India is known for its rich cultural heritage & tradition. Visiting India can be an exciting and memorable experience for those planning to explore it.
With a little bit of pre-planning, tourists visiting India can have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
1. Passport Requirement
A valid passport is required to enter India by all visitors except those from Bhutan and Nepal, who may carry only suitable means of identification.
2. Visa Requirement
Foreigners intending to visit India need to obtain a visa from the Indian Mission of their country.
Tourist Visa : Usually, a multi -entry visa is valid for a period of 180 days, is granted for the purpose of tourism .
Collective Visas : The facility also exists for the issue to group tours consisting visas of not less than four members and sponsored by a travel agency recognized by the Government of India.
Other Types of Visas : If a foreigner wishes to come to India for a purpose other than tourism, he should come after obtaining an appropriate visa out of the following:
Business Visa : A foreigner can obtain one from an Indian Embassy abroad.
Student Visa : A student visa can be obtained from the Indian Embassy 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 in India can avail for this visa.
Employment Visa : Foreigners desirous of coming to India for taking up employment should apply for a Employment Visa.
Visas are available for the following durations :
• Transit visa
• 03 month visa
• 06 month visa
• 01 year visa
• 05 year visa
- Each passport should be accompanied by the completed application form and three passport photographs.
- There should be at least three clear pages on the passport before the visa is issued.
- When applying for the visa at the Indian Embassy/High Commission, payment should be made in cash or postal order (cheques are normally not accepted) and a stamped self addressed envelope should be included.
- Certain parts of India (mainly in the North East) are “restricted areas” and require special permits.
- Personal applications may be made to the Indian Embassy/High Commission.
For further detail on these get in touch with the nearest Indian consulate.
3. Customs /Baggage
Visitors are usually asked if they have anything to declare on arrival. You should not bring in more than US$10,000 in cash without declaring it. Likewise, video, camera, cell phones and laptop etc. equipment and other expensive, easily sold items should be declared on arrival. If the customs officers issue you a Tourist Baggage Re-export Form (TBRE) detailing the items declared and their value, these items must be shown when leaving the country. If currency was declared and noted when entering the country, exchange receipts must be shown on departure if you take less than declared amount out.
You may bring the following items into India without incurring customs duties:
- 1 pint of alcohol
- 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco
- 250ml of eau de toilette
These allowances do not apply to persons under the age of 18 years.
Be prepared to pay foreign travel tax on departure. This tax must be paid at a special desk at the airport before checking in your luggage. Foreign currency is accepted as payment.
4. Duty Free Customs Allowance
Government of India offers various benefits to bonafide travelers and tourists, and their personal items can be imported duty free as part of baggage. The list of these items includes:
* Personal jewelery
* One Camera, Binaculars
* One Laptop/notebook computer
* One electronic diary
* One portable typewriter
* One portable CTV (Color Television)
* One music system including compact disc player
* One perambulator
* One tent and other camping equipment
* One portable receiving set (Transistor Radio)
* Sports equipment, such as fishing outfit, tennis racket, one gulf set (14 pieces)
To avoid misuse of the above allowance, passengers are advised not to bring these items in its original package. The above information has been taken from baggage rules as notified by the Government of India- dated 28th October 1999.
5. Export from India
Visitors can export only INR 2000 worth of gold and up to INR 10,000 worth of manufactured jewellery or precious stones from India without any permit. Any object over 100 years old needs an export certificate from the Director of Antiquities, Archaeological survey of India. India is a signatory to CITES and the export of ivory, animals and snake skins and products made from them is forbidden. CITES certificates can be issued by the Deputy Director of Wildlife Preservation in the major cities. They should fill in the Disembarkation card handed over 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 accompanied baggage or high value articles to be entered on the Tourist Baggage Re-Export Form.
6. Health & Safety
You can enjoy your trip to India being careful about your health and safety.
Yellow Fever - Vaccination Certificate is required if arriving from an infected area.
Cholera/Typhoid - Inoculation recommended.
Malaria - No certificate required, but advisable to have a course of pills.
Strong sunshine, heat, digestive upsets and insect bites can spoil one’s trip, so it is a good idea to take a few basic precautions :
Carry a kit containing sunscreens and other lotions for protection from the sun, insect repellants and sting relief creams, water sterilizing tablets and medicines for possible stomach upsets or indigestion.
Be careful about mosquitoes when outside in the evenings - use an insect repellant, socks and a long sleeves shirt are good deterrents.
7. Travel/ Medical Insurance
You should never go anywhere without it. The hospitals in the major cities in India are completely fine but service in rural areas is less comprehensive. If anything happens which could be covered by your insurance, make sure you call your Insurance company and let them direct you. If you have medical or travel insurance, do check whether the company will make payment overseas or will merely reimburse you later. Most Indian hospitals and doctors will insist for payment on the spot.
8. Travel Safety
When you arrive in the bigger city airports, it seems like every taxi driver in the city is clamoring for your business. There have been attacks on people, especially on single foreign girls by auto/taxi drivers on the relatively desolate roads on the way to the airport. So the best idea is to book your trip in advance through a recognized travel / tour operator, who will organise a transfer for you or take a tourist taxis from the taxi booth. They organise you a driver and you get a receipt with the driver’s details on it. This affords you some security as your journey can be traced and the driver knows it.
Rupee (Re.) INR 1 = 100 Paise
Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5 & 10 rupees.
Notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.
Exchange Rate: US $ 1 = INR 60, 1 EURO = INR 78 & 1 GBP = INR 98 (approx. rate)
There are no restrictions on the importation of foreign currency by tourists, provided a Declaration Form is completed on arrival. The import and export of the Rupee is, however, prohibited and may not be spent in Duty Free Shops or on board aircrafts. Receipts of all currency must be kept, as it may be reconverted on departure.
It is advisable to carry money in the form of travellers’cheques preferably in US Dollars as it is widely recognized and accepted.
Changing money through unauthorized persons is illegal as well as risky in respect of receiving counterfeit money.
- Keep your money and your passport in a flat pouch and wear it close to your heart.
- Keep just enough money for your immediate needs in your wallet.
- Cash your money only at licensed or registered foreign exchange counters. Don't be tempted by touts who will offer tempting exchange rates.
11. Credit Cards
Most hotels, restaurants and some shops accept major credit cards such as (1) American Express, (2) Diners Club (3) Visa and (4) MasterCard.
GMT + 5 hours and 30 minutes.
13. Business Hours
Government Offices/Shops : Monday - Friday 1000 - 1700 hrs
Commercial Offices : Monday - Friday 0930 - 1730 hrs
Saturday 0930 - 1300 hrs
Shops (most large stores) : Monday - Saturday 0930 - 1800 hrs
Banks : Monday - Friday 1000 - 1400 hrs
Saturdays 1000 - 1200 hrs
Some government and commercial offices are open on alternate Saturdays.
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. Although electricity is widely available throughout the country, breakdowns and blackouts are common. Be sure to have a torch or candles. Sockets usually have three round pins. European plugs will fit loosely into the sockets, but because they are slightly smaller, bad connections are possible. Socket sizes vary, so it is well to take along a set of plug adaptors.
It is usual to tip waiters, porters, guides and drivers. An approximate guideline would be as follows :
Restaurants - 10 % of the bill
Porters - Rs. 25/- per piece of luggage
Drivers/Guides - Rs. 250 per half day/ Rs. 350 per full day.
Tips are not included in the bill and are solely based on each person’s discretion.
English is widely spoken, so language may not be a big problem, though the accents may vary considerably. The official language is Hindi but there are totally 15 major languages 544 dialects spoken in India in addition to English.
The Telephone system in India is excellent. Telephone calls to most of countries are now direct, with quality service and international standards. Local and international calls can be made from 'STD/ISD' (standard trunk dialing/international subscriber dialing) phone booths. These can be found in shops or other businesses. They are quick and easy to use, and are sometimes open all day. Your bill must be paid on completion of your call/s. Many of these booths also have fax machines for public use. You may even send e-mail messages from most of the hotels and cyber cafes at a certain cost.
Postal service in India is excellent. Mail to destinations in Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand takes about 10 to 14 days. A Speed Post service is also available, which usually takes just a few days.
Hot and tropical with variations according to the region. Coolest months from mid-November to mid-March are also the best to visit India. The monsoons, in the majority of India, occur between the months of June and September. The summer which is the really hot weather is usually between the months of May and June.
Winter - Light to medium clothing with jerseys/jackets may be required in the evenings, early morning excursions or on overcast days. In North India light woolens may even be required during the days.
Summer - Tropical clothing with a sun hat and sunglasses are recommended. For those traveling in the hills or mountainous areas light woolens may be needed.
Monsoon - Light clothing with either a raincoat or an umbrella or both (especially in places like Bombay, Cochin, Madras, Calcutta). Light sweater may be required for some even during this period.
Use a hat or a cap in the daytime to prevent sunstroke. Carry sun block lotion with you and use it as required.
20. Food & Drink
Take it easy with Indian food. Don't tuck into a spicy meal as soon as you arrive. But sample one small portion of a dish at a time over the next few days until your taste buds begin to savour the spices. Wayside food should be avoided. Drink bottled mineral water and avoid tap water.
Extraordinary patience, talent and imagination goes into the making of Indian products, whether dazzling silks, hand knotted carpets, bronze statues of Hindu gods, jewellery, shoes/sandals, handbags, men’s and women’s clothing, musical instruments or perfumes. The list is inexhaustible and the prices reasonable. Each region of the sub-continent has its own specialties. The bazaars are the places to find the best bargains, but one must be prepared to haggle. It would be prudent to remember that if the shop/emporia undertake to export purchased goods, it invariably takes a much longer time to for them to reach than indicated at the time of purchase.
It is forbidden to export recognized antiques over 100 years old. It is advisable to keep the sales receipts to convince the customs officers. Exports of wildlife and products made from them are either banned. Insist on getting a proper certificate for the legitimate sale of a particular animal product to avoid inconvenience at departure.
If carrying pen knives, batteries or electronic items it may be prudent to pack them in the checked in baggage as they may be confiscated, only to be returned on arrival at ones destination. This applies to all domestic flights on the sub-continent.
For extra security reasons, it may be necessary to identify your baggage on the tarmac before it is loaded on to the aircraft.
23. Baggage Allowance
The normal free allowance on internal flights vary from 20- 30kgs in Economy and 30- 40kgs in Club class. Only a single piece of hand baggage (within certain specifications) is allowed on domestic flight.
24. Airport Departure Tax
Airport departure tax is to be included in your international tickets and does not have to be paid at the airport.
25. Crime & Theft
India is not particularly more dangerous than the West. Most deluxe hotels have lockers to keep ones valuables, but one has to be cautious with valuables when outside. Violence against foreigners is virtually unheard of, provided basic precautions are taken like anywhere else.
26. National Holidays
January 26 - Republic Day
August 15 - Independence day
October 02 - Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday
There are other regional holidays which are applicable to different states.
27. Reference Books
- Freedom at Midnight : Lapierre and Collins
- A Princess Remembers : Gayatari Devi
- A Suitable Boy : Vikram Seth
- God of small things : Arundhati Roy
- Maharajas of India : Ann Morrow
- City of Djinss : Oliver Dalrymple
- India A Million Mutinies Today : V.S. Naipaul
- Indira : Katherine Frank
28. Do's and Don'ts
- Do carry attested photocopies of your travel documents and keep the originals in a safely locked baggage.
- Do fill up a Currency Declaration Form along and a Disembarkation Card besides making an oral declaration of the luggage you are carrying.
- Do not smoke in public places.
- Do not give money to beggars.
Indians are known for their hospitality and kindness. Enrich your minds by learning, observing and appreciating this vibrant multilingual, multicultural country, and take back with you memories that will linger in your mind for all time.
Note : The above particulars are correct & subject to change. This is purely for your information.