India travel guide
As beautiful as it is bamboozling, India is an endlessly fascinating country that challenges and surprises even the most seasoned traveller.
Stretched between the golden beaches of the Indian Ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, India dazzles with an incredible tapestry of natural and man-made wonders. Home to some of the world’s most iconic monuments; its astounding temples, mystical monasteries, frenetic cities, pristine national parks, lavish palaces and mesmerising markets will capture and inspire your imagination.
Visiting India is an exciting assault on the senses. Sights, sounds, smells and sensations are all experienced at maximum intensity. It can feel intimidating on day one, but eventually, the noise and chaos become an ordinary part of everyday life. The sensory stimulation becomes strangely addictive. Presided over by an extraordinary array of gods and deities, approximately one-sixth of the planet's population can be found here, living in anything from high-rise apartments and inner-city shantytowns, to simple huts in remote villages. India is one of the world's great melting pots, where an incredible diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities live in unexpected harmony.
An explorers paradise, you could spend a lifetime discovering the relics left behind from ancient empires and trekking its dramatic landscapes. From its tiger-filled jungles to the frozen Himalayan deserts, India’s veritable bounty of breath-taking scenery is sure to leave you awe-struck. On the first trip, almost everyone finds time for the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’; zipping from the colonial capital, Delhi, to the Taj Mahal at Agra, then on to Jaipur, the colourful capital of Rajasthan. With more time to spare, you can discover 36 UNESCO-listed sights ranging from creaking mountain railways and ancient fortresses to mangrove forests and temples overflowing with multi-armed deities.
Don’t expect to absorb all India has to offer in one visit; the country is best appreciated like a buffet table, with repeat visits to sample the next tantalising platter. And with India’s legendary cuisine, rest assured that on every trip, you will feast like a Maharaja.
3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq miles).
1,339,180.13 (UN estimate 2017).
450 per sq km.
President Ram Nath Kovind since 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014.
Last updated: 22 October 2019
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
- the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah
- Jammu and Kashmir, except for (i) travel within the city of Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, and (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh
The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCO advise against all travel.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the state of Manipur, except the state capital Imphal and the Meiti Valley areas, which include Loktak Lake, Keibul Lamjao National Park and the Imphal War Cemetery.
On 2 August 2019, Indian media reported that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir had advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return home as soon as possible because of security threats. The British High Commission in New Delhi is monitoring the situation. You should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice. If you’re in areas of Jammu and Kashmir where the FCO advise against all travel, consider carefully your need to remain and keep your departure options under close review.
Travel in India during the monsoon season (June to October) can be hazardous. Monsoon rains can cause severe flooding and/or landslides in large parts of the country and can lead to travel disruptions for long periods of time. Monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department, follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company before travelling.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Turkmenistan Airlines flights to and from the EU pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards. If you have an existing booking, you should contact Turkmenistan Airlines to seek further information. More information for affected UK passengers is available on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in India. Recent attacks have targeted public places including those visited by foreigners. There have been recent media reports suggesting Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) may have an interest in attacking targets in India. There may be an increased threat to places visited by British nationals such as religious sites, markets, festival venues and beaches. You should be vigilant at this time, monitor local media and take all precautions for your safety.
You should avoid protests and large gatherings. Stampedes have occurred during some events with large crowds, including at political rallies and religious gatherings, resulting in deaths and injuries. Follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company. Monitor local media and respect any curfew restrictions that may be in place.
Additional security measures have been implemented at airports across the country. If you’re travelling through an airport you should allow additional time to complete check-in and security as you and your baggage may be required to undergo random x-rays and baggage checks.
From January 2019, protests have continued in Assam and other states in the North East of India. These protests are related to the revision of the National Register of Citizens and a proposed Citizen Amendment Bill. Check the latest travel advice before visiting these areas. Once in the region, you’re advised to avoid large crowds.
Severe air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi and its surrounding areas. It is also a serious concern in many other Indian cities.
UK health authorities have classified India as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Over 940,000 British nationals visited India in 2017. Most visits are trouble-free.
The Indian Ministry of Tourism has a 24 hour multi-lingual telephone helpline on toll free number 1800 111 363 providing visitors to India with information about travel and tourism.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support is severely limited in parts of India where the FCO advise against all travel and limited where the FCO advise against all but essential travel.
Safety and security
Women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if travelling in a group. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men. Serious sexual attacks involving foreign nationals have been reported. In April 2018, a Latvian woman was sexually assaulted and strangled in Thiruvallam, Kerala. More recently, in December 2018 a British woman was raped in Goa. If you’re a woman travelling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day. See these travel tips for women travellers.
Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and exercise caution when using pre-paid taxis at airports as there have been instances of British tourists becoming the victims of a scam by taxi drivers and others who offer cheap transportation and/or hotels, unwanted tours and extended taxi rides. Travellers who accept these offers have reported being threatened with violence when they have declined to pay.
Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. If you’re being collected at the airport by a hotel driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. If you book a taxi online, there’s a facility whereby you can let your friends/families know the details of your journey in case of an emergency. You can send your details to pre-selected contacts who can then pinpoint your exact location. If you’re the victim of abuse call 100 for police assistance or 1091 or 1096 if you’re the victim of sexual harassment.
If you are the victim of a sex crime, see Rape and Sexual Assault Abroad.
Be particularly careful with your luggage when travelling by buses and trains, and keep your handbags safe in large crowds.
Keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separately from the originals when travelling. Leave copies at home where others can access them, and also store them electronically so you can access them easily. If your passport is lost or stolen notify the police immediately and obtain a police report.
Be wary of confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, who promise large amounts of cash for delivery of jewellery abroad in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is worthless and the deposit, often amounting to thousands of pounds, is lost.
The FCO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of (i) travel within the city Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, (iii) travel within the region of Ladakh. The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCO advise against all travel.
On 2 August 2019, Indian media reported that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir had advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return home as soon as possible because of security threats. The British High Commission in New Delhi is monitoring the situation. You should remain vigilant, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice. If you’re in areas of Jammu and Kashmir where the FCO advise against travel, consider carefully your need to remain and keep your departure options under close review.
There have been a number of terrorist attacks against army bases and other targets in Jammu and Kashmir. On 14 February 2019 a terrorist attack took place in Kashmir targeting Indian security forces on the highway between Jammu and Srinagar, with many killed and injured.
On 10 February 2018, a terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Sujuwan killed 16 and injured 20. On 10 July 2017, a terrorist attack on a bus of Hindu pilgrims on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway killed 7 and injured many others. There have also been violent protests and operations by security forces in the Kashmir Valley in 2016 and 2017 which have resulted in a number of deaths and serious casualties. Curfews and other restrictions can be imposed and lifted frequently and quickly. You should remain vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company.
An Indian army base in Uri, close to the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, was attacked by terrorists in September 2016. You should remain vigilant and monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company.
Since the death of Hizbul Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016, there have been widespread violent protests in the Kashmir Valley which have resulted in deaths and serious casualties. As a result, curfews are imposed and lifted on an almost daily basis.
On 3 October 2016, the Jammu and Kashmir government confirmed foreign nationals travelling to the Nubra valley in Leh no longer require a protected area permit to visit the area.
Foreigners remain vulnerable in rural districts and outside the main population centres and tourist areas. There is a risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The level of consular assistance that the British High Commission can provide in Jammu & Kashmir is severely limited.
The FCO advises against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan other than travel across the international border at Wagah. On 2 November 2014, an attack caused multiple fatalities on the Pakistan side of the Wagah border crossing after the flag lowering ceremony.
The border between India and Pakistan in Rajasthan is unmarked in some areas. Approaching the border away from an official crossing point could be dangerous, and where unmarked could lead to a visitor straying into Pakistan.
Never trek alone. Trekkers should travel in groups and engage local guides. Use a reputable agency and stay on established routes. Leave a message at your accommodation about where you are going and when you expect to return. It is extremely unlikely to get any phone signal in the mountains so please register your whereabouts using the online C form. The following hazards exist throughout the year, especially above 3000m: sudden weather changes, avalanches and snow drifts, landslides and flooding, rock falls and thunderstorms. For the more intrepid climbers you will need special permits.
There are no commercial mountain rescue services operating above 3,000 metres. In some border areas only the Indian Air Force is permitted to carry out air rescues. However, they are under no obligation to perform air rescues; have limited resources to do so and can only get clearance to carry out rescues during working hours. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for altitudes over 2,400 metres and mountain rescue and helicopter costs.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the state of Manipur except the state capital Imphal and the Meiti Valley areas, which include Loktak Lake, Keibul Lamjao National Park and the Imphal War Cemetery. If you plan to travel to Imphal and the surrounding Meiti Valley areas then do so only by air after checking the latest security conditions. There is a risk of terrorism and organised crime in Manipur, especially in rural areas. Although foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can be indiscriminate.
Some areas within the north-eastern states, especially in Manipur and Assam, still experience sudden and random outbreaks of violence. Review your security arrangements carefully, seek advice from the local authorities and avoid large crowds.
Violent Maoist extremist groups (Naxalites) are active in the rural areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Odisha, Maharashtra and along the border with Andhra Pradesh. There is a risk of violent crime in the rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand. There have been skirmishes on the India/Bangladesh border. There are certain security guidelines that need to be adhered to by foreign tourists and researchers during their visits to tribal areas in Odisha. Check the advice of the local authorities if you plan to visit the rural areas of these states.
Indian government permits are required for travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You should apply well in advance (at least 3 months). In India, you should apply at the liaison office of the state for which you require a permit or the Foreigners Regional Registration Office. Permits for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be issued on arrival in Port Blair but this is not the case for the other states. Permit regulations can change at any time. Contact the respective state liaison office or the Bureau of Immigration – India for the latest guidance.
The FCO advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, except for travel across the international border at Wagah.
The India/Pakistan border in Gujarat is unmarked in some areas. Approaching it away from an official crossing point could be dangerous and where unmarked could lead to you straying into Pakistan illegally.
If you’re travelling into Mumbai International Airport (known formally as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) you should allow sufficient time for transiting between flights if you need to change from International Terminal 2 to Domestic Terminals 1A and 1B, even if you’re using the airport shuttle service. At any of these terminals, please be alert to unofficial taxi drivers who may charge high fares. Official pre-paid taxi services are available from inside all terminal buildings and many hotels offer airport transfer facilities.
The vast majority of British nationals visiting Goa do so without any problems. However, there have been a few serious incidents involving British nationals, most recently 5 serious sexual assaults occurring between October 2017 and December 2018. In March 2017, a young female traveller was murdered. If you’re a solo female traveller, you should exercise caution around strangers. Don’t accept offers of lifts from people you don’t know well, including other foreigners. You should observe and respect local dress and customs. See our travel tips for women travellers.
Take particular care of your bags and purses; there have been instances of bags being snatched by people riding past on bikes. Avoid unlit and remote beaches after dark. Keep your passport and other valuables safe.
Don’t leave your drinks unattended. There have been reports of drinks being spiked and travellers, including British nationals, subsequently being robbed or assaulted.
You should follow warnings posted at beaches and instructions issued by lifeguards. Every year several people drown due to the strong currents in the sea. Emergency service standards may differ from those in the UK.
Road traffic accidents are common and many fatal accidents occur each year. Wear a good quality helmet if renting a motorcycle or scooter.
Possession or consumption of drugs is illegal. If arrested, you may be incarcerated for several years whilst your case comes to trial, and a conviction for either offence may lead to a very long prison sentence.
Car and motorbike accidents are one of the biggest causes of injury and death overseas. Several British nationals die each year on Indian roads. If possible, avoid travelling at night. Always travel in a well-maintained vehicle with seatbelts. If you travel by motorbike, wear a helmet and proper footwear.
Tourist boats and other small crafts rarely carry life-saving equipment.
Although piracy has not so far affected India’s territorial waters, it poses a significant threat in parts of the Indian Ocean, especially for shipping/mariners that don’t take appropriate precautions or follow agreed shipping industry best practice guidelines. Mariners should be vigilant.
Ships and their crew must have the necessary authorisation and paperwork before entering Indian territorial waters. They must abide by Indian laws and regulations as long as they are in those waters. If carrying weapons on board ships in Indian territorial waters Indian laws and regulations must be followed.
There are strong currents off many coasts. Most beaches don’t have warning signs, flags or life-saving equipment. Drownings are common.
Don’t accept food or drinks from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains often on overnight journeys. Take particular care of your passport and valuables when boarding and while on the train. Avoid individuals at railway stations offering tickets and tours.
Strikes or “bandh”, political rallies and demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country and can turn violent, particularly around elections or in the wake of the death of party or government leaders. Transport and public services may be disrupted at short notice. Visitors to India should avoid protests or large gatherings. Follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company. Monitor local media and follow any curfew restrictions that may be in place.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in India.
Terrorist attacks are carried out by a number of terrorist and insurgent groups including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Indian Mujahideen. There have been recent media reports suggesting Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) interest in attacking targets in India. There may be an increased threat to places visited by British nationals such as religious sites, markets, festival venues and beaches.
While the main focus of terrorist attacks has been against Indian government interests, terrorists have also targeted places visited by westerners including public places like restaurants, hotels, railway stations, markets, places of worship, festivals and sporting venues. Be vigilant, especially in public places. Always monitor local media before planning your travel for any local travel warnings. If you see unattended baggage, report it promptly. Security has been strengthened, notably at major hotels and transport hubs (airports, railway and metro stations). Take particular care in the lead up to and on days of national significance, like Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August), Diwali (28 October 2019) and Eid (usually May/June).
In some areas terrorist incidents are frequent, especially Jammu and Kashmir (excluding Ladakh) and less frequently in parts of the north east. A terrorist attack took place in Pulwama (Jammu and Kashmir) on 14 February 2019.
A number of insurgent groups are active in Assam and there are random incidents of violence and killings. Violent extremist groups are also active in the rural areas of Jharkand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and in parts of Bihar and West Bengal.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Local laws and customs
Drugs are illegal in India. There is no categorising of drugs into Class A, B and C. There is a minimum sentence of 6 months for possession of small amounts deemed for personal consumption only. A 10-year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The judicial process is slow and pre-trial detention lasting several years is normal.
It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. India has a strong legal framework to regulate and restrict wildlife trade and is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If you’re caught purchasing or trafficking such goods illegally, you will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences or fines.
The laws governing alcohol vary from state to state. Consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland and the union territory of Lakshadweep. There is a partial ban in some districts in Manipur.
Consumption or possession of alcohol in prohibited states can lead to arrest without bail and charges which carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years. In some states foreign nationals and non-resident Indians are able to buy 30-day alcohol permits. Seek advice from your local travel agent/hotel or the authorities to ensure you’re aware of any alcohol prohibition in the state.
During major religious festivals, national holidays and elections, a ban on the sale of alcohol is often imposed.
Indian customs has strict rules about goods and currency that can be brought into and taken out of the country. Failure to declare contents you’re carrying which may be prohibited or subject to a tax or duty payment can lead to heavy penalties including imprisonment.
You can find more information about the list of items and rules and regulations on the Indian Customs website.
In September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. Although homosexuality is no longer prohibited by law, same-sex marriage is still illegal. Indian society remains conservative and public attitudes towards LGBT people can be less tolerant than in the UK, this is especially the case outside of big cities. LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted attention. See our advice page for LGBT travellers.
It is illegal to possess and operate satellite phones in India, and British nationals have been arrested for bringing satellite phones into the country without prior permission from the Indian authorities. More information on the use of satellite phones can be found on the Department of Telecommunications’ website.
You may need prior permission from the Indian authorities to bring equipment like listening or recording devices, radio transmitters, powerful cameras or binoculars into India. Seek advice from the Indian High Commission in London.
There may be very serious penalties for breaking a law which might seem trivial to you, or for doing something which may not be illegal in the UK. Hobbies involving cameras and binoculars, like bird-watching or plane spotting, may be misunderstood particularly near military sites, government buildings, airports and railway stations.
The penalties for child sex offences are severe. New legislation prescribes a minimum jail term of 20 years, which may go up to life imprisonment, or a death sentence to those convicted of raping a child below 12 years of age.
Indian family law is very different from UK law and particular caution is needed when, for example, child custody becomes an issue.
Overstaying on your visa is an offence. Make sure you leave the country before your visa expires.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory to which you’re travelling.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
You’ll need to get a visa before travelling to India. India issues various types of visas, including transit visas and e-visas.
Make sure you get the right visa for your travel and that it’s valid for the purpose and duration of your stay. If you enter India on the wrong visa, you could be detained on arrival and you may be deported and blacklisted, meaning that you can’t enter India again. Make sure you meet entry requirements. You can find further information on the Indian High Commission website or the Indian Immigration Bureau website.
If you’re applying for an e-visa, check you meet the eligibility criteria. If you do not hold a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, you may not be eligible for an e-visa. You can find out more about this on India’s e-visa website. Beware of fake websites offering this service.
There have been changes made by the Indian Government on visa formalities for foreigners who are hospitalised in India when travelling on a short-term tourist visa. If you or someone you are travelling with is travelling on a tourist visa and is hospitalised, get in touch with the local Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) to check if visa conversion is required.
India’s Bureau of Immigration has announced that with immediate effect, foreign nationals who arrive at an Indian port holding non-machine readable passports will be denied entry. Carriers who transport foreign passengers holding non-machine readable passports may be subject to a fine.
Applicants of Pakistani origin
All applicants of Pakistani origin who hold dual British-Pakistan nationality must apply for an Indian visa on their Pakistan passport. Those who have either renounced their Pakistani nationality or cancelled their Pakistani passport would need to submit documentary proof of this.
Processing time for visa applications received from persons of Pakistani origin will be 7-8 weeks or more.
Processing time for applications from those holding dual British-Pakistan nationality will be substantially longer.
For further details see the Indian High Commission website.
Your passport must be machine readable, with 2 blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application. However, the guidelines regarding passport validity on arrival in India are unclear. To avoid possible problems at immigration, make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry into India.
User Development Fees (UDF) apply at many airports. The fees are around Rs.1,000 per international passenger and Rs.150 to 260 per domestic passenger. This should already be included in the cost of airline tickets. If for any reason the fee is not included in your ticket it will be collected at the airport check-in counter in Indian rupees.
If you travel to India from Pakistan, Israel, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Afghanistan or Somalia you may be required to hold a valid polio vaccination certificate. Contact your nearest Indian Embassy or High Commission for further information.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Accommodation and C-Forms
Make sure you stay in accommodation that is licensed with the Indian authorities. Ask your accommodation provider whether they’re registered to file ‘C-Forms’ with the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO). You’re strongly advised to use accommodation that is registered with the FRO.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK ETDs are valid for entry to or exit from India with the relevant Indian visa. They are also valid for airside transit. However, a holder of an ETD will not be able to both enter and exit India using the same ETD. You should be aware that you will have to apply to the local authorities for an exit permit if you’re leaving India on a passport or ETD that is different to the one on which you entered. This must be done online, and you should factor this into your timeframe to leave India. For further information visit the FRRO website.
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders
In March 2016, the Government of India announced that OCI card holders will no longer need a visa to enter India. The ‘U’ visa sticker that was placed in the foreign passport of OCI card holders has been discontinued with immediate effect and you’ll no longer need to show this sticker to the immigration authorities when you enter and leave India. You’ll only need to present a valid passport and your OCI card. For more information, visit the website of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. You can take medicines into India as long as you carry the prescription with you. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances are prohibited. For further information, contact the High Commission of India in London or view the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the website of Indian Customs. Guidance on best practice when travelling with medicines is also available on the NaTHNaC website.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
If you’re travelling to India for organ transplant surgery, check in advance with the hospital to find out what proof they require of your circumstances in the UK. You may need to submit evidence of your marriage and birth of your children before the operation can take place. You can get copies of marriage and birth certificates from the General Register Office in the UK. You may wish to consider having them legalised by the FCO Legalisation office before travelling. The British High Commission can’t provide guarantees and certificates on your behalf.
Local medical facilities are not comparable to those in the UK, especially in more remote areas. For psychiatric illness, specialised treatment may not be available outside major cities. In major cities private medical care is available, but expensive. The British High Commission publishes a list of the most commonly used hospitals. You are strongly advised to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers the duration of stay in India.
There are some high altitude tourist destinations in and around India where visitors can be susceptible to altitude sickness and extreme weather conditions. If you are planning to travel to a higher altitude area, our advice would be to check details and any precautions/medications you need to take before making the journey.
Severe air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi and its surrounding areas. It is also a serious concern in many other Indian cities, especially during the winter months. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can find advice on air quality on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and check air quality levels for Indian cities in real time on the World Air Quality Index website.
Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever occur all year round. There’s been an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever, including in New Delhi.
UK health authorities have classified India as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Cases of Chikungunya Virus have been confirmed in India, including in New Delhi. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
There was a confirmed case of Nipah Virus in Kerala in June 2019. For information, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Travel in India during the monsoon season (June to October) can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days and lead to disruption of train and roadway services. You should be aware that cities, including metros, can also be affected. Check access routes, monitor the local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department, follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company before travelling, and take extra care.
Cyclones and tropical storms
Cyclones and tropical storms are common, particularly off the east coast of India in the months from September-December. In Bay of Bengal, the tropical cyclone season has two peaks, April to June and September to December. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Indian Meteorological Department and follow the advice of local authorities and tour operators. See our Tropical cyclones page for advice on what to do if you are caught up in a storm.
Several parts of India lie on highly active fault zones. The most active are those states along the length of the Himalayas. Earth tremors are common in these regions and can cause landslides in hilly and mountainous areas. Limited emergency response vehicles, equipment, and medical facilities could increase the impact that an earthquake could have in these areas. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
The currency of India is the Indian rupee (INR).
There are restrictions on bringing Indian rupees into India. Visitors, including tourists, are not permitted to bring any amount of Indian currency into the country. If you’re resident in India, you can bring up to INR 25,000 into the country.
If you’re visiting India, you can bring cash or travellers’ cheques (in pounds sterling or another foreign currency) and/or a bank card with you and exchange or withdraw rupees once in India. You will have to declare any amount exceeding US$5,000 in notes, or US$10,000 in notes and travellers’ cheques combined.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.
Browse our Video Guides