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About India



Visiting India - Tips

The government of India defines 'tourist' as a person, not normally a resident in India, who enters the country for a stay of not more than six months in any twelve-month period for purely non-immigration purposes, such as touring, recreation, sports, health, family reasons, study, religious pilgrimage or business. The entry of this 'tourist' is governed by a number of regulations:

Visas

All foreign nationals, including those from Commonwealth Nations, require a visa to enter India. However, there is some relaxation for Bhutanese and Nepalese nationals. Visas are not issued on arrival. Tourist visas are generally valid for a stay of 120 to 180 days. The cost of the visa is US$ 30 for up to six months. If you are planning to visit a neighboring country, such as Nepal, and then re-entering India, a double/multiple entry visa should be obtained.

As a rule, no extension of stay is granted on a Tourist visa. Tourist visas are available for a maximum period of 180 days. No charges are levied for visa extension within the maximum period of 180 days. You need to keep identical passport photographs. However, in case of an extension beyond 180 days, which is allowed only in exceptional cases, an extension fee is charged, the amount of which varies from country to country. For extending the visa, you may apply for a letter of permission from :

The Ministry of Home Affairs,
Lok Nayak Bhawan,
Khan Market,
New Delhi.
Tel - +91-11-4693334, +91-11-4612543, +91-11-4617649.

Thereafter the letter is to be presented to Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), located at Hans Bhawan, Tilak Bridge, New Delhi. Tel - +91-11- 3319489, +91-11-3318179 (Timings: 0930 to 1330 and 1400 to 1600 hrs; weekends and national holidays closed). Or you may seek the help of your travel agent.

If a foreigner wishes to come for a purpose other than tourism, he should obtain an appropriate visa for the same. Business Visa × a multiple-entry visa is valid for five years, Student Visa × can be obtained on the production of the proof of admission and means of sustenance while in India, Conference Visa × delegates coming to attend international conferences are granted conference visa as well as for tourism purposes, Employment Visa × this is initially granted for one year and can be extended up to the period of contract. Foreigners wanting to study yoga, music, Vedic culture, dance etc, or undertake trekking, botanical expeditions, rafting etc, or sportspersons may obtain their appropriate visas.

Customs on Arrival

There are two customs clearance channels. The green channel is for travelers carrying non-dutiable items while the red channel is for visitors carrying dutiable items. Duty Free include items such as clothing and other articles which may reasonably be required during the stay, provided that, if not consumed in India, they are re-exported on departure. Professional materials, which have a high value, can only be imported duty free if the traveler gives a written undertaking that these articles will be re-exported. This formality should better be done in the home country in consultation with the Indian Mission. Take care to obtain an Export Certificate for these items if you are traveling to neighboring countries and intend a multiple entry.

Visitors are generally required to make a declaration in respect of Foreign Currency in their possession; if it is more than the permitted limit (cash or travelers cheques over US$ 10,000 or equivalent), they will have to obtain a currency declaration form before leaving customs.

The import of prohibited articles such as dangerous drugs, live plants, gold/silver bullion and coins, not in current use, is either totally prohibited or restricted. Weapons brought into the country should be licensed and declared. Possession of narcotics is strictly prohibited. Separate regulations govern the import of commercial samples and merchandise. Travelers should consult with High Commission/Embassy before departure.

As regards, Cigarettes, Cigars, Tobacco and Alcohol, tourist may import the following without paying any duty: (a) 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; and, (b) 1 litre of wine; and (c) 1 litre of alcoholic liquor.

Mishandled Baggage

In case your baggage has been lost or mishandled by the airline, please obtain a certificate to this effect from the airline for follow up with the airline. You should also have the certificate countersigned by the Customs, indicating specifically how much of your duty-free allowance is un-utilized.

Customs Enquiry/Complaints:
Assistant Collector of Customs at the international airport
OR
Commissioner of Customs,
Near Customs House,
Near IGI Airport,
New Delhi - 110037,
Tel - +91-11- 5652990,
E-mail cusdel@excise.nic.in

Customs on Departure

By law, visitors are banned from taking gold jewellery (above Rs. 6,000), wildlife products and antiques (over 100 years old) out of the country - any infringement is punishable by fines and imprisonment. For verification of antiques, you may contact the Archeological Survey of India, Janpath, New Delhi, Tel - +91-11-3019451 or Archeological Survey of India offices in other states.

Caution

The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment up to 7 years. Foreigners are, therefore, advised not to buy any wildlife or wildlife products or derivatives × especially ivory articles, fur and skin articles derived from wild animals such as Shahtoosh.

A Foreign Travel Tax must be paid by all tourists on departure × Rs. 150 for departures to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives and Rs. 500 for all other countries.

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

Currency

India's currency is 'Rupee', abbreviated as Rs. One Rupee is equal to 100 paise. Coins are in various small denominations of 10, 25, 50 paise & 1, 2 & 5, Rupees. Notes (Bills) are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 & 1,000 Rupees. The import or export of Indian currency is forbidden without the prior permission of the Reserve Bank of India.

Foreign Exchange

You can exchange money at international airports where 24-hour exchange facilities are available through banks and approved money changers. You can also change money at nationalized banks and other banks in the country. Some of the larger nationalized banks include the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sindh Bank, Canara Bank, Allahabad Bank and Union Bank of India. You will find international banks such as ANZ Grindlays, Standard Chartered, Citibank, BNP, Bank of America, Hong Kong Bank and others in the major metro cities. Most of these have 24-hour ATMs. American Express and Thomas Cook offices may be found in major metros and tourist cities. Banks timings are usually from 1000 hrs to 1600 hrs on weekdays and 1000 hrs to 1200 hrs on Saturdays. Please remember that not all banks will exchange foreign currency or travelers cheques - particularly in small towns.

Travelers Cheques/Credit Cards

Travelers' cheques should be of well-known brands like Thomas Cook, American Express and Visa. Major Credit Cards like American Express, Master Cards, Diners Club, Visa, are generally accepted by large establishments, including hotels, shops and airlines.

Payments

All foreign nationals must pay their hotel bills in foreign currency (cash, Traveler's Cheques or even by Credit Cards). This can be paid in Rupees if the visitor has a receipt to show as a proof of currency exchange. Insist on a receipt when changing money. Retain all receipts to facilitate re-conversion of unspent money on departure from India.

Tipping

It is usual to tip the waiters, porters, guides and drivers. Tips are not included in the bills, whether of hotels, transport companies or any other suppliers. At hotels and restaurants, about 10% of the bill is usually acceptable.

Guides

Trained English-speaking guides are available at fixed charges at all important tourist places. Besides English-speaking guides, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese speaking guides are also available at some cities. These guides should be approved by the Government of India.

Reconfirmation of Air-tickets

If your domestic sectors are issued on international tickets, it is advisable to re-confirm them, at least 72 hours before the date of travel. It is also advised that your reservation for international departure be reconfirmed well in advance to avoid any last minute difficulties (at least 72 hours before departure).

Electricity

In India voltage is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles, though some areas also have DC supplies. Visitors are advised to check the voltage before using electrical appliances. Socket sizes vary, so it is as well to take a set of plug adapters, available from most electrical stores.

Photography

Visitors to India find varied subjects for photography including people, monuments, wildlife, festivities, and landscapes. However, note these formalities, in respect of photography.

Special permission of the Archeological Survey of India, New Delhi, is required for use of tripod and artificial light on monuments. Special permission of Government of India is required for any photography for the purpose of publicity and commercial use. Photography is prohibited in tribal areas.

Taking photographs of airports, railway stations, bridges, military installations, and from the air is prohibited.

Visiting Places of

Removing one's shoes before entering temples, mosques or Gurudwaras (Sikh temple) is essential. Avoid taking leather goods of any kinds (bag, belt etc) and cigarettes into places of worship, as these are often not permitted. Do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops in places of public worship.

Help

Mugging is not common in India, but tourists should guard against pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and sexual harassment. A few simple precautions should be sufficient to ensure your safety. Always keep a photocopy of your passport and visa safe. In case you need to make a report to the police, obtain a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and keep it with you. In any case, always get in touch with the Embassy or High Commission or Consulate for help.

Insurance

It is always advisable to obtain good travel insurance to cover the worst possible scenario. Do keep a copy of your policy separately as a safeguard.

Disabled Travelers

Although disability is common in India, there are very few provisions for disabled people - be it special toilets, availability of wheelchairs, etc. You could employ a guide who will be prepared to help you in moving around. Another option is to go with a paid companion. Some package tour operators arrange travel for people with disabilities, but first ensure that your needs have been understood before making a booking.

Women Traveling Alone

India is a safe country to travel. Still, it is advisable that women travelers take basic precautions such as avoiding over crowded places, night travel, etc. Avoid wearing clothes that expose legs, arms and cleavage - a large scarf is handy to use as a cover-all when required. More serious sexual assaults on tourists are rare, but in case something should happen, call for help from passers-by. Remember, for the convenience of women, there are 'ladies only queues at some train and bus stations, 'ladies only' waiting rooms and compartments on trains.

Liquor Permits

There is prohibition in the states of Gujarat, Mizoram and Manipur. However, foreigners visiting India are issued All India Liquor Permits on request from Indian missions abroad. Those who have not been able to obtain these before departure can get them from Government of India Tourist Offices at Delhi or Bombay. Subject to certain conditions, the permit authorizes the holder to buy, possess and use bottled liquor while touring any part where prohibition is in force. Further details may be obtained from Indian missions abroad.

Lost passport:

1. Foreigners should file a report with the local police regarding loss of passport.
2. After obtaining new travel documents from their countrỷs nearest mission, the foreigner should approach Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) for grant of visa/exit permit with the following details:

Date & type of visa
Name of Indian Mission from where visa was granted.
Port of arrival including flights number/details of vessels.
Places visited in India.
They can get in touch with their travel agent in India to provide all assistance.

It is suggested that a copy of your travel documents be kept separately as this will assist the Embassy to expedite issuance of duplicate documents.

MEDICAL & HEALTH TIPS

There are few regulations, regarding health in India, applicable to foreign tourists. These regulations are more of the nature of prevention than anything else.

Yellow Fever

Any person (including infants) arriving by air or sea without a certificate can be detained in isolation for a period up to 6 days if arriving within six days of departing from an infected area or has been in such an area in transit, or has come by aircraft which has been in an infected area and has not been disinfected in accordance with Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, or those recommended by WHO. Various countries in Central and South America and Africa are regarded as being infected; enquire at the concerned Indian Mission for an up-to-date list. When a case of yellow fever is reported from any country, that country is regarded by Government of India as infected with yellow fever and is added to the above list.

Presently the following countries and areas are regarded as infected: Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ivory coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia. America: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Malaria

Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country excluding parts of the states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim. No certificate is required, but a course of anti-malaria pills is recommended for all foreigners.

Cholera

Travelers proceeding to countries that impose restrictions for arrivals from India or from an infected area in India on account of cholera are required to possess a certificate. In any case, an inoculation against cholera is recommended.

General Tips

1. Buy bottled water from respectable outlets to guard against stomach upsets. Some of the better-known brands are Bisleri, Kinley, Aqua Fina, Himalaya etc. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is intact. You may like to carry chlorine or iodine tablets with you to purify water when in doubt.

2. Watch out for spicy dishes, especially at the outset of your tour. Avoid eating food from road-side stalls. Eat unpeeled fruits and avoid fresh salads, especially in small hotels. If you are forced to eat food at some place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot. Most tourist places, however, have approved restaurant.

3. Always use an insect repellent if you find yourself in a mosquito-prone area. But remember, not every place is mosquito-infested and low temperatures in winters (when most tourists come to India) kill most bugs in the northern plains and hills.

4. If traveling in scorching heat, remember to drink enough water and use hats and sunglasses. Do not venture out in the mid-day sun.

5. Pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village and you can buy medication. In case you need to see a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your hotel (most have doctors-on-call) or your tour operator. The cost of visiting a doctor is fairly low compared to western countries.

Health Kit

In India, most modern medicines are available over the counters in drugstores, but it is wise to travel with a reserve stock. If any prescription drugs are required, bring enough for the duration of the trip. It is advisable that you carry a small health kit which should include remedy for upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, mosquito-repellant cream, suntan lotion, etc.

CLOTHING SUITABLE FOR INDIA

India has a generally hot tropical climate though with considerable regional variation: The coolest weather lasting from November to mid-March. Expect cool fresh mornings and evenings with the days being dry and sunny. The truly dry and dusty hot weather is between April and June. The monsoon with its rains lashing most regions between June and September is a tough season for travel. Climatically, India can be divided into:

Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan Region

The states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and the hills of Uttaranchal, Bengal and Sikkim form the Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan region. Through this region March to the middle of July is pleasant; end July to end September is rainy (except in the Trans Himalayan areas of Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur which are beyond the reach of the monsoon clouds) and hence is rather uncomfortable to travel. October to February is too cold as it snows time and again; in the higher reaches of the Himalayas and Trans-Himalayan region the temperature falls far below freezing point.

Suggested Clothing: Light to medium weight from March to October. Warmer clothing for the winters. Weather can change rapidly in the mountains and it is therefore important to be suitably equipped.

Northern Plains

The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar can broadly be categorized as forming the Northern Plains. These plains have rather extreme climatic conditions throughout the year. During the summer from end-April to mid-July it is time for the proverbial heat and dust. From mid-July to end September it is the rainy season and the climate is humid and hence a little uncomfortable for traveling. From October it starts to get pleasant in North India; by the end of November the climate is a little cold but very much bearable. During December and January it gets rather cold in the mornings and evenings; however, the days are sunny and pleasant.

Suggested Clothing: Lightweight cottons during summer and warmer clothes in winter.

Central India

The states of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh form Central India. This region, more or less, escapes the worst of the summer season. However, monsoons are very heavy here and cover the entire period of July to September. In winter, temperature falls during nights but days are sunny and pleasant.

Suggested Clothing: Lightweights most of the year with warmer clothes during winter evenings.

Western India

Maharashtra and Goa broadly fall in the region called Western India. The period from November to February is most comfortable. Here summers can be hot and extremely humid and monsoon months from June to September experience very heavy rainfall.

Suggested Clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens most of the year.

South India

The states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka are more or less what forms South India. The most pleasant weather here is from November to March. Monsoon rains occur here between latter part of June to the end of September. Summer temperatures are not as high as in northern India although humidity is very high.

Suggested Clothing: Lightweights all year round with a little warmer clothes for cooler evenings particularly in winter.