India - Consular Information Sheet
June 14, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: India is an economically developing
democratic republic. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort
and amenities are widely available in the major population centers
and main tourist areas.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required
for entry into and exit from India for tourism or business. All
visitors, including those on official U.S. Government business,
must obtain visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad prior
to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon
arrival. Those arriving in India without visas bearing the correct
validity dates and number of entries are subject to immediate
deportation. The U.S Embassy and consulates in India are unable
to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas.
When a U.S. citizen is issued a replacement passport in India
after a passport has been lost or stolen, he/she must take the
replacement passport to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office
(FRRO) to receive an exit visa. This exit visa allows the traveler
a specified period of time (usually a few days) in which to leave
the country legally. Depending on the circumstances and the duration
of the stay requested, various fees may be charged. There is a
500 rupee departure tax for all travelers.
For further entry/exit information, contact the Embassy of India
at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone
(202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian consulates in Chicago,
New York, San Francisco, and Houston. The Internet address of
the Embassy of India is http://www.indianembassy.org.
Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of India.
Terrorism: In July 1995, several Western tourists, including
two Americans, were kidnapped by terrorists in Kashmir. One hostage
was brutally murdered and one, an American, escaped. The remaining
hostages, including one American, have not been released and their
whereabouts are unknown. In 1996-1997 New Delhi was the site of
numerous terrorist bombing attacks, although recently bombings
in New Delhi and elsewhere have dropped to only a few a year.
Such bomb blasts have occurred in public places, as well as on
public transportation (common carriers), such as trains and buses.
While no U.S. citizens were among the victims, other foreign visitors
were reported injured. There is no pattern that has emerged in
these attacks, nor is there any indication that they are directed
against foreigners in general or Americans in particular. Nevertheless,
U.S. citizens should be alert to suspicious packages in public
places, and avoid crowds, political demonstrations, and other
manifestations of civil unrest.
Civil Disturbances: Major civil disturbances pose risks
to a traveler’s personal safety and can disrupt transportation
systems and city services. In response to such violence, Indian
authorities may occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel.
Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential
for violence, especially during periods immediately preceding
and following elections. In addition, the potential exists for
religious and inter-caste violence. While such violence has not
usually specifically targeted foreigners, mobs have attacked Christian
workers, including foreigners. Missionary activity has aroused
strong reactions in some areas, and an Australian missionary and
his two sons were murdered by a mob in the eastern state of Orissa
in January 1999. Nevertheless, the principal risk for foreigners
appears to be that of becoming inadvertent victims. U.S. citizens
should 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.
Areas of Instability: Kashmir - The Department of State
strongly urges private U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the
Kashmir Valley and Doda District of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
American and other Western tourists were taken hostage (and at
least one murdered) in Kashmir by terrorists in 1995. In 1999
the terrorist organization Harakat-Ul-Mujahideen issued a ban
on Americans, including tourists, visiting Kashmir. Within the
state, the Leh District of the Ladakh region has been largely
unaffected by terrorist violence. Srinagar, the Kashmir valley,
and the Doda District of Jammu remain very dangerous places, where
terrorist activities and violent civil disturbances continue.
An American tourist was fatally shot in Srinagar in 1994; in October
1999 a French tourist was shot and wounded in Srinagar; and in
May 2000 a Czech tourist also was shot and wounded. Srinagar also
has been the site of a number of car bombings, market bombings,
and landmine deaths to date in 2000. In May 2000 a Minister for
the state of Jammu and Kashmir was killed in a landmine explosion
south of Srinagar. Also in May 2000, rocket propelled grenades
were fired at a government building in Srinagar, killing a government
employee and wounding others. U.S. government employees are prohibited
from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission
from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
Areas of Instability: Northeast States - Sporadic incidents
of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing
of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam, Manipur,
Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not
been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel
outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and
the central government has deployed security personnel to several
northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate
in Calcutta for information on current conditions. (Please see
Areas of Instability: India-Pakistan border - Tensions
run high between India and Pakistan, particularly over Kashmir.
The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between
Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required
for entry to Pakistan.
Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram Mountain
range that includes the Siachen Glacier. The two countries have
military outposts in the region, and armed clashes have occurred.
Because of this situation, U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing
peaks anywhere in the disputed areas face significant risk of
injury and death. 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.
Restricted Areas: Permission from the Indian government
(from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from
the Ministry of Home Affairs) is required to visit the states
of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts
of Kulu District and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, border
areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttar Pradesh, the area
west of National Highway no. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar
in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory
of the Laccadive Islands.
CRIME INFORMATION: Petty crime, especially theft of personal
property, is common. While violent crime is uncommon, some Westerners,
including Americans, have been the subject of robberies and violent
attacks that resulted in serious injuries, and in one recent case,
death. The common thread for more serious attacks on travelers
has been that the individuals were on their own. Travelers are
strongly advised not to travel alone in India.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported
immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State’s pamphlets
A Safe Trip Abroad and
for Travelers to South Asia for ways to promote a more trouble-free
journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.
C. 20420; via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or from the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care is available
in the major population centers, but it is limited in the rural
areas of the country.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation
and adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization
and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of
thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment will be made to
the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed
later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include
coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains
in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Internet home page or by autofax
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention’s international traveler’s
hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX(1-888-232-3299),
or via CDC’s Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
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 traffic safety and road conditions in India is
provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate
in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Traffic moves on the left in India. Travel by road is dangerous.
Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained
and always congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes,
with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. Heavy traffic,
including overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians,
and livestock, is the norm. Travel at night is particularly hazardous.
In March 1996, a tour bus crashed at night near the city of Agra,
claiming the lives of five Americans. A number of other Americans
have suffered fatal accidents in recent times.
For specific information concerning Indian driver’s permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
the Indian National Tourist Organization Offices via the Internet
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of India’s Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of India’s air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873 or visit the
FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at 1-618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS CONSIDERATIONS: Indian customs authorities enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic
equipment, currency, ivory and other prohibited materials, and
gold and gold objects. It is advisable to contact the Embassy
of India in Washington or one of India’s consulates in the U.S.
for specific information on customs requirements.
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 those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons
violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in India are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry
a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that
if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship
are readily available. Under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention
on Consular Relations, Indian Authorities are required to notify
the U.S. Embassy without delay of the arrest or detention of a
U.S. citizen. Significant delays in notification have occurred
in India, however. U.S. citizens should be prepared to insist
on consular access if the Embassy is not notified of their arrest/detention
in a timely manner.
U.S. GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST INDIA: Following
the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in May 1998, sanctions
were imposed on India and Pakistan under the Glenn Amendment to
the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA). For additional information,
consult the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration
(BXA), home page on the Internet at http://www.bxa.doc.gov/entities/.
CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information on international adoption
of children and international parental child abduction, refer
to the Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting India are encouraged to register at the
U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or at one of the U.S. consulates in
India. They may also obtain updated information on travel and
security in India and request a copy of the booklet "Guidelines
for American Travelers in India."