1. Passport & Visa Requirements:
It is important for all visitors from abroad to possess a valid passport issued by their respective countries before they enter Indian Territory either by land or sea or air.
Visa is an essential requirement for all people of all nationalities for entering India. There are several types of visas available to foreign nationals as follows:
1. Entry Visa
2. Tourist Visa
3. Business Visa
4. Long term Visa (maximum duration of 5 years)
5. Collective Landing Permit (group tourists from abroad).
Indian consular offices in different countries issues Indian Visas. The fee for this visa is US $5 per person. But nationals of Britain pay a Visa fee of £23.
The maximum duration for which tourist visas are issued is 180 days. The requirement is the submission of passport photographs. There is also a provision for the extension of visa beyond 180 days.
2. Special Permits:
Normally there is no restriction on Indian & foreign nationals for movement within India. But in case of Border States & the two groups of island (Andaman & Lakshadweep), a visitor requires a special permit. This permit is valid for 15 days only.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands:
Foreigners visiting the islands require prior permission. This can be obtained from Immigration officer, Port Blair on arrival. Permits can be obtained in advance from Chief Immigration Officers at Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai & Chennai.
All foreign nationals intending to visit Arunachal Pradesh require restricted area permits issued by Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, & New Delhi. Indian nationals (domestic tourists) can obtain permits from Arunachal Bhawan, New Delhi, Calcutta, Guwahati & Tezpur.
Only Guwahati, Sibsagar, Halflong & Kaziranga are open for foreigners. To visit these places, permits are issued by Assam State Tourist Information Centers at Delhi & other parts of the country.
Border regions of the Runn of Kutch are restricted areas. Permits to visit Banni region & areas beyond the India Bridge are issued for both foreign & Indian nationals by DM, Bhuj.
Lahaul & Spiti & the district of Kinnaur are restricted areas for which entry permits are granted to a group of 4 or above, sponsored by a travel agency for a fixed itinerary. These permits are issued by Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, Kullup, Keylong & Rampur.
Only the island of Bangaram (which had no habitation) is open to foreign tourists. Permits are issued by Foreigners’ Regional Registration officers. For domestic tourists, entry permits & travel arrangements are handled by the Commissioner’s Office in New Delhi.
Foreign nationals require an inner line permit from the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi.
Foreigners intending to travel in groups of 4 or more can obtain restricted area permits from Meghalaya House at Delhi, Bombay & Calcutta.
Mizoram is a restricted area for foreign tourists. Permits may be obtained from the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs. Indian citizens can obtain inner line permits from Resident Commissioner of Mizoram at Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay & Chennai.
Foreigners cannot enter without a special permit which can be obtained from the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Foreigners can get permit for Gangtok, Rumtek, Penayangtfe & Thodong from Sikkim Tourist Information Centre at Delhi, Kolkata & Siliguri.
Tripura is a restricted area. Foreign tourists visiting Tripura are required to obtain a permit from the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Foreigners must have permission from the Government of India to enter the Tehsil Dharchola & Tehsil Muspari areas near the border of Tibet.
Parts of Sunderbans area are restricted for tourists. Conducted tours by West Bengal Tourism Authorities require no prior permission.
3. Customs Regulations:
The usual duty-free regulations of one bottle of liquor & 200 cigarettes apply for India. If the tourist brings in more than $ 1,000 in cash or in traveler’s cheques, it must be declared.
A tourist can clear goods up to Rs. 2,400 in value duty free. Goods brought in excess of this are chargeable to duty as per prevailing law.
4. Economic Regulations:
The inbound as well as outbound tourist is subject to the following economic regulations:
Tourists are not allowed to bring Indian currency into the country or take it out of the country. However, there is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency or travellers cheques that may be brought into India.
On arrival, visitors should declare all foreign currency above $1,000. They are supposed to exchange currency only at banks & through authorized dealers.
With each exchange of currency, they are issued an exchange certificate which should be retained to re-exchange unused rupees on leaving the country. It is also their proof that they exchanged currency through legal channels.
The foreign tourist must not exchange currency in black-market. Foreigners are not allowed to leave India with any local currency. For their convenience, banks at international airports are open 24 hours daily to convert unused rupees.
(b) Income Tax:
If a person not domiciled in India intends to stay in the country for more than 120 days, an Income Tax Clearance Certificate is required in order to leave the country. This document will prove that the person’s stay in India was financed by his own money 7 not by working or selling his goods.
The foreign sections of the Income Tax Department at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai & Mumbai issue these certificates on the basis of the person’s passport, visa & currency exchange receipts which have been used by the person.
(c) Foreign Travel Tax:
For international travel from Indian airports Rs. 150 must be paid for travel to neighboring countries & Rs. 300 for travel to all other countries.