with single entry facility granted by Immigration Offices at major Intl. Airports of India at BOM, DEL, MAA and CCU.


Moving within the mainland states of India is not restricted apart from a few. Basically, these places are mainly sensitive areas with tribal culture, rich biodiversity, International Border lines and group of islands. Under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1958 & 1963 no foreign nationals can visit in these 'Restricted Areas' without obtaining permit from authorities. Entry to these places would require a special type of permit for the visitor known as the Protected Area Permit (PAP) or Restricted Area Permit, which can be valid up to a maximum period of 15 days. The issuance of these permits differs from state to state. They are: Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Himachal Pradesh, parts of Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, parts of Rajasthan, Lakshadweep (only Bangaram Island is opened to Tourists), West Bengal (Sunderbans Area/ Tiger Project Area), Sikkim (partly in the protected and partly in the restricted area), and parts of Uttarakhand.

Among these, 3 North Eastern States (Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland) of India have been leveraged from obtaining the PAP when visiting these places to boost tourism with exception of citizens from Afghanistan, China, Pak and Myanmar. Myanmar nationals would require prior approval from Ministry of Home Affairs if they are to move beyond 16km from the Indo-Myanmar border. Inner Line Permit (ILP) will be required for visiting Border States like Nagaland and Arunachal for the Indian Nationals.


1. Permit is valid for the specific route and the specific entry / exit point. Other than these no other routes shall be used.

2. PAP is for group of tourists comprising of two or more persons only.

3. North Eastern States of India (8 States) must be visited only by air. To travel within these states they may use National Highways or by flight. Visiting places of Interest within the state, if falls away from the National Highways, maximum amount of distance should be covered by NH roads only and minimize the utilization of local highways.

4. Permits that have expired will not be allowed to be used to stay in these restricted/protected areas.

3. Each permit holder must have enough photocopies of the permit to be deposited at every entry/exit.

Instructions to be followed by Travel Agents, Tour Operators and Commercial Accommodation Providers at Restricted/ Protected Areas

1. Travel and Tour operators must ensure that their tour group possesses valid RAP/PAP. Also making sure their groups do not visit places apart from their mentioned itinerary or delay on their stay with reference to the validity period.

2. Commercial accommodation providers must ensure that their foreign guests hold valid RAP/PAP during their stay. Other mandatory requirements include informing local police about the details of these guests as earnestly as possible.


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