This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Terrorism section. The overall level of the advice has not changed.
There is a continuing risk of terrorism in India. There have been a number of recent terrorist incidents (see below). Over 400,000 British tourists visit India every year. The vast majority of these visits are trouble-free. However, we strongly recommend that you remain vigilant in all parts of India.
Notwithstanding recent encouraging developments between India and Pakistan, we strongly advise against travel to Jammu and Kashmir, with the exception of Ladakh via Manali or by air to Leh. We advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan and the Line of Control (with the exception of Amritsar & Jaisalmer and for those travelling overland to Pakistan through the Wagah border crossing).
Security in New Delhi and other Indian cities has been increased in the run up to Independence Day celebrations on 15 August. You should remain especially vigilant over the next few days.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
There is a continuing risk from terrorism in India. There have been a number of recent terrorist incidents (see below). Over 400,000 British tourists visit India every year. The vast majority of these visits are trouble-free. However, we strongly recommend that you remain vigilant in all parts of India.
You should exercise particular caution when in the vicinity of key government installations and tourist sites, when attending public events (including religious events) around India, and in all public places including hotels, airports, shopping malls, and on public transport. Security in New Delhi and other Indian cities has been increased in the run up to Independence Day celebrations on 15 August, and a bomb exploded at an Independence Day event in the north eastern state of Assam resulting in 18 dead and many injured. You should remain especially vigilant over the next few days.
Since December 2002 there have been a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai. Whilst attacks have not been directed against tourists there is still the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caution is advised if travelling by public transport as some targets involved have been buses and trains. Should you intend to travel to Mumbai, you should be vigilant in crowded public places.
There have been small bomb explosions on trains and in and around Delhi including shopping areas frequently visited by tourists, train stations and in a hotel in Paharganj, home to most of the budget accommodation. If visiting Delhi you should remain vigilant in public places and around tourist attractions.
We strongly advise against travel to Jammu and Kashmir, apart from travel to Ladakh via Manali or by air to Leh. Levels of violence remain high in Jammu and Kashmir. Serious incidents of militancy continue in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu Province. Violent incidents have occurred recently in public places. While such incidents are not normally directed against tourists, a hotel (in Pahalgam) was the target of an attack on 12 June 2004, in which several Indian tourists died. There is a danger of landmines in some border areas. There is a risk of kidnapping. Militants took hostage five foreign nationals, including two Britons in July 1995: one was murdered and the others are believed dead.
Some states in North East India, particularly Arunchal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim, are generally safe. However, you should be aware that militant groups are operating in mainly rural areas of other North Eastern states. We advise against all travel to Manipur and Tripura. Whilst foreigners are not targets of violence, attacks can be indiscriminate.
Should you already be in India, you should contact the British High Commission in New Delhi: (Tel: +11 26872161) or the appropriate Deputy High Commission if you have any specific concerns about your safety.
Theft of valuables, especially passports, is a particular risk at major railway stations and on trains.
Do not accept food from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains.
Confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, promise a substantial cash reward for delivery of jewellery abroad but only in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is invariably worthless and the deposit, often amounting to thousands of pounds, is lost.
Piracy/armed robbery against ships has occurred in and around India's waters. Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate action.
Do not walk alone in isolated spots in the popular tourist areas especially after dark. Female travellers are advised to observe and respect local dress and customs and to exercise particular care. There have been recent incidents of sexual assaults against women in Delhi.
Local Travel (Regional)
Those in areas adjoining Pakistan or planning to cross the international border should take account of tension between India and Pakistan. We advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan and the Line of Control. However, we do not advise against travel to Amritsar or Jaisalmer, which are close to the border, or crossing the international border at Wagah.
In Lucknow, a Shia cleric and his followers have issued statements, in connection with the war in Iraq, indicating that British and American citizens are not welcome at Shia Muslim holy sites in the area. Notices "banning" British, American and Israeli visitors from entering have been posted at some sites. Local authorities are aware and continue to monitor the situation. You should exercise caution in visiting such sites and may wish to consider postponing visits until the situation becomes clearer.
Jammu & Kashmir
You should be aware that the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage in Kashmir, which started on 15 July, has been the subject of fatal attacks by armed militants in 2000, 2001 and 2002. British nationals participating in the pilgrimage should exercise particular caution, given the history of attacks against Amarnath pilgrims.
You should be aware of travel agents who will try to convince you that it is safe to travel to Jammu or Kashmir. Despite increased official promotion of Kashmir as a tourist centre, tensions remain high there. No matter how convincing the agents appear to be, their advice should not be followed. Unscrupulous travel agents may also pretend to call the British High Commission or to give a number where an associate will answer the phone and inform the caller that it is safe to travel to Jammu or Kashmir. Whilst in India contact the British High Commission directly (contact details are at the end of this advice) for travel information or consult the travel advice on the web.
Business representatives and others considering a visit to Jammu and Kashmir should consult the British High Commission, New Delhi.
Other Northern States
Trekking: In 2000, there were several attacks, including murder on trekkers in the mountain areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. We recommend that trekkers travel in groups and engage local guides.
Petty crime is common in Delhi. You should take care of your bags, wallets and passports, particularly when travelling by train or bus. Avoid individuals at railway stations offering tickets and tours, mainly to Kashmir and Rajasthan.
East and North East India
Fighting between the Royal Bhutan Army and Indian militant groups in southern Bhutan, to the north of West Bengal and Assam now appears to be over. A risk of sporadic incidents on either side of the border remains. There have been some reports of Bhutanese registered vehicles in the border area being attacked.
Most visits to eastern India are trouble-free but you should be aware of the risk of violent crime in rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand. As detailed in the above section on terrorism there is a risk from insurgent groups in some states in the north east, particularly Manipur and Tripura where we advise against all travel.
Care must be taken while travelling in north eastern India during the Monsoon season. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days at a time. It is best to check access routes before setting off on a journey.
Permits are required for travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
With effect from 1 January 2004, the British Deputy High Commission Kolkata no longer offers a full passport service. Kolkata will continue to accept passport applications, which will be sent to New Delhi for processing. Emergency travel documents only are available from Kolkata.
Andhra Pradesh: There have been bomb or land mine explosions in Andhra Pradesh, mainly directed at local government officials. Travellers should remain vigilant.
There was serious communal violence in Gujarat in February 2002 with several hundred killed and curfews imposed in some areas. Gujarat is now calmer and there have been few violent incidents. Nevertheless, we advise visitors to Gujarat to take especial care and to monitor developments through the media.
Visitors to Mumbai should be aware that armed robbers have held up taxis travelling along the main highway from the airport to the city in the early hours of the morning, between 02:00 hours and 06:00 hours, when there is little traffic on the roads. If you are using the route during these times you should, where possible, arrange to travel by coach or seek advice at the airport on arrival.
Since December 2002 there have been a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai, in most cases in areas not frequented by tourists, and foreigners have not been the targets of any attacks. Caution is advised if travelling by public transport as some targets involved have been buses and trains. Should you intend to travel to Mumbai, you should be especially vigilant particularly in crowded public places.
Passengers who have cleared customs and immigration at Mumbai airport should be wary of approaches by thieves posing as Government officials.
Whist Goa is generally a trouble-free destination for tourists; there have been incidents of sexual assaults against women. Female travellers are advised to observe and respect local dress and customs and not to walk alone on the beaches or village lanes at night.
Local Travel (General)
Travel in the rural areas during the Monsoon season can be hazardous. Care must be taken while travelling in India during the Monsoon season. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days at a time. It is best to check access routes before setting off on a journey.
The risk of conflict between India and Pakistan has reduced significantly in recent months as both countries have normalised their relations and agreed to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue. Were, however, the situation to deteriorate suddenly to the point of conflict, there could be difficulty in travelling to safety, and our capacity to evacuate British nationals would be limited.
Driving on Indian roads can be hazardous, particularly at night in rural areas. Inadequately lit buses and lorries, poor driving and badly maintained vehicles are the main causes of accidents.
Several recent drownings have highlighted the lack of warning signs or flags and life-saving equipment on most of India's beaches. Strong undercurrents are a particular hazard. Tourist boats and other small crafts very rarely carry life saving equipment. The poor infrastructure can make the provision of consular assistance difficult, particularly in remote areas.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Visitors should respect local codes of dress and behaviour and not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of 6 months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only. However, a 10 year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The slow judicial process means that lengthy pre-trial detention is the norm.
You must obtain a visa before travelling to India. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival. Foreign nationals arriving in India on long term multiple visas are required to register with the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival. Overstayers will be fined and may be prosecuted. For further information on entry requirements, visitors are advised to check with their nearest Indian Consulate or: Indian representation in the UK
You should seek medical advice about endemic diseases and ensure that immunisations against common infections are up to date before travelling. You should take care with your water and food hygiene.
Dengue fever is one of the infectious diseases endemic to India. It occurs each year in most parts (other than the mountain states) with a rise during and after the monsoon. You should protect yourself from mosquito bites and seek medical help in case of fever.
You should take out fully comprehensive medical and travel insurance before you travel.
For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at www.dh.gov.uk
Between the months of December and April, flights leaving India become very full. Passengers may find themselves 'bumped off' flights even if they have confirmed seats. All international departures must therefore be re-confirmed at least 72 hours before departure.
Flights arriving and departing from airports in Northern India in December and January are often delayed and sometimes cancelled due to fog.
Comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended, particularly if participating in activity sports in mountainous areas when search and rescue facilities may be required. If you undertake high-risk sports, eg mountaineering, private flying, check the small print on the policy to ensure that you are covered. It is advisable to have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights etc.
Residents and visitors of over three months or more should register with the British High Commission or the relevant Deputy High Commission in India, see Contact Details to see which office has responsibility for the various Indian States.
British nationals are advised to seek legal advice before investing in immovable property or businesses in India. There have been several cases where verbal agreements were reneged on and loopholes in agreements exploited to their disadvantage.
BRITISH OVERSEAS MISSIONS IN INDIA
NORTHERN INDIA: The British High Commission in NEW DELHI covers Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and the new State of Uttaranchal. Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021 (tel: +91 11 2687 2161 Consular fax: +91 11 2611 6094); e-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAST AND NORTH-EAST: The British Deputy High Commission in KOLKATA (Calcutta) covers Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarth, Jharkhand, West Bengal, the States in far North-East India and The Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani Calcutta 700 071 (tel: +91 33 2288 5172/5176; fax: +91 33 2288 3435) E-Mail:Kolkata@fco.gov.uk
SOUTH INDIA: The British Deputy High Commission in CHENNAI (Madras) covers Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. 20 Anderson Road, Chennai 600 006 (tel: +91 44 5219 2151/5219 2158: fax: +91 44 5219 2320) E-Mail:email@example.com
WESTERN REGION: The British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai covers Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Maker Chambers IV 2nd Floor 222 Jamnalal Bajaj Road PO Box 11714 Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 (tel: +91 22 2283 0517/2330/3602 fax: +91 22 2202 7940) E-Mail: Consular@Bombay.mail.fco.gov.uk
British High Commission
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