India

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 04 April 2014.   It contains new information in the Summary and under Safety and security: Civil unrest/political tension (national elections will be held in India between 7 April and 12 May 2014. Due to the risk of violence you should avoid all demonstrations and election related activity. Local public offices will be closed on voting days and there may be disruptions to public transport). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in India overall because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime and vehicle accidents.

India overall

Jammu and Kashmir (except for Ladakh region, Jammu and Srinagar)

Cities of Jammu and Srinagar

North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime, and 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.
  • Possible targets include public places in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, and Indian security and political interests. Major secular and religious holidays could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack.
  • Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Australians are urged to avoid protests, to monitor international and local media, and to follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • National elections will be held in India between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The election schedule is available on the website of the Election Commission of India . Local public offices will be closed on voting days and there may be disruptions to public transport. Security is likely to be increased in major cities, especially around polling stations. Due to the risk of violence, you should avoid all political rallies and other election-related activities.
  • Australians applying for an Indian visa online should use the Indian Government’s official website at indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/.
  • In December 2013, the Indian Supreme Court ruled to recriminalise homosexuality. Though prosecutions are rare, you should be aware that a conviction for homosexual behaviour could carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
  • Parts of India are subject to earthquakes, flooding and cyclones. In the event of a natural disaster it is likely that severe disruptions to services may occur. See under Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for more information.
  • As recent cases highlight, due to the risk of harassment and assault, women should take particular care in all parts of India and exercise caution, even if they are travelling in a group. See the Crime section for more information.
  • Due to frequent accidents, you should exercise particular caution when travelling on buses, trains, cars and motorcycles in all parts of India. See under Local travel for more information.
  • There is a high incidence of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases in India. Before you travel, you should consult your doctor or travel clinic about disease outbreaks, preventative measures, immunisations and vaccinations. See the Health section for more information.
  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to reconsider your need to travel to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar (including the Jammu-Srinagar highway). We advise you not to travel to other parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, due to frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations.
  • We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at the international border crossing at Atari-Wagah.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur because of the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism-related incidents. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. 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 relaxed rules on re-entering the country whilst on a tourist visa. The rule preventing holders of tourist visas from re-entering India within two months of departure no longer applies to Australian passport holders.

For the most up-to-date information on visas, visit the Indian Government’s Online Visa website or contact the nearest High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of India. The Indian Government has warned of a number of fraudulent (scam) visa websites, and advised that the only official and legal website to obtain a visa for India is indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/ where you should apply for your visa online.

If 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 (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) or with the Superintendent of Police in other areas. Failure to register may result in a jail sentence or fine, or preclude departure from India until permission is granted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

There are heavy penalties, including jail sentences, for overstaying your visa.

There is no provision for changing visa categories (i.e. tourist to work) once admitted into India.

Visa guidelines for foreign nationals intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy are strictly enforced. Further information about these visa requirements and general information regarding international commercial surrogacy is available on the Australian High Commission’s website . You should also familiarise yourself with Fact Sheet 36a on International Surrogacy Arrangements, available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. These websites include an overview of the legal issues affecting Australians considering overseas surrogacy arrangements and strongly encourage Australians to seek independent legal advice.

Indian laws controlling the import and export of Indian rupees, foreign currency, and other goods can change. Before you travel, you should contact the nearest High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of India, or The Indian Customs Board webpage to confirm your allowances.

From 14 February 2014, 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. For more information about this requirement, refer to the website of the Indian Embassy in the relevant country.

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 your passport is lost or stolen while in India, an exit visa is required to depart from India. Exit visas can be obtained by presenting a police report, two current passport size photographs and a letter from the High Commission or Consulate General advising of your lost or stolen passport to the local Foreigners Regional Registration Office. As the Indian authorities generally need to verify entry details prior to issuing an exit visa, the process can take several days.

As Indian law requires hotels and guest houses to verify your visa before check-in, it is highly recommended that you make copies of your passport details and Indian visa in case your passport is lost or stolen. You should carry copies in a separate place to your passport and leave a copy with someone at home.

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.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. 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 sometimes involve multiple, consecutive explosions. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate rather than directed against a particular target, with the aim to inflict multiple/mass casualties.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets. In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists including hotels, markets, tourist sites, transport hubs, religious sites, and Indian security and political establishments. Attacks have also targeted local courts, sporting events, a cinema and local transport networks. These risks apply in all of India’s cities and tourist centres. Take into consideration the level of security provided when deciding where to visit. Security arrangements at airports have been enhanced, reflecting the threat of terrorism to Indian aviation interests.

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.

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), and other notable anniversaries and observances as militants have in the past marked such occasions with attacks.

India’s national elections will be held in April and May 2014 and may become a focus for terrorist activity. You should be vigilant in the period leading up to, during and immediately after the elections. See Civil unrest/political tension section below.

Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have actively targeted foreign nationals for kidnapping in the past, although there have been no reported kidnappings of foreign nationals in Jammu and Kashmir since July 2000. The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath Shrine, conducted from June to August, has been the target of a terrorist attack in the past.

On 14 March 2012, two Italian nationals were kidnapped in Odisha (Orissa) state. For more information about the general threat of kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Maoist insurgents (or ‘Naxalites’) are active in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, primarily targeting the Indian Government and security forces, infrastructure and government buildings. Civilians, including foreigners, have been kidnapped, killed and injured in suspected Maoist attacks. Maoists may also call strikes in local areas affecting rail and road transport networks.

Terrorist attacks have also occurred in the state of Rajasthan; in Ahmedabad in Gujarat; outside a market in Alipurdar, West Bengal; and in Chhattisgarh.

Recent incidents of terrorism include:

  • On 28 February 2014, six security personnel were killed when ambushed in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh state.
  • On 27 October 2013 multiple bomb explosions targeting a political rally in Patna killed six people and injured at least 80.
  • On 26 September 2013, there was a coordinated attack on a police station and an army base in Jammu and Kashmi.
  • On 7 July 2013, nine blasts occurred at the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya in Bihar State in northern India injuring five people.
  • On 24 June 2013, an attack on an army convoy on the airport road on the outskirts of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, killed eight soldiers and injured several others.
  • On 17 April 2013, a bombing at a political office in Bengaluru, Karnataka state, injured 16 people.
  • On 13 March 2013, an attack on a police camp in the Benima area of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, killed five policemen and wounded several others, including civilians.
  • On 21 February 2013, bombings in public places in Hyderabad killed more than 20 people and injured 80 more.

In November 2008 more than 170 people, including two Australians, were killed in a series of coordinated attacks in Mumbai. The targets included two luxury hotels, the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace; a Jewish centre; the Victoria Terminus railway station; a hospital and a cafe.

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 frequently throughout India. Civil unrest and communal violence has in the past claimed a significant number of lives. Australians could be caught up in attacks directed at others. You should avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are being held as they may become violent. You should be aware that international events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India.

National elections will be held in India between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The election schedule is available on the website of the Election Commission of India . Local public offices will be closed on voting days and there may be disruptions to public transport. Security is likely to be increased in major cities, especially around polling stations.

Due to the risk of violence, you should avoid all political rallies and other election-related activities. The elections may become a focus for terrorist activity. Naxalite insurgents have called for a boycott of the elections and there is a heightened risk of Naxalite attack on government and security forces, with the greatest risk in Chhattisgarh.

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. You should obey any curfews imposed by the authorities in response to civil unrest. Local demonstrations can begin spontaneously and escalate with little or no warning, causing disruptions to local transportation systems and city services, and can pose a risk to travellers.

Religious ceremonies and gatherings attended by large crowds can result in dangerous and life threatening stampedes. In response to such events, Indian authorities may impose curfews and restrict activity in the affected location.

Outbreaks of anti-Christian violence have taken place in India. Religious missionary activity may attract resentment and is illegal without an appropriate visa. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Odisha (Orissa).

Andhra Pradesh: There have been sporadic, sometimes violent, protests and strikes in the State of Andhra Pradesh, including in the capital Hyderabad, in relation to the planned formation of a separate state of ‘Telangana’. Further protests and strikes are possible, which may result in disruption to government and transport services. Australians are urged to avoid any protests, to monitor developments in the state through international and local media, and to follow any instructions given by authorities.

North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution. Armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism occur frequently in these states. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings. There is also a risk from insurgent groups in rural areas of these states.

In July 2012, inter-communal violence in the Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts of Assam reportedly caused a number of deaths and injuries. There are reports of displacement and disruption to transport services. Various districts have put curfews in place. Further violence may occur.

Manipur has experienced extensive disruptions from general strikes and blockades. In November 2011, a 100-day blockade resulted in acute disruptions to essential services and shortages of food, medicine and fuel.

Jammu and Kashmir - Ladakh region: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state. 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 Jammu and Srinagar due to the risk of armed clashes, terrorist attack and violent demonstrations. While there has been an overall decline in violence in these areas over recent years, the threat of acts of violence and armed unrest persists. On 24 June 2013, an attack on an army convoy on the airport road on the outskirts of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, killed eight soldiers and injured several others.

Travellers to these locations are strongly advised to arrive and depart 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 frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations. There is an ongoing dispute between India and neighbouring Pakistan regarding Jammu and Kashmir. Serious security problems remain in parts of the state, particularly in rural areas and close to the border.

Attacks have targeted tourists and tourist buses. Foreigners have been kidnapped in Kashmir.

Continuing civil unrest, attacks and violent demonstrations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a large number of deaths, with more than 100 people reportedly killed between June and September 2010. The arrest, detention or death of those involved in protests could become catalysts for further violence. Curfews can be imposed in the Kashmir Valley at short notice, resulting in restrictions on movement, disruption to road transport and suspension of flights in and out of the area.

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. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence at the border. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border.

Crime

Recent cases highlight the risk of sexual assault against women, including foreigners. Sexual offences have occurred in different parts of India, including major cities and tourist destinations. Women should take particular care in all parts of India, 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. See our travelling women and sexual assault pages for more information for women travellers.

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, airports and bus, metro and railway stations. There have been cases where property has been stolen from travellers on overnight or long-distance trains. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery.

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after consuming 'spiked' drinks or food. Incidents of tourists being robbed and assaulted while riding in taxis and rickshaws have been reported. Taxis already carrying passengers should be avoided.

Some travellers have been intimidated or tricked into buying overpriced items after accepting unsolicited offers of assistance, particularly help with shopping for jewellery, gems and carpets.

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. Hikers need to be aware that there are regions of the border areas where only the Indian Air Force is permitted to carry out air rescues; however they are under no obligation to carry out these air rescues and have limited resources. Australians should register their presence with the local police and online with us.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep your copies with you in a separate place to the original documents and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passport.

Local travel

You should exercise particular caution when travelling on buses, trains, ferries, cars and motorcycles in all parts of India.

Standards maintained by transport services and 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.

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.

Driving in India: Travelling by road in India can be dangerous, and accidents are commonplace. Roads are often poorly maintained and congested, and shared with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock. Night driving may be 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 be poorly maintained and may not have seatbelts fitted. Vehicles may travel in the wrong direction, often without warning.

Local driving practices are often undisciplined and aggressive, and vehicles are often poorly maintained. 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 seek out the nearest police station. For further advice, see our road travel page.

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.

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 may not meet international standards. If you choose to travel by train, you should familiarise yourself with the emergency exits due to the risk of fires.

Taxis: Where possible it is preferable to use a pre-paid taxi counter. It is not advisable to engage private taxi drivers who wait outside airports and railways and drive unmarked cars. Taxis from hotels, or pre-paid taxis at airports should be used rather than hailing them on the street.

Avoid touts in public places: 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.

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 severe 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) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi.

Travellers should exercise caution while visiting areas around the coastal town of Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, as the restricted area surrounding the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam, is nearby and may not be clearly marked.

Piracy: 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. Tourist boats and other small commercial craft may not carry life preserving/saving equipment.

Airline safety

There are concerns about the safety and maintenance standards of commercial helicopters operating in the north-eastern states of India.

For further information, please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

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.

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.

In December 2013, the Indian Supreme Court set aside the 2009 ruling of the Delhi High Court that decriminalised homosexuality. 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.

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 imprisonment.

Some states prohibit the carriage of alcohol brought in from outside the state, and police may perform checks on vehicles to enforce this law.

Maiming or killing of a cow is an offence which can attract a punishment of up to five years imprisonment.

Some states within India have passed religious anti-conversion legislation making conversion to another religion by force or inducement an offence. Penalties include imprisonment. Foreigners planning to do missionary work must have a missionary visa. Those who do not hold a missionary visa risk criminal prosecution and deportation.

Strict regulations apply for the possession and export of antiques, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment. The government of India requires the registration of antiques. For further information contact the High Commission of India in Canberra or the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs.

There are strict rules governing the purchase of property by foreigners in the state of Goa. The Reserve Bank of India website has some information, however Australians should seek reliable legal advice and familiarise themselves with applicable laws before entering into agreements to purchase property.

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, can 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.

Local customs

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.

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 provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

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.

Tap water in India may not be safe to drink, depending on your location. Travellers are advised to drink only bottled water.

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). We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, 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.

Mosquito-borne diseases: 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.

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. Most hospitals require up-front payment or confirmation of insurance cover prior to commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could total in excess of A$300,000 depending on circumstances.

For divers who experience compression problems, decompression chambers are located at the Indian naval base in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and at the Goa Medical College, Goa.

"Medical tourism", including for cosmetic and experimental stem cell treatments, has become more common. Australians should ensure that they do not attend discount or uncertified medical establishments where standards can be lacking and result in serious and possibly life-threatening complications. You should find out whether you can seek compensation if you are not happy with the result and ensure you have appropriate insurance cover.

Avoid temporary 'black henna' tattoos as they may contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions. For further information see the Australasian College of Dermatologists' website.

Air pollution: 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 websites such as SAFAR or the DPCC website. Information on air quality can also be found on the World Health Organization website.

The high levels of air pollution in industrialised areas of India may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Dust storms, which occur on occasion across the north of the country, can cause eye, nose, mouth and throat irritations and exacerbate respiratory and cardio-vascular problems.

Where to get help

In India, you can obtain consular assistance from:

Australian High Commission, New Delhi

No. 1/50 G Shantipath (Gate 1)
Chanakyapuri
New Delhi INDIA 110021
Telephone: (91 11) 4139 9900
Facsimile: (91 11) 2687 2228
Website: www.india.highcommission.gov.au
Email: ahc.newdelhi@dfat.gov.au

Australian Consulate General, Mumbai

Level 10, A Wing
Crescenzo Building
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
Whites Road
Royapettah
Chennai 600 014
Tamil Nadu
Telephone: (91 44) 4592 1300
Facsimile: (91 44) 4592 1320
Email: chennaiaustralianconsulate@dfat.gov.au

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.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Cyclones occur commonly in Indian waters in the period April-December, particularly around the Bay of Bengal. Coastal and some inland areas of India are vulnerable to storm surges, particularly the southern states and territories of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Lahshadweep Island 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.

Annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of 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. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after the water recedes. Transport and communication infrastructure can also be affected. 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.

Parts of India are in active seismic zones and are subject to earthquakes. 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. Landslides and flooding occur in the monsoon season (from June to October) and may disrupt essential services, such as power, water and transport.

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.

Wildlife

Fatal tiger attacks have occurred in India. Travellers should respect wildlife laws and park regulations, use reputable and professional guides and maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.