- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the high threat of terrorist activity, civil unrest and crime, and the high rate of vehicle accidents. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Major flooding in the Tamil Nadu region, including Chennai, has caused significant disruption to transport services and local infrastructure although power and telecommunications has been restored in most areas across the city.
- Chennai airport has resumed full operation. Local services and infrastructure affected by the floods have been mostly restored. You should follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company when confirming travel plans to Tamil Nadu.
- We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks in India, including in regions frequented by Westerners. We assess that attacks could occur anywhere at any time with little or no warning, including in locations frequented by Australians. See Safety and security.
- Safety of women is a concern in India. Women should take particular care in all parts of India and exercise caution, even if they are travelling in a group. See Safety and security.
- Violent protests and demonstrations occur sporadically throughout India. See Safety and security.
- Australians must obtain a visa before travelling to India. Eligible Australians may apply electronically in advance for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV) for single-entry visits of 30 days or less. eTV holders can enter at a limited number of immigrations ports. All other Australian visa applicants need to make an appointment online prior to submitting their visa application. See Entry and exit.
- Foreign nationals are no longer permitted to commission surrogacy in India. The Indian Government has issued new advice with immediate effect from 4 November 2015. See our International Surrogacy bulletin for further detailed information.
- Driving in India is unpredictable and the number of road traffic deaths is high. See Local travel.
- Air quality in India varies considerably, especially in winter, with major cities experiencing very high levels of seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution which can be harmful. You should seek medical advice if you intend to visit India and are concerned about the effects of air pollution. See Health.
- There are several regions of India where we advise Australians to reconsider your need to travel, or avoid all travel. See Safety and security.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Visas and passports
The Indian Government has launched its e Tourist Visa (e-TV) scheme through the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) facility. Eligible Australians may apply for an e-TV for tourism-related travel of 30 days or less. eTV is a single entry visa. See the Government of India’s e-TV and Ministry of Home Affairs websites for more information.
Not all international airports in India allow passengers to enter with an e-TV. See the Indian Government’s list of 16 airports that allow entry with an e-TV. You will need an Indian visa label in your passport issued outside India if you wish to enter the country through locations that are not included in the list. If you arrive with an e-TV at an international airport or border crossing where the e-TV is not recognised you will not be able to apply for any other visa and you will be denied entry to India.
Travellers holding an e-TV may exit from any authorised immigration check point in India.
Volunteers: Australians who wish to undertake any form of paid or unpaid volunteer work (including students visiting India under the New Colombo Plan) should discuss relevant visa requirements with their local Indian diplomatic mission well ahead of any travel.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Indian High Commission for the latest information. If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in India, you will need to obtain an exit visa to leave India.
There are heavy penalties, including jail sentences, for overstaying your visa.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Foreign nationals are no longer permitted to commission surrogacy in India. The Indian Government has issued new advice with immediate effect from 4 November 2015. See our International Surrogacy bulletin for further information.
Indian laws controlling the import and export of Indian rupees, foreign currency, and other goods can change. Before you travel, you should check the Indian Customs Board webpage to confirm your allowances.
Vaccination certificate requirements
If you arrive in India from Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Somalia, you must present an international certificate of vaccination or prophylactic against polio.
If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry into India.
Information on India’s vaccination requirements can be found on the Indian Bureau of Immigration website.
If you are planning to stay in India for more than 180 days, you are required to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, or with the Superintendent of Police in other areas. Further information on visa registration could be found at the Bureau of Indian Immigration website. Failure to register may result in a fine or jail sentence, or prevent your departure from India until permission is granted by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs.
Safety and security
Jammu and Kashmir - Ladakh region: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state. Travellers should consider the security environment when deciding to visit Ladakh. All travel to the region should be via Manali, or by air to the city of Leh, in order to avoid potential trouble spots elsewhere in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir - Cities of Jammu and Srinagar (including the Jammu-Srinagar highway): We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, including the Jammu-Srinagar highway, due to the risk of armed clashes, terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations. If you choose to travel to Srinagar, you should do so by air.
Other Parts of Jammu and Kashmir: We advise you not to travel to other parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, due to the danger of armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations, particularly in rural areas and areas close to the border with Pakistan. In the past, attacks have targeted tourist buses. There have also been isolated incidences of kidnapping of foreigners in Kashmir.
Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh: Maoist insurgents, known as Naxalites, frequently conduct attacks in rural and forested areas of Chhattisgarh. Border areas with neighbouring states are also at risk of Naxalite violence, particularly Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Telegana.
Borders with Pakistan: We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (northern and western India), other than at the international border crossing at Atari, India and Wagah, Pakistan. In 2014, a terrorist attack on the Pakistani side of the Atari-Wagah border crossing killed at least 55 people and injured 200. Visitors to the border crossing should maintain a high level of vigilance. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border. In July 2015, gunmen in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, 15 kilometres from the Pakistan border, attacked a bus, health centre and police station killing up to 10 people.
North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to these areas due to the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion, and separatist and insurgent violence, including in rural areas. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings in these states.
We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks in India and we assess that attacks could occur anywhere at any time with little or no warning, including at tourist destinations and where large concentrations of foreigners gather.
Information of late November 2015 indicates that militants may be planning attacks in regions frequented by Westerners in India.
Terrorist attacks in India have involved multiple, consecutive explosions and resulted in a high number of fatalities. Past attacks have aimed to inflict mass casualties.
Terrorist groups regularly issue statements threatening to launch attacks in India and Indian security services have warned that attacks may occur. In September 2014, Al Qaeda announced the formation of an offshoot in the Indian Subcontinent. Most recently, militants based in Pakistan threatened attacks in India following the 2 November 2014 suicide bombing on the Pakistani side of the border with India at Wagah, which killed at least 55 people. In 2014, Indian authorities made a number of arrests of suspected terrorists accused of planning terrorist attacks in India.
In 2015 Indian security agencies have thwarted a number of proposed attacks and arrested a number of suspected terrorists. There have been a number of attacks, notably against a police station and a bus and an attempted bombing of a railway bridge in the Punjab in July 2015.
The threat of terrorism exists in all Indian cities and tourist centres. In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists including hotels, markets, tourist sites, transport hubs and public transport networks and religious sites. Attacks have also targeted local courts, sporting events and cinemas, and Indian security and political establishments. Major tourist centres are also potential targets for attack.
Take into consideration local security conditions and arrangements when deciding where to visit. There are limited security measures in place on public transport, such as buses and railways. Security arrangements at airports have been enhanced, reflecting the threat of terrorist attacks against Indian aviation interests.
Major secular and religious holidays and periods of religious significance could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack. You should also be vigilant in the period surrounding days of national significance, such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August).
The Indian Government has in the past issued public alert warnings about possible terrorist attacks. You should take such alert warnings seriously and avoid any areas identified as a possible target of attack.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information.
Civil unrest/political tension
Violent protests and demonstrations occur sporadically and often spontaneously throughout India. Civil unrest and communal violence have in the past claimed a significant number of lives.
International events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India, often causing disruptions to public transport.
Religious ceremonies and gatherings attended by large crowds can result in dangerous and life threatening incidents, such as stampedes. In response to such events, Indian authorities may impose curfews and restrict activity in the affected location.
In the event of a protest or demonstration you should monitor international and local media for information concerning your safety and security and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Women should take particular care in India, including in major cities and tourist destinations, even when travelling in a group. Exercise vigilance at all times of the day, avoid walking in less populous and unlit areas, (including city streets, village lanes and beaches), and take care when travelling in taxis and rickshaws. Avoid travelling alone on public transportation, autos and taxis, particularly at night. Foreign women can be subjected to unwanted attention and more serious harassment and assault. Successful prosecutions are rare. See our travelling women page for more information.
There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious groups and their leaders in India. Australians visiting India for such religious purposes should be aware of these risks.
Petty theft is common in crowded areas such as markets, trade fairs, expos, and airports, as well as on buses, metros and trains, including overnight and long-distance trains. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery.
Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after consuming 'spiked' drinks or food. Avoid accepting unsolicited offers of food and drinks from strangers, particularly on trains. There have also been reports of travellers being abducted, assaulted and robbed when leaving venues alone late at night, particularly when intoxicated. See our partying overseas page for tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.
Money and valuables
Take care when receiving change or dealing in cash as counterfeit currency is in circulation.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Travelling by road
Travelling by road in India can be dangerous. Accidents are commonplace and the number of road traffic deaths is high. Local driving practices are often undisciplined and aggressive, and vehicles are often poorly maintained. Roads are often of poor quality and congested, and shared with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock. Travelling by road at night is particularly dangerous due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting and the presence of other vehicles driving with headlights off or on high beam. Vehicles may travel in the wrong direction, often without warning.
Driving: To drive in India, you must have either a valid Indian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit together with an Australian driving licence. An Australian licence alone is not sufficient. Motorcycle riders must wear helmets. If you intend to ride a motorcycle, you should check that your travel insurance policy covers motorcycle riding and exercise extreme caution.
If a vehicle hits a pedestrian or cow, the occupants are at risk of being attacked or becoming victims of extortion. If it is unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident, drivers may instead wish to go to the nearest police station. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Taxis: Pre-paid taxis at airports or taxis booked from hotels should be used rather than hailing them on the street. You should not use private unmarked cars as taxis.
Buses and trains: Bus and train services are often overcrowded and drivers may lack adequate training. Buses and trains are often also poorly maintained and fires can occur. If you choose to travel by train, you should familiarise yourself with the emergency exits.
Restrictions on movement
State and Union Territory governments may impose restrictions on the movement of foreign tourists in particular states and near tribal areas. You may need to obtain permission from the Indian authorities to visit those parts of the country, particularly in the northeast. Permits are required for Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu District and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, tribal areas of Odisha, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttrakhand (formerly Uttaranchal), parts of Rajasthan adjacent to the international border, the Tibetan settlements between Hunsar and Madikeri in Karnataka, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
There are stringent penalties for entering a protected or restricted area without prior permission. Indian authorities generally require at least four weeks to process permit applications. You should seek advice from the nearest Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate; or the Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, NDCC-II Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi.
Fatal tiger attacks have occurred in India. Monkeys may attempt to steal items from visitors at temples and busy tourist attractions. Travellers should respect wildlife laws and park regulations, use reputable and professional guides and maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife.
Other local travel issues
Standards maintained by tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be comparable to those in Australia. Check operators’ credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't.
Tourist boats, ferries and other small commercial craft may not carry life preserving/saving equipment.
Delays in travel can be expected throughout India, including due to additional security measures, especially in the lead up to and on days of national significance such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August).
Fog often affects northern India, particularly during December and January, and may delay air and rail travel, and may make road travel more dangerous.
Touts are often found at airports, railway stations and bus stations and may use aggressive tactics to persuade travellers to buy tickets on tours. They may not have any connection to the relevant commercial service providers and you may be overcharged.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in India.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of India, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Matters concerning dowry have resulted in some Australian citizens being subject to arrest upon arrival in India. The act of giving or receiving a dowry is prohibited. Claims for dowry can result in an arrest alert notice being issued by a court at the request of an aggrieved party.
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in India. Though prosecutions are rare, a conviction for homosexual behaviour could carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Legal processes in India generally take several years to conclude. Australians arrested for major offences may be imprisoned for several years before a verdict is reached in their case. The requirement for official approvals by Indian authorities can cause delays in consular services being provided to Australians in prison.
Penalties in India for some crimes, such as murder, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery with murder, and treason, may also attract the death penalty. Penalties for drug offences are severe and may also include mandatory sentences and the death penalty.
You are required by law to carry your passport at all times and you will need your passport to check into hotels and check in for flights.
Trespassing and photography of airports, military establishments and dams is illegal with penalties ranging from three to 14 years imprisonment.
Some places of worship and temples do not allow visitors to take pictures or videos; travellers need to check beforehand with the temple’s administrative office.
It is illegal to carry or use a satellite phone in India without permission. The penalty for doing so could include a fine and/or imprisonment.
Legal drinking ages range from 18 to 25 depending on the state, and can vary by alcohol type. Some states permit alcohol use for medicinal purposes only, and others require you to hold a permit to buy, transport or consume alcohol. Some states prohibit the carriage of alcohol brought in from outside the state, and police may perform checks on vehicles to enforce this law. Travellers are advised to check state alcohol laws before they visit.
Deliberate maiming or killing of a cow is an offence which can attract a punishment of up to five years imprisonment in some states.
Foreigners planning to undertake missionary work in India require an appropriate visa. Missionaries without an appropriate visa risk deportation. Some states within India have passed legislation making it an offence to induce conversion to another religion by force or other enticement.
Strict regulations apply for the possession and export of antiquities, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment. For further information contact the High Commission of India in Canberra or the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, child sex tourism, and commercial surrogacy, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
There are strict codes of dress and behaviour in India, particularly at religious sites, and you should take care not to offend. Physical contact between men and women in public is not considered appropriate.
The timing of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan varies from year to year. For information on how this may affect travel, see our Ramadan bulletin.
Information for dual nationals
The Indian constitution does not recognise dual nationality. However, local law allows persons of Indian origin in a number of countries, including Australia, to apply for Overseas Citizenship of India. Further advice is available from the Overseas Citizenship of India section of the Indian Government's Ministry of Home Affairs website.
Our Dual Nationals page also provides relevant information.
Insurance, vaccinations and other considerations
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities providing an adequate standard of treatment can be found in India's major cities. However, in remote and rural areas facilities can be very limited or unavailable. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation may be necessary.
"Medical tourism", including for cosmetic and experimental stem cell treatments, has become more common in India. Australians should ensure that they do not attend discount or uncertified medical establishments where standards can be lacking.
Decompression chambers are located at the Indian naval base in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and at the Goa Medical College, Goa.
Travel health concerns
Cases of influenza A(H1N1) are prevalent in India during the winter season. If you are travelling to India, discuss influenza vaccination requirements with your GP or a travel health professional before departing Australia.
There is a high incidence of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases in India (including meningitis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diphtheria and rabies). Tap water in India is not safe to drink, we recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water with intact seals, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Do not consume home-made or unlabelled alcohol as it may be adulterated with harmful substances.
Cases of dengue fever are prevalent in India during the period after the monsoon. For more information on dengue fever, see the World Health Organisation’s dengue fact sheet. Malaria is a risk in most parts of India, including major cities. There is also a risk of other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever and filariasis). Take strict precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using an insect repellent, wearing loose fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever.
Major cities in India experience frequent high levels of air pollution, which in some places can reach hazardous levels. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly cardiac and respiratory, may be especially affected. If you live in or intend to visit India and are concerned about the levels of air pollution you should seek medical advice. Follow advice from local authorities about methods to reduce exposure on days with high levels of pollution. You can monitor the pollution index for many cities through resources such as SAFAR or the DPCC website. Information on air quality can also be found on the World Health Organization website.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the police on 100.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian High Commission, New Delhi
Australian Consulate General, Mumbai
Level 10, A Wing
Opp MCA Cricket Club
G Block, Plot C 38-39
Bandra Kurla Complex
Mumbai 400 051
Telephone: (91 22) 6757 4900
Facsimile: (91 22) 6757 4955
Australian Consulate General, Chennai
9th Floor, Express Chambers
Express Avenue Estate
Chennai 600 014
Telephone: (91 44) 4592 1300
Facsimile: (91 44) 4592 1320
See the Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to India, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north and east, and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south. In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. If you are travelling during the monsoon season, you should contact your tour operators to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected. For further information see the India Meteorological Department website.
Flooding in the Tamil Nadu region: Major flooding in the Tamil Nadu region, including Chennai, has caused significant disruption to transport services and local infrastructure although power and telecommunications has been restored in most areas across the city. Chennai airport has resumed full operation. Local services and infrastructure affected by the floods have been mostly restored. You should follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company when confirming travel plans to Tamil Nadu.
In September 2014, heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding and a number of landslides in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in a large number of deaths.
Cyclones occur commonly in Indian waters in the period April-December, particularly around the Bay of Bengal in eastern India. Coastal and some inland areas of India are vulnerable to storm surges, particularly Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In the event of an approaching cyclone, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media and weather reports. You can obtain up to date advice on cyclone activity from the India Meteorological Department website. Our Severe weather page also contains useful information on what to do in a cyclone.
Earth tremors are common in India, particularly in the North-eastern states, and can cause landslides in hilly and mountainous areas. In the event of an earthquake it is likely that severe disruptions to services will occur. Information on volcanic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.
In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.