GUIDELINES FOR VISITORS TO INDIA
Use of satellite telephones including Thuraya, Irridium and other such operators is not permitted in India. Any individual, includig foreign nationals, in unauthorised possession or found using satellite telephone is liable to be prosecuted under Indian Laws in addition to seizure of satellite telephone equipment.
General guidelines for visitors to India:
- Visitors to India are required to obtain a visa from the Indian Mission in the country of their residence or in a nearby country with concurrent accreditation. A valid permit is required to visit certain restricted/protected areas.
- Disembarkation/ Embarkation cards have to be filled up on arrival/departure.
- Foreigners coming from or through Yellow Fever countries must be able to produce a valid vaccination certificate.
- Vaccinations like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Typhoid are recommended. There are some health risks in India like Cholera, Dengue Fever, Dysentery, Malaria and Meningitis. Travelers are advised to take precautionary measures against the same. Basic precautions like usage of safe drinking water are recommended.
- Foreigners visiting India, who hold long-term visas (more than 180 days) are required to obtain a Registration Certificate and Residential Permit from the nearest Foreigners' Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival. The foreigners registered at FRRO are required to report change of their addresses.
- Certificates of registration issued by the Registration Officers should be surrendered to the immigration officer at the port/check post of exit from India.
- Passengers embarking on journeys to any place outside India from a Customs airport / seaport are required 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.
- 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. Foreigners are therefore, advised not to buy any wild animals or their products and derivatives like articles of ivory, fur and skin.
- Climate in India generally is cooler in the north, especially between September and March. The south is coolest between November to January. In June, winds and warm surface currents begin to move northwards and westwards, heading out of the Indian Ocean and into the Arabian Gulf. This creates a phenomenon known as the south-west monsoon, and it brings heavy rains to the west coast. Between October and December, a similar climatic pattern called the north-east monsoon appears in the Bay of Bengal, bringing rains to the east coast.
- Foreign tourists are advised to do a complete research on the traveling and accommodation arrangements on the places they intend to visit.
- Some religious places in India have dress codes, like covering your head, being barefoot, etc. Tourists are advised to comply with them, so as not to seem offensive towards the religious sentiments of the concerned community.
Immigration Formalities in India
There is no provision of 'Visa on Arrival' in India and no fee is charged for immigration facilities at the airports. However, there is a provision of granting TLF (Temporary Landing Facility) / TLP (Temporary Landing Permit) to allow entry of foreigners arriving in emergent situations like death/serious illness in the family, without an Indian Visa on cash payment of US$ 40/- (Indian Rupee equivalent i.e. Rs. 1935/-). This facility can also be extended to transiting foreigners having confirmed onward journey tickets within 72 hours. Apart from this, foreign tourists in groups of four or more arriving by Air or Sea, sponsored by recognized Indian Travel Agencies and with a pre-drawn itinerary can be granted collective landing permit for a specified period of time on the written request of the Travel Agencies to the Immigration officer giving full personal and passport details of the group members and undertaking to conduct the group as per the itinerary and an assurance that no individual would be allowed to drop out from the group at any place. The immigration services at the major International Airports in India and the foreigners' registration work in five major cities, are handled by the Bureau of Immigration (www.airportsindia.org.in/aai/immigration.htm). The above mentioned provisions of TLF/TLP, however, are not available to the nationals of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Algeria. Citizens of all countries, except Nepal and Bhutan, require a national passport or travel documents and a visa granted by Indian Missions abroad for entering India. Nepalese or Bhutanese citizens need no passport or visa but should possess documents for their identification when proceeding from their countries. If your baggage is mishandled or lost in transit, obtain a certificate to this effect from the airline and have it countersigned by the Customs.
Assistant Collector of Customs at the International Airport OR Commissioner of Customs, New Customs House, Near IGI Airport, New Delhi - 110 037. 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.
Foreigners should file a report with the local police regarding loss of passport.
After obtaining new travel document the foreigner should approach 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 flight number/details of vessels,
Places visited in India
At least one week time is required for confirming the details and Visa/Exit Permit can be granted after one week.
Place of application - Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.
Registration of Foreigners
Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO)
Those who stay for more than 180 days, after reaching India, should obtain a Resident Permit from the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) that are located in all the major cities or in the case of smaller cities, from the District Superintendent of Police within 14 days.
The Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRRO's) are located at:
NEW DELHI: Foreigners Regional Registration Office,Block 8, Sector 1, R.K. Puram (Behind Hyatt Regency Hotel), Ph. 91-11-2671 1348, 2671 1384, Fax. 91-11-2671 1348 KOLKATA: Foreigners Regional Registration Office, 237, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road, Kolkata - 700 020, Ph : 91-33-2240-4564/2247-3300CHENNAI: Foreigners Regional Registration Office
Shastri Bhawan Annexe, Haddows Road, Chennai, Ph. : 91-44-28278210 Fax : 91-44-28240338 MUMBAI: Foreigners Regional Registration Office, Annexe 2, CID, IIIrd Floor, Badruddin Tayeb Ji Marg (near Crawford Market), Mumbai 400 001, Ph. : 91-22-22621169
Exit and re-entry requirements
Obtaining a Tax Clearance or Exemption Certificate
Subject to notified exceptions, any person not domiciled in India (who visits India in connection with business, profession or employment and who derives income from any source in India), can leave India only after getting a "No Objection Certificate" from the tax authorities to do so. The tax authorities shall give such a certificate when the person submits an appropriate undertaking from his employer / payer of income, in respect of payment of taxes due from such person in India. However, this requirement does not apply to a person who is not domiciled in India but is a foreign tourist on his visit to India, which is not connected with business or profession or employment in India. Persons domiciled in India are not required to obtain tax clearance but need to only furnish their PAN along with information regarding purpose of visit and estimated period of stay outside India. In case of persons domiciled in India, if the circumstances warrant, the tax authorities can direct such person to obtain an appropriate tax clearance PIO Card Scheme.
Health care Formalities
If a foreign tourist originates from or has transited through endemic Yellow Fever countries (Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea), he/she must possess a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate. No other vaccination certificate is mandatory. Precautions can be taken against typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis, measles, mumps, cholera etc.
The following countries and areas are regarded as infected: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ivory Coast, Ecuadorial 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, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela. Indians who visit any of these countries are also required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate. When a case of Yellow Fever is reported from any country, that country is regarded by the Government of India as infected with the Yellow Fever and is added to the above list.
Vaccination Centres for Yellow Fever for International Travellers
Delhi: (i) Health Organisation, Palam Airport, Timings: Tue. and Thursday. 1400 - 1600 hrs
Tel: 2329 5507 (ii) Public Health Laboratory, Municipal Corporation, Town Hall, Alipur Road
Timings: Fri :1000 - 1200 hrs, Tel: 2397 2058 (iii) Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Room No. 11 & 12, Timings: Wed & Sat 1100 to 1230 hrs, Tel: 2336 5525 (iv) International Innoculation Center, Mandir Marg, New Delhi – 110001, Timings: Wed & Fri : 1330 to 1400 hrs, Tel: 2336 2284 Mumbai: Health Office, Mumbai Airport, Port Health Organisation, Seamen Medical Examination Organisation, Nav Bhawan Kolkata: All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Health Organisation, Dum Dum Airport, Port Health Organisation Cochin: Port Health Organisation Goa: Urban Health Centre, Panaji Hyderabad: Institute of Preventive Medicine Jamnanagar: Irwin Hospital Kandla: Port Health Organisation Kasauli: Central Research Institute Lucknow: Balrampur HospitalChennai: King Institute of Preventive Medicine (Guindy), Port Health Officer/ Assistant Port Health Officer/ Assistant Airport Health Officer Port Health Organisation Marmugao: Port Health Organisation Porbander: Office of the Civil Surgeon Pune: Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, BJ Medical College Vishakhapatnam: Port Health Organisation
Currency Declaration, Customs and Baggage Rules
The unit of the Indian currency is the Rupee. Travellers can bring into India any amount of foreign exchange, subject to the condition that on arrival a declaration is made to the custom authorities in a Currency Declaration Form. It is necessary to fill out a declaration form if the foreign exchange exceeds US$ 10,000 or its equivalent and /or the aggregate value of foreign currency notes is US$ 5,000 or its equivalent. Travellers Cheques in US$ and pounds are easily exchangeable and ATMs are available in major Indian cities. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and large stores. The Financial Year in India is from 1st April to 31st March.
Approximate Exchange Rates (tally please with market rates, subject to change)
Customs and Baggage Rules
There are two channels for customs clearance (i) Green Channel for passengers not having any dutiable goods. (ii) Red Channel for passengers having dutiable goods. Passengers walking through the Green Channel with dutiable / prohibited goods are liable to prosecution/penalty and confiscation of goods. Duty free allowances and the rates of duties applicable for goods imported as personal baggage are contained in the rules established by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, Government of India.
Detailed and digitised maps helpful for travelling inside India are now available from the Internet. These also provide interactive facilities for obtaining more detailed information about specific locations by zooming inside the maps. You may visit www.maptell.com web site or www.mapsofindia.com web site for viewing the maps. You could also buy these maps online.
Most parts of the country are well connected by air, rail, and road transport infrastructure. Indian Airlines, the government-owned airline, and a number of other private airlines run scheduled flights to various destinations. Charter flights are offered by a few private companies. For more details on Indian Airlines services, please visit www.indian-airlines.nic.in, www.jetairways.com, www.airsahara.net, www.airindia.com. Railway reservations can be made from any of the 520 reservation centres in the country or at railway stations. For further details, please visitwww.indianrail.gov.in
India has a well established network of Travel Agents and tour operators. Most Travel Agents and Tour Operators are also Members of reputed National and International Associations. The Government also has a system of providing recognition to them. You may search for members of the Travel Agents Association of India from www.taainet.com
Hotels in India are classified into different groups such as deluxe, international chains, heritage and palace hotels, tourist bungalows, traveller lodges, rest houses. etc. Liberalization and a spurt in travel have brought a large number of international hotel chains to India. While well-known chains such as Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Inter-Contmental, Meridien, Quality Inns, Best Western and Kempinski have been in the country for a while, the recent entrants are Country Hospitality with all its chains (Regent, Radisson, Country Inns, TGIF), Marriott, Hilton, Park Plaza, Four Seasons and SHPC. Centralized reservations may be obtained through the travel agents. For further information, please visit the following websites: www.hotels-india.com,
Indian cuisine is a major highlight of any visit. It is symbolic of the hospitality of her people. "He, who comes close to us as a guest, often becomes dearer than a friend. In fact, he is to be treated as a member of the family". Cuisine in India differs not only from region to region but even from one household to another. "Curry" may have over 500 variations across the country. Not every curry is spicy, though, and chefs can prepare any dish to suit your taste. Some of the great culinary traditions of India originated in the royal courts of the Mughals. Mughlai food, whether from Delhi, Hyderabad or Lucknow, is usually meat-based, cooked in a tandoor or clay oven. Braised meats, rich sauces, and flavoured rice are the highlights of this form of cooking - served at restaurants across the country. Many a snack now classified as street food, was an essential course at royal banquets. The Samosa, for example, graced the imperial spread - from the Court of Sultan Mohammed Bin Tughlaq to the last Moghul, Bahadur Shah Zafar. The trend towards dining out has increased and many restaurants serve Continental, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, French. Mexican, Italian, Lebanese, Mediterranean, and other cuisine. American fast food is very popular and outlets are present in most cities and towns. Tipping is optional but a common practice in India. The usual option involves leaving a 10% tip for the services provided.
The usual banking hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. Besides the Indian banks, several international banks including Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation operate in major metros. Most have 24-hour ATMs. Money transfers through these banks are also easy.
Banks, Office and most shopping areas remains closed on Sunday. Sometimes within the same city different markets close on different weekdays, it may be wise to check from the Hotel before you set out. Shops usually remain open 9.30 am to 7.00 pm (small tourist shops may close much later) and offices from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. Many offices observe Saturdays as holidays the Indian calendar is full of festivals and religious holidays. Should one happen to be in India on any such day it is advisable to participate in the festivities, possibly with the help of a guide.
Postal and Courier Services
The Indian Postal Service provides high quality services for delivery of mail, parcels, and related services. India has the largest postal network in the world. It also caters to specific mailing needs through Speed Post, Express Post, Satellite Mail, Gift Services etc. Delivery of mail takes between two to five days, depending on the final destination. For more details, log on to: http://www.indiapost.org/
Local and long-distance telephone services are available throughout the country. Mobile cellular service is also provided in the major cities. To make an international call, first dial the international code (00), then the country code followed by the area code (if applicable) and finally the actual number. For instance, to make a call to Hong Kong from India, dial 00, then 852 (Hong Kong Code) followed by the actual phone number. Different parts of India are also well connected through fax and Internet with the rest of the world.
The best way to travel around towns is by taxis. Yellow top taxis are generally easily available at stands, near commercial and residential areas and can be stopped on the roads. Visitors are advised to ensure that the meter is flagged down before starting the trip. A maximum of five passengers is generally permitted. Payment should be made according to the meter. Where meters are old, payments should be made in accordance with the revised tariff chart for the corresponding meter reading. Sometimes taxi drivers do not show these charts in order to charge higher amounts. Visitors are advised to insist that the revised tariff chart is shown. In some cities, scooter rickshaws are also available and are more economical, at roughly half of taxi rates. These too are metered and should carry a revised tariff chart where applicable. A maximum of three passengers is generally permitted. Night charges of 25% over and above the normal fare are payable for taxis and scooter rickshaws engaged between 23.00 and 05.00. Private taxis, non-metered are available in most cities. They can be hired on a journey basis, or for the day. Hotels, for their guests, can also arrange taxis for the day depending on your requirements. Pre-paid services are generally available at airports. All passengers can make use of these services by contacting the Pre-paid Taxi booth.
Cars may be hired with or without a chauffeur. Renting a car with a chauffeur in India is relatively inexpensive. Visitors coming from the UK intending to drive need to hold an International Driving License. However, the facility of renting a car at one place and leaving it at another is not common in India. Hertz, Budget and Europa cars operate in India through their associates. Most of the chauffeurs and car rental agencies can communicate in English. Hotels also provide car rental services for their customers. Driving in India is hazardous for the visitor and is not recommended.
Newspapers and Magazines
There are several English language dailies in circulation in Metros and major cities. There are regional newspapers as well that cover local news in greater detail. The newspapers average 20 pages and contain various sections such as politics, economics, classified advertisements, entertainment, and sports. Some newspapers are specific to industry and business clientele. Most newspapers are on sale at newsstands and news clippings are available on their web sites. National as well as well-known international magazines such as the Business Week, Far Eastern Economic Review, Newsweek, Time, and others are available in all the Metros.
220 volts AC (50 Cycles) and socket sizes vary widely. Universal adaptor is recommended.
Will your mobile work in India?
India uses the GSM standard for mobile communications, hence we suggest that you check out the compatibility of your instrument with GSM, in case you wish to use it in India. You can hire cell phones at the domestic airports in most major cities and tourist destinations in India. Typical cell phone rentals in India vary between Rupees 200 and 300 per day.
Greetings and Courtesies
Indians greet each other (and say good-bye) with the 'Namaste', which is formed by pressing the palms together (fingers up) below the chin and nodding the head. When greeting superiors or to show respect, a slight bow is added. When meeting foreigners, Indian men will shake hands. Indian men do not generally shake hands with or otherwise touch women as a tradition. Indian women who are educated or familiar with international customs may offer their hands to foreigners as a courtesy. When meeting a woman, a man should wait for her to initiate a handshake, if she does not, then he should just smile and nod slightly.
Indians value punctuality in others but sometimes there could be delays in meetings and events. It is useful to reconfirm meetings.
Suits are worn by senior executives in general. But because of the warm condition, many wear safari suits or go without tie and suit. Foreign business women are advised to dress conservatively, to avoid looking strikingly different and attracting unnecessary attention.
Gifts are generally exchanged after meetings. Alcohol bottles should be avoided for muslims and others who do not drink.
Do's and Don'ts in India
- If you are male introduced to a lady or a grown-up girl, don't take the initiative of offering a handshake. If she extends her hand, you must reciprocate, but don't be the first to extend your hand. If you are female and are being introduced to a male: it is up to you – the female – to take the initiative for a handshake. The rule of thumb is: the female extends her hand first, and the male reciprocates
- The Western practice of a peck on the cheek as a form of greeting a lady or a grown up girl is not advisable except in in the case those who are used to such practices.
- Drink only bottled water and avoid eating food made in less hygienic places.
- Indian English has its own accent and these also vary depending upon the region.
- Some Indians are in the habit of shaking their head to say yes or no. Please confirm what they mean, if you are not familiar.
- Driving in India can be challenging and strenuous. Some do not follow traffic rules.
- While visiting places of worship, respect should be shown as required.