Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > India International Travel Information
New Delhi - 110021
Telephone: +(91) (11) 2419-8000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(91) (11) 2419-8000
Fax: +(91) (11) 2419-0017
The U.S. Embassy, New Delhi serves American citizens in the Indian
states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh,
Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, the union territories of Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, and the country of
U.S. Consulate General Mumbai (Bombay)
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex
Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
Telephone: +(91) (22) 2672-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(91) (22) 2672-4000 If you
are calling from within India, but outside Mumbai, first dial 022.
The Consulate General in Mumbai provides consular services for the
states of Goa, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, and the union territory of Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
U.S. Consulate General Kolkata (Calcutta)
5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Kolkata - 700 071,
West Bengal, India
Telephone: +(91) (33) 3984-2400
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(91) 99030 42956 or
+(91) (33) 3984-2400 then dial "0"
Fax: +(91) (33) 2282-2335
The United States Consulate General in Kolkata provides consular
services for the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Nagaland,
Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura
U.S. Consulate General Chennai (Madras)
220 Anna Salai at Gemini Circle
Chennai, India 600006
Telephone: +(91) (44) 2857-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (0) 44-2857-4000. Ask for
American Citizen Services.(Within India, but outside Chennai, first
dial 044. From the United States, first dial 011-(91) (44) )
Fax: +(91) (044) 2811-2020
The Consulate General in Chennai provides consular services for the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and the Union Territories of
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry and Lakshwadeep
U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad
1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane
Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003
Telephone: +(91) (40) 4033-8300
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 4033-8300, and ask for
American Citizen Services.(If calling from within India, but outside Hyderabad, first dial 040. From the United States, first dial 011-(91) (40) .)
The Consulate General in Hyderabad provides services to the U.S.
citizens in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on India for information on U.S.-India relations.
All U.S. citizens need a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose (also see Special Circumstances section below). Please ensure you have the correct type of visa for your planned activity in India. If you have the incorrect visa you may be refused entry. Many visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must apply for visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad before entering the country.
U.S. citizens seeking to enter India solely for tourist purposes, and who plan to stay no longer than 60 days, may apply for an electronic travel authorization at least four days prior to their arrival in lieu of applying for a tourist visa at an Indian embassy or consulate. Please visit the Indian government's website for electronic travel authorization for additional information regarding the eligibilities and requirements for this type of visa. Without the electronic travel authorization, visas are not available upon arrival for U.S. citizens. If you do not have a valid passport and visa you may be denied admission. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in India cannot assist you if you arrive without proper documentation. Please carry photocopies of the bio-data page of your U.S. passport and the pages containing the Indian visa and Indian immigration stamps. If your passport is lost or stolen, copies will help you apply for a replacement passport and an exit visa from the Indian government. Replacing a lost visa, which is required in order to exit the country, may take three to four business days.
U.S. citizens wishing to visit India are responsible for requesting the correct type of visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate. There are generally no provisions for changing your immigration category (e.g., from tourist to work visa) once you have entered the country. Indian visa regulations change frequently, often with little advance notice, and changes may be poorly advertised and inconsistently enforced. Travelers are urged to check the website of the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. before any travel to India to review the most current information. Indian visas may be obtained in the United States through the Embassy of India in Washington DC and the Indian Consulates General in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco. Diplomatic and Official visa applications, however, are accepted directly at the Indian Embassy and Consulates. All forms for requesting an Indian visa are available via the Government of India’s visa portal . All U.S. government employees, including military personnel, must obtain country clearance for travel to India. Once you have received your visa, check it carefully to ensure that the type of visa and number of entries is appropriate for your travel plans.
U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin or descent are subject to administrative processing and should expect additional delays when applying for Indian visas.
Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work, or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers and residents planning to stay more than 180 days, are required to register their visit or residency within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying in addition to having the appropriate visa when they enter India. The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru (Bangalore), Lucknow, Calicut, Goa, Cochin, Trivandrum, and Amritsar. District Superintendents of Police serve as Foreigners Registration Officers (FROs) in all other places. We recommend all U.S. citizens review the entry requirements described on the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section on the Indian Bureau of Immigration website.
If you overstay your Indian visa, or otherwise violate Indian visa regulations, you may require clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country. Generally, you will be fined and, in some cases, may be jailed for months. Visa violators seeking an exit permit must visit the Foreigners Regional Registration Office portal to submit the application and pay any levied fines. Processing of an exit permit under these circumstances can take up to 90 days and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
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, Atlanta, or Houston. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.
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 Bureau of Immigration website.
HIV/AIDS RESTRICTIONS: 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.
U.S. citizens should always practice good personal security and situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings (including local customs and etiquette) and keep a low profile. Monitor local news reports, vary your routes and times in carrying out daily activities, and consider the level of security present when you visit public places, including religious sites, and when choosing hotels, restaurants, and entertainment and recreation venues.
India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. 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 Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. The U.S. government occasionally receives information regarding possible terrorist attacks that could take place in India, monitors such information to determine credibility, and advises U.S. citizens accordingly. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive messages from the Embassy automatically.
Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as 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. Alerts are usually more frequent around major holidays. The Maoists (also known as “Naxalites”) are the most active insurgent group in India. The Naxalites typically attack Indian government officials, but have also derailed trains, targeted other government buildings such as police stations, and conducted other criminal activity. In eastern India’s Bihar state, 10 security personnel were killed and five injured in a Naxalite-triggered Improvised Explosive Device blast on July 18, 2016. In the eastern state of Jharkhand, seven policemen were killed and eight others injured in a landmine blast by Naxalites on January 27, 2016.
Beyond the threat from terrorism and insurgencies, demonstrations and general strikes, or “bandh,” often cause major inconvenience and unrest. These strikes can result in the stoppage of all transportation and tourist-related services, at times for 24 hours or more. U.S. citizens caught in such a strike may find they are unable to make flight and rail connections, as local transportation can be severely limited. Local media generally give an idea of the length and geographical location of the strike. Large religious gatherings 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. You are urged to obey such curfews and travel restrictions and to avoid demonstrations and rallies as they have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following political rallies, 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 or events. You should monitor local television, print media, Mission India’s American Citizens Services Facebook page, and enroll with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for further information about the current situation in areas where you will travel.
The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates General in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai will post information about routine demonstrations on the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulates General websites, under the heading “Demonstration Notices.” Please monitor our websites regularly for information about protest activities in the country. Please note that the Embassy and Consulates General will issue emergency/security messages for other purposes, as necessary.
Religious violence occasionally occurs in India, especially when tensions between different religious communities are purposefully exacerbated by groups pushing religiously chauvinistic agendas. 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.
Swimming in India: You should exercise caution if you intend to swim in open waters along the Indian coastline, particularly during the monsoon season. Every year, several people in Goa, Mumbai, Puri (Odisha), off the Eastern Coast in the Bay of Bengal, and other areas drown due to strong undertows. It is important to heed warnings posted at beaches and to avoid swimming in the ocean during the monsoon season. Trained lifeguards are very rare along beaches.
If you visit the Andaman Islands, be aware that there have been reports of crocodile attacks in salt water resulting in fatalities. Ask local residents about dangerous sea life before swimming and keep a safe distance from animals at all times.
Wildlife safaris: India offers opportunities for observation of wildlife in its natural habitat and many tour operators and lodges advertise structured, safe excursions into parks and other wildlife viewing areas for close observation of flora and fauna. However, safety standards and training vary, and it is a good idea to ascertain whether operators are trained and licensed. Even animals marketed as “tame” should be respected as wild and extremely dangerous. Keep a safe distance from animals at all times, remaining in vehicles or other protected enclosures when venturing into game parks.
Trekking in India: Trekking expeditions should be limited to routes identified for this purpose by local authorities. Use only registered trekking agencies, porters, and guides, suspend trekking after dark, camp at designated camping places, and travel in groups rather than individually or with one or two companions. Altitudes in popular trekking spots can be as high as 25,170 feet (7,672 m); please make sure that you have had a recent medical checkup to ensure that you are fit to trek at these altitudes and carry sufficient medical insurance that includes medical evacuation coverage.
Train Travel: India has the third largest rail network in the world, and train travel in India generally is safe. Nevertheless, accidents and on-board fires are sometimes caused by aging infrastructure, poorly maintained equipment, overcrowding, and operator errors. Train accidents and fires have resulted in the death and serious injury of passengers.
Areas of Instability:
Jammu & Kashmir: The Department of State strongly recommends that you avoid travel to the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir because of the potential for terrorist incidents as well as violent public unrest. A number of terrorist groups operate in the territory targeting security forces, particularly along the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and those stationed in primary tourist destinations in the Kashmir Valley: Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. Since 1989, as many as 70,000 people (terrorists, security forces, and civilians) have been killed in the Kashmir conflict. Foreigners are particularly visible, vulnerable, and at risk. In the past, serious communal violence left the territory mostly paralyzed due to massive strikes and business shutdowns, and U.S. citizens have had to be evacuated by local police. The Indian government prohibits foreign tourists from visiting certain areas along the LOC (see the section on Restricted Areas, below).
India-Pakistan Border: The Department of State recommends that you 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 you are advised to confirm the current status of the border crossing prior to commencing travel. A Pakistani visa is required to enter Pakistan. Only U.S. citizens residing in India may apply for a Pakistani visa in India. Otherwise you should apply for a Pakistani visa in your country of residence before traveling to India.
Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. Travel or mountain climbing in this area is highly dangerous. 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. Check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for information on current conditions.
Northeastern states: Incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including bombings of buses, trains, rail lines, and markets, occur occasionally in the northeast. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, it is possible that you could be affected as a bystander. If you travel to the northeast, you should avoid travel by train at night, travel outside major cities at night, and crowds. U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are prohibited from traveling to the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Manipur without permission from the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata. Restricted Area Permits are required for foreigners to visit certain Northeastern states (see the section on Restricted Areas, below.) Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata for information on current conditions.
East Central and Southern India: Maoist extremist groups, or “Naxalites,” are active in East Central India primarily in rural areas. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including frequent terrorist attacks on local police, paramilitary forces, and government officials, and are responsible for more attacks in the country than any other organization through an ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens but have attacked symbolic targets that have included Western companies and rail lines. While Naxalite violence does not normally occur in places frequented by foreigners, there is a risk that visitors could become victims of violence.
Naxalites are active in a large swath of India from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal, particularly in rural parts of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and on the borders of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha. Due to the fluid nature of the threat, all U.S. government travelers to states with Naxalite activity must receive authorization from the U.S. Consulate responsible for the area to be visited. U.S. officials traveling only to the capital cities in these states do not need prior authorization.
Restricted/Protected areas: While the Indian Government has designated that travelers to “portions” of certain areas need special advance permission, actual practice has been to require a permit to enter any portion of certain states or territories. Areas requiring a permit include:
More information about travel to/in restricted/protected areas can be found from India’s Bureau of Immigration.
“Restricted Area Permits" are available outside India at Indian embassies and consulates abroad, or in India from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi. The states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim maintain official guesthouses in New Delhi, which can also issue Restricted Area Permits for their respective states for certain travelers. While visiting Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, be aware 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, travelers should enroll in STEP to receive updated security information and regularly monitor travel information available from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi as well as the U.S. Consulates General in Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai(Madras), Hyderabad, and Kolkata (Calcutta).
CRIME: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property (including U.S. passports), is common, particularly on trains or buses, at airports, and in major tourist areas. 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. If you are traveling by train, lock your sleeping compartments and take your valuables with you when leaving your berth. If you travel by air, be careful with your bags in the arrival and departure areas outside airports. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been uncommon, although in recent years there has been a modest increase. Be cautious about displaying cash or expensive items to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery or other crime, and be aware of your surroundings when you use ATMs. ATM card scams have been used to clone credit card details to withdraw money.
Sexual Assault: Travelers should be aware that there have been reported cases of sexual assault, including rape, of U.S. citizens traveling throughout India. U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India. Women traveling in India are advised to respect local dress and customs. Customary everyday dress for Indian women throughout the country is conservative, and even more so in non-urban areas, with women wearing clothing that covers their legs and shoulders. Exceptions are vacation resorts catering to foreign clientele and some neighborhoods of the major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai. Western women, especially those of African descent, continue to report incidents of verbal and physical harassment by individuals and groups of men. Known locally as “Eve-teasing,” these incidents of sexual harassment can be quite frightening and can quickly cross the line from verbal to physical. Sexual harassment can occur anytime or anywhere, but most frequently has happened in crowded areas such as in market places, train stations, buses, and public streets. The harassment can range from sexually suggestive or lewd comments to catcalls to outright groping. The Government of India has focused greater attention on addressing issues of gender violence. One outcome has been greater reporting of incidences of sexual assault country-wide, and Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Among large cities, Delhi experienced the highest number of reported crimes against women. Although most victims have been local residents, recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas across India underline the fact that foreign women are at risk and should exercise vigilance.
Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions, restricting evening entertainment to well-known venues, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of day. Keep your hotel room number confidential and make sure hotel room doors have chains, deadlocks, and peep holes. Travel with groups of friends rather than alone. In addition, only hire reliable cars and drivers and avoid traveling alone in hired taxis, especially at night. Use taxis from hotels and pre-paid taxis at airports rather than hailing them on the street. If you encounter threatening situations, call “100” for police assistance (“112” from mobile phones).
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. Beware of taxi drivers and others, including train porters, who 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," extended cab rides, and even threats when the tourists decline to pay. There have been reports of tourists being lured, held hostage and extorted for money in the face of threats of violence against the traveler and his/her family members.
You 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 use the distraction to rob them of their valuables. 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 prepared in front of the traveler from a canteen or vendor could be tainted.
Some vendors sell carpets, jewelry, gemstones, or other expensive items that may not be of the quality promised. Deal only with reputable businesses and do not hand over your credit cards or money unless you are certain that goods being shipped are the goods you 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 complaints.
There have been a number of other scams perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa, Jaipur, and Agra that 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 the transaction.
India-based criminals use the internet to extort money from victims abroad. In a common scam, the victim develops a close romantic relationship with an alleged U.S. citizen they meet online. When the “friend” travels to India, a series of accidents occur and the victim begins to receive requests for financial assistance, sometimes through an intermediary. In fact, the U.S. citizen “friend” does not exist; they are only online personas used by criminal networks. Victims have been defrauded of thousands of dollars in these schemes. Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person and carefully read the Department of State’s advice on international financial scams.
U.S. citizens have had problems with business partners, usually involving property investments. You may wish to seek professional legal advice in reviewing any contracts for business or services offered in India. The U.S. Embassy and/or consulates are unable to provide legal advice or intervene on behalf of United States citizens with Indian courts on civil or criminal matters. A list of local attorneys is available on the Embassy and Consulates General websites.
In another common scam, family members in the United States, particularly older people, are approached for funds to help callers claiming to be grandchildren or relatives who have been arrested or are without money to return home. Do not send money without contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General to confirm the other party’s situation. You can also call our Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444). Review our information on Emergency Assistance to Americans Abroad.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the local police, then inform the U.S. Embassy or local Consulate.
Report crimes to the local police by calling “100” or “112” from a mobile phone.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Please note that you should ask for a copy of the police report, known as a “First Information Report” (FIR), from local police when you report an incident. Local authorities generally are unable to take any meaningful action without the filing of a police report.
If your passport is stolen, you should immediately report the theft or loss to the police in the location where your passport was stolen. A FIR is required by the Indian government in order for you to obtain an exit visa to leave India if the lost passport contained your Indian visa. Although the Embassy or Consulate General 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 permit. This process usually takes three to four working days, but can take longer.
In cases of sexual assault or rape, the Embassy or Consulates General can provide a list of local doctors and hospitals, if needed, to determine if you have been injured and to discuss treatment and prevention options for diseases and pregnancy. You should be aware that in order for evidence of an assault to be submitted in a court case, Indian authorities require that the medical exam be completed at a government hospital. Therefore, if a victim goes to a private hospital for treatment, the hospital will refer them to a government hospital for this aspect of the medical process.
There are a number of resources in India for victims of rape and sexual assault. The specific toll-free Women’s Helpline Service number in Delhi is 1091; in Mumbai it is 103; in Kolkata, 1090; in Chennai, 1091 or 2345-2365; and in Hyderabad one can dial 1-800-425-2908 or 1098 for crimes in general.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in India is “100.” An additional emergency number, “112,” can be accessed from mobile phones.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Furthermore, some activities are crimes under U.S. law and can be prosecuted in the U.S. regardless of whether they are allowed under local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Alcohol: Each of India’s states has independent regulations concerning alcohol purchase and consumption. Legal drinking ages range from 18 to 25 and can vary by beverage type. Some states permit alcohol use for medicinal purposes only, others require you to hold a permit to buy, transport, or consume alcohol. Penalties for violation can be harsh.
Drugs: Several U.S. citizens have been arrested at Indian airports for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs from India. All claimed that they did not realize they were carrying narcotics. Never transport or mail packages that do not belong to you and maintain direct control of your luggage at all times.
Beef and Cow Hide: Several states in India impose various types of prohibition on beef. In some rural areas, cow protection vigilantes have attacked people they suspected of selling or consuming beef, or possessing items made with cow hide.
Dual nationality: India does not permit its citizens to hold dual nationality. In 2006, India launched the "Overseas Citizens of India" (OCI) program, which does not grant Indian citizenship but is similar to a U.S. "green card" in that you 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). If you are a U.S. citizen and obtain an OCI card you will not become a citizen of India; you will remain a citizen of the United States. An OCI card holder 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 except that PIO holders must still register with Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an indefinite period. U.S. 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, Atlanta, and Houston. Inside India, U.S. citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office (please see “Entry/Exit Requirements” section above for more information on the FRRO). U.S. citizens are required to travel on a U.S. passport when traveling in and out of the United States.
Religious activities and faith-based travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report. If you plan to engage in religious proselytizing you 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 Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh have legislation that regulates or places restrictions on conversion from one religious faith to another. If you intend to engage in missionary activity, you may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether the activities you intend to pursue are permitted under Indian law.
Tourists should also be mindful of restrictions and observances when planning to visit any religious establishment, whether Hindu temples, mosques, churches, or other locations considered sacred by the local population. Many individual temples and mosques do not permit non-members to enter all or parts of the facilities, and may require the removal of shoes, the covering of the head, or have other specific requirements for appropriate attire.
Customs restrictions: Before traveling to or from India, you are urged to inspect all bags and clothing thoroughly to ensure they do not inadvertently contain prohibited items. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested or detained when airport security officials discovered loose ammunition (even spent individual bullets and casings) or weapons in their luggage. If you are found to have loose ammunition or bullets (including empty bullet shells used in souvenirs) on your person or in your bags, you could be charged with violation of the Indian Arms Act, incarcerated, and/or deported from India.
In addition, U.S. citizens have been arrested and prosecuted for possession of satellite phones which is prohibited in India.”
Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of such items as, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Permission from the Government of India is required to bring in restricted items, even if you are only transiting through India. If you do not comply with these regulations, you risk arrest or fine or both and confiscation of these items. If you are charged with any legal violations by Indian law enforcement, have an attorney review any document before you sign it. 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.
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 email USCIB for details. Please see our section on Customs Information for more information.
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 hilly and mountainous areas throughout India. Flooding in 2013 in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other areas left thousands of people presumed dead and temporarily stranded dozens of U.S. citizens.
Typhoons/cyclones and subsequent flooding are common along the Indian coasts, in particular the Eastern coastal states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, and have at times resulted in massive loss of life. Tourists and residents in areas prone to these events should remain vigilant during severe weather, monitor local media for latest developments, and heed all municipal warnings. Residents in these areas should have contingency plans for loss of power and inavailability of goods and services, including supplies for multiple days after a severe weather event.
Accessibility: While in India, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different than what you find in the United States. Despite legislation that all public buildings and transport be accessible for disabled people, accessibility remains limited. One notable exception is the Delhi metro system, designed to be accessible to those with physical disabilities.
Women Travelers: Please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBTI Rights: An 1861 colonial-era law, known as Section 377 of India’s penal code, makes same-sex sexual acts illegal in India, and a December 2013 Indian Supreme Court ruling confirmed the law. Although prosecution under Section 377 is rare, LGBTI visitors may wish to avoid drawing attention. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Zika is present in India. See the Centers for Disease Control’s website for more information.
The quality of medical care in India varies considerably. Medical care in the major population centers approaches and occasionally meets Western standards, but adequate medical care is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of India to ensure the medication is legal in India. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are arriving in India from Sub-Saharan Africa or other yellow-fever areas, Indian health regulations require that you present evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. If you do not have such proof, you could be subjected to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow-fever quarantine center. If you transit through any part of sub-Saharan Africa, even for one day, you are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.
Dogs and bats create a high risk of rabies transmission in most of India. Vaccination is recommended for all prolonged stays, especially for young children and travelers in rural areas. It is also recommended for shorter stays that involve occupational exposure, locations more than 24 hours from a reliable source of human rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine for post-exposure treatment, adventure travelers, hikers, cave explorers, and backpackers. Monkeys also can transmit rabies and herpes B, among other diseases, to human victims. Avoid feeding monkeys. If bitten, you should immediately soak and scrub the bite for at least 15 minutes and seek urgent medical attention.
Influenza is transmitted from November to April in areas north of the Tropic of Cancer (north India), and from June through November (the rainy season) in areas south of the Tropic of Cancer (south India), with a smaller peak from February through April; off-season transmission can also occur. All travelers are at risk. Influenza vaccine is recommended for all travelers during the flu season.
Outbreaks of avian influenza (H5N1 virus) occur intermittently in eastern India, including West Bengal, Manipur, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Assam. For further information on pandemic influenza, please refer to the Department of State's 2009-H1N1, Pandemic Influenza, and H5N1 Fact Sheet.
Malaria prophylaxis depends on time of year and area the traveler is visiting. Please consult the CDC website for more information. Dengue fever presents significant risk in urban and rural areas. The highest number of cases is reported from July to December, with cases peaking from September to October. Daytime insect precautions such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and mosquito repellent are recommended by the CDC.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in India. For further information, please consult the CDC’s Travel Notice on TB.
Further health information:
Air pollution is a significant problem in several major cities in India, and you should consult your doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on you. The air quality in India varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the winter. Anyone who travels where pollution levels are high is at risk. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
Current air quality data can be found on the Embassy’s Air Quality page. The data on this site are updated hourly.
Rh-negative blood may be difficult to obtain as it is not common in Asia.
For emergency services, dial 112 from a cell phone; from a land line, dial 100 for police, 102 for ambulance (108 in parts of South India), and 101 for fire. Ambulances are not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, and traffic does not yield to emergency vehicles. Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance. Most hospitals require advance payment or confirmation of insurance prior to treatment. Payment practices vary and credit cards are not routinely accepted for medical care.
Medical Tourism: 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 the CDC. Persons traveling to India for medical purposes require the proper “medical” visa. Please check with the nearest Indian embassy or consulate for more information.
Despite reports of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals, in general travelers should not delay or avoid treatment for urgent or emergent medical situations. However, health tourists and other travelers who may be contemplating elective procedures in this country should carefully research individual hospital infection control practices.
Surrogacy: Commercial surrogacy is illegal for foreigners in India, subject to complex local regulation. For additional information, visit the Government of India’s official information on foreigner surrogacy.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in India maintain lists of local doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective websites under "U.S. Citizen Services." We cannot endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Road Conditions and Safety: Travel by road in India is dangerous. India leads the world in traffic-related deaths and a number of U.S. citizens have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent years. You should exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, even in marked pedestrian areas, and try to use only cars that have seatbelts. Seatbelts are not common in three-wheel taxis (autos) and in taxis’ back seats. Helmets should always be worn on motorcycles and bicycles.Travel at night is particularly hazardous.
On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is always to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. Buses and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, autos, bicycles, and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Use your horn or flash your headlights frequently to announce your presence. It is both customary and wise.
Inside and outside major cities, 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.
Public Transportation: Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are often driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for the rules of the road. Accidents are quite common.
Traffic Laws: 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. Travelers should remember to use seatbelts in both rear and front seats where available, and to ask their drivers to maintain a safe speed.
In order to drive in India, you must have either a valid Indian driver’s license or a valid international driver’s license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, you may wish to consider hiring a local driver.
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 risk of incineration of the vehicle. It could 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:
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of India’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page. Travelers are urged to use caution while booking private helicopters for travel, especially in the northeast.