India travel advice

Indian government regulations do not normally allow passengers who entered India on a charter flight to leave on a scheduled airline. However, we understand that the Foreigners Regional Registration Office has given permission for passengers whose Comtel flights have been cancelled to leave on scheduled flights.

Take into account security arrangements when deciding where to visit. If you see unattended baggage, report it promptly. Be particularly conscious of security considerations in the vicinity of key government installations and tourist sites; when attending public events; and in public places, including hotels, airports, shopping malls/markets and on public transport, including buses, trains, trams and the metro. Security has been strengthened, notably at major hotels and airports. Allow extra time for security checks when checking in for flights.

Take particular care in the lead up to and on days of national significance, such as Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August), Eid (31 August) and Diwali (26 October)

Beware of street crime and take security measures including:

Safeguard your passport and credit/ATM cards, particularly when travelling by bus and train. There has been an increase in handbag snatching in Delhi.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separately from the originals when travelling.
Be aware of what you are eating and drinking. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed, particularly on trains.
Do not leave your luggage unattended on trains at all.
Be wary of confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, who promise substantial cash for delivery of jewellery abroad in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is invariably worthless and the deposit, often amounting to thousands of pounds, is lost.
Avoid walking alone in isolated spots in the popular tourist areas, particularly after dark.
There have been incidents of sexual offences against women (including British nationals) in Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan. Female travellers should take basic personal safety precautions.

We advise against all travel to or through rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir, other than to Ladakh, and against all but essential travel to Srinagar. If you intend to travel to Srinagar then you should only travel there by air, and you should check the local security situation before doing so. Despite an overall decline in violence in Jammu and Kashmir in recent years, there is a high risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. In some border areas there is the danger of land mines. If, despite this advice, you decide to travel to or remain in this region, you do so at your own risk. Review your travel insurance policy, security arrangements and be aware that the level of consular assistance in Jammu & Kashmir is extremely limited.

We advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan other than travel across the international border at Wagah.

The border between India and Pakistan in Rajasthan is unmarked in some areas. Approaching the border away from an official crossing point could be dangerous, and where unmarked could lead to a visitor straying into the other country illegally.

If you trek in remote mountain areas be aware that there are no commercial mountain rescue services operating above 3000 metres. There are also parts of the border areas where only the Indian Air Force is permitted to carry out air rescues. Be aware though that they are under no obligation to perform air rescues and have limited resources to do so. Ensure that your insurance policy covers you for altitudes over 2,400 metres. The use of personal satellite phones is illegal.

We advise against all travel in Manipur and against all but essential travel to Imphal. If you plan to travel to Imphal then do so only by air. There is a risk from insurgent groups, mainly in rural areas. Although foreigners have not been the deliberate targets of violence, attacks can be indiscriminate. Although the overall security situation in the northeast has improved in the last year, kidnapping, banditry and insurgency still take place. If, despite this advice, you decide to travel to or remain in these areas, you do so at your own risk. Review your travel insurance policy, security arrangements and be aware that the level of consular assistance may be extremely limited.

Indian Government permits are required for travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Make applications for travel well in advance (three months). In India, they should be made at the liaison offices of the state requiring permits or Foreigners Regional Registration Offices. Permits for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be issued on arrival in Port Blair but this is not the case for other states.

In Mumbai, there is a risk of armed robbers holding up taxis along the main highway from the airport to the city in the early hours of the morning. If you use the route during these times arrange to travel by coach where possible or seek advice at the airport on arrival.

In Mumbai, the international and domestic airport terminals are at a considerable distance from each other and it is not possible to walk from one to the other. If you are transiting between international and domestic flights you can use the free shuttle services if you have an onward connection on your ticket. You will not be able to use the service once you exit the terminal building. Both terminals also have pre-paid taxi facilities. At the international terminal, these can be reached from inside and outside the terminal building. At the domestic terminal, prepaid taxi facilities are accessible only from inside the terminal building. There have been reports of scams at both terminals with unofficial taxi drivers demanding exorbitant sums of money once you are inside the cab so use either prepaid taxis or metered taxis.

After you clear customs and immigration at Mumbai airport be wary of approaches by thieves posing as Government officials.

You should take the same precautions as you would in any other coastal resort, be it in Europe or elsewhere in Asia.

There have been reports of drinks being spiked and travellers, including British nationals, subsequently being robbed, sexually assaulted or dying. In 2009, 32 British nationals died in Goa, up to ten of these deaths were attributed to drug/alcohol abuse.

Avoid beaches after dark, because of the risk of being attacked by packs of stray dogs, robbed or sexually assaulted. Avoid walking alone in isolated spots in the popular tourist areas, particularly after dark.

Female travellers should observe and respect local dress and customs. There has been a series of high-profile incidents in Goa of alleged rape against foreign nationals, including Britons.

Take great care when travelling by road in India. Car and bike accidents are on of the biggest causes of injury and death overseas. Several British nationals die each year on Indian roads. Special care should be taken at night. Always travel in a well-maintained vehicle with seatbelts. If you travel by bike, wear a helmet and proper footwear.

Do not accept food or drinks from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains often on overnight trains. Take particular care of your passport and valuables when boarding and whilst on the train. Avoid individuals at railway stations offering tickets and tours, mainly to Kashmir and Rajasthan.

Local Laws and Customs

Drugs are illegal in India. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts deemed for personal consumption only. A 10-year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The slow judicial process means that lengthy pre-trial detention, usually of several years, is normal.

Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in Europe.

Obey local laws. There may be very serious penalties for breaking a law which might seem trivial to you or for doing something which may not be illegal in Europe. Hobbies that involve cameras and binoculars, such as bird-watching or plane spotting, may be misunderstood particularly near military sites, government buildings, airports and railway stations.

The penalties for paedophile offences are severe. Indian family law is very different from european law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue.

Entry Requirements

You must obtain a visa before travelling to India; without one you will be refused entry.
Foreign nationals arriving in India on long term multiple entry visas must register with the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival. Overstayers will be fined and may be prosecuted or detained and later deported. They may also need to appear in person at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. The High Commission/Deputy High Commission may not be able to intervene in these cases.

Unless visiting neighbouring countries (see paragraph below), tourists leaving India will receive a stamp in their passports indicating that they may not re-enter India for two months, regardless of their length of stay prior to departure. Tourists wishing to return to India before the two month period has passed will now have to visit the Indian High Commission or Consulate in the country to which they travelled or are resident and present their case for re-entry.

The authorities in all Indian Immigration Check Posts have, however, been authorised to allow tourists to make two or three entries, based on production of an itinerary and documentation (ticket bookings) substantiating the need for tourism related travel to neighbouring countries.

To transit through India you will need a transit visa. A transit visa is valid for a single or double journey, within 15 days, effective from the date of issue. Transit visas are for the sole purpose of a direct transit for a maximum period of three days. For stays beyond three days, obtain an appropriate visa.

You must hold a valid passport to enter India. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date you apply for your visa to India. It must also be valid for a minimum period of 180 days from the date of entry into India.

Health

Take care with your water and food hygiene. Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea seek immediate medical attention. Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya affect most of India.

Seek medical advice before travelling and ensure vaccinations are up-to-date.

There have been outbreaks of avian influenza in India, most recently in the north-eastern states of West Bengal and Assam.

As a precaution avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds. Ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

Natural Disasters

Monsoons
Travel in the rural areas during the Monsoon season can be hazardous and care should be taken. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. Check access routes before setting off.

Cyclones and Tropical Storms
Cyclones and tropical storms are common, particularly off the Bay of Bengal affecting most of the East coast of India. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department and follow the advice of local authorities and tour operators.

Earthquakes
Several parts of India lie on highly active fault zones.

General

You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Seek comprehensive legal advice from a reliable source before investing in immovable property or businesses in India. There have been a significant number of cases where British and other foreign nationals have encountered serious difficulties, often because of misleading advice from unscrupulous agents and by not adhering to strict visa and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations resulting in (often unwitting) illegal acquisition of property. There are strict rules preventing the purchase of property by non-Indian nationals, which cannot be bypassed (e.g. by registering a local company for the sole purpose of acquiring a property). If the purchase is judged to violate local laws (including if you purchase whilst on a tourist visa), you are likely to lose your money and may even face prosecution.

Equipment such as satellite phones, listening or recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras or binoculars may require a licence for use in India.

If your travel document is lost or stolen notify the police immediately and obtain a police report. A replacement passport can only be applied for at New Delhi. However, Mumbai, Chennai, Goa and Kolkata can issue an Emergency Travel Document in dire emergencies. Straightforward applications are normally issued within 20 working days.
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