- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the risk of terrorism, 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.
- Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning. See the Safety and security section.
- 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 the Safety and security section.
- Violent protests and demonstrations occur sporadically throughout India. See the Safety and security section.
- Following the conviction and sentencing of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on 27 September 2014 in Bangalore, tension in Chennai and Bangalore remains high. Protests and demonstrations may continue for some time, and we recommend that Australians in Chennai and Bangalore avoid all areas where protests and demonstrations occur as they may turn violent. You should remain vigilant and monitor the local news and media sources to keep abreast of the latest developments.
- Driving in India is unpredictable and the number of road traffic deaths is high. See the Local travel section.
- Australians must obtain a visa before travelling to India. Travellers should be aware that there are a number of scam websites offering Indian visa services. You should only use the Indian Government’s official website.
- In September 2014, heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding and a number of landslides in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in a significant number of deaths. See the Natural disasters section.
- There are several regions of India where we advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel, or avoid all travel. For information about these regions, see the Safety and security section
- 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
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Entry and exit
Visas and passports
Australians must obtain a visa before travelling to India. If you arrive in India without a visa, the Indian Government will likely refuse you entry.
The Indian Government has warned of a number of fraudulent (scam) visa websites. You can access the Indian Government’s official online visa service through the following website: indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa. After completing the application form, if you are in Australia, you will be directed to the Australian official service provider’s site at www.vfsglobal.com/india/australia for appointments and payments.
The Indian Government has advised that from December 2014, biometric data, including fingerprints and facial imagery, will be collected as part of the visa process. Visa applicants will need to be physically present at a visa application centre, by appointment, to submit their applications and biometric data. For more information, contact the Indian High Commission in Canberra or your nearest Indian Consulate.
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.
There are heavy penalties, including jail sentences, for overstaying your visa in India.
If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in India, you will need to obtain an exit visa to leave India. More information regarding exit visas can be found at the Indian Government’s website.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Visa guidelines for commissioning surrogacy
Visa guidelines for foreign nationals intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy are strictly enforced. We strongly encourage Australians considering commissioning surrogacy overseas to seek independent legal advice. The following websites provide an overview of the legal issues affecting Australians considering overseas surrogacy arrangements:
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.
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. 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 take into consideration local security measures and the overall security environment when deciding to visit the Ladakh region. All travel to the region should be via Manali, or by air to the region’s main 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. Naxalites are responsible for more attacks in India resulting in deaths than any other non-state armed group. Border areas with neighbouring states are also at risk of Naxalite violence, particularly Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Andra Pradesh.
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. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border.
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 advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India overall due to the threat of terrorist activity. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security threats. Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning.
We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks in India. Terrorist attacks in India have involved multiple, consecutive explosions and resulted in a high number of fatalities. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate rather than directed against a particular target, with the aim to inflict mass casualties.
Major secular and religious holidays and periods of religious significance, such as Ramadan, Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Easter and New Year’s Eve 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.
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 networks and religious sites. Attacks have also targeted local courts, sporting events and cinemas, and Indian security and political establishments.
Take into consideration local security measures 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.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
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. You should avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are being held as these may become violent. You should be aware that international events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India, often causing disruptions to public transport.
Following the conviction and sentencing of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on 27 September 2014 in Bangalore, tension in Chennai and Bangalore remains high. Protests and demonstrations may continue for some time, and we recommend that Australians in Chennai and Bangalore avoid all areas where protests and demonstrations occur as they may turn violent. You should remain vigilant and monitor the local news and media sources to keep abreast of the latest developments.
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 all parts of India, including 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, at airports and 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. 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.
Hikers have been attacked and have disappeared in the Kulu/Manali district in Himachal Pradesh, particularly on more remote trekking routes. Hikers are strongly urged not to hike alone and to obtain detailed information in advance about proposed hiking routes.
Money and valuables
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. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.
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. For your safety, you should not use private taxi drivers who wait outside airports and railways and drive unmarked cars.
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 generally 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.
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.
Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of India. See our piracy bulletin for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues weekly piracy reports on its website.
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.
When you are in India, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
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, you should be aware that 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, include the death penalty. Penalties for drug offences are severe and 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. Penalties for violation of these laws can be harsh, so travellers are advised to check with Indian authorities in the states they plan to visit.
Deliberate maiming or killing of a cow is an offence which can attract a punishment of up to five years imprisonment.
Foreigners planning to undertake missionary work in India need 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. The government of India requires the registration of antiquities. 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.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
There are strong codes of dress and behaviour in India, particularly in northern India and at religious sites, and you should take care not to offend.
Physical contact between men and women in public is not considered appropriate. If in any doubt, seek local advice.
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 travel 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. Remember, 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 to a destination with appropriate facilities 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
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 may not be 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.
You should not consume home-made or unlabelled alcohol as it may be adulterated with harmful substances.
Dengue fever is prevalent in India. 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). It is strongly recommended you take 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. You should also 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 insurance provider in the first instance.
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
Australian Consulate General
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.
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. There has also been significant damage to infrastructure and services. If, despite our advice, you choose to travel in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities at all times.
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, you should follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media and weather reports for the latest developments. 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.
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.
For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: