TRAVEL TO INDIA
Important Tips and Information
DESCRIPTION: India, the world's largest democracy, has a very
diverse population, geography and climate. India is the world's second
most populous country, and the world's seventh largest country in
area. Tourist facilities have varying degrees of comfort, and amenities
are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist
areas. Read the Department of State Background Notes on India
for additional information.
visit India, one needs Visa from Consulate of India. They will ask
for two recent 2 x 2 passport type photographs, in color, front view
and with a plain/light background. To order
India Visa photos, click here. The Visa application will need
to be sent to Travisa irrespective of which Consulate of India you
are dealing with.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS
Americans living or traveling in India are encouraged to register
with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel
registration web and to obtain updated information on travel and
security in India. Americans without Internet access may register
in person with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering,
American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact
them in case of emergency.
Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri
110021; telephone +91-11-2419-8000; fax +91-11-2419-8407. (Note that
the "+" sign indicates your international access code, which in the
United States is 011-, but which is 00- in most other countries.)
Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House,
78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone +91-22-2363-3611; fax +91-22-2368-5483.
Consulate General in Kolkata (Calcutta) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh
Sarani, 700071; telephone +91-33-3984-2400; fax +91-33-2282-2335.
Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at 220 Anna Salai, Gemini
Circle, 600006; telephone +91-44-2857-4000; fax +91-44-2857-4443.
Consulate General in Hyderabad is at Paigah Palace, 1-8-323 Chiran
Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, 500003; telephone
+91-40-4033-8300; fax +91-40-4033-8301.
/ EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens require a valid passport
and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose. Visitors,
including those on official U.S. Government business, must obtain
visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the
country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival for U.S.
citizens. Those arriving without a valid passport and valid visa are
subject to immediate deportation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates
in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without proper
documentation. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the bio-data
page of the traveler's U.S. passport and the page containing the Indian
visa in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian
government in the event of theft or loss of the passport. Replacing
a lost visa, in order to exit the country, takes up to three business
to visit India are responsible for requesting the correct type of
visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate, as there generally are
no provisions for changing one's immigration category (e.g., from
tourist to work visa) once admitted. Tourists are generally given
6 months of legal stay upon entering India; the Government of India
rarely grants extensions within the country. As of October 1,
2007, the Indian Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. outsourced the
visa application process to Travisa Visa Outsourcing.
Diplomatic and Official visa applications, however, are still accepted
directly at the Indian Embassy and Consulates. Visitors whose primary
purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should
obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa. Indian immigration
authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with
a tourist visa and conducted religious activities. Americans who will
be paid for work done while in India need employment category visas;
individuals visiting India regularly on business trips including attendance
at conferences should apply for a business category visa. Citizens
intending to stay for an extended period of time with family, or with
an unpaid NGO or volunteer activity, should apply for an entry (X)
visa. Conference visas are only for designated Government of
India sponsored events; all other conference attendees should get
business visas. It is always best to check the Indian government
website for the most up to date visa information. All U.S. government
employees, including military personnel, are required to get country
clearance for travel to India.
American travelers to India who work
in "designated institutes and technology areas" will be subject to
a two week waiting period in the visa application process and will
be required to submit supplemental information with their visa application.
Scholars planning to conduct research in India often need research
clearances in addition to their visas. Specific information is available
at the Indian Embassy and Consulates.
who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries,
as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required
to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional
Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying.
The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (known as
the "Chennai Immigration Office"), Kolkata and Amritsar. In other
cities and small towns, the local police headquarters will normally
perform this function. General information regarding Indian visa and
immigration rules, including the addresses and telephone numbers for
the FRRO offices, can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website
for its Bureau of Immigration. People traveling to India on a
tourist visa will not be allowed reentry to India within two months
unless they request specific permission from Indian Government officials
in their home country. Citizens are advised to carefully review
the latest regulations, which are included under the section titled
"Instructions (Foreigners),"and to be aware that implementation at
ports of entry may be inconsistent.
If a foreign citizen (e.g., an American)
overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa
regulations, the traveler may require a clearance from the Ministry
of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Such travelers generally
must pay a fine, and in some cases, may be jailed until their deportation
can be arranged. Visa violators seeking an exit clearance can visit
the following office any weekday from 10 a.m. - 12 noon: Ministry
of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh
Road, New Delhi 110 011 (tel. +91-11-2338-5748).
For the most
current information on entry and exit requirements, please contact
the Embassy of India at
2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202)
939-9806 or the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Houston. Outside the United States, inquiries
should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.
about dual nationality
and the prevention of international
child abduction can be found on our web site. (Additional information
on dual nationality
in India appears below under "Special Circumstances.") For further
information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information
There are no
disclosure requirements or restrictions for HIV/AIDS patients who
enter India on a tourist visa. Disclosure regarding HIV/AIDS
is required of anyone seeking a resident permit in India. Foreign
residents found to be suffering from HIV/AIDS will be deported. Please
verify this information with the Embassy of India before you travel.
AND SECURITY: Coordinated attacks in Mumbai in late November
2008 targeting areas frequented by Westerners highlighted the risk
of Americans becoming intended or unintended victims of terrorism
in India. There is a continuing threat from terrorism throughout
India. The U.S. Government continues to receive information
that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India.
Attacks have targeted public places frequented
by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations,
markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.
Attacks have taken place during the busy evening hours in markets
and other crowded places, but could occur at any time. Some
examples of recent terror attacks include the following:
- February 2010: An explosive
device detonated at a café in Pune, Maharashtra, near an ashram
and schools frequented by international travelers killing ten, including
two foreign nationals, and injuring 50, some seriously.
- November 2008: Coordinated terrorist
attacks on luxury hotels, Jewish community center, restaurant, train
station, hospital and other facilities frequented by foreigners
in Mumbai killed over 170, including six Americans;
- October 2008, December 2008: Multiple
bombings in markets and government offices in Guwahati, Assam;
- September 2008: Five deadly explosions
in New Delhi markets
- July 2008:
Thirty bombs detonated in Bangalore, Karnataka and Ahmedabad, Gujarat,
as well as multiple un-detonated bombs found in Surat, Gujarat;
- May 2008: A coordinated series of
bombings in market and temple areas of Jaipur, Rajasthan;
Violent incidents related to local insurgencies,
including those in which American citizens were injured, also occur
in remote parts of India. In August 2006, two U.S. citizens
were seriously injured in a grenade attack on an ISKON temple in Imphal,
Manipur. Anti-Western terrorist groups, some on the U.S. Government's
list of foreign terrorist organizations, are active in India, including
Islamist extremist groups such as Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Jaish-e-Mohammed,
Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami. Specific areas
of concern are addressed below under "Areas of Instability."
U.S. citizens are urged to always practice
good security, which includes maintaining a heightened situational
awareness and a low profile. Americans are advised to monitor
local news reports, vary their routes and times in carrying out daily
activities, and consider the level of security present when visiting
public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants,
entertainment and recreation venues.
Beyond the threat from terrorism and
insurgencies, demonstrations often cause inconvenience. Large religious
ceremonies that attract hundreds of thousands of people can result
in dangerous and often life-threatening stampedes. Local demonstrations
can begin spontaneously and escalate with little warning, disrupting
transportation systems and city services and posing risks to travelers.
In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose
curfews and/or restrict travel. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations
and rallies as they have the potential for violence, especially immediately
preceding and following elections and religious festivals (particularly
when Hindu and Muslim festivals coincide). Tensions between castes
and religious groups can also result in disruptions and violence.
In some cases, demonstrators specifically block roads near popular
tourist sites and disrupt train operations in order to gain the attention
of Indian authorities; occasionally vehicles transporting tourists
are attacked in these incidents. India generally goes on "High Alert"
status prior to major holidays. U.S. citizens should monitor
local television and print media and contact the U.S. Embassy or the
nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation
in areas where they wish to travel.
Religious violence occasionally occurs
in India, especially when tensions between different religious communities
are purposefully exacerbated by groups pushing religiously chauvinistic
agendas. Violence against Indian Christians in a remote part
of Orissa in 2008 resulted in the displacement of thousands of villagers
and the deaths of 40 people. There are active "anti-conversion"
laws in some Indian states, and acts of conversion sometimes elicit
violent reactions from Hindu extremists. Foreigners suspected
of proselytizing Hindus have been attacked and killed in conservative,
rural areas in India in the past.
in India: Visitors should exercise caution when swimming in open
waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon
season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai, Puri (Orissa),
and other areas drown due to the strong undertow. It is important
for visitors to heed warnings posted or advised at beaches and avoid
swimming in the ocean during the monsoon season. Trained lifeguards
are very rare along beaches.
in India: Tourists should limit trekking expeditions to routes
identified for this purpose by local authorities. They should
solicit assistance only from registered trekking agencies, porters
and guides; suspend trekking after dark; camp at designated camping
places; and ideally travel in groups of eight to ten people rather
than individually or with one or two companions.
OF INSTABILITY: Jammu & Kashmir: The Department of State
strongly recommends that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Jammu &
Kashmir (with the exception of visits to the eastern Ladakh region
and its capital, Leh) because of the potential for terrorist incidents
as well as violent public unrest. A number of terrorist groups operate
in the state, targeting security forces that are present throughout
the region, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating
Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and those stationed in the
primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley: Srinagar,
Gulmarg, and Pahalgam.
Since 1989, as many as 60,000 people
(terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the
Kashmir conflict. Many terrorist incidents take place in the state's
summer capital of Srinagar, but the majority of attacks occur in rural
areas. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and definitely
at risk. In the summer of 2008, serious communal violence left the
state mostly paralyzed, due to massive strikes and business shut downs;
several American citizens had to be evacuated. In addition, there
have been attacks specifically targeted at civilians. For example:
in October 2007 five soldiers and two civilians were killed in an
IED blast carried out by militants in the Baramulla district of Kashmir;
in August 2007 terrorists lobbed a grenade at the venue of an Independence
Day function in the Bandipora district; in July 2007 a blast on an
out-of-state tourist bus killed six and injured 20 civilians in the
capital, Srinagar. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists
from visiting certain areas along the LOC (see the section on Restricted
Areas, below). U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling
to the state of Jammu & Kashmir (except for Ladakh) without permission,
which is only granted in exceptional circumstances, from the U.S.
Embassy in New Delhi. When traveling to Kashmir, U.S. official travelers
attempt to lower their profiles, limit their lengths of stay, and
exercise extreme caution.
Border: The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens avoid
travel to areas within ten kilometers of the border between India
and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence
on both sides of the border. The only official India-Pakistan border
crossing point for persons who are not citizens of India or Pakistan
is in the state of Punjab between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan.
The border crossing is usually open, but travelers are advised to
confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing
travel. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. An American
citizen seeking a Pakistani visa while in India must first come to
the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to sign an affidavit of intent to apply
for the Pakistani visa. This is a requirement of the Pakistani government.
Both India and Pakistan claim an area
of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier.
U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks in the disputed areas
face significant risks. The disputed area includes the following peaks:
Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri
Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col; and Sia Kangri. Travelers
may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current
conditions. (Please see the section on "Registration/Embassy and Consulate
States: Incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including
bombings of buses, trains, rail lines, and markets occur with a degree
of frequency in parts of Assam and Manipur. While U.S. citizens have
not been specifically targeted, they may be affected as bystanders.
Visitors to Assam and Manipur are cautioned to avoid trains, crowds,
and travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force,
and the central government has deployed security personnel. U.S. Government
employees are prohibited from traveling to the states of Assam and
Manipur without permission from the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata.
When traveling to these areas, U.S. official travelers attempt to
lower their profiles, limit their lengths of stay, and exercise extreme
Restricted Area Permits are required
for foreigners to visit certain Northeastern states (see the section
on Restricted Areas, below.) Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate
in Kolkata for information on current conditions. (Please see the
section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations, below
and Southern India: Maoist extremist groups, or "Naxalites,"
are active in East Central and Southern India, primarily in rural
areas. Naxalites have a long history of conflict with
state and national authorities, including frequent attacks on local
police, paramilitary forces, and government officials and are responsible
for more terrorist attacks in the country than any other organizations. Their
campaign of violence and intimidation is currently on-going.
Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens but have attacked
symbolic targets that have included Western companies. While
Naxalite violence does not normally occur in places frequented by
foreigners, there is a risk that visitors could become unintended
victims due to the random nature of the indiscriminate targeting by
such violent extremists.
Naxalites are active in a large swath
of India from eastern Maharashtra and northern Andhra Pradhesh through
western West Bengal. They are particularly active in rural parts
of the Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and in border regions
of the adjacent states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh,
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Due to the fluid
nature of the threat, the U.S. Mission requires all U.S. Government
travelers to states with Naxalite activity to receive prior authorization
from the Regional Security Officer responsible for the area to be
visited. U.S. officials only traveling to the capital cities
in these states do not need prior authorization from the Regional
In December 2009 and January 2010, sporadic
civil unrest erupted in the south-central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
over the contentious issue of creating a separate state called Telangana
within Andhra Pradesh. Until the issue is resolved definitively,
there may continue to be tension, especially in the Telangana Region
of Andhra Pradesh, which includes the districts of Rangareddi, Warangal,
Medak, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam, Nalgonda, and Mahbubnagar.
American citizens should avoid political rallies, demonstrations,
and large crowds of any kind. The campus of Osmania University
in Hyderabad has been the site of recurring civil disturbances regarding
the Telangana statehood issue. U.S. citizens resident or traveling
in Andhra Pradesh are reminded to monitor the situation via media
sources, including TV and radio and via the Internet.
Areas: Certain parts of India are designated as "restricted
areas" by the Indian Government, and require special advance permission
to visit. These areas include:
- The state of Mizoram,
- The state of Manipur,
- The state of Arunachal Pradesh,
- The state of Nagaland,
- The state of Sikkim,
- Portions of the state of Himachal
Pradesh near the Chinese border,
- Portions of the state of Uttarakhand
(Uttaranchal) near the Chinese border,
- Portions of the state of Rajasthan
near the Pakistani border,
- Portions of the state of Jammu &
Kashmir near the Line of Control with Pakistan,
- The Andaman & Nicobar Islands,
- The Union Territory of the Laccadives
Islands (Lakshadweep), and
- The Tibetan colony in Mundgod, Karnataka.
"Restricted Area Permits" can be obtained
outside of India at Indian embassies and consulates abroad, or within
India, from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) at
Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi. The states of Mizoram,
Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim all maintain official
guesthouses in New Delhi, each of which also can issue Restricted
Area Permits for their respective states for certain travelers. Tourists
also should exercise caution while visiting Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)
in Tamil Nadu as the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Center, Kalpakkam,
is located just south of the site and is not clearly marked as a restricted
and dangerous area.
For the latest
security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly
monitor travel information included on the websites of the U.S. Embassy
in New Delhi as well as the Consulates General in Mumbai (Bombay),
Chennai (Madras), Hyderabad and Kolkata (Calcutta) (see contact information
below). Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department
of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs'
web site, where the current Travel Warnings
and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution,
can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and
security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free
in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United
States and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers
are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their
own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information
about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves
in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's information
on traveling safely
CRIME: Petty crime, especially theft of personal
property, is common, particularly on trains or buses. Pickpockets
can be very adept, and women have reported having their bags snatched,
purse-straps cut or the bottom of their purses slit without their
knowledge. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common, particularly in
major tourist areas, on overnight trains, and at airports and train
stations. Train travelers are urged to lock their sleeping compartments
and take valuables with them when leaving their berths. Air travelers
are advised to carefully watch their bags in the arrival and departure
areas outside of airports. Violent crime, especially directed against
foreigners, has traditionally been uncommon, although in recent years
there has been a modest increase. As U.S. citizens' purchasing power
is comparatively large, travelers also should exercise modesty and
caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance
of being a target for robbery or other crime. Gangs and criminal elements
operate in major cities and have sometimes targeted unsuspecting businessmen
and their family members for kidnapping.
U.S. citizens, particularly women, are
cautioned not to travel alone in India. Western women continue
to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by groups of
men. Known in India as "Eve-teasing," these incidents can be
quite frightening. While India is generally safe for foreign visitors,
according to the latest figures by Indian authorities, rape is the
fastest growing crime in India. Among large cities, Delhi experienced
the highest number of crimes against women. Although most victims
have been local residents, recent sexual attacks against female visitors
in tourist areas underline the fact that foreign women are also at
risk and should exercise vigilance.
Women should observe stringent security
precautions, including avoiding using public transport after dark
without the company of known and trustworthy companions; restricting
evening entertainment to well known venues; and avoiding walking in
isolated areas alone at any time of day. Female travelers are advised
to respect local dress and customs. Women should also ensure
their hotel room numbers remain confidential and insist the doors
of their hotel rooms have chains, deadlocks, and spy-holes. In addition,
it is advisable for women to hire reliable cars and drivers and avoid
traveling alone in hired taxis, especially during the hours of darkness.
It is preferable to obtain taxis from hotels and
SCAMS: Major airports,
train stations, popular restaurants and tourist sites are often used
by scam artists looking to prey on visitors, often by creating a distraction.
Taxi drivers and others, including train porters, may solicit travelers
with "come-on" offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Travelers
accepting such offers have frequently found themselves the victims
of scams, including offers to assist with "necessary" transfers to
the domestic airport, disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted
"tours," unwelcome "purchases," and even threats to the traveler when
the tourists try to decline to pay. There have been several disturbing
reports of tourists being lured to and then held hostage on houseboats
in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, and forced to pay thousands of dollars
in the face of threats of violence against the traveler and his/her
Travelers should exercise care when hiring transportation and/or
guides and use only well-known travel agents to book trips. Some scam
artists have lured travelers by displaying their name on a sign when
they leave the airport. Another popular scam is to drop money or to
squirt something on the clothing of an unsuspecting traveler and during
the distraction to rob them of their valuables. Individual tourists
have also been given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more
vulnerable to theft, particularly at train stations. Even food or
drink purchased in front of the traveler from a canteen or vendor
could be tainted. To protect against robbery of personal belongings,
it is best not to accept food or drink from strangers.
Some vendors sell carpets, jewelry, gemstones or other expensive
items that may not be of the quality promised. Travelers should deal
only with reputable businesses and should not hand over credit cards
or money unless they are certain that goods being shipped to them
are the goods they purchased. If a deal sounds too good to be true,
it is best avoided. Most Indian states have official tourism bureaus
set up to handle travelers' complaints.
Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been
perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa, Jaipur,
and Agra. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve
suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems
or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery
abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties.
The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of
the goods, and require the traveler to pay a "deposit" as part of
FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you are the victim of a crime while
overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact
the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate
staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care,
contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely
the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help
you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an
attorney if needed. Victims of a crime in India should obtain a copy
of the police report (called an "FIR" or "First Information Report")
from local police at the time of reporting the incident. A copy of
this report is helpful for insurance purposes in replacing lost valuables.
Local authorities generally are unable to take any meaningful action
without the filing of a police report.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
An FIR is required by the Indian Government in order to obtain an
exit visa to leave India in the event of a lost or stolen passport.
Although the Embassy or Consulate is able to replace a stolen or lost
passport the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Foreigners Regional
Registration Office (FRRO) are responsible for approving an exit visa.
This process generally takes two to three business days.
The local equivalent to the "911" emergency
line in India is "100." An additional emergency number, "112," can
be accessed from mobile phones.
See our information on Victims
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign
country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations,
which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual under
U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in
the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Indian laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. For example,
certain comments or gestures towards women, Indian national symbols,
or religion that are legal in the United States may be considered
a criminal violation in India, subjecting the accused to possible
fines or imprisonment. Furthermore, since the police may arrest anyone
who is accused of committing a crime (even if the allegation is frivolous
in nature), the Indian criminal justice system is often used to escalate
personal disagreements into criminal charges. This practice has been
increasingly exploited by dissatisfied business partners, contractors,
estranged spouses, or other persons with whom the U.S. citizen has
a disagreement, occasionally resulting in the jailing of U.S. citizens
pending resolution of their disputes. At the very least, such circumstances
can delay the U.S. citizen's timely departure from India, and may
result in an unintended long-term stay in the country. Corruption
in India, especially at local levels, is a concern, as evidenced by
Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index of 2008,
ranking India in 85th place among the world's 180 countries. Penalties
for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in India are
severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and
heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or
disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable
in the United States.
American citizens arrested in India have a right to notify, or have
officials notify, the nearest Embassy or Consulate upon arrest.
Though the Embassy and Consulates may not intervene in legal matters
they can provide information on lawyers, the local justice system,
can visit the incarcerated person on a regular basis, and can serve
as a liaison with parties approved by the incarcerated individual.
Dual Nationality: In 2006, India
launched the "Overseas Citizens of India" (OCI) program, which has
often been mischaracterized as a dual nationality program, as it does
not grant Indian citizenship. Thus, an American who obtains an OCI
card is not a citizen of India and remains a citizen of the United
States. An OCI card in reality is similar to a U.S. "green card" in
that a holder can travel to and from India indefinitely, work in India,
study in India, and own property in India (except for certain agricultural
and plantation properties). An OCI holder, however, does not receive
an Indian passport, cannot vote in Indian elections and is not eligible
for Indian government employment. The OCI program is similar to the
Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card introduced by the Indian government
several years ago, except that PIO holders must still register with
Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an
indefinite period. American citizens of Indian descent can apply for
PIO or OCI cards at the Indian Embassy in Washington, or at the Indian
Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Houston. Inside
India, American citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office (please
see "Entry/Exit Requirements" section above for more information on
Religious Activities: Foreign
visitors planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required
by Indian law to have a "missionary" visa. Immigration authorities
have determined that certain activities, including speaking at religious
meetings to which the general public is invited, may violate immigration
law if the traveler does not hold a missionary visa. Foreigners
with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to
deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Orissa,
Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have active
"anticonversion" legislation regulating conversion from one religious
faith to another. Arunachal Pradesh currently has an inactive
"anticonversion" law awaiting accompanying regulations needed for
enforcement. U.S. citizens intending to engage in missionary activity
may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether the activities
they intend to pursue are permitted under Indian law.
Customs Restrictions: Indian customs
authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation
into or export from India of items such as firearms, ammunition, antiquities,
electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited
materials. Even transit passengers require permission from the Government
of India to bring in such items. Those not complying risk arrest and/or
fine and confiscation of these items. If charged with any alleged
legal violations by Indian law enforcement, it is recommended that
an attorney review any document prior to signing. The Government of
India requires the registration of antique items with the local police
along with a photograph of the item. It is advisable to contact the
Embassy of India in Washington or one of India's consulates in the
United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
More information is available from the Indian
Central Board of Excise and Customs. Another useful site is the
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Office of the Joint Commissioner of Customs. In many countries around the
world, including India, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.
Transactions involving such products may be illegal under Indian law.
In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in
forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem
is available in a report prepared by the Office of the United States
Trade Representative called the Special
301 Report. This report is updated each year.
Indian customs authorities encourage the
use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for
the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples,
and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters,
located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212
Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees
the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call
(212) 354-4480, or emai USCIB for details. Please see
Natural Disaster Threats: Parts
of northern India are highly susceptible to earthquakes. Regions
of highest risk, ranked 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, include areas around
Srinagar, Himachal Pradesh, Rishikesh and Dehra Dun, the northern
parts of Punjab, northwest Gujarat, northern Bihar, and the entire
northeast. Ranked 4 (high damage risk) is an area that sweeps
along the north through Jammu and Kashmir, Eastern Punjab, Haryana,
Northern Uttar Pradesh, central Bihar and the northern parts of West
Bengal. New Delhi is located in zone 4. Severe flooding is common
in Bihar, Assam and Orissa.
FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
The quality of medical care in India varies
considerably. Medical care is available in the major population centers
that approaches and occasionally meets Western standards, but adequate
medical care is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas.
Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Saharan
Africa or other yellow-fever areas to have evidence of vaccination
against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject
to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever
quarantine center. U.S. citizens, who transit through any part of
sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, are advised to carry proof of
yellow fever immunization.
Information on vaccinations and other health
precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite
protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases
abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site.
These websites provide useful information, such as suggested vaccinations
for visitors to India, safe food and water precautions, appropriate
measures to avoid contraction of mosquito-borne diseases (such as
malaria and Japanese B encephalitis), suggestions to avoid altitude
sickness, etc. Further, these sites provide information on disease
outbreaks that may arise from time to time - outbreaks of mosquito-borne
viral diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya occur in various
parts of India each year, so travelers should check the sites shortly
before traveling to India. Further
health information for travelers is available from the WHO.
Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (H5N1 virus)
occur intermittently in eastern India, including West Bengal, Manipur,
Sikkim and Assam. There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza
infections in human beings. Updates
on the avian influenza situation in India are published on the
Embassy's web site. For further information on avian influenza (bird
flu), please refer to the Department of State's Avian Influenza
H1N1, also known as the swine flu, has been reported in India in
travelers coming from or transiting through the U.S. Individuals
traveling with flu like symptoms should strongly consider delaying
their travel until their symptoms have resolved for the protection
of other passengers and the risk of being quarantined in a communicable
public hospital on arrival in India. H1N1 vaccine is not available
in India; seasonal influenza vaccine is available. H1N1 influenza
is currently found and has spread locally throughout India.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious
health concern in India. For further information, please consult the
CDC's Travel Notice on
Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry.
Companies offering vacation packages bundled with medical consultations
and financing options provide direct-to-consumer advertising over
the internet. Such medical packages often claim to provide high quality
care, but the quality of health care in India is highly variable.
People seeking health care in India should understand that medical
systems operate differently from those in the United States and are
not subject to the same rules and regulations. Anyone interested in
traveling for medical purposes should consult with their local physician
before traveling and refer to
the information from CDC.
The Supreme Court recently sanctioned commercial
surrogacy in India and is currently debating an Assisted Reproductive
Technology (ART) Bill that will establish national guidelines for
institutions and clients. India is also formulating a
policy to investigate all foreign surrogacy cases at the time of departure,
a process that could last up to one month after the birth of the child.
Anyone considering traveling to India for ART procedures should contact
the Embassy or one of the Consulates for updated U.S. Government requirements.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India maintain lists of local
doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective
websites under "U.S. Citizen Services." Please see "Embassy and Consulate
Locations" section below.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State
strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company
prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies
overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. Insurers rarely make payment directly to overseas healthcare
providers. For heath care received in India, you will most likely
need to pay up front and be reimbursed later for expenses you incur
during treatment. Please see our information on medical insurance
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions
that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning India is provided for general reference only, and
may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Travel by road in India is dangerous. A number of U.S. citizens have
suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. Travel at night
is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions
of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of
any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without
consideration for the rules of the road. Accidents are quite common.
Trains are safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more
frequently than in developed countries.
In order to drive in India, one must have either a valid Indian driver's
license or a valid international driver's license. Because of difficult
road and traffic conditions, many Americans who visit India choose
to hire a local driver.
On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to always assume that
other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same
way you would in the United States. On Indian roads, might makes right,
and buses and trucks epitomize this fact. For instance, buses and
trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield
points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians
behave only slightly more cautiously. Frequent use of one's horn or
flashing of headlights to announce one's presence is both customary
Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are often poorly
maintained and congested. Even main roads frequently have only two
lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the
few divided highways one can expect to meet local transportation traveling
in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is the
norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses,
scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant
riders en route to weddings, bicycles, and free-roaming livestock.
Traffic in India moves on the left. It is important to be alert while
crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark as traffic
is coming in the "wrong" direction (i.e., from the left). Travelers
should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where
available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.
If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow,
the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby.
Such attacks pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's
occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It can thus
be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and
drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.
Protestors often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their
grievances, causing severe inconvenience to travelers. Visitors should
monitor local news reports for any reports of road disturbances.
Please refer to our Road Safety
page for more information.
Emergency Numbers: The following emergency numbers work in New
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata:
- Police 100
- Fire Brigade 101
- Ambulance 102
For updated information, please visit travel.state.gov