India Travel Information


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India is one the world's most open countries. Its visa regulations are one of the easiest in the world for non-terrorists (!) of all nationalities.

Visa Requirements

Types of Visa

Foreigner Registration Offices

Exemption from Registration

Foreign Travel Tax

Domestic Air Travel Tax

Currency Regulations

Customs Formalities

Health Regulations

Travelling within India

Sightseeing

Do's and don'ts in India

 

Visa Requirements

Foreigners desirous of visiting India can do so after obtaining a visa from the Indian Mission in the country of their residence, or in a country nearest to them. People of all nationalities are welcome to visit India for tourism, business, education, family reunions etc. Employment visas are also granted if backed by employment contracts. Visas for spouse and children of foreigners employed in India are automatically granted. Nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan are advised to apply for their visa well in advance of their intended travel because the procedure for processing their applications often takes longer than for other nationalities. All visa applicants must posses a valid passport of their country of citizenship.

Types of visa

Tourist Visa: Usually a multi-entry visa is granted for the purpose of tourism.

Transit Visa: Transit visas are granted by Indian Missions abroad for a maximum period of 15 days.

Business Visa: A foreigner can obtain one from an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Student Visa: A student visa can be obtained from an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad on the production of proof of admission and means of sustenance while in India. The visa is valid for one year but can be extended in India for the duration of the course.
 
Conference Visa: Delegates coming to attend international conferences and/or exhibitions in India can be granted Conference Visas to cover the conference as well as for tourism in India Delegates are advised to apply to the Indian Embassies well in advance.

Religious missionary visas: Religious missionaries can obtain visas for single entry and duration as permitted by the Government of India. Writers who are known to have offended religious sentiments have been refused visa in recent years. Foreign religious preachers known, or suspected, to be able to arouse religious passions that can disturb peaceful co-existence of all religions, are unlikely to be given visa.

Journalist Visa: Professional journalists and photographers are granted visa for three months' stay in India.

Employment Visa: Employment visas are initially issued for one year stay.  This can be extended by the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office in India, if the job contract continues.  Spouses and children will get coterminous visas.

FOREIGNERS' REGIONAL REGISTRATION OFFICES

Foreigner's Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) in New Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta and the Chief Immigration Officer in Madras, handle visa renewals as well as permits for Restricted Areas, via Andaman Islands, Sikkim, Assam, Ladakh, Lahaul Spiti, etc.

New Delhi: 1st Floor, Hans Bhavan, Tilak Bridge, New Delhi - 110002. Telephone: (91 11) 3319489

Calcutta: 9/1, Gariahat Road, Calcutta - 700020. Telephone: (91 33) 443301, 2470549

Chennai: 9, Village Road, Nungabakkam, Madras - 600034. Telephone: (91 44) 8270549

Mumbai: 2nd Floor, 414 V.S. Marg, Prabhadevi, Mumbai - 400001. Telephone: (91 22) 430133

Exemption from Registration

Foreigners coming to India on tourist visas for 180 days or a shorter period are not required to register themselves with any authority in India. They can move about freely in the country, except to restricted/protected areas and prohibited places.

 

FOREIGN TRAVEL TAX

Passengers embarking on journeys to any place outside India from a Customs airport / seaport will have to pay a Foreign Travel Tax (FTT) of Rs.500/- to most countries and Rs.150/- on journeys to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

In case of transit passengers, provided they do not leave the Customs barrier, Transit passengers traveling by air who have to leave the airport on account of mechanical trouble but continue their journey by the same aircraft and the same flight number by which they arrive are also exempt from FTE. Transit sea passengers leaving the ship for sightseeing, shopping, etc., during the ship's call at any of the Indian ports will not be required to pay FTT.

INLAND AIR TRAVEL TAX

An Inland Air Travel Tax is leviable at 10 per cent of the basic fare, on all passengers embarking on an inland air journey. However, those passengers paying their Airfare in foreign exchange will be exempted from payment of this tax. In addition, infants, cancer patients, blind persons and invalids (those on stretchers) are also exempted from payment of this tax after fulfilling certain conditions, stipulated in the relevant notifications.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS

There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers' checks a tourist may bring into India provided he makes a declaration in the Currency Declaration Form given to him/her on arrival. This will enable him not only to exchange the currency brought in, but also to take the unspent currency out of India on departure. Cash, bank notes and travelers' checks up to US$ 10,000 or equivalent, need not be declared at the time of entry. Any money on the form of travelers' checks, drafts, bills, checks, etc. in convertible currencies, which tourists wish to convert into Indian currency, should be exchanged only through authorized money changers and banks who will issue an encashment certificate that is required at the time of reconversion of any unspent money into foreign currency. Exchanging of foreign exchange other than through banks or authorized money changers is an offense under the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act 1973.

CUSTOMS FORMALITIES AND REGULATIONS

Visitors are generally required to make an oral baggage declaration in respect of baggage and foreign currency in their possession. They are also required to obtain the Currency Declaration Form from the Customs. They should fill in the Disembarkation Card handed to them by the airline during the course of the flight. There are two channels for Customs clearance:
Green Channel: for passengers not in possession of any dutiable articles or unaccompanied baggage.
Red Channel: For passengers with dutiable articles or unaccompanied baggage or high value articles to be entered on the Tourist Baggage Re-Export Form.

HEALTH REGULATIONS

Foreign tourists should be in possession of their Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate conforming to International Health Regulations, if they are originating or transiting through Yellow Fever endemic countries.

TRAVELLING WITHIN INDIA

Domestic airlines

Railways

Road

Domestic airlines

Indian Airlines (IC) network, spans the country's 8,000 kilometers and covers all places of importance for business and tourism. This state-owned airline also flies to a few neighbouring countries (India's principal foreign air carrier is Air India).You can choose from a host of low fare packages offered by Indian Airlines.

Other domestic airlines

Liberalisation of the aviation sector has meant that a number of private airlines have been formed and are now competing with Indian Airlines.Private airlines too which fly to several important cities in the country. Some of the private airlines are: Damania, Jet Airways, Sahara, Archana Airways and Skyline NEPC among others.

AIRPORTS

The international airports of the metro cities (Calcutta, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai) offer a range of services ensuring that the traveler on business can continue working while waiting to board an international connection, or when transferring between international flights. These include restaurants, business centers, rest rooms and handy telephone booths. Business centers are equipped with sate-of-the-art equipment including word processors and telefax. Airports also offer tourist duty free and handicrafts shopping; informal snack bars, nursery and baby care rooms, and even an art gallery. Duty free prices in the airport shops are very competitive, offering you bargains on international merchandise.
Partial list of airports in India and their contact details

Railways

India has the world's most extensive railway network, both for long distances and intra-city commuting. The speed of Indian trains however is slow by Western standards. Except for a few 'super-fast' trains which are most often dot on time, the other trains often reach their destinations a few hours late. This however does not take away from their immense usefulness as a cheap and - with reservation - comfortable train journeys. Railway travel is also an excellent introducer to the people of India as most of them travel by trains. Long-distance railway travel is a superb illustrator of the geographical and demographic diversity of India. It is also very cheap in dollar terms. If you are not in a great hurry for an appointment with the prime minister, forget air travel and go for the trains, but this requires you to make your reservation well in advance. You can do this through any good travel agency.

Most good long-distance trains have their own kitchens. Use their services. Avoid buying food from hawkers or stalls at railway stations. Insist on bottled drinking water even from the railway catering services. Or, play safe, and carry enough bottled water yourself.

Intra-city commuting is quickest by suburban trains. These trains operate at a frequency of every few minutes. But they are almost always over-crowded during peak hours. Foreigners will be in  for some delightfully rude shocks if they use suburban trains for intra-city commuting. Many foreigners therefore choose to use taxis to reach their places of business appointments while using the suburban railway for 'experience.' The only exception is the highly efficient Calcutta Metro (Underground) railway in which one can travel comfortably and quickly even during peak hours. Mass rapid transport systems have been planned for the big cities.

Road Travel

Unless it is for experience, avoid the local public bus services.Use taxis or rented cars. Avoid driving yourself. Indian roads can be dangerous if you are not accustomed to them. In addition to human beings walking as if on a suicide mission, motorists also have to encounter stray cows and dogs, some of whom might be having a snooze right in the middle of a busy road even in the capital city of Delhi.

Privately-operated bus services are far better for inter-city travel than the government services. But any bus journey of more than six hours can be trying. Go for inter-city buses only if you have to. Prefer the luxury coaches for they make life a little more pleasant.

Sightseeing

India is a delight for tourists interested in history and culture. Go for a conducted tour if your stay in a city is short. Most hotels, big and small, have arrangements with local tour operators. Use such arrangements. Carry enough bottled drinking water with you at the start your tour.

Avoid conducted tours if your stay within a city is long. Get a car with a driver from a rental firm and let him take you around at your pace. You can also strike a deal with a taxi driver for a day-long tour of the place you are in, but ask your hotel to get you a taxi driver they know and trust.

Invite your driver to join you for the meals you have in the course of the tour. Tip him at the end of the tour.

Tourist Offices


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